If you’re looking for a lighthouse to visit during your trip to Northern Michigan, the Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Lake Michigan is one of your choices!
This lighthouse is located on the shores of the Leelanau Peninsula, and it’s one of the historic lighthouses in Michigan.
Michigan Historic Site
National Register of Historic Places
There are a couple of lake shoreline access points that are right around the lighthouse grounds. And there are benches set up right along the lake so you can sit and take in the views too!
Depending on how much you walk around the lighthouse grounds outside, how much time you spend taking in the lake views, and how much time you spend inside the buildings, you might end up spending anywhere from less than 15-20 minutes here, or 1-2 hours here.
Visiting the Grand Traverse Lighthouse in summer 2020
The lighthouse museum, fog signal building, and gift shop are all open as of June 26. The tower climb up the lighthouse won’t be available in 2020 because of public health concerns.
Be sure to bring a mask if you plan on going inside any of the buildings, as “face coverings” are said to be required.
Distance from the Grand Traverse Lighthouse
The lighthouse is located in the Leelanau Peninsula, which is the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan, kind of near Traverse City.
- Traverse City: Around 1 hour
- Mackinaw City (and bridge to the UP): 3 hours
- Detroit: 5 hours
- Chicago: 6 hours
See this map in google maps.
Camping near Grand Traverse Lighthouse
There is a campground within walking distance of the lighthouse! It’s just a few minutes walk.
This campground is also basically right on Lake Michigan. There are many campsites from which you can get views of the lake.
See more info about the state park camping.
Check for any alerts before you go!
- Official website for the Grand Traverse Lighthouse
- Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum on facebook
- Official website for Leelanau State Park
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Here’s a bit of what you can see with a visit to Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Leelanau State Park!
I visited a few days before the lighthouse museum opened, so I was really only able to walk around the lighthouse grounds.
So, this is what you can see even if you don’t go inside!
Pictures taken June 2020.
Getting to Leelanau State Park
Leelanau State Park and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse are located at the very northern tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, as far as you can go!
So there is only one road that goes far up to the northern tip, and that will lead straight to Leelanau State Park.
It’s best to have offline maps downloaded prior to your trip to the Leelanau Peninsula, as data connection (and phone service) may be spotty. The Google Maps app has offline maps that you can download for free. GPS will still work just fine in this area which can make offline maps a good way to get around.
Cost to visit Leelanau State Park (and the lighthouse!)
If you are a Michigan resident, hopefully you have your recreation passport! If not, you can get it when you arrive at Leelanau State Park for around $17. See current prices.
If you are non-resident, you can purchase a daily pass for around $9 when you arrive at the state park. If you know you’ll be visiting at least 4 Michigan state parks in the calendar year, then you can also buy the annual pass for around $34. See current prices.
Visiting the Grand Traverse Lighthouse grounds
So once you’ve entered the state park, you basically just follow the road straight ahead that will lead you to the parking area.
You’ll pass by the day use area. There is a playground for kids, and there was a volleyball net set up when I was there. There are picnic tables and grills here too if you want to make use of these things.
On your way to the parking lot, you’ll see the path to the lighthouse. So after you park, you walk down this path.
You’ll pass by an interesting looking tree, that is listed as a northern white cedar tree.
Then you’ll first come across the lighthouse gift shop.
Then there’s a walking path to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, which is also the building of the lighthouse keeper’s residence.
Then further along the walking path, you’ll come to the fog signal building.
Apparently, when the fog signal building is open, you can learn about Lake Michigan shipwrecks in the area, as well as about underwater drones!
Then, there is a short trail that starts right next to the fog signal building that will take you directly to Lake Michigan!
And then, you can head back to around the lighthouse museum where there’s some green space and benches.
You will also find more direct access spots to the Lake Michigan shoreline!
You can also walk directly along the shoreline from this lighthouse grounds area to the campground.
Also, if you want to see Lake Michigan off in the distance, bring along some quarters for the binoculars! (Or, bring your own binoculars!)
You can stop by the gift shop at the end of your lighthouse visit!
And located in a kind of separate area…
If you are a lighthouse chaser into historic sites, then also don’t miss the site of the first Grand Traverse light station!
There is no longer anything remaining to be seen, but you can visit the spot where the light station used to stand.
This is located in the campground area and you can walk to it from the main lighthouse area.
The road to the campground is the first road immediately after you pass the state park office building when you are entering the park. And then you’ll keep walking to the left, in the direction of the current lighthouse, and you will end up at the site of the old light station. (Or, you can walk along the shoreline to get to the campground!)
After you see this, you can keep walking in the same direction, and you will end up on a road that runs right along Lake Michigan!
I saw some swans around here. And apparently, some types of swans are unwanted in Michigan and considered an invasive species. (Based on the bill color, it does not seem to be the type I saw though.)
And that’s a bit about what a visit to the Lake Michigan lighthouse in the Leelanau Peninsula might look like!
For more stunning Lake Michigan views when you’re visiting Leelanau County, also see the Clay Cliffs loop trail and the best hikes in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!
See more lighthouses in Michigan:
- Muskegon South Pier Lighthouse on the shores of Muskegon State Park (Lake Michigan)
- Lighthouse on the shores of St Ignace (Lake Huron)
- Lighthouses on the shores of the Eastern UP
- Au Sable Point Lighthouse on the shores of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Lake Superior)
- Eagle Harbor Lighthouse on the shores of Keweenaw Peninsula (Lake Superior)
HAPPY VISIT TO THE GRAND TRAVERSE LIGHTHOUSE!