Dynamic Day Trips: A Taste of Michigan’s Lighthouses

Happy Monday my loves! I hope this Monday finds you well rested from the weekend and ready to take on this week. I’m feeling all sorts of “off” this Monday. With my long term sub job (that I’ve been at the past 8 months) ending, today I felt SO STRANGE not heading into work. And really really sad.

So instead, I’ve decided to give myself a “Jackson Hole Kind Of Morning”. What is this exactly? If you’re been to Jackson, I’m sure you’re going to know what I mean. Even in the summer, the mornings are a bit chilly. One of my absolute favorite things in the world was grabbing my coat, and heading out to the porch with my coffee. Theres nothing quite like staring at the mountains in the first light of day. It’s seriously the most calming, relaxing thing EVER and I would pretty much DIE if I got to wake up like that every day.  (PS… if you’ve never been to Jackson Hole you need to start planning a trip ASAP. Check out my Jackson Hole posts herehereherehereherehere, and here.)

However, being in the middle of a city in an apartment complex, 1,640.2 miles away from The Tetons, I had to improvise. So I threw on my Jackson Hole sweatshirt, filled my favorite Jackson Hole mug with coffee, and sat my butt down on my deck. Where I still am, writing you today’s post!

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Speaking of today’s post, I’m so excited to bring a new series to the blog today! It’s my goal to bring you more ideas for “Dynamic Day Trips.” Whether you’re a local, or a visitor to different locations, day trips are the best. Why? You can get away from everything, for just a day, and immerse yourself in a place that feels a world away. Stuck in the suburbs this summer? A quick two hour drive could bring you to a magical waterfall, a lush mountain, or a beautiful beach. It’s amazing what a little change of scenery can do for the soul.

So today, I’m bringing you the first of Savannah Said It’s day trips. And it’s one that is near and dear to my heart. Lighthouses. Growing up in Michigan, I never really realized just how special lighthouses are.

Every summer, I’d watch as the Fudgies flocked to our beach to see the lighthouse and take pictures of themselves holding it like it’s the Leaning Tower of Pisa. (I still think this is weird. I just don’t get it?) As I got older, I worked at local restaurants, and would find out some people were visiting specifically to see our lighthouse. Turns out, there are lighthouse tours that literally circle Lake Michigan, or let you tour the lighthouses of all of our Great Lakes. (We have 5! Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior. HOMES… if you need help remembering. That’s how we learned them in 4th grade. You’re welcome.)

These people come from all over the USA to catch one of over 150 lighthouses (no two that look the same) in Pure Michigan. Now, I simply can’t imagine trying to see them all in one trip. It would take for freakin’ ever. So today, I’m going to share with you  a quick way to get a taste of our beautiful lighthouses, with my Northwest Michigan Lighthouse Day Trip.

But before we get started, what are these magical lighthouses? Most of the lighthouses in Michigan were built in the 1800s. Not just to make our coastlines prettier, but to serve a pretty important purpose. In places like my hometown, Manistee, our history is rich in the lumbering industry. Ships from all over would come to town, and the only safe way to get to the harbors was by these lighthouses. Their shining beams were a beacon of comfort. Today, the lights still shine to help the fisherman and cargo ships make it to their final destination safely.

Sounds pretty amazing right? Well, they are. Especially at sunset! Ready to take a day trip to some of my favorite lighthouses? Let’s get started!

Northwest Michigan Lighthouse Day Trip

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Look at that ice! North Breakwater Light, Ludington. 

Start your morning in Ludington, Michigan. If you’ve never been, you will love it here, and find it a wonderful place to start your day trip. Much like any town along our stunning coastline, you’ll find a quaint downtown, friendly people and really, really, really good food. I’d start the morning off at The House of Flavors, Chef John’s or Cops and Donuts. (Check out this post, to read a little bit more about these awesome breakfast joints!) Once your belly is happy, it’s time to head to not one, but TWO lighthouses. The first is easy to find, and right on the public beach. The other is at Ludington State Park, just north of town. There is no reason not to stop and see both, because you literally have to drive past The North Breakwater Light to get to Big Sauble Point Lighthouse!

