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Sunset at Scituate Lighthouse in Scituate, Massachusetts
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    Massachusetts

Visit some of the most beautiful, historic and distinct lighthouses in the USA, including the country’s first light station.

Massachusetts has a long and storied history as a hub for maritime trading, and you can find homages to this heritage along the Massachusetts Lighthouse Trail. Over 45 of these incredible monuments are still standing in the state, many of which have been meticulously preserved, and several offer tours, museums and even overnight stays. With stunning views of coastlines from Cape Ann to Cape Cod, each provides a unique look into the past. Many of Massachusetts’ lighthouses are also located near major cities – which offer plenty of spots of historical significance and authentic culinary experiences – making them excellent stops on your New England vacation. Set off on a journey down the Massachusetts Lighthouse Trail and discover living history in every corner of the Bay State.

Boston Light

The USA’s first light station, Boston Light has been standing guard over the outer edge of Boston Harbor from Little Brewster Island since 1716. With views of Massachusetts’ capital city of Boston and the Atlantic Ocean, the structure’s light can beam 43 kilometers across the water. While Boston Light is not currently accessible to the public, you can see it along with two other lighthouses in Boston Harbor on a seasonal boat tour narrated by knowledgeable local guides.

Aerial view of the historic Boston Light

Aerial view of the historic Boston Light
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Eastern Point Lighthouse

Situated at the entrance of Gloucester Harbor, this gem north of Boston greets visitors to the USA’s oldest fishing port. Take in picturesque views of the light from the nearby Dog Bar Breakwater, a 685-meter granite jetty, or on boat tours of the harbor. You might recognize sights from the 2000 movie “The Perfect Storm” starring George Clooney, which was partially filmed in Gloucester. While in town, visit the Cape Ann Museum and Maritime Gloucester campus for a well-rounded exploration of the area’s history and culture.

Gay Head Lighthouse

Overlooking the southwest shores of Martha’s Vineyard, Gay Head Light is the oldest of five lighthouses on the island. You can climb up its tower for views of the striking red-clay Aquinnah Cliffs below and enjoy sunset tours on select dates. Nearby, check out the Aquinnah Cultural Center to learn about the traditions and impact of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Nation. Farther afield in Vineyard Haven, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum details the history and culture of the island.

The Gay Head Lighthouse overlooks the picturesque Aquinnah Cliffs on Martha’s Vineyard

The Gay Head Lighthouse overlooks the picturesque Aquinnah Cliffs on Martha’s Vineyard
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Ryan Zipp

Borden Flats Lighthouse

Built in 1881, this red-and-white beacon just off the coast of Somerset is a quintessential icon of maritime Massachusetts. Borden Flats Light is one of the few offshore lighthouses in the world that allows overnight stays through its Overnight Keepers’ program. Its proximity to Somerset and nearby Fall River makes it easy to see attractions in both towns. Visit the Somerset Historical Society and Southcoast Open Air Market, then tour Battleship Cove and its Maritime Museum before enjoying waterfront dining along the Taunton River and live music at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River.

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Brant Point Lighthouse

Located just off the coast of Cape Cod, Nantucket is an idyllic island community accessible by ferry. The island’s Brant Point Lighthouse is the second-oldest lighthouse in the USA; it’s also the shortest lighthouse in New England, standing a modest eight meters tall. You’ll cruise past the historic beacon as you enter Nantucket Harbor. Explore the lighthouse grounds and the surrounding beach, then take a short trip into town for waterfront dining on the wharf. Find more history at Great Point and Sankaty Head lighthouses, as well as the Egan Maritime Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum, the Nantucket Whaling Museum, the Black Heritage Trail and Museum of African American History of Nantucket.

Exploring near the Brant Point Lighthouse on Nantucket

Exploring near the Brant Point Lighthouse on Nantucket
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Marblehead Light Station

Among the many wonders you can see on a trip down the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway is Marblehead Light, one of the USA's most visually distinct lighthouses. The skeletal, cast-iron structure towers 32 meters and is one of about 14 of its kind remaining in the country. It's located in Marblehead’s Chandler Hovey Park, a scenic spot to enjoy a picnic lunch while watching boats go by. Afterward, see more historical attractions, including Derby Wharf Light Station, in Salem.

Race Point Lighthouse

Provincetown is a seaside locale at the tip of Cape Cod that offers artsy vibes and plenty of intriguing sights for history buffs, including the majestic Race Point Lighthouse. In a remote location surrounded by national seashore and peaceful oceanfront trails, you can reach the lighthouse on a hike or rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Spend the night on-site at The Keeper’s House or The Whistle House for the ultimate solitude and enjoy a sunset lobster clambake on the Provincetown dunes while in the area.

Sunset at the Race Point Lighthouse in Provincetown

Sunset at the Race Point Lighthouse in Provincetown
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Getting There

Fly into Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and rent a car to start exploring the Massachusetts Lighthouse Trail.