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How to Make Yourself at Home in a Lighthouse

How to Make Yourself at Home in a Lighthouse

For those who love the smell of salt in the air—and relish in the never-ending sea breeze—living in a lighthouse sounds like a dream come true. But is it actually possible?

Of course, it is! The idyllic, dreamily remote lighthouse lifestyle might have once been reserved for the people who worked hard to (quite literally) keep the lights on. But things have changed. Today, in a time when improved technology allows boats to navigate their way about craggy shorelines with ease, many lighthouses have taken on new purposes—as cultural landmarks, museums and, yes, even humble abodes.

How can you make yourself at home in a lighthouse? Hop onto your Chaparral and explore one of the gorgeous destinations profiled below—because naturally, getting to these remote on-the-water spots is more than half the fun.

Lighthouse digs for your dream getaway

Privately owned lighthouses make for some serious stellar getaways—and through rental options like Airbnb, you can book a weekend away with ease. The only hard part? Deciding where to go!

One such lighthouse up for rent on the site is the Selkirk Lighthouse in Pulaski, New York. This quaint Great Lakes spot overlooks Salmon River on Lake Ontario, its stone façade, colonial-style porch and famous red light combining to create the quintessential lighthouse getaway.

The river itself is a quiet, inviting spot—its foliage-lined shores play host to fly-fishing, kayaking, and other activities. But when it gives way to the grand expanse of Lake Ontario, big boat fun truly comes into play: leisurely cruises along the coast and the serene vista of Selkirk Shores, all before turning in at one of the country’s most picturesque lights.  

Another top spot is the Point Arena Light, a California gem that overlooks the rocky, rustic shores of Mendocino County. Here, visitors are treated to a charming, back-to-nature sort of experience. The mighty 19th century light stands proudly over the Pacific-blue waves below, crashing against the rocky expanse that is Point Arena. Guests will stay in the cozy Keeper’s Room, delightful digs from which you can see the ocean and the playful shorebirds who call it “home.”

Free to a good home?

Lighthouses may not serve the same purpose they once did… but we can (and should) still enjoy them! That’s the idea behind the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, an initiative that allows government agencies, state and local governments, nonprofits, community development organizations and educational agencies to own “excess,” unused lighthouses—for free! Provided that the organization can care for the lighthouse and maintain its integrity, of course, which seems like a fair trade in our book!

Up for grabs, this year is the Duluth Harbor South Breakwater Outer Light over on Lake Superior, a quaint setup at the end of a long jetty-like structure. Past years have included sites from the Florida Keys to California to the beloved shores of New England.

This government initiative helps breathe new life into local communities—but for those who want to own their own lighthouse altogether, there’s a perk for you, too. In cases when a nonprofit or public entity does not step up to claim a light, that light is then offered via auction to the public—seafarers like you! You can head to the General Services Administration auction website (gsaauctions.gov) to see the fixer-upper lights that are available. They may need refurbishing, but there’s no beating the location.

All seafarers have dreamed of a quiet, contemplative life in a gorgeous seaside lighthouse—and now, it seems, those dreams are closer than ever before. Whether you’re looking for a weekend away or simply a marine “daycation,” these beautiful lighthouse locales are certainly worth the trip.


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