Special Report

The Most Beautiful Lighthouses in America

Lighthouses have aided sea navigation for centuries. Among the earliest was one of the so-called Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Pharos of Alexandria in Egypt. Dating back to circa 280 B.C., it first lit the way for ships during the rule of Ptolemy II. (Lighthouses are one of the ancient inventions you may have thought were modern.)

Today, the United States has more lighthouses than any other country. Totaling 700 across the nation, these beacons of light have played an integral role in travel and commerce and the prevention of shipwrecks. (These are the 29 shipwrecks found since the discovery of the Titanic.)

To determine the most beautiful lighthouses in America, 24/7 Tempo exercised editorial discretion after consulting numerous news and travel sites including Insider and The Culture Trip, as well as state tourism web pages.

Lighthouses may conjure up an image of rocky, oceanic coastlines, but some lighthouses are not at sea. While most of the examples on our list overlook the ocean, five are on lakes. In fact, Michigan – which borders four of the Great Lakes – has more lighthouses than any other state, 115 in total.

Many of the most beautiful lighthouses have a unique look that helps distinguish them. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse in North Carolina, affectionately known as the Diamond Lady, stays true to its nickname with signature black diamonds stacked along its tower. Michigan’s White Shoal Lighthouse has a red and white spiral design, reminiscent of a candy cane. 

Click here to see America’s most beautiful lighthouses

The majority of the lighthouses here were constructed during the 1800s, but the oldest – Tybee Lighthouse in Georgia – first lit up in 1736.

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