Lighthouses In CT: Top 23 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn

New Haven Light at Lighthouse Park in New Haven, CT

Connecticut’s shoreline on Long Island Sound is a tricky one. That’s especially true at its mouth around Fisher’s Island Sound, in particular. The unpredictability of New England’s storms doesn’t help either. To aid mariners, locals build lighthouses in CT at strategic spots all along the shore. These helped guide ships from the booming fishing and whaling industries around the rocky ledges and into the harbors of Connecticut:

 

  • From Greenwich and Stamford
  • To New Haven and Old Saybrook
  • All the way to New London and Stonington, including the Mystic River

 

The lighthouses here are a sight to behold. And spots like the Sheffield Island Lighthouse in Norwalk, for example, offers a ferry ride, a tour, and a nature trail. The Stonington Harbor Light is another gem. It’s now a museum where you can climb the tower and enjoy the breathtaking view.

 

The experience doesn’t end there. Some boat owners offer sightseeing cruises. These let you get up close and personal with these majestic lighthouses. Connecticut’s lighthouses are not just functional structures. They are historical landmarks, guiding lights for mariners, and stunning attractions for visitors.

 

Ready to discover the best lighthouses in CT? Let’s get into it:

 

Quick hits

  • Explore the captivating lighthouses of Connecticut for breathtaking views and intriguing tales.
  • Take a tour or a cruise of some of the most beautiful and historic sites along the Connecticut coast.
  • Experience coastal attractions like Thimble Islands, Enders Island, and Mystic Seaport Museum.
  • Remember to visit nearby lighthouses in New York and Rhode Island. This includes landmarks like Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse and Newport Harbor Lighthouse.

 

lighthouses in ct map Lighthouses in CT: Top Spots to Visit
Map design by Stanton House Inn with elements from Flaticon

A Brief History of Lighthouses in Connecticut

Postcard of an historic lighthouse overlooking the New London harbor

Lighthouses have been a vital part of Connecticut’s coastline since the early 18th century. They served as guardians against the sea’s dangers, guiding numerous vessels to safety. Initially, these guiding lights were simple structures using whale oil to emit a beacon across the waters. As maritime trade grew, these modest lighthouses saw significant improvements. The primitive oil lamps gave way to more efficient Fresnel lenses, for example.

 

The southeastern region of Connecticut especially saw a surge in lighthouse construction. This was largely thanks to its prosperous fishing and whaling industries. Notable among these is the Five Mile Point Light in New Haven. The original lighthouse was built in 1805, but a new tower replaced it in 1845. In 1855, this tower was fitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens, enhancing its guiding light.

 

Resident keepers were responsible for maintaining these lighthouses until they were decommissioned. Their roles were crucial in safeguarding vessels navigating the perilous waters of the Connecticut coast. Today, these historic lighthouses are monuments to Connecticut’s maritime heritage. They offer visitors a unique peek into the state’s rich history and stunning coastal views.

 

A Coastal Guide to the Best Lighthouses in CT

Sheffield Island Lighthouse in Norwalk, CT

A variety of lighthouses adorn the Connecticut coast. Each one narrates a unique chapter of the state’s maritime history. From the Great Captain Island Lighthouse in Greenwich to the Stonington Harbor Light in Stonington, the diversity and intrigue of these lighthouses are captivating. Read on for the best lighthouses in Connecticut, where we’ll highlight their unique features and delve into their fascinating histories.

 

Great Captain Island Lighthouse | Greenwich

The Great Captain Island Lighthouse, a historic gem, is off the coast of scenic Greenwich, CT. Offering stunning views of the Long Island Sound, it was constructed in 1829. Its masonry construction still stands tall, though the interior is not open to the public. That said, future restoration and re-lighting projects are anticipated.

 

Stamford Harbor Ledge Light | Stamford

Constructed in 1882, the Stamford Harbor Ledge Light is a distinct, cast-iron lighthouse situated in the city of Stamford, CT. The seven-story structure features a floating dock and an upper balcony. These elements offer breathtaking views of the Stamford and Manhattan skylines. For over a century, this lighthouse has been guiding ships as they enter and leave the harbor.

