AAA Travel Tips / Lighthouse Festivals

Lighthouse Festivals

James Brey/
By AAA Travel Editor Stephanie Simpson
October 25, 2019
The United States has more lighthouses than any other country, and many of them are celebrated for their beauty and history as well as their usefulness. A variety of festivals salute these landmark navigational aids. Check out these fun places to go and explore.
Fort Gratiot Light Station in Port Huron Michigan

Blue Water SandFest

Port Huron, Michigan
(810) 982-0891 Ext 118
Built in 1829 to guard the St. Clair River and Lake Huron, Fort Gratiot Light Station is still a working lighthouse and also the site of the 3-day Blue Water SandFest in early July. Take a lighthouse tour, and witness the Michigan Master Sandsculpting State Championships, amateur sculpting contests and the Quick Sand Speed Sculpting Show. If festival food isn’t your cup of tea, then try nearby Freighters Eatery & Taproom, a restaurant overlooking the Blue Water Bridge. Enjoy the view of the St. Clair River and locally-sourced menu items. The signature mac and cheese dishes include one with lobster and another with wild mushrooms and truffle oil.
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Door County Lighthouse in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin
James Brey/

Door County Lighthouse Festival

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
(920) 743-5958
The Door County Lighthouse Festival, which takes place in early June, offers festivalgoers the opportunity to explore lighthouses usually closed to the public. You can climb to the top of some and visit the lighthouse keepers’ quarters. Photo opportunities abound on guided land tours and boat excursions. If you plan to stay overnight, the AAA Three Diamond® White Lace Inn in Sturgeon Bay features a complex of historic homes decked out in Victorian finery.
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St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida

Luminary Night

St. Augustine, Florida
(904) 829-0745
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum is a sight to behold on the first Wednesday in December. Delight in the Christmas decorations, light displays, yuletide refreshments, visits with Santa Claus and a string quartet playing seasonal music. Guests can climb 219 steps to the top of the lighthouse tower for a spectacular view of St. Augustine.
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Mukilteo Lighthouse in Washington

Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival

Mukilteo, Washington
(425) 353-5516
The Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival, also known as MukFest, is an early September tradition held in Lighthouse Park. Saturday starts out with a kids’ fishing derby, followed by a children’s parade and the grand parade. An array of ethnic food, craft beer and wine awaits festivalgoers on the avenue of food and in the evening the beer garden comes alive with folk, jazz and rock music. Pacific Northwest arts and crafts fill nearly 60 booths at the outdoor marketplace and don’t miss out on the lighthouse tours. Fireworks light up the night sky on Friday and Saturday. Less than a 5-minute walk from the festival, The Silver Cloud Inn Mukilteo, a AAA Three Diamond, is located at the water’s edge and offers beautiful views of Elliott Bay.
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Point Cabrillo Light Station in Mendocino California

Point Cabrillo Light Station Whale Festival

Mendocino, California
(707) 961-6300
On the first and third weekends in March, visitors flock to Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park to witness an enthralling event, the gray whale migration. The Point Cabrillo Light Station offers optimum viewing as the whales continue their yearly trek from the Baja Peninsula to their Arctic feeding grounds. Docents are on hand to enhance your experience with light station history and tours of a restored lighthouse keeper’s home.
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Sandcastle on beach

Toledo Lighthouse Waterfront Festival

Oregon, Ohio
(419) 691-3788
Maumee Bay State Park offers a scenic panorama of this historic lighthouse 4 miles off the shore of Lake Erie. Its Romanesque-style architecture of buff-colored brick and a rolled-edge steel roof resembles a gingerbread house. Boat rides out to the lighthouse, a sand castle contest, musical entertainment and the Nautical Arts & Crafts Village are highlights of this festival held in early July. Show up with a big appetite to savor perch and shrimp wraps and ears of roasted corn.
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