I’m so excited that you’re planning to explore the incredible lighthouses of Door County.
I grew up in the Midwest and spent many summers in Door County, I love it here. Visiting Door County is one of the top things to do in Wisconsin.
What I love most about Door County is the stunning coastlines, the charming villages, and of course the historical lighthouses.
There are 11 historic lighthouses in Door County. Some are accessible to the public; others are best admired from a distance.
The best-door county lighthouses to visit are Cana Island Lighthouse, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, and Sherwood Point Lighthouse.
The full list of Door County lighthouses is below,
Whether you’re looking for breathtaking views, a deep dive into history, or a peaceful stroll with scenic beauty, I’ve got you covered!
11 Best Lighthouses In Door County WI To Explore
- Cana Island Lighthouse
- Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
- Sherwood Point Lighthouse
- Bailey’s Harbor Range Lights
- Pottawatomie Lighthouse
- Chambers Island Lighthouse
- Pilot Island Lighthouse
- Sturgeon Bay Canal Light Tower
- Old Baileys Harbor Lighthouse (Birdcage)
- Sturgeon Bay North Pierhead Lighthouse
No matter which of these Wisconsin lighthouses you decide to visit, you’re in for an unforgettable experience. So, shall we delve into what each one has to offer?
Cana Island Lighthouse
For over 150 years, Cana Island Lighthouse has been a beacon for sailors. It is situated on an island which you ride a haywagon to get to.
It’s perhaps one of the most scenic of all the door county lighthouses open to the public. If you are looking for lighthouse pictures, this is the one to visit.
its 89-foot tower has 97 stairs and rewards you with a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan. I adore this lighthouse not only is it historic but it’s also picturesque and has somewhat of a film set feel about it.
The lighthouse is open from May to October with the last tower climb being at 4.30 pm. The children will love it for the hayride alone. A must-visit for me.
This lighthouse is also called Can Island Lighthouse.
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, nestled on a bluff in Penninsula State Park, stands as a testament to times gone by. Built in 1868 still guides ships today.
On the National Register Of Historic Places, this place offers you a glimpse into life as it was for the lighthouse keepers of the past.
There is also the keeper’s cottage to explore here and of course stunning views of Peninsula State Park.
If you looking for a Door County lighthouse tour they run regularly here throughout the summer. If you looking to make a day of it this is one of the Wisconsin lighthouses for you.
This is one of the best Door County lighthouses open to the public.
Sherwood Point Lighthouse
Having visited, I can attest that the Sherwood Point Lighthouse is a gem to look out for and a must-visit.
Nestled on the west side of Sturgeon Bay, Sherwood Point Lighthouse is amidst nature, and offers splendid views of Green Bay.
Built in 1883 it was the last maintained lighthouse on the Great Lakes and finally became automated in 1983.
This lighthouse is only open during the Door County Lighthouse Festival in Spring or Fall so keep that in mind.
So if you want to go inside this is the only time it is open but the exterior can be viewed year-round from the water.
If you do visit take your camera as this lighthouse is a photography dream. A great place to get lighthouse pictures.
Located on Rock Island State Park Pottawatomie Lighthouse is Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse. It’s not one of the easiest to get to but if you are a little more adventurous I urge you to give it a go.
First, you have to take a ferry to Rock Island and then a beautiful two-mile hike but trust me, the breathtaking panoramic views atop the lighthouse are well worth the journey.
This lighthouse has been standing guard over the perilous passage known as the Straits of Death’s Door between Green Bay and Lake Michigan since as early as 1836.
It has been restored to its 1910 condition and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Lighthouse tours are given from Memorial Day through Columbus Day and this is the only time visitors are allowed to climb to the top.
If you can visit this is when you want to go as the views are breathtaking.
One of the things to do in Wisconsin if you want a bit more adventure.
Baileys Harbor Range Lights
The charming Baileys Harbor Range Lights are a bit of an icon in the area. Originally built to guide ships into the harbor during foggy and stormy nights here you get two lighthouses for the price of one.
This lighthouse is comprised of two elements – an upper and lower range light that worked in tandem to guide sailors in their navigation.
The Upper Range Light is the larger of the two buildings and was designed with a tower that stands 21 feet high.
The Lower Range Light, by contrast, is very distinct, with its light standing only 9 feet above ground level. I prefer this one just because it is cute.
They are unique being the only lighthouses of this design that are still functional as navigational aids. Part of The Ridges Sanctuary they are easily accessible and in a wonderful location.
