One of the most scenic lighthouses on the Great Lakes, the Point Betsie lighthouse guards the shoes of Lake Michigan. Located off of M-22 just north of Frankfort, the lighthouse is a popular stop for photographers and history buffs as well as summer tourists. Point Betsie is picture perfect Victorian charm, nestled atop the dunes and surrounded by old trees and lilacs. This is a worthwhile stop in your travels in the Sleeping Bear area.
Built in 1858, Point Betsie lighthouse includes both the tower and keeper’s living quarters in one building. Painted in its classic white with a red roof, it was the last lighthouse on Lake Michigan to be fully automated (1983). Today, it continues to be an active beacon marking the Manitou Passage for ships plying the waters. A Coast Guard lifesaving station and fog signal were also located on the ground but do not remain today. The lighthouse is now owned by Benzie County and managed by the Friends of Point Betsie Lighthouse.
Visiting the Point Betsie Lighthouse
The lighthouse sits at the end of Point Betsie Road just off of M-22. There is no parking lot, so be careful of getting stuck in the sand on the side of the paved road. There is easy access to the beach at the end of the road. The grounds contain the lighthouse, a giftshop, and a few outbuildings. The gift shop is well stocked and proceeds go to the Friends organization for preservation. The gift shop building also has clean bathrooms and drinking fountains for travelers.
Self- or semi-guided tours are available. $5 for ages 13+ and $2 for ages 6-12. Allow about half an hour to view the exhibits and climb the lighthouse tower. You can also walk the grounds and beach. There are several great spots to stop and take pictures from all sides. The lighthouse is open every day except Tuesday May through October. Hours are 10-5 with Sundays 12-5. Check their website for actual open days during the year.
The Keeper’s Quarters can be reserved for overnight stays ranging from 2 to 7 nights. Shorter stays, 2-5 nights can be only reserved within 60 days if available. Prices range around $350/night and sleeps up to 6 guests in 2 bedrooms. Check the website or call for more details on amenities.