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To The Lighthouse

To The Lighthouse
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BY MARY JANE HORTON

And then, letting her eyes slide imperceptibly above the pool and rest on that wavering line of sea and sky, on the tree trunks which the smoke of steamers made waver on the horizon, she became with all that power sweeping savagely in and inevitably withdrawing, hypnotized, and the two senses of that vastness and this tininess…

-Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse.

Two hundred years later, Congress designated August 7 as National Lighthouse Day to commemorate this important moment in history and to celebrate these beautiful structures. And, if you’re looking for something new to spice up your travel, a lighthouse stay can really fit the bill. There are many – throughout the country – that have accommodations for visitors. Ranging from posh to hostel-chic, there is something for everyone. You will be living a rich piece of American history with a beautiful ocean view all at the same time.  The draw of the ocean, with it’s crashing waves, the romance of all of the stories about lighthouses, what could be better? Here are a few of the best.

East Brother Light Station Bed and Breakfast

Image 1 East Brother

Close to San Francisco – about a half hour away – yet so far, this beautiful light station and four-room bed and breakfast is accessible only by boat.  East Brother has been an active lighthouse for 142 years (the inn was opened about 35 years ago to help finance the station), and it is a great getaway from the “city” with spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, Mount Tamalpais, and the Marin coastline. Not just a lighthouse, but a lighthouse with gourmet restaurants, a stay here includes champagne & hors d’oeuvres upon arrival, a multi-course dinner with wine and a full gourmet breakfast the next morning. Another great part of the stay is a full tour of the island, including the buildings, and information on the history of the island and its life as a lighthouse up to the present.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Image 2 Heceta Head

Located on highway 101 on the Central Oregon Coast, halfway between the towns of Florence and Yachats, lays this historic and rustic Heceta Head Lighthouse. This Victorian-style lightkeeper’s house at dates back to 1894. Perched on a cliff with spectacular views of the Pacific, the lighthouse offers three guestrooms with period furnishings and guests reach their quarters by climbing a dramatic wooden spiral staircase. Paths from the house lead to the beach and the lighthouse, said to be one of the most beautiful in the world. The lighthouse, which is still working, rises 205 feet above the ocean, where its lens casts its beams some 21 miles out to sea. It is the brightest light on the Oregon coast, and is believed to be the most photographed lighthouse in the United States. The 15-room bed and breakfast is known for it’s spectacular morning meal with food that represents the best of Oregon: artisan cheeses, sausages, local produce and fresh pastries.

Big Bay Point Lighthouse

Image 3 Big Bay Point

This seven-room inn is located on the upper peninsula of Michigan where activities include hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and rock climbing. In the winter, there is skiing and snowmobiling. More than three acres of lawn and 40 acres of woods with trails are at the disposal of guests. There is also a cozy living room with a fireplace, a library and a sauna. High atop a cliff jutting into the clear, deep waters of Lake Superior, the Big Bay Point is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. No televisions are on-site at this rustic getaway. Guests climb to the lighthouse lantern, 120 feet above the lake’s surface, where they can survey open fields of native grasses and wildflowers, dense hardwood and pine forests, the majestic Huron Mountains looming in the distance, and the ever-changing face of Lake Superior.

Isle Au Haut Lighthouse

Image 4 Isle au Haut

Travel back in time with a stay at the Isle Au Haut Lighthouse in Maine. Located in the wilderness area of Acadia National Park, the Keeper’s House, which was established in 1907, has no television or phones and guests use kerosene lanterns and gaslights for light. The only way to reach the lighthouse is by mail boat from Stonington. Bikes are used for getting around the island. The six guest bedrooms are furnished with painted antiques, island crafts and coastal memorabilia. Isle Haut is considered is considered the eastern limit of Penobscot Bay, an active harbor and fishing grounds when it was built. Now it makes for a beautiful scenic view. There are many islands in this bay, and on them, some of the country’s most well known summer colonies. The bay served as portal for the one time “lumber capital of the world,” the city of Bangor.

The Rose Island Lighthouse

Insert 5 Rhode Island Lighthouse

On an 18-acre island off the coast of Newport, RI, this gem was turned off. It was turned on again after being restored in 1993. It is not a bed and breakfast or an inn, but a working lighthouse. Visitors can either stay in the museum – after it closes, the two museum bedrooms on the first floor become available for overnight “keepers” who want to step back in time to experience turn-of-the-century lighthouse life first-hand. Or, you can be an actual “keeper,” for a night or a week. Your daily duties start about 7:30 AM when you listen to the marine weather on the VHF radio. At 8 AM your rounds begin by raising the flag (you will lower it at sunset). Next you will record and manage our wind-powered electric system and rainwater gathering system. You’ll make sure the lighthouse is clean and presentable for the day, and greet visitors and overnighters in the museum. Whichever you choose, Rose Island is a vast place for leisure time with lots of gardens, natural flora and fauna, and great walks and fishing.

The West Point Inn

Insert 6 Westpoint

The West Point is a rustic inn and lighthouse located in a small community in western Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada. This is the perfect place to go if you are seeking history along with seclusion and beauty.  The West Point Lighthouse stands among the Island’s most recognizable places. At 69 feet tall, it’s also one of PEI’s tallest and most unique lighthouses. Built in 1875, put into operation in 1876, and manned until 1963 when the keeper retired, today the lantern operates electrically. Visitors stay in a lighthouse or a seaside campground, explore pristine beaches and Cedar Dunes, dine on local seafood while watching the fishing boat that landed it. The 4-star West Point Lighthouse Inn features 13 contemporary rooms all with breathtaking views of the Northumberland Strait from the shore of West Point, Prince Edward Island. Activities include biking, hiking on the interpretive trails, and lots of relaxing with a stunning natural backdrop.

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