From the shores of North Carolina to the edge of California, lighthouses provide a glimpse into history. Whether they are classic tall lights or shorter lights built around keeper’s cottages, these five lights are the most beautiful in the country.
1. Cape Hatteras Light
The iconic black-and-white striped light is one of the most familiar symbols of American maritime beauty. Constructed in 1870, the brick lighthouse is located on the dangerous shoals of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The National Park Service purchased the lighthouse after it was closed in 1936. Due to the encroaching sea, the light was moved away from the ocean in 1999 to a new location 2,900 feet inland.
2. Nauset Light
Although not as famous as the nearby Highland Light in Truro, Nauset Light has plenty of picturesque whimsy to compensate for its lack of reputation. The squat, red-banded light was first built in 1877 in Chatham, Massachusetts. It was later moved to Eastham in 1923. The lighthouse’s eternal charm is echoed in the adjacent keeper’s house, a lovely Cape Cod cottage.
3. Bass Harbor Head Light
Perched above the seaside cliffs of Maine’s Acadia National Park, Bass Harbor Head Light is one of the most photographed lighthouses in New England. Constructed in 1858, the white brick lighthouse has never been out of service. In 2012, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released a special series of quarters with an image of the lighthouse.
4. Battery Point Light
Completed in 1856, the Battery Point Light is particularly exquisite because of its unique design. The light is a charming Cape Cod-style granite cottage with a white brick tower built into the red roof. The sturdy little lighthouse survived a devastating tsunami in 1964 and remains one of the more popular lighthouses on the California coast.
5. Old Mackinac Point Light
Notable for its large keeper’s cottage, Old Mackinac Point Light once guided ships sailing through the dangerous Straits of Mackinac between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Originally constructed in 1892, the lighthouse is made of limestone and light-colored brick. With its red cupola and picturesque red roof and trimming, the lighthouse is a popular tourist destination.