Are you looking for the best lighthouses to visit near Cleveland?
Cleveland’s location on Lake Erie means that it has been a significant hub for maritime trade and shipping for hundreds of years. Other towns in Ohio along the coast of Lake Erie have a similar history.
Due to the high maritime traffic, there are many lighthouses along the shores of Lake Erie that were built to guide sailors to safety.
While many of these lighthouses are no longer functional, you can still see them today (along with several that are still in use!).
Here are the best lighthouses to see within 1.5 hours driving distance of Cleveland:
1. Cleveland West Pierhead Lighthouse
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland West Pierhead Lighthouse is one of the best lighthouses to see in Cleveland. Located on Lake Erie just outside of Downtown Cleveland, this picturesque lighthouse (sometimes also called the Cleveland Harbor Main Entrance Lighthouse) is easily visible from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Cleveland West Pierhead Lighthouse was built in 1911 and was used by the United States Coast Guard until 1976. Today, it is no longer in use but it is still owned by the Coast Guard.
It’s not possible to visit the lighthouse, and the only way you can get closer is on a boat. If you book a sightseeing cruise tour on the Goodtime III, you’ll be able to see this lighthouse as well as many other sights around the Cleveland Harbor and Cuyahoga River.
One of the most notable aspects of this lighthouse is its tendency to freeze over in the winter, giving it the unique appearance of a small frozen ice castle.
2. Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light
Location: Fairport Harbor, Ohio
Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light is a historic lighthouse located in the small town of Fairport Harbor about 35 minutes from Cleveland.
This lighthouse was constructed in 1925 to replace the original lighthouse of Fairport Harbor, which is now the Fairport Marine Museum and Lighthouse.
To access this lighthouse, you must walk along the breakwall in Headland Dunes State Nature Preserve. It’s a scenic walk offering beautiful views of Lake Erie and the shoreline. While you cannot enter the lighthouse, it’s a great spot to take photos.
Back in town, you can visit the Fairport Marine Museum and Lighthouse, which exhibits marine artifacts in the lighthouse keeper’s dwelling area of this original 1871 lighthouse.
3. Lorain Harbor Lighthouse
Location: Lorain, Ohio
Lorain Harbor Lighthouse is a quaint and historic lighthouse on Lake Erie about 40 minutes away from Cleveland.
This lighthouse was originally built in 1917 by the United States Army Corp of Engineers, but it was taken out of service in 1965. Although it is no longer in use, this lighthouse remains known as the “Jewel of the Port” and is one of the landmarks in the town of Lorain.
Tours of this lighthouse are available, at a cost of $20 per person. For a really unique experience, you can also book a Sunset Dinner at the lighthouse. This multi-course dinner includes wine pairings and costs $150 per person (inclusive of tips.)
You can make reservations for these experiences on the Lorain Lighthouse website. Both the lighthouse tours and Sunset Dinners are available seasonally.
4. Vermilion Lighthouse
Location: Vermilion, Ohio
Although this lighthouse is not as historic as some of the others on this list, Vermilion Lighthouse is still a beautiful lighthouse near Cleveland that is a nice place to visit.
Located in Vermilion, which is known as the “Town of Sea Captains,” this functioning lighthouse is about 45 minutes from Cleveland. The lighthouse was erected in 1991, and it’s a replica of the historic Vermilion Lighthouse, which existed from 1859 until 1929.
Today, this picturesque red-and-white lighthouse is situated in Main Street Park in Vermilion. Not only does the park offer scenic views of the lighthouse and Lake Erie, but there’s also a public beach where you can swim.
5. Huron Pier and Lighthouse
Location: Huron, Ohio
The Huron Pier and Lighthouse is a great place to visit that is just a one-hour drive from Cleveland. The town of Huron has been important for shipping and trade on Lake Erie since the early 19th century when the first lighthouse was constructed.
However, the current Huron Lighthouse was not constructed until 1936. This tall white lighthouse is very picturesque and stands out along the pier surrounded by rocks. Although you cannot go inside, you can get close to the lighthouse while walking along the pier.
The pier is also a very popular place for swimming, fishing, birding, sunbathing, and watching the boats go by.
6. Port Clinton Lighthouse
Location: Port Clinton, Ohio
Port Clinton Lighthouse is another lovely lighthouse located in a small town that is one hour and ten minutes from Cleveland.
Built in 1896, this lighthouse had an important location at the mouth of the Portage River where it meets Lake Erie. Although the lighthouse was decommissioned after 30 years, it has been well-preserved and is located inside Waterworks Park in Port Clinton today.
The park offers excellent views of the lighthouse and Lake Erie beach access. The lighthouse is open for tours from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
The lighthouse also hosts the Port Clinton Lighthouse & Maritime Festival in August. More details can be found on the Port Clinton Lighthouse website.
7. Marblehead Lighthouse
Location: Marblehead, Ohio
Located about one hour and 20 minutes from Cleveland, Marblehead Lighthouse is one of the most iconic and most photographed places on Lake Erie.
This red-trimmed white lighthouse is the oldest continuously-operated lighthouse on the United States side of the Great Lakes. Constructed in 1822, the lighthouse has been guiding ships to safety along the rocky shores of the Marblehead Peninsula for over 200 years now.
Marblehead Lighthouse State Park is open year-round to visitors, but you can only go inside the lighthouse during the summer months.
From Memorial Day until Labor Day, tours of the lighthouse are available and cost $3 per person. You can also climb to the top of the lighthouse and take in sweeping views of Lake Erie. Additionally, there is a United States Coast Guard museum and gift shop.
Have you visited any of these lighthouses near Cleveland?
Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of her home state. Now, she’ sharing her love of the Cleveland area with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.