A unique place to spend the night

How to Find Cheap Lodging in a Lighthouse

by Debra L. Karplus


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If you are like many people, some of your favorite vacations are those by water, either a river, one of the five Great Lakes or a smaller lake, or by one of the oceans. Perhaps it is the recreation, fishing, swimming, boating, skiing on water skis or jet skis, or rafting that draws you to the area and probably the beauty of water-side vacation spots. Or maybe you are intrigued by the variety of lighthouses that greet boats along many harbors. Did you know that you can find lodging in a lighthouse? There are many options for fanciers of America's many lighthouses with a wide array of prices and amenities.

You can book a lighthouse stay as you would a motel or hotel, but staying at a lighthouse is not necessarily cheaper than a hotel room or a bed and breakfast inn. Do an online search of "lighthouse lodging" in the specific state or location where you are headed, such as the New England, California, New Zealand, Mississippi River, Cape Cod, or Door County, Wisconsin. Bulk airline ticket sellers like Orbitz.com, Priceline.com, or Travelocity.com can accommodate your water-side stay in a lighthouse while you book your air ticket, sometimes as part of a vacation package. Expect to pay about $300 per night. It's not exactly the bargain you might have expected!

Lighthouse Keeper Programs offer the best prices and many other perks.

Those travelers with a sense of adventure but a tight wallet might do best by participating in one of the many Lighthouse Keeper Programs around the country. These programs offer tourists the chance to lodge at a lighthouse for free or for a nominal fee. How is this possible?

The Mission Point Lighthouse near Traverse City, Michigan is one of many lighthouses where travelers can stay for a small fee. The area is amazingly scenic and touts its unique location at the forty-fifth parallel, equidistant from the equator and the North Pole. Their brochure states this:

Be a Keeper at Mission Point Lighthouse! You can live in the lighthouse and be a keeper with our wonderfully unique volunteer opportunity in which you will stay in the actual lighthouse, meet and talk to visitors from all over the world, and run the small gift shop. The Keeper's Quarters include a full kitchen, bedroom for two adults, bathroom, living and dining area.

The brochure directs potential guests to MissionPointLighthouse.com. One vacationer recently reported that he and his wife stayed there for two weeks for $200 weekly in exchange for operating the gift shop, answering the variety of questions from visitors, and taking care of the lighthouse. He and his wife knew in advance about the no smoking, no alcohol, and no pet policy of that particular lighthouse as well as the requirement for guests to be well-groomed since they would have much contact with visitors from around the world.

He said that the couple had to first complete the application, which included a letter of desire to be in the program, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and a follow-up phone interview. Then they had to undergo a background check before they could participate in this program. Once accepted into the program, they used the lighthouse website's online calendar to schedule the weeks they wanted to stay. The man stated that he and his wife usually stay in lighthouses around the country anytime they travel, as part of the Lighthouse Keeper Program. He is convinced that it's the cheapest and most interesting way to find comfortable lodging. The couple has many fascinating tales of other lighthouse stays.

Cheap lighthouse lodging can easily be found online.

So how do you get on board for such an intriguing travel idea? If you know someone who has lodged at a lighthouse, bend their ear to hear the impressions of their stay. If that's not an option, then start with an online search using keywords "lighthouse keeper program" to locate a program near your destination. Get onto each individual website and carefully review the fees and the requirements of each lighthouse lodge.

Staying in a lighthouse instead of your usual hotel, bed and breakfast inn, motel, or campground is a great way to create wonderful memories of your next vacation. You should be able to match what you as guests have to offer with the expectations of the lighthouse managers. Make your next water-side trip a lighthouse stay.


Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine and has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon.com (kindle). Learn more about her at DebraKarplus.blogspot.com.

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