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family sitting on shore with feet in the water at Marblehead Lighthouse on lake erie in marblehead ohio

Ohio Lighthouse Hopping

Six Northcoast lighthouses worth the trip!

Marblehead Lighthouse on Lake Erie

Ohio Lighthouse Hopping

By James Proffitt

Posted On: Aug 5, 2022

Lighthouse lovers travel the nation seeking beautiful beacons – but in Ohio you don't have to go far to get up-close-and-personal with historic lights. Ohio's inland sea, Lake Erie, offers great Instagrammable lighthouses. 

Port Clinton Lighthouse

Port Clinton Lighthouse 

The Port Clinton Lighthouse was completely restored and installed on the water several years ago. While it's not a towering landmark, the 1896 structure is definitely cool. You can climb right up inside and take pictures. Of course, it doesn't have to be a weekend to get a nice selfie. If you can't make it out in person to view this impressive beacon, there's a virtual tour video. You can also shop their online store too! 

For more fun, check out the 4th annual Port Clinton Lighthouse & Maritime Festival. The festival, on Saturday, Aug. 20 (11AM to 5PM) at Waterworks Park, features tours and historic talks; entertainment; family-friendly fun; boat show; food and even a plein air art show! 

Marblehead Lighthouse

Marblehead Lighthouse

Next up is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the Great Lakes, the Marblehead Lighthouse, built in 1821. It's one of the few original lighthouses in America where people can hang out day or night all year long. It's open for tours from 12-4PM (Memorial Day thru Labor Day). You can climb to the very tippy-top on 88 ancient, iron steps to a stunning view of Lake Erie and inland from the top.

While visiting the lighthouse, you can enjoy the waterfront, picnic and see Cedar Point. And don't forget to post your photos online – the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park is estimated to attract more than a million visitors a year and is considered the most-photographed structure in the state.

This year, Marblehead is celebrating its 200th anniversary (when it was first list on June 22, 1822). You can celebrate with family-friendly fun at the Lakeside-Marblehead Lighthouse Festival on Oct. 8 from 9AM - 4PM. 

couple Hiking the Huron Lighthouse break wallHiking the Huron Lighthouse break wall

Huron Harbor Lighthouse

At the confluence of the Huron River and Lake Erie stands the Huron Harbor Lighthouse. Some cool pics can be snapped here, but you'll have to make a little hike to get up close. Don't worry, it's a neat walk out along a break wall more than a quarter mile long. If it's a nice day, you're likely to find some folks fishing or swimming.

Lorain LighthouseView of Lorain Lighthouse from a kayak. Photo credit: Jeff Burdick

Lorain Lighthouse

The Lorain Lighthouse makes for great photos from a boat or kayak, however, getting there on foot is virtually impossible. The 1916 lighthouse is a stunning site and is nicknamed "Jewel of the Port." Sunset dinners and tours are available for those who want to experience the Lorain Lighthouse's beauty. Seasoned kayakers can sometimes be seen making the water-trek to the lighthouse.

Fun fact: for the ninth year in a row, the Lorain Lighthouse was voted the "Best" Lake Erie Lighthouse by Lake Erie Magazine

girl looking through telescope viewfinder Ashtabula Lighthouse at The Ashtabula Marine Museum
Ashtabula Lighthouse appears as a tiny dot from the Ashtabula Maritime & Surface Transportation Museum

Ashtabula Lighthouse

Another super-scenic Ohio gem is the Ashtabula Lighthouse, another hard-to-reach lighthouse, definitely best seen from the water. And especially worthwhile during Lake Erie's amazing sunsets.

Fun fact: lighthouse historian, Earl Tucker, researched and found several old photos and postcards showing the lighthouse around 1918. He also found out that the daily ration allowance for light keepers in 1918 was $0.30!

Fairport Harbor Lighthouse
Photo credit: Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse

The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse 

The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse is a two-fer: cool museum and classic Great Lakes lighthouse tower in one! This lighthouse offers tours and is super-easy to access.

Whether you're checking out one Ohio lighthouses or many, remember your camera (or phone) and your sense of adventure!

For more outdoor adventures, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org.

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