Lighthouses are a thing of beauty and in Ohio, we are lucky to have over 20 of them on Lake Erie. In this blog, I have picked the 12 best Lake Erie Lighthouses that are located in Ohio. Read on to see if you agree, or if you can offer any suggestions!
WHAT TYPES OF LIGHTHOUSES ARE LISTED BELOW? (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
The lighthouses that are talked about below are a bit of a mixture. For example, some of these Lighthouses can be visited from their exterior and their interior. A few of these lighthouses are not for visiting inside, however, they can provide breathtaking photographic opportunities. Ohio's lighthouses have been keeping people safe and secure on the lake for many years.
ASHTABULA LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
This beautiful lighthouse has got a string in its bow. It is the last lighthouse that was manned on all of the Great Lakes. This lighthouse was manned by the US Coastguard until 1973 and then on it was an automated lighthouse. The lighthouse is located on the northern end of Ashtabula Harbor's west breakwater. Different types of lighthouses have stood within this area since the 1830s. The current lighthouse was built in 1905 and it was also expanded and moved in 1916. Visitors are allowed to explore the local area in more detail and visit the Ashtabula Maritime And Surface Transportation Museum. The museum was originally the house of the lightkeeper. The Museum is very interesting and it also explores the local area, as well as the role that the lighthouse has played.
The lighthouse is only accessible by boat.
CLEVELAND HARBOR WEST PIERHEAD LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
The Cleveland Harbor West Pier Lighthouse is located just north of the Cuyahoga River. This lighthouse has been in operation since 1911, however, there has been a signal station in this area since the early 1830s. This is a pretty unique lighthouse as it has a peculiar spark-plug style design. As this lighthouse is based right on the shores of Lake Erie, it is pretty common to see the icy waves blast against the lighthouse and freeze in the winter months. Photographers from miles around come to visit this lighthouse and take some fantastic snaps. The West Pierhead lighthouse initially stood alone, but as time went on, a fog-signal building was also constructed next to it in 1916.
Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse is located at: 2800 Whiskey Island Dr., Cleveland, OH 44102. Website
CONNEAUT WEST BREAKWATER LIGHT (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
This lighthouse is a black and white steel lighthouse that was constructed in 1936. This current structure has replaced a series of structures that were built in this location. This lighthouse was bought by a private owner in 2011 and it has remained in private hands ever since. As this is a private lighthouse, it is not open for visits or tours.
FAIRPORT HARBOR BREAKWATER LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
This is a classic lighthouse that has a lovely 42-foot tower and is located at the mouth of the Grand River. This lighthouse was built in 1925 to replace another historic lighthouse that is still standing today, however, it has long since been decommissioned. This lighthouse was sold by the Federal government at auction. The person who won the auction and bought the lighthouse - Sheila Consaul, has been working hard to restore the lighthouse to its former glory. Some of the improvements that she has taken include new doors, windows, paintwork, and upgrading the internal fixtures and fittings. Visitors to this area can walk on the breakwaters and take in some lovely views.
Fairport Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse is located at: GPS coordinates (41-46-04.300N, 081-16-52.200W). It can also be accessed via Headlands Beach State Park which is located in Mentor, Ohio. Website | Facebook | Instagram.
HERE IS A SHORT VIDEO OF DRONE FOOTAGE FROM FAIRPORT HARBOR BREAKWATER LIGHTHOUSE:
FAIRPORT HARBOR MARINE MUSEUM AND LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
This lighthouse and Museum is a 40-minute drive East of Cleveland. The 60-foot-tall lighthouse was built in 1871 and this was to replace the original structure that had stood in this place. Visitors are allowed to climb to the top of this lighthouse and it offers some amazing views. To get to the top of the lighthouse, it means going up 70-odd stairs to the top. There is also a museum that is a fantastic place to visit. This museum was founded at the end of WWII in 1945 and was at the time of its founding, the only Museum on the Great Lakes.
Inside the Museum there are Native Indian artifacts on show that were found in this area in the early 1900s. Of course, there are also nautical artifacts in the museum. To top it off, there are also some lovely paintings that are on show. Outside of the Museum is the main mast of the USS Michigan and this was the US Navy's first iron-hulled ship. This ship was commissioned back in 1843. To the north of the Museum is an opportunity to take photographs of Lake Erie.
HURON LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
The Huron Lighthouse is located at the end of North Main Street in Huron Park and it was built in 1939. It stands alongside a stunning pier and this offers some of the best views of Lake Erie. This is also a cracking place to observe not just the sunrise, but the sunset as well, due to its fantastic position. The pier is a mile long and it is open to the general public. Fishermen also use this area to cast their lines and do some fishing. This is also a great place for people who want to watch and take some photographs of Ohio's various birds.
Huron Lighthouse is located at: the end of North Main Street, Huron, OH 44839. Website
LORAIN LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
Lorain Lighthouse is known as the “Jewel of the Port”. It is known as this due to it being a gorgeous focal point. This lighthouse was completed after WWI back in 1919. The lighthouse is unusual, as it is lit at the base of the lighthouse and not at the top like most other lighthouses. This lighthouse was decommissioned in the late 1970s and was actually threatened with demolition. Thankfully, a local organization was successful in buying the deeds to the lighthouse and it was saved. It has taken the organization a lot of time, sweat, and tears to get this lovely lighthouse back into shipshape. The lighthouse does host some events and in the summer months, visitors can take a boat journey to the lighthouse.
