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Work and Live in a Lighthouse on Vacation ... Be a Lighthouse Keeper at a Great Lakes Lighthouse

Updated on December 29, 2016
ThelmaC profile image

Thelma Raker Coffone is an award-winning writer who enjoys writing on a variety of topics, especially lighthouses.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

Watercolor by Jamie Weil
Watercolor by Jamie Weil | Source

Lighthouse Keeper Program at Great Lakes Lighthouses

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live in a lighthouse by the sea? Well, thanks to the Lighthouse Keeper Program, that dream can become a reality. The program offers the opportunity to live for a week in a participating Great Lakes lighthouse and perform duties such as welcoming visitors, sharing with them the history of the station and working in the gift shop.

You must think of your participation in the program as an educational experience and not a vacation...or as some prefer to call it, a working vacation.

Most of the accommodations include a fully equipped kitchen (you provide your own food), bedrooms, baths and a common living area.

The price for this "pay to play" experience is very reasonable and the monies collected go directly to benefit the lighthouse for restoration and preservation.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Lake Michigan

Built in 1870, the Grand Traverse Lighthouse is located on the shores of Lake Michigan in LeeLanau State Park in Northport, Michigan. Locally known as "Cat's Head Point Light", it is open for program participants April through December each year. The cost per person is $195 per week and you are required to become a member of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum for a $15 dues fee. Gift certificates are also available for purchase for the lighthouse enthusiast on your shopping list. What a unique gift idea!

An application for the Keepers Program at this lighthouse and a calendar with available weeks can be found at

Tawas Point Lighthouse on Lake Huron, Michigan
Tawas Point Lighthouse on Lake Huron, Michigan

Tawas Point Lighthouse on Lake Huron

Another participant in the Keepers Program is Tawas Point Lighthouse located on Lake Huron in Tawas Point State Park in northern Michigan. The cost to attend there is $275 weekly per person and includes much the same amenities as noted above. You must be 18 years of age and there is room for 3 people to stay each week. An application and additional information can be obtained by calling the Tawas Point Lighthouse museum store at 989-362-5658.

TV Program about Tawas Point Lighthouse on Lake Huron, Michigan

Tawas Point Light was featured in the Great Getaways TV Travel Series which is broadcast in the Midwest US and Canada. Below is a video clip from that program

Spring at Tawas Point Lighthouse on Lake Huron, Michigan

If you have participated in the Lighthouse Keepers Program, how do you rate it?

5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of Lighthouse Keepers Program

Lighthouse Keepers Program at Additional Michigan Lighthouses

Several other stations on the Great Lakes are joining in on offering this opportunity for the public to learn about our maritime heritage and to experience "lighthouse living". For information about other participating facilities, please go to The website also gives details about lighthouse bed and breakfasts in the Great Lakes region

Though the tasks that are expected of you during your stay are not exactly like the chores of the original Lighthouse Keepers and their families, you can imagine what their lives were like by staying in their former homes and soaking up the history of the area. What better way to spend a week long "working vacation"?

Video of Lighthouses Around the U.S.

© 2011 Thelma Raker Coffone

Please leave your comments about being a lighthouse keeper while working in a Great Lakes Lighthouse!

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    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Essie thanks for your nice comments and Happy Light-housing to you too!

    • EsJam profile image


      3 years ago from Southern California

      Hello Thelma,

      I am always happy to see lighthouse hubs, as I'm a lighthouse fan, too. I have heard about the programs such as these, and it would be awesome to do someday. Meanwhile, it is good to know all the great information that you provided, so thank you so much! Happy light-housing! Essie.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Joanne I have it on my bucket list also! Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.

    • profile image

      Joanne M Olivieri 

      5 years ago

      I've seen many a movie where people are living in lighthouses and I've always wondered what it would be like. It seems like a wonderful way to learn something new and maybe even a get away from it all type experience. Great info and video. I think I may just have to look into this and put it on my bucket list. Voted up

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Donna thanks for taking the time to read my hub and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I have added working in a lighthouse to my list of things to do someday!

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 

      7 years ago from USA

      Great hub! I've always been fascinated with lighthouses and the varied stories surrounding them. I knew that you could book rooms and stay in them, but not work in them. Great information...I voted this up!

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      7 years ago from Iowa

      This is a great idea for a vacation. Something to put on my list. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA


      Thanks for your nice comments. I hope you like lighthouses as much as I do!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for an interesting and informative hub with lovely videos. I've never thought of a holiday in a lighthouse before, but it sounds like a great idea.

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Barbsbitsnpieces, Thanks for your nice comments. I plan to write more about lighthouses as I get a chance to visit them. Hope you will enjoy my future lighthouse hubs!


    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      7 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @ThelmaC...Beautiful watercolor of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse! And good for you for sharing this Hub and others that speak for the saving of these national and world life-savers! So much and so many in our world need and deserve rescues!

      I love lighthouse history and would have really enjoyed a Pay to Stay (Play) opportunity back in the day!!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      Awesome, comprehensive hub about the Lighthouse Keeper Program which allows participants to take a "working vacation" at a lighthouse.

      You've done a great job of providing resources, videos and links which will help readers who would like to try this out find further information about the program.

      If I were younger and my husband were healthy this would have been a dream vacation for me.

      Rated up, useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting.

    • dearabbysmom profile image


      7 years ago from Indiana

      Well how neat to see your hub open up with the watercolor of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse! That gave me goosebumps to see it here. I hope others will become inspired by our hubs and try this out for themselves!

    • ThelmaC profile imageAUTHOR

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      7 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      JSParker thank you as always for your nice comments. I just found out about the Keepers program myself and would love to do it someday. By coincidence, I just ran across a hub from fellow hubber DearAbbysMom about this very same topic and she actually participated in the program at Grand Traverse Lighthouse. I added the link to my hub and you need to read her hub when you get a chance. I think you will enjoy it!

    • JSParker profile image


      7 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

      Awesome hub! I really enjoyed reading this and watching those videos. We know a couple who did this for a week or two, but it didn't quite register that WE could do it. Your hub makes it seem very possible. I think we will seriously check into it now. Voted useful and interesting. Good job!


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