For 70 years the lantern of the Sand Point Lighthouse guided ships in and out of the Escanaba Port, and for another 40 years it served as a residence for the Coast Guard. Today visitors can tour the lighthouse, which has been restored to its original appearance.
During the 19th century the railroad carried lumber and iron ore unearthed in the Upper Peninsula’s mines to the Lake Michigan port at Escanaba, from where it was shipped to destinations throughout the Great Lakes Region. The railroad was completed in 1864, and in 1868 the Sand Point Lighthouse opened to alert the ships traveling in and out of the busy port to a dangerous spit of land jutting out into the bay.
The first lighthouse keeper was a woman, Mary Terry, who kept the job until her mysterious death in a fire in 1886. In total, nine light keepers lived in the lighthouse until it was deactivated in 1939.
Today visitors can tour the restored rooms where the light keepers and their families once lived then climb up to the lantern to enjoy beautiful views of the bay.
The Sand Point Lighthouse is located in Ludington Park, near the Municipal Beach and the Delta County Historical Museum, and is open to visitors between Memorial Day and October 1st.
Sand Point Lighthouse
16 Beaumier Way
Escanaba, MI 49829
Ludington State Park is one of the most popular state parks in Michigan, and it’s easy to see why. In addition to a beautiful Lake Michigan beach, Ludington State Park offers a second beach along Hamlin Lake, sand dunes, hiking trails, an amphitheater, three campgrounds and the Big Sable Point Lighthouse.
The Lake Michigan beach stretches seven miles along the Great Lake, and features a beach house with a store, a restaurant and concessions. The beach has an accessible walkway to make getting down to the water’s edge easier.
For variety, warmer water temperatures (sometimes), or when the waves on Lake Michigan are too rough, try the Lake Hamlin Beach. The playground and calmer waters makes this beach a favorite with families. There’s a picnic area with grills nearby so you can grill up lunch or grab something to eat at the concession stand.
There’s a boat launch on Hamlin Lake to enjoy a day of water skiing or relaxing with your fishing pole. If you didn’t bring a boat, paddleboat, rowboat, canoe and kayak rentals are available at the concession stand. One of Ludington State Park’s unique features is a picturesque, marked, 4 -mile long canoe trail that winds along the edge of Hamlin Lake and wanders through bayous not accessible from the hiking trails.
Ludington State Park boasts 8 hiking and biking trails meandering a combined 18 miles through the park; there are options for those seeking a pleasant stroll as well as those who like a bigger challenge.
The Big Sable Point Lighthouse has illuminated the shores of Ludington since 1867. In 1949 it became the last Great Lakes lighthouse to be electrified. The lighthouse is open to visitors from May through October, but is situated 1.8 miles from the the parking lot so be prepared for a little hike!
Ludington State Park features not one but four campgrounds. Pines, Cedar and Beechwood all feature modern restrooms and electrical hookups. Pines is situated near Lake Michigan and offers 99 campsites, mostly shady. Beechwood is located near Hamlin Lake and has 147 mostly shady campsites. Cedar lies between Pines and Beechwood and features 106 mostly sunny campsites. There are three mini-cabins for rent for those traveling without a camper or tent.
For those who like a more rustic camping experience, the fourth campsite, Jack Pines, might be just the thing. It is not accessible by road and no vehicles are allowed, so all equipment, gear and supplies must be walked in. It is located in the dunes near Lake Michigan, about a mile north of Pines Campground. Vault toilets and hand pump are provided.
We walked toward the South Haven lighthouse, admiring the views of white boats zipping out of the harbor and into the wide blue expanse of Lake Michigan beyond. As we neared the pier we spotted colorful beach umbrellas dotting the sand like confetti, people splashing in the Lake Michigan waves and children constructing magnificent structures out of sand. We’d found South Beach.
South Haven visitors have several beaches to choose from, but South Beach is a crowd pleaser. Adjacent to South Haven’s jaunty red lighthouse and close to downtown, South Beach offers a concession stand for hungry sun worshippers, a playground, skateboard park and fishing. Then there’s that lovely Lake Michigan water.
South Beach is a short walk from the downtown shopping district, along Phoenix Street, which cuts through downtown before turning into Water Street and ending at the beach. There is a small beach parking lot that charges around 5 bucks a car, plus meter parking just outside the lot. A beach bus can take you to North Beach for just 50 cents. South Beach is open year round from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
South Haven, MI 49090
If you’re in the Silver Lake area you won’t want to miss a visit to the red brick lighthouse at Little Sable Point, located at the Silver Lake State Park.
The Little Sable Point Lighthouse stands 107 feet tall. It was built in response to perceived dangers of the area’s Lake Michigan waters, due to the sinking of several boats. When the lighthouse opened in 1874 it was natural brick, but several boat captains complained that it was difficult to make out the lighthouse, so in the year 1900 it was painted white and stayed that way until 1975, when it was sandblasted back to its original color. The lighthouse was originally attached to a home where the lighthouse keeper lived, but when the lighthouse was automated in 1955, there was no longer a need for the dwelling and it was razed. The lighthouse is still operational and is used to aid boats navigating nearby.
Unlike many lighthouses along the lakeshore, the Little Sable Point Lighthouse is open to visitors daily from 10:00 to 5:00 from June until September. Lighthouse admission is $2 for adults and $1 for kids. Guests must be at least 3 feet tall to tour the lighthouse. After visiting the lighthouse, spread a blanket on the Lake Michigan beach just behind it and build a sandcastle, go for a swim or just dip your toes in the water.