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There’s something special about lighthouses.

Whether it's a day trip or a long vacation, lighthouses capture the imagination like few other relics from years gone by.

Article courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism | 8/18/2014, 1:19 p.m.
Whether it's a day trip or a long vacation, lighthouses capture the imagination like few other relics from years gone ...
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism - Lighthouses. Courtesy of MOTT

It might be their historical importance or treacherous tales or just the fact that plenty of them look really cool, but for one reason or another, lighthouses capture the imagination like few other relics from years gone by.

Massachusetts, of course, has several dozen lighthouses, including some of the oldest in the country, which dot the entrance to waterways all around the Commonwealth’s coastal areas. Several of these beacons also welcome visitors, particularly during the warmer parts of the year, making summer the ideal time to take a closer look at them.

For photographers, history buffs or anyone just looking for a fun day outside, here are five lighthouses worth traveling to see.

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Courtesy of MOTT

Annisquam Lighthouse in Gloucester MA. Courtesy of MOTT

Annisquam Lighthouse in Gloucester, MA

As Gloucester emerged early on to become one of the Massachusetts’ preeminent port cities, it needed a lighthouse to manage the traffic coming to and from atop the water. Built in the early 1800s, Annisquam Light rose to particular prominence about a decade later, thanks to the alleged nearby sighting of a monstrous sea serpent, rumored by newspapers to be hundreds of feet long. When caught, the “leviathan” turned out to be far smaller, but it certainly made for quite the story at the time.

A couple hundred years later, Annisquam Lighthouse remains an active aid to navigation and is owned by the Coast Guard. Because of this, the lighthouse does not allow visitors inside, but savvy passersby can head to Wingaersheek Beach when the tide is low and walk out towards the lighthouse for a great view. There is a fee for parking at the beach, which does fill up quickly, so in the summer months, it’s best to get there early.

To stay overnight in Gloucester, book a few nights at the Bass Rocks Ocean Inn or theAtlantis Oceanfront Inn.

Gay Head Lighthouse in Aquinnah, MA

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Courtesy of MOTT

Lighthouse in Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard. Courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Another elder citizen of the coast, Gay Head Lighthouse was the very first lighthouse constructed on Martha’s Vineyard, going up in 1799. The beacon sits on the westernmost edge of the island and is located off the aptly named Lighthouse Road in Aquinnah. The most striking aspect of Gay Head Lighthouse is the remarkable surrounding scenery, which is comprised of instantly recognizable red clay cliffs that make the area a premier attraction on Martha’s Vineyard.

The lighthouse is open to visitors at select times, offering the most accessibility during the summer. Due to erosion, the lighthouse’s foundation is becoming increasingly suspect, but efforts to save the lighthouse are underway. That said, those who would like to see the beacon in its historic location would do well to make a trip soon.

For folks traveling into the area, the Outermost Inn and Duck Inn are right nearby.

Brant Point Lighthouse in Nantucket, MA

photo

Tim Grafft

Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.

Brant Point Lighthouse has the distinction of being one of the most historic lighthouse Massachusetts locations and also one of the most star-crossed. Established in 1746, several decades before the United States even existed, this site has actually hosted ten beacons in total. The nine unfortunate forebears that preceded today’s light burned, blew over, rotted, wrecked or were condemned.