9 Best Massachusetts Lighthouses to Experience Classic New England

by Global Viewpoint
Coolest Massachusetts Lighthouses Featured Image

The best Massachusetts lighthouses are incredibly unique and iconic. These classic New England lighthouses can be found from the North Shore of MA to Cape Cod, offering a glimpse of Massachusetts’ maritime heritage. Of course, lighthouses in Massachusetts are fun to photograph, too!

These dreamy lighthouses have watched over the Massachusetts coastline for centuries, offering a beacon of security from the dangers at sea. Back in the colonial days and up until the early 1900s, making the journey across the Atlantic Ocean was a treacherous one. Shipwrecks were a common occurrence, especially for fishermen from towns like Rockport and Gloucester whose livelihoods depended on the sea.

If you’re keen to discover the most beautiful lighthouses in Massachusetts, look no further. Here, we’ve ranked the top 10 Mass lighthouses that will appeal to photographers, locals, and tourists alike. Refer to their respective websites for updated information on lighthouse tours, museums, operating hours, and more.

Coolest lighthouses of Massachusetts in 2021
Coolest lighthouses of Massachusetts in 2021

1. Nauset Light

Location: Eastham, MA

Set on the Cape Cod National Seashore, Nauset Light is one of the most iconic lighthouses in Massachusetts open to the public. It’s featured on the Cape Cod Potato Chips bags, so it’s well-known even outside of New England.

For a unique photo of Nauset Light, visit at night when the stars come out to play. You’ll want to use a high ISO and a wide aperture to capture the beams coming out from the lighthouse tower. For those looking to visit during the day, you can’t go wrong with any perspective of this MA lighthouse. Don’t forget to bring a bag of Cape Cod potato chips so you can get that perfect IG photo!

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Nauset Light is one of the coolest Mass lighthouses, especially if you enjoy Cape Cod Chips
Nauset Light is one of the coolest Mass lighthouses, especially if you enjoy Cape Cod Chips!

2. Chatham Light

Location: Chatham, Massachusetts

Built in 1808, Chatham Light was one of the original lighthouses on Cape Cod. For more than two centuries, it’s helped guide ships through the rugged shores of the Cape, including the Nantucket Sound and Pleasant Bay. Unlike many other lighthouses nearby, it’s still in operation by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Tour the grounds during their official admission hours, where you’ll learn about the history of this Massachusetts lighthouse and see this iconic landmark up close. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful lighthouses on the East Coast, hands down.

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This is among the best lighthouses in Cape Cod.
This is among the best lighthouses in Cape Cod.

3. Race Point Lighthouse in Massachusetts

Location: Provincetown, MA

Located on the northern tip of Cape Cod, Race Point Light is one of the most picturesque MA lighthouses. It stands 45-feet tall and dates back to 1816, making it one of the most historic lighthouses in the state.

One of the cool things about Race Point Light is that you can actually spend the night here. Overnight stays are available from the spring through the fall on a reservation basis. There are also public tours, which are run twice per year. Even if you’re not interested in the above, you can still stroll the grounds year-round and take photos while enjoying the coastal charm of the area.

Know before you go: To get to Race Point Light, it’s about a 45-minute walk from the entrance of Race Point Beach. This Mass lighthouse is also accessible by a four-wheel drive car and Provincetown dune tour operators.

Among the top lighthouses to visit in MA.
Among the top lighthouses to visit in MA.

4. Old Scituate Light

Location: Scituate, Massachusetts

This lighthouse tower in the South Shore of MA was first built in 1811 and lit in 1850. It’s the fifth oldest lighthouse in New England and the eleventh in the US.

Old Scituate Lighthouse is best photographed at sunrise, as the sun begins to peek over the horizon. Be sure to bring your tripod along so you can capture a slower shutter speed with a low ISO. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, get to the lighthouse about 30-40 minutes before sunrise so you can take photos of blue hour over Cedar Point. Is this one of the prettiest lighthouses in MA? 100%!

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A bird's eye view of this lighthouse near Boston MA.
A bird’s eye view of this lighthouse near Boston MA.