MARBLEHEAD LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
The Marblehead Lighthouse has been helping sailors on Lake Erie since 1822. This 200 year old lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes. This is also one of the very few lighthouses in Ohio that allow visitors to ascend to the top. Those who take the guided tour (offered daily between noon and 4 pm from Memorial Day until Labor Day, weather permitting) are allowed to climb the 77 stairs to the top. The views at the top are delightful and it is possible to see Cedar Point and South Bass Island. This is a volunteer-led operation and there are over 60 volunteers who offer their services so that visitors can enjoy this wonderful lighthouse.
There are two museums at this lighthouse. The Keeper's House offers visitors a chance to learn about local history, and the Marblehead Room talks about local life. Visitors can also observe the replica of the 1876 US lifesaving station. The museum also has a restored lifesaving boat in it. Outside the museum is also a small grassy area where people can take food and drinks.
PORT CLINTON LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
This is a pepperpot light and is not that tall, it is only 20-foot tall. This Pepperpot lighthouse stands on the shore next to Port Clinton waterworks. This lighthouse was built towards the end of Victorian times in 1896. In the 1950s, a second lighthouse was built and the US Coastguard wanted to demolish it. A local Marina owner bought the structure and decided to relocate it to his property and it was there for over 50 years. In 2012, the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy moved the structure to storage. It has since been restored and moved to the Waterworks parks.
SOUTH BASS ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
This lighthouse was built four years before the death of Queen Victoria in 1897. This lighthouse is in the southwest area of South Bass Island, also not much has changed with this lighthouse since it was constructed. Visitors are allowed to ours the grounds in daylight hours all year round. The lighthouse itself is used by Ohio State University and tours are only offered on a periodic basis. When tours do take place, visitors can learn about the history of the island and climb the tower stairs for a view of Put-in-Bay and the surrounding waters of Lake Erie.
TOLEDO HARBOR LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
The Toledo Harbor lighthouse is situated 5 miles north of Maumee Bay State Park. The lighthouse sits on a 20-foot-deep stone crib in Lake Erie. This lighthouse was opened in 1904 and it was manned by the US Coast Guard until the mid-1960s. It was at this point that it went from a manned operation to an automated one. The ownership of the site was transferred from the Federal Government to the Toledo Lighthouse Preservation Society in the early 2000s. This organization has been raising money since it acquired the lighthouse so that it can be renovated. Visitors who want a close-up view of the lighthouse will need to rent a boat as this lighthouse is based offshore.
VERMILION LIGHTHOUSE (LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES)
The City of Vermilion was once known as the "Village of Lake Captains". This area has historic homes that were used by the boating community and these homes are still standing today. The Vermilion lighthouse pays tribute to the area. The current structure is a replica of the original lighthouse that stood in this area. The original was built in 1877 and it was removed in 1929. The City was then without any form of lighthouse for a long time. The local community got together and raised enough money to build a replica and it was built in 1991. This replica is fully operational and it is a tribute to the local area, as well as used as a navigational tool.
WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING ABOUT LAKE ERIE LIGHTHOUSES?
Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse:
"Friendly staff. Nice displays. If you have a maritime interest you would spend more time than me. Ask about the "ghost cat" story." - S15 (Ashtabula OH. July 2022).
"Structured tours, perfect timing almost, you need to plan ahead. The tours are only available on a few Saturdays per month, June through September. Weather permitting because of the necessary boat ride, the light is out in the middle of Lake Erie, inside the breakwall, in Lorain harbor..." - FM (Portage Lakes OH. September 2021).
“Great place. Relaxing. Worth a visit. Great place. Relaxing. Worth a visit. Great place. Relaxing. Worth a visit." - JB (Wooster OH. July 2022).
Port Clinton Lighthouse:
"Thank you to Port Clinton for moving this lighthouse to its own park, what a magnificent job you have done! Great place for all ages, a large pond for fishing, walking paths, and Lake Erie is right there. Great place to enjoy the outdoors!" - BT (Hartville OH. October 2022).
South Bass Island Lighthouse:
"It was closed when we went to see it, but we did get a chance to walk the grounds and read the information that was posted. It was very informative and taught us a lot about lighthouses, the island, and the history here. The view is lovely as well." - JBH (USA. September 2021).
"Very nice lighthouse with a great beach. It is a short walk from a cute Main Street Vermilion. There was a cold wind blowing off of the lake but the lighthouse was so interesting that we kept going. It was worth nearly freezing to death." - (DW, Pittsburgh PA. April 2022).
LET'S EXPLORE LAKE ERIE!
As always, we welcome you to leave your own recommendations in the comments, and we'd LOVE to hear about your recent Ohio experiences!
Hello! We have done our very best to ensure that the accuracy of events, hours, addresses, etc are up to date. Please know that information can change due to weather, updated health and safety challenges, etc. If you find incorrect information, please send us an email and we can get it updated.
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