Michigan, at one point, had nearly 250 functional lighthouses on the shores of the upper and lower peninsula, though now that number is closer to 100 that are still in operation. Just under an hour drive away from Traverse City and 30 minutes from Sleeping Bear Dunes, Point Betsie Lighthouse & Inn is my favorite lighthouse in the state. Built from 1854-1858, this gorgeous lighthouse sits along Lake Michigan and was used to help ships ladled with lumber, wheat, and iron or copper ore safely navigate Lake Michigan. A bit different from what I normally share as far as accommodations go, this lighthouse is the perfect destination for those seeking to unplug, unwind, and reconnect with nature in a beautiful setting that could only be found here in Michigan.
Point Betsy Lighthouse & Inn
Location: Frankfort, Michigan
Address: 3701 Point Betsie Rd, Frankfort, MI 49635
Price: $360 per night
Staff Helpfulness & Friendliness: 5/5
Room size: 2/5
Room Amenities: 1/5
Room and Bed Comfort: 4/5
View from Room: 5/5
Pool: No, private beach access
Proximity to Other Points of Interest: 3/5
Once a very lonely and isolated place, this lighthouse used to be 40 miles from the nearest road, that was only reachable during good conditions via boat, making it difficult to get to, and impossible to escape during storms that would rise up on the lake. Today, it’s a beautiful, scenic drive that attracts tens of thousands of tourists from around the world to see one of the best preserved lighthouses in the world. In 2010, this lighthouse earned the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation, and it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places #84001375.
The lighthouse gets its name from a local native word for a river nearby, called “Ug-Zig-A-Zee-Bee”, which was then translated to French by French settlers as “Pointe Aux Bec Scies” (which sounds in English like Point Betsie when said quickly or by a non-French speaker) which means Saw Beck Point in English. Several families served terms of several years keeping the lighthouse lit and safe, and their records, diaries, photographs, and much more can be viewed in the lighthouse’s museum.
Without these families, who lived in solitude and often dealt with things like severe storms, traumatic injuries, and severe illnesses, without any outside help as they were so isolated, development of cities like Chicago, Detroit, Marquette, and many others might never have occurred, since ships carrying the materials to build them up might never have reached their destinations.
Not only is this beautiful lighthouse still a functional landmark and an educational center, but the original keeper’s quarters have been turned into a rental, where guests can stay for a few nights, or several weeks. Artists, writers, bird watchers, and honeymooners love staying at this charming lighthouse and inn for its peacefulness, incredible views, storied history, and proximity to other places like the Leelanau Wine Trail, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Leland Fishing Village, Traverse City, incredible hiking, swimming, and biking areas, and so much more.
The Keeper’s Quarters sleep up to six people with a kitchen and bathroom, begins around $360 per night or $2,200 for a weekly rental as of November 2020. The quarters have been remolded in 2020, so they have an entirely new look, and offer unmatched views of Lake Michigan. The only downside is that guests have to bring their own towels, which is a bit strange, since they do of course maintain the other linens in the inn. Click here to see photos of the newly updated décor, which utilizes locally made object d’art in a classic Northern Michigan style. For reservations, please click here.