Five historic Cape Cod lighthouses are open to the public for tours during the summer months and on special occasions during the off-season.
A few even offer "lighthouse vacations" allowing guests to stay in the keeper's house. (More about that in a minute.)
If you'd like to go inside one of these centuries-old towers, experience its history firsthand, and take in the amazing views from the top, these lighthouses offer open houses and tours:
Nobska Light sits high on a bluff in the Falmouth village of Woods Hole.
Originally built in 1828, Nobska Point Lightouse's original Fresnel lens is still in use. The nearby island of Martha's Vineyard is visible in the distance.
The organization Friends of Nobska Light has recently undertaken the daunting task of preserving and protecting this wonderful lighthouse, the keeper's house and the grounds. Donations toward this worthy cause are gratefully accepted!
2017 Nobska Lighthouse Tour Schedule:
The lighthouse grounds are open to the public daily from dawn to dusk.
Tours of the tower will be offered in 2017 - schedule TBA
Directions to Nobska Point Lighthouse:
Route 28 in Falmouth, to Woods Hole Road, to Church Street, to Nobska Point Lighthouse.
If you're biking along the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth, you can also reach the light house by turning off the Bikeway at Church Street, or turning off at Oyster Pond Road then onto Nobska Road.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; (774) 763-6453
For more than two centuries, mariners have relied on beacons from Chatham to safely navigate the treacherous waters around the "elbow" of Cape Cod.
Chatham Light, as you see it today, is one of two lighthouse towers that stood here in the mid-1800s.
In 1923, the second tower was dismantled and transported up the coast to Eastham, where it became "Nauset Lighthouse" (see below).
Chatham Lighthouse is perhaps the most often-photographed of all Cape Cod lighthouses, and one of the most popular for visitors thanks to its beautiful setting overlooking Lighthouse Beach, one of the most spectacular beaches in Chatham.
2017 Chatham Lighthouse Tour Schedule:
Unless otherwise noted, touring hours are from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.
May 3 & 17
June 7 & 21
July 5, 12, 19, & 26
August 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30
September 6 & 20
October 4 & 18
Admission is free.
Directions to Chatham Light House:
Take Main Street to Shore Road.
Parking near Chatham Lighthouse is extremely limited and often impossible to find. It's best to park in town and walk, bike or take the trolley (seasonal) to the light house.
More Info: USCG Auxiliary
The current Nauset Lighthouse was moved to Eastham from Chatham in 1923 to replace the last-standing of Eastham's "Three Sisters" - a trio of Cape Cod lighthouses that had, over time, succumbed to the elements and erosion of the cliffs on which they stood.
When you visit Nauset Lighthouse, you can see the restored Three Sisters by following a short walking trail from the Nauset Light Beach parking lot.
2017 Nauset Lighthouse Tour Schedule:
Public tours of Nauset Lighthouse and the oil house are offered from mid-May through mid-October. Admission is free. Donations are appreciated.
Tour schedule for 2017 TBA
Directions to Nauset Lighthouse:
Route 6 to Brackett Road, to Nauset Road, to Cable Road, to Nauset Light Beach Road.
Note: You'll find vehicle parking at the adjacent Nauset Light Beach parking lot. Cape Cod National Seashore parking fees apply until 4:30 p.m.
(See our Guide to Beaches in Eastham for more info about parking at Nauset Light Beach, National Seashore parking passes, etc.)
Contact: Nauset Light Preservation Society (508) 240-2612
The first light house on Cape Cod was built here, on the cliffs of North Truro, in 1797.
Over the centuries, Highland Lighthouse has been re-built, re-fitted and even moved a number of times to save it from toppling off the eroding cliffs into the ocean.
The latest move took place during the summer of 1996, in an amazing process that involved sliding the 430-ton structure more than 450 feet along steel beams lubricated with Ivory Soap!
FYI: Although its formal name is "Cape Cod Lighthouse", we all know and refer to it as "Highland Light".
2017 Highland Light Tours Schedule:
Open for tours from mid-May to mid-October
2017 daily schedule TBA
Admission is $6.
Directions to Highland Lighthouse:
Route 6 to Highland Road, then right onto South Highland Road, and left onto Highland Light Road.
Contact: Highland Light (508) 487-1121
Race Point is the most remote of all Cape Cod lighthouses that's accessible by land.
To get there, you'll need some good walking shoes and a lot of stamina. It's nearly a 2-mile hike from the nearest parking lot through soft, shifting sand.
Or, if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle that's equipped to travel oversand, and you buy the required permit, you can drive out to the lighthouse.
Find out about oversand driving to Race Point here.
Race Point Lighthouse 2017 Tour Schedule:
Tours are held on the first and third Saturdays of each month, June to early October, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
** On May 21, 2017, a special Mariner's Day tours will be offered.
On this day only, transportation to the lighthouse will be provided from the Race Point Beach parking lot, 9am to 2pm, rain or shine. Light refreshments will be provided, too.
Directions to the beach parking lot:
Route 6 to Race Point Road, then follow the signs to Race Point Beach parking lot. A parking fee or National Seashore parking pass may be required.
Contact: Race Point Light (508) 362-9304
The blue icons indicate where each "tour-able" lighthouse is located. To find out how to get there, click on "Map" view and zoom around with the (+ and -) buttons.
Lighthouse lovers and history buffs, this book's for you!
The Lighthouses of Massachusetts is filled with the fascinating stories and vintage photos of our local lighthouses and their "keepers" throughout the centuries.
It's a great read!
For true aficionados, what could be better than vacationing at a lighthouse?
Race Point Light - "Getting away from it all" takes on a whole new meaning when you stay here. The renovated keepers house has 3 bedrooms, shared kitchen and bathroom, and very few modern conveniences. Bring your own food, cook it yourself, and have the time of your life swimming, beachcombing, and watching the sun set from the lantern room. [Visit racepointlighthouse.org or call (508) 487-9930 to inquire.]
Wings Neck Light - Located on Wings Neck Point in the village of Pocasset, this is the perfect spot for a unique family getaway. Swim and sun at the beach. Fish from the rock jetty. Or just lounge the day away on the lawn, watching ships come and go from the nearby Cape Cod Canal. It's all good! The keepers home is available for rent weekly. [Visit wingsnecklighthouse.com or call Christina Stevens at (617) 899-5063 to inquire.]
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NOTE: Tour schedules, hours of operation, entrance fees, etc. may change at any time, without prior notice. Please confirm all information on your own before making any travel plans.