By Kris Radish
At 1:36 a.m. I hear them and the skin on my arms rises up in a salute. There is a sharp scraping sound, a door closing, maybe footsteps, and I’ll be damned if I can poke my head out of the covers.
The red-bricked building and 120-foot tall light tower of the Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast straddle a cliff guarding the rocky shores of Lake Superior, just outside the funky town of Big Bay, Michigan.
Each year, Lake Superior still manages to claim lives and sink boats, and the Big Bay Point Lighthouse is not only a trip back in time, but offers guests a chance to help guard the raging waters with the help of the still-working light.
Owners Linda and Jeff Gamble purchased the ailing lighthouse in 1992 and restored its turn-of-the-century stature, complete with hardwood floors, period furnishings and a view of the lake that will take your breath away. With a total of 14 rooms, including seven guest rooms, a sauna–halfway up the light tower–a library that will keep you busy for a good month and a kitchen that never seems to close, this bed-and- breakfast home is a self-contained haven.
The Gambles will delight you with tales of the past and ghost stories while they fill you up with sinful delights like Hot Apple Pie French Toast, oatmeal pancakes and homemade blueberry muffins.
But if you feel the need to get out and about, miles of uncrowded hiking trails lead from the lighthouse up into the Huron Mountains, and swimming and boating on Lake Superior are nearby.
A trip into “town” is also more than worth the effort. Big Bay is laid back, “Up North” funkiness at its best; a sassy, one-of-a-kind wilderness wonderland where can you end up at a local birthday party when you come out of the woods to grab a fish fry at the local bar and grill.
That’s what happened to my husband and me as we cruised into The Lumberjack Tavern, the scene of the infamous 1951 murder that was the basis for the best selling book, Anatomy of a Murder.
The classic film, starring Jimmy Stewart, was also filmed down the road at the glorious Thunder Bay Inn. At the Tavern, half the town (all 340 souls) had turned out for Clarabell’s 70th birthday bash, and we were invited to join the celebration before our return hike back to the lighthouse–and the ghosts.
There are only 19 lighthouses throughout the United States and Canada that allow overnight guests. With these ancient buildings deteriorating and being replaced by computerized lights, the chances of staying in a real, old-fashioned lighthouse get fewer and fewer each year.
Lighthouse Digest offers a free listing of lighthouse inns and B&Bs around North America. Several lighthouses in California, Maine and Florida have been restored and maintain the charm (and ghosts) of lighthouse life and times from years past. Others are replicas,
so if you want the real thing, make certain the lighthouse is not just a modern-day version.
But you’ll be glad to know that most lighthouse ghosts, even the newer ones, are friendly and most lighthouse innkeepers know them personally. Still, a good scare is always kind of fun.
Big Bay Point Lighthouse is open year-round and is especially popular in summer so book in advance. The owners are a wealth of local lore. Take advantage of their extensive library and trails.
This is an adult, smoke-free environment and no pets are allowed. A two-night minimum stay is required Dec. 26-Jan. 1 and weekends June through October. No credit cards are accepted and a deposit is required.
Room costs vary from $95 to $175 per night and include a full breakfast and use of all the facilities.
The innkeepers are strict about checking in and checking out. Check in is from 4 pm to 6 pm and you must call if you are going to be late. Check-out is at 11 am.
The Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast is located 25 miles north of Marquette, Michigan (head north on Hwy. 550). Go through the town of Big Bay and follow the signs that say “Lighthouse.”
Big Bay Point Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast
#3 Lighthouse Road, Big Bay, Michigan 49808
Keepers Rooms Summer $194.00 + taxes Winter $179.00 + taxes
Keepers rooms are $217.28 May 1 – October 31, & $200.48 November 1 – April 30, all taxes included.
Keeper Dufrain is a large room with a view of Lake Superior, a queen size bed, and a gas fire place. The vaulted ceiling gives the room a spacious feel. The bathroom has a shower.
Keeper Mcdonald is a large room on the first floor, with windows on three sides, including a view of Lake Superior, a queen size bed and a gas fire place. The bathroom has a shower.
Keeper Bergan is on the first floor. It has a view of Lake Superior, a queen size bed and a gas Franklin stove. The bathroom has a one person Thermo-massage tub and shower.
Assistants Rooms Summer $159.00 + taxes Winter $144.00 + taxes
Assistants rooms are $178.48 May 1 – October 31, & $161.28 November 1 – April 30 all taxes included.
Assistant Beamer has a view of Lake Superior and a queen size bed. The bathroom has a shower.
Assistant Temple has a view of Lake Superior and a queen size bed and a day bed. The bathroom has a shower and a tub. It is two steps across the hall, and we supply bathrobes.
Helper Fleury Summer $139.00 + taxes Winter $129.00 + taxes
Helper Fleury is $155.68 May 1 – October 31, & $144.48 November 1 – April 30 all taxes included.
Helper Fleury has a view of the woods and a queen size bed. The bathroom has a tub and shower.
Helper Brown Summer $129.00 + taxes Winter $114.00 + taxes
Helper Brown is $144.48 May 1 – October 31,all taxes included, $127.68 November 1 – November 14 & Used for Spa November 15 – April 30.
Helper Brown is a smaller room with a view of the woods and a full size bed. The bathroom has a shower.
For a listing of other lighthouses in North America
P.O. Box 1690 Wells, Maine 04090
View photos of scenic lighthouses located in National Wilderness areas of the US.
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