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Please don’t walk on the pier if you’re there when the waves are this big… North Pierhead, Manistee.

Next, head north on US 31 to Manistee. (If you follow me on social media, you’ll be VERY familiar with this lighthouse. HAHA) There are two ways to see the North Pierhead Lighthouse. The first is from across the channel. If you head towards 1st Street Beach, you’ll find The Lions Park along the beach loop. (Don’t worry… you can’t miss it. There is a big lion statue. HA) This little picnic area has an amazing view of both of our piers, our lighthouse, and the lake. In fact, this view is so popular that they built a little viewing platform where you can take a magazine worthy photo. After you take in the view, continue around the beach loop (it’s a one way drag people!) and then head over to 5th Avenue Beach, where you can park and enjoy the lighthouse up close and personal. I highly recommend taking a walk on our pier, it’s beautiful!

Then, continue on US 31 a few more miles until you reach the casino. Take a left, and you’ll be embarking on the world famous, M22. Follow M22 along until you reach Onekama or Frankfort. Onekama has a great lighthouse, however, I would recommend stopping at Frankfort’s instead. Why? Because Frankfort is home to Dinghy’s. (Y’all. I love this place so much. I’m legit wearing a Dinghy’s shirt right now.)

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I just love this lighthouse! You can get a lot closer to it if you go in the summertime. However, it was all fenced up as I was there in the off season 🙂 Point Betsie, Frankfort.

You will fall in love with Frankfort. It is a tourist favorite for a reason. The maple lined main street is filled with shops bursting at the seams with unique local made products. The sandy beaches go on for miles, and it has some great places to stop for lunch. A favorite is The Fusion. Home to some of the greatest sushi north of Grand Rapids. (I don’t like sushi, but my dad swears by it!) Another favorite is the newish Storm Cloud Brewing. You can grab lunch and some pretty incredible local craft beer too. However, if you really want a delicious, classic Frankfort restaurant, you go to Dinghy’s. You won’t find a single bad thing on the menu (I’m a big fan of the Betsie Bay Burrito). After lunch, walk down main street until your toes hit the sand. Their you’ll find the Frankfort North Breakwater lighthouse where you can take a walk on the pier. Now, head north just little big more on M22, and technically still in Frankfort, you’ll find The Point Betsie Lighthouse. Built in 1858, it marks the Southern entrance to the Mantiou Passage. This is one of the prettiest light houses in my opinion, and every time I visit, I feel like I’m in Maine… not Michigan.

Now, sit back and enjoy the ride. You’ve got about an hour and a half up this scenic drive before you reach the top of the Leelanau Peninsula. But promise me this… promise me you’ll stop and stretch your legs in Glen Arbor, and grab some taffy in Fishtown before you make it to Northport! I love the Leelanau Peninsula so dang much. And I know you will love it to! Check out my previous post on this amazing area here. And know that by clicking on the “Mitten Love” button at the top of the page, you’ll find tons more information on places here!

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This lighthouse is also a museum! It was closed for the winter when this photo was taken, but you can actually go inside!  Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Northport. 

The last lighthouse on your tour is in the charming village of Northport. Drive out to the Leelanau State Park, where you’ll stand at the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula admiring the beautiful Grand Traverse Lighthouse.  This beauty marks the northern entrance to the Mantiou Passage, and has been guiding sailors and their vessels for 164 years! Just a side note, you will need a Michigan State Park Passport to visit.

After a full day of touring lighthouses, you’re probably going to be tired and hungry. Make your way to The Garage (check out my post here) for dinner, and find a place to rest your head for the evening in Northport, Suttons Bay or Traverse City before heading back home in the morning.

This 123 mile day trip is sure to bring a smile to your face and happiness to your heart.

Just looking at all these pictures is getting me SO EXCITED to head home in a few days! (We’re taking a day trip to Glen Arbor and I can practically TASTE Art’s already.)

Have a wonderful rest of your Monday my friends! And if you’re on Spring Break right now, soak up some sunshine for me!

Xx.
Savannah

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