They are often missed by tourists but I feel if you can pay a visit, woodland walks, and beaches are a stone’s throw away so you can make a day of it. One of the lighthouses of Wisconsin that are high on my list.
And if you are here in the fall in the Midwest this area is stunning.
Chambers Island Lighthouse
If you are looking for a unique adventure, then a trip to Chambers Island will be right up your alley.
Located about 7.5 miles northwest of Fish Creek, this lighthouse is only open during Door County Lighthouse Festival However, the grounds are open in the summer.
Built in 1868, this 42-foot-tall lighthouse guided ships safely around the Door Peninsula for decades. Today, it offers lighthouse seekers a little adventure.
To see it you will need to charter a boat but the island is mostly private and can only be visited at certain times so check before you go.
However, you are able to see it from the water and what could be better than a boat ride around Green Bay?
One of the best lighthouses in Wisconsin to view from the water.
Sturgeon Bay Canal Light Tower
When it comes to lighthouses and Surgeon Bay it can get very confusing. There is the Sturgeon Bay Canal Lighthouse and the Sturgeon Bay North Pierhead Lighthouse sometimes just known as The Pierhead.
The Sturgeon Bay Canal Light Tower is white and tall and the Sturgeon Bay North Pierhead Lighthouse is the iconic red one you will have seen pictures of.
They are both worth seeing but I just wanted to clarify as it can be confusing.
The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Light Tower was built in 1899 and is located at the Coast Guard station. It is on the National Register Of Historic Places and makes quite the perfect backdrop photo.
The tower is 78 feet tall and it is only open during the Lighthouse Festival.
Sturgeon Bay is also one of the charming Door County towns.
Pilot Island Lighthouse
If you’re searching for a spot that offers a dose of history along with scenic views, the Pilot Island Lighthouse could be the choice for you.
Located on Pilot Island in the Death’s Door Passage (don’t worry, it’s much safer than it sounds), this lighthouse has served as a guiding light for mariners since 1858.
The lighthouse you see today is the second lighthouse in the area after the first one built on Plum Island in 1848 was deemed inadequate.
The lighthouse is not accessible to the public and is actually in disrepair.
The best place to see the lighthouse from the land is at the Washington Island Ferry dock at the tip of the Door County Peninsula.
Some tours take you around the island and in my opinion these are worth the time and money.
Old Baileys Harbor Lighthouse (Birdcage)
This unique lighthouse is unique in a few ways. First, in that it was operational for merely 16 years, and second because it is one of very few “birdcage” style lighthouses left in the United States.
This historical structure was built back in 1852 and stands 25 feet tall, featuring its signature birdcage lantern.
Unfortunately, the interior of the lighthouse is off-limits to visitors, but don’t let that deter you!
It’s the exterior of this lighthouse, juxtaposed against the beautiful scenic backdrop of the Lake Michigan shoreline, that is breathtaking.
Located ironically on Lighthouse Island it is only viewable by boat or tour.
Sturgeon Bay North Pierhead Lighthouse
This is one of my favorite lighthouses in Wisconsin. It’s bold and unapologetic and unique to most of the other lighthouses in the area.
It’s situated at the entrance to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and is one of the most accessible lighthouses in the area.
This light has been operational since 1882, keeping vessels safe as they traverse the waters of Lake Michigan.
When you go, be sure to take advantage of the photo opportunities! The lighthouse looks particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset when the red structure contrasts stunningly with the soft colors of the sky.
Honestly, I could look at pictures of these lighthouses for hours.
While you can’t go in the lighthouse the pier it stands on is open to the public so you can explore at your leisure.
Just remember to use caution when walking about as the pier can be slippery, especially after rain or in colder weather.
This is one of the best-door county lighthouses for families to visit those who want their lighthouse viewing more on the easy side. It also looks incredible during the winters in Door County.
Packing List When Visiting Lighthouses In Door County
If you will be traveling, either by plane or by car to Door County, here are some of my best tips on how to pack lightly.
This unisex RFID-blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.
If you have a pouch already that does not come with RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.
This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone as I have. And wow is it fast!
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and so easy to use.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for hiking and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.
The replaceable carbon filter ensures clean drinking water when you want it.
Then this collapsible silicone foldable water bottle would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.
You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc…. No matter the time of day or evening.
This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great.
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Door County, WI is home to some of the most picturesque and historic lighthouses in the country.
In my opinion, Door County has some of the best lighthouses in Wisconsin. each lighthouse offers its own distinct charm and allure.