5. Gay Head Lighthouse in Massachusetts

Location: Martha’s Vineyard, MA

From Falmouth or Hyannis, take the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard where you’ll see more of the best lighthouses in Mass. Gay Head Light, also known as Aquinnah Light, is found on the western part of the island. This brick beacon has been leading the way for boats in the Vineyard Sound since 1799.

In addition, sunset tours are a popular thing to do here during summer weekends, hosted by the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society (phone #: 508-627-4441). It’s even considered one of the top lighthouse tours in Massachusetts.

Be sure to have your phone or camera ready to take photos of this majestic lighthouse and the surrounding cliffs. The red and white light beams flash every 15 seconds, so you’ll have plenty of tries to snap that IG photo!

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Take a lighthouse tour in Massachusetts from this iconic beacon on the Cape.
Take a lighthouse tour in Massachusetts from this iconic beacon on the Cape.

6. Sankaty Head Light

Location: Nantucket, Massachusetts

Just a short ferry ride from Martha’s Vineyard across Nantucket Sound is another beautiful island called Nantucket. It features a scenic lighthouse on a bluff overlooking the ocean.

Opened in 1850, Sankaty Head Light is located on the eastern part of the island in the village of Siasconset. It’s best known for being the first lighthouse in the US to receive a Fresnel lens, which made navigation throughout New England much safer. You can find this original lens in the Nantucket Whaling Museum.

With its rich history and panoramic views of the ocean and a golf course, it’s no wonder this is among the best lighthouses of Massachusetts.

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For amazing views, look no further than Sankaty Head Lighthouse in Nantucket, Mass.
For amazing views, look no further than Sankaty Head Lighthouse in Nantucket, Mass.

7. Nobska Light – One of the Best Lighthouses in Massachusetts

Location: Falmouth, MA

Nobska Lighthouse is a Massachusetts lighthouse with lots of charm. It straddles the southwestern tip of Cape Cod, guiding vessels through Buzzards Bay, Nantucket Sound, and Vineyard Sound.

In addition to the scenic lighthouse, there’s a wooden-frame home next to it that adds to its Cape Cod character. It definitely reminds me of Nubble Light in Maine, another top New England lighthouse worth visiting.

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Classic New England lighthouse in the heart of Massachusetts.
Classic New England lighthouse in the heart of Massachusetts.

8. Minot Ledge Lighthouse in Mass

Location: Scituate, Massachusetts

Unlike the other best lighthouses in Massachusetts, Minot Ledge Light in Scituate is a mile offshore in the ocean rather than on land. The rocks around it frequently caused shipwrecks, leading Congress to approve its funding in 1847.

Watch as waves pound into this distinct stone tower, which gracefully rises above the water. To capture this dramatic scene as it unfolds, put your camera on a fast shutter speed. The constant waves battering against the tiny outcrop makes this a relaxing and even romantic scene.

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This romantic lighthouse in MA is worthy of a postcard.
This romantic lighthouse in MA is worthy of a postcard.

9. Annisquam Harbor Lighthouse in MA

Location: Gloucester, MA

Located in Gloucester, Annisquam Harbor Light is one of the best lighthouses near Boston. It evokes images of the classic New England lighthouse with its 40-foot tower and historic style.

Spend your day swimming and sunbathing at Wingaersheek Beach, before catching the sunset colors around this historic Gloucester lighthouse. You can easily make Gloucester into more than just a day trip, as there’s so much to explore nearby.

With its serene setting in a historic fishing village, Annisquam Harbor Light is one of the top MA lighthouses to visit.

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A historic light home in Mass brimming with charm and personality.
A historic light home in Mass brimming with charm and personality.

Coolest MA Lighthouses: Boston, Cape Cod + More

Beyond this list, there are so many other amazing lighthouses in Massachusetts that are worthy of a visit. Have you ever taken a tour of unique MA lighthouse? Let me know in the comments! Happy Travels! -Jon

Best Mass lighthouses for visitors and locals
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