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Must-See Lighthouses

There’s something so peaceful about visiting a lighthouse - the breeze off the water, gentle waves splashing, and a bright, beaming light guiding boats. The awesome insta pics don’t hurt either. With two Great Lakes surrounding Upstate New York, it only makes sense that this is home to many beautiful lighthouses - and here is a roundup of some of the best.

Oak Orchard Lighthouse

Oak Orchard Lighthouse: The original lighthouse was built on the west side of the port in 1871 with a light that could be seen for 9 miles (14.5km) on Lake Ontario. It was deactivated in 1905 and washed away in 1916 from a violent storm. Reconstruction of the replica finished in 2010 and now the Oak Orchard Lighthouse at Point Breeze, Oak Orchard Harbor welcomes thousands of visitors from all over the world. Their guest log has been signed by people from across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Turkey, Germany, and more!

Dunkirk Lighthouse

dunkirk lighthouse

Dunkirk Lighthouse: Located on Lake Erie, this active 61-foot (18.6m) tower projects its light in a 27-mile (43.5km) range, making it the most prominent on Lake Erie. This Lighthouse has witnessed a lot of history, including first shot of the 1812 War, fired near the west bank of the lighthouse. And during World War II, 12 active Coast Guard personnel were stationed at the lighthouse along with its keeper.

Visit on August 19 or 20 for the Dunkirk Lighthouse Festival Weekend for live music, war reenactors, crafters, auctions, and more! They’ll even have Ham Radio Operators talking by radio to other lighthouses.

An added bonus - it’s also haunted! If you’re interested in ghost hunts, add it to your fall schedule!

Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse: This beauty is not only the oldest surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario in the United States, but it’s also the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Ontario. The tower was built in 1822 out of native sandstone and topped with an eight-sided iron lantern that contained 144 panes of glass. Next door, the 2 ½ story keeper’s house (which was rebuilt in 1863) is the oldest building in Monroe County and currently serves as the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Museum.

If you’re up for it, take the 42 steps up the 40-foot (12m) high tower and climb the 11-rung ladder to the lantern room. You’ll want to bring your camera to snag a picture of the beautiful panoramic view. Back on the ground, the Honorary International Peace Garden features panels outlining four separate encounters that took place there during the War of 1812.

Braddock Point Lighthouse

Braddock Point Lighthouse: Another lighthouse along Lake Ontario, Braddock Point was established in 1896. It was originally 97 feet tall (30m) but after structural damage, it was truncated to 40 feet (12m) in 1955. After a few different owners and lots of hard work, the Lighthouse has been restored back to its original splendor, with the innkeeper's quarters renovated to match the original government blueprints. And in 1996, the light was turned back on.

Braddock Point is one of the few privately owned, fully functioning lighthouses in the United States, and it’s currently home to a beautiful bed and breakfast. Although they’re open for business, the lighthouse is on the market for new owners… something to consider if you visit and just don’t want to leave!

braddock lighthouse

Sodus Bay/Sodus Point

Sodus Bay/Sodus Point: Sodus Bay is the best protected and most scenic harbor on Lake Ontario. The lighthouse tower and keeper’s residence was constructed in 1824, appointing a War of 1812 veteran as keeper a year later. After 45 years, both structures had deteriorated enough that a second lighthouse was built to replace the original tower. In 1871, the second stone lighthouse made its debut. It is still preserved in great condition and now serves as a lighthouse museum operated by the Sodus Bay Historical Society. Throughout the summer, they host free concerts every Sunday in the park. Check out the summer schedule here.