 

Sheffield Island Lighthouse | Norwalk

The Sheffield Island Lighthouse in Norwalk honors the city’s maritime past. Norwalk, Connecticut, was once an important center for oyster farming. Today, it’s open to the public for exploration, birdwatching, and nature walks. The lighthouse island is home to a diverse array of bird species, from herons to gulls.

 

Penfield Reef Light | Bridgeport

The Penfield Reef Light in Bridgeport, CT, stands on a dangerous reef. Constructed in 1874 using granite and cast iron, it guided ships navigating the rocky waters of the Long Island Sound.

 

The lighthouse has been restored and is currently up for sale. There are plans to make it a nationally recognized landmark.

 

Fayerweather Island Light (Black Rock Harbor Light) | Bridgeport

Fayerweather Island Light

The Fayerweather Island Light, also known as the Black Rock Harbor Light, is another historic lighthouse in Bridgeport. It has been restored and re-lighted using solar panels. The lighthouse was constructed in 1808 and deactivated in 1932. Over the years, it has weathered many storms and now stands as an important landmark in Bridgeport. The lighthouse currently operates on a solar panel system. You can walk to it from the far end of Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT. It offers a lovely view towards the Saint Mary’s by the Sea neighborhood.

 

Stratford Point Light | Stratford

Nestled in Stratford, the Stratford Point Light is a Victorian-style lighthouse. It offers stunning views of the area’s diverse habitats, including the Great Meadows salt marsh and the Milford Point Coastal Center. These ecological riches make this lighthouse a must-visit for nature lovers. That said, it is closed to the public, as it’s currently being cleared of lead.

 

New Haven Harbor Light | New Haven

New Haven Light

The New Haven Harbor Light has a rich history:

 

  • It was built in 1805.
  • It serves as a guide for mariners entering the New Haven Harbor.
  • For over 200 years, it has been a reliable aid for seafarers.
  • It played a significant role in the defense of New Haven Harbor.

 

Today, after renovation, it sits in the appropriately Lighthouse Park, one of the top New Haven, CT, attractions.

 

Saybrook Breakwater Light | Old Saybrook

Saybrook Breakwater Light

The Saybrook Breakwater Light, located in Old Saybrook, is truly a sight to behold. This lighthouse was constructed in 1886. Its unique design features an octagonal pyramid shape tower made of brownstone. The lighthouse marks the mouth of the Connecticut River and the entrance to Old Saybrook Harbor. It’s a crucial gateway for maritime traffic.

 

Lynde Point Light | Old Saybrook

Next is Lynde Point Lighthouse, also known as the Saybrook Inner Lighthouse. This historic gem was first built in 1838 and underwent renovations in 1867. The lighthouse keeper’s house got a new look in 1858. The lamps were replaced twice, first in 1852 and again in 1890. In 1879, the lighthouse transitioned to kerosene. It was electrified in 1955. Finally, in 1990, it earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. This recognition was due to its superior stone work in the brownstone walls.

 

“Pequot” New London Harbor Light | New London

New London Harbor Light

The “Pequot” New London Harbor Light is a historic landmark with a unique octagonal design. It holds the title of being the fourth lighthouse in North America and the first on Long Island Sound. Constructed originally in 1801, it has withstood the test of time. Today, it continues its duty of guiding mariners safely to shore.

 

Ledge Lighthouse | New London

The New London Ledge Lighthouse stands out with its Second Empire style. Built in 1909, this lighthouse is known for its unique pattern of three white flashes followed by a red flash every thirty seconds. In addition to its unique features, it carries a ghostly legend as one of the most haunted places in CT. According to local tales, if you listen closely, you might just hear the ghostly footsteps of ‘Ernie’, the spirit of an early light keeper.

 

Morgan Point Lighthouse | Groton

Morgan Point Lighthouse

The Morgan Point Lighthouse, located in Groton, is