National Lighthouse Day is August 7, and the South has plenty of its share of the iconic landmarks. The 1870-built brick Cape Hatteras Light on North Carolina’s Outer Banks and Georgia’s Tybee Island Light Station, where the Savannah River meets the Atlantic, are among many that are well worth a day trip. But if you’re looking for a more immersive experience, make like a lighthouse keeper and rent one for the weekend. Each of these Southern locales are open to overnight visitors. Tip: Book ahead for a fall or winter getaway.
Cove Point Lighthouse
The oldest active lighthouse in Maryland sits on one of the narrowest points on the Chesapeake Bay, just an hour and a half south of Washington, DC. Tucked alongside the antique tower, the keeper’s house is outfitted with every modern convenience—Wi-Fi, central heat and air—but retains its nineteenth century integrity with hard pine floors, cast iron heaters, and crown molding. A screened porch opens onto a path leading to the beach.
Captain Charlie’s Station
Bald Head Island, North Carolina
From 1903 to 1933, Captain Charles Swan tended the lighthouse that guided mariners to the Cape Fear River past the dangerous shoals that threaten Bald Head Island. The keeper compound where he worked, stargazed, and lived with his family has been restored and converted into three cozy beachside rental cottages. Although the original lighthouse Charlie tended was dismantled in 1958, a nearby beacon is open to visitors as a reminder of the island’s navigational legacy. Built in 1817, “Old Baldy” is the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina. It’s an easy fifteen-minute bike ride away from the historic captain’s cabins.
Amelia Island, Florida
Enjoy a little piece of the Chesapeake while taking part in Florida’s world-class fishing and golf on Amelia Island. A replica of the Chesapeake Bay’s Thomas Point Lighthouse, this luxurious oceanfront lighthouse features a deck that wraps 360-degrees around the entire structure. Wood floors and ceilings accent the three bedrooms and huge combined kitchen, dining, and entertainment area. Already planning a winter getaway? It can be rented for the entire months of December, January, or February.
Frying Pan Tower
Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina
For the adventurous, a vacation doesn’t get any more thrilling than arriving by boat or helicopter to a hulking steel structure in the middle of the Atlantic’s hurricane alley. This 1964 Coast Guard light tower has been turned into an isolated eight-room B&B thirty-four miles off the coast of North Carolina. The rooms are simply appointed, but the fun is in the details, like a platform for skeet shooting or practicing your swing by driving biodegradable golf balls into the ocean. There’s also a Brunswick pool table original to the station and world-class fishing around the perimeter so you can catch a dinner of cobia, black sea bass, or mahi mahi.
Where the Pagan and James Rivers meet stands a charming river-port town with a walk-able downtown historic district and Virginia’s only lighthouse accommodation. Either suite in the Hooper Strait Light replica will be memorable, but we recommend the top-level Captain Sinclair with Jacuzzi tub, fireplace, and a spiral staircase to access a panoramic sunset view overlooking the marina and rivers.