Massachusetts October 28, 2016
The Lighthouse Road Trip On The Massachusetts Coast That’s Dreamily Beautiful
Massachusetts coast is peppered with lighthouses. Their striking silhouettes rise over some of the most treacherous waters in the state, and have inspired everything from literature, to famous artwork, and even a few chilling ghost stories.
This road trip will take you to nine Massachusetts lighthouses that are worth seeing. The total drive time comes in just shy of nine hours, so you may want to plan a stop at a coastal inn or hotel along the way. The route sticks to the coast where possible, so you’ll get to see mile after mile of sparkling water roll by your window.
1. Cape Cod (Highland) Light, Truro
This is one of the oldest lighthouses in America, and Cape Cod’s first lighthouse. It was built in 1797, and is still operational. If you can manage the 69-step climb to the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Cape Cod and the Atlantic Ocean. Lighthouse tours are available by appointment, and admission prices are $6 for adults and $5 for children and seniors. The Keeper’s Shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
2. Nauset Light, Eastham
You may recognize this lighthouse from your favorite snack – it’s the beacon on every bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips. Nauset Light stands 45 feet tall, and is dressed in a cast iron plate shell. It was constructed in 1877, was originally all white until the upper portion was painted red in the 1940s. You can tour the lighthouse during the summer months, or just admire the lovely beacon from a distance.
3. Chatham Light, Chatham
This lighthouse was established in 1808 and the current tower dates from 1877. It’s 48 feet tall, and incredibly lovely. The lighthouse was once manned by Collins Howe, a former Cape Cod fisherman who had lost a leg in an accident and was paid a $400 yearly salary to keep the light aglow. Around the holidays, the tower is decorated with a massive wreath. The lighthouse is an active Coast Guard station, so tours are available by appointment and on open house dates.
4. Nobska Light, Woods Hole
This lighthouse guards the waters around Martha’s Vineyard and Nonamesset Island. It dates back to 1826, and tours are available by appointment. The site is truly striking, featuring sweeping views of the ocean and Vineyard Sound. Bring your camera along and snap a few pictures of the picturesque white picket fences, hydrangeas and sparkling water.
5. Plymouth (Gurnet) Light, Plymouth
First used in 1843 to guard the waters off of Gurnett Point, this lighthouse features a distinct shape and cheerful, red cap. You can actually book weekly overnight stays in the light keeper's cottage. These can get a little pricey in the warmer months – between $1,500 and $3,000 – but the experience is incredibly unique and worth the money if you can swing the price tag.
6. Minot’s Ledge Light, Scituate
Built in 1860, this lighthouse was designed to make the perilous waters off Cohasset and Scituate a bit less lethal. More that 150 years after it was erected, the light is still aiding sailors navigating the area.This lighthouse is best seen by boat, but you can also enjoy great views from Government island, Cohasset and the coast of Cohasset. Summertime visitors can take advantage of local cruises to Minot’s Ledge Light and other local lighthouses.
7. Boston Light, Little Brewster Island
America’s oldest lighthouse is right here in Massachusetts. Boston Light is viewable from a number of locations, and via a seasonal 3.5-hour tour by boat, which also includes views of Graves Light and Long Island Head Light. Pack your own picnic lunch and enjoy the view on Little Brewster Island, and then work off those calories by climbing the 76 steps to the top of the lighthouse.
8. Annisquam Light, Gloucester
This lighthouse was constructed in the early 1800s. Its unique claim to fame is the sighting of a massive sea serpent near the lighthouse about a decade after the beacon first shone. Reports ran in newspapers around the country that the monster was hundreds of feet long. Incredibly, a large sea creature was caught near the lighthouse shortly after the rumors began circulating, but it was nowhere near the size reported. Today, the lighthouse is still an active aid to navigation and owned by the Coast Guard. You can’t tour the interior, but if you head to nearby Wingaersheek Beach, you can walk out near the lighthouse when the tide is low. Parking at the beach will run you a small fee during the summer.
9. Eastern Point Light, Gloucester
This historic lighthouse located on Cape Ann is one of the most iconic beacons in the state. It’s the perfect place to end your lighthouse road trip. The lighthouse is owned and operated by the Coast Guard and not open to the public other than by appointment, but there is a parking lot nearby and the breakwater next to the lighthouse is open year-round. There is an honor-system parking fee.
Looking for another awesome, guided trip around Massachusetts?
Try this road trip to the most haunted places in the state.