Michigan is a great state for exploring lighthouses. And luckily, families looking for a last minute vacation before the summer is up can find some of these unique structures not too far from home.
"The lure of lighthouses is that there's a limited number of them – and they happen to be in some of the most beautiful places," says Terry Pepper, executive director of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA). "Seeing lighthouses becomes addictive. You just want to see them all."
Ready to go? Get your kids into lighthouse hopping with these ideas from Pepper.
Research the lighthouses before you go.
Google the lighthouse's name with your kids and find out more about what makes that one unique. You might also want to look through these sites: U.S. Coast Guard's list of Michigan lighthouses, Pure Michigan's online lighthouse tour and Terry Pepper's extensive information about each Michigan lighthouse.
Find out about the 'light characteristics.'
This is what distinguishes one lighthouse from another – the color of the light and its pattern. Is the light a white, fixed light? Or a green one that flashes every five seconds? Ask your child to figure it out by watching the lighthouse light at night. You can even read up about this before you go.
Challenge your kids.
Have them count the number of steps to the top of the lighthouse's tower during your tour. Have your child ask the tour guide if she's got it right!
If you follow the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association on Facebook, you can get regular updates – and get stoked about your trip.
Become a lighthouse keeper.
Some lighthouses allow guests to stay in the lighthouse and take care of it during certain times of the year. Visit each lighthouse's website to find out if this is an option.
Take the right gear with you.
Make sure that your kids wear closed-toe shoes for climbing the lighthouse tower. Also, let them take a disposable camera so they can take their own pictures during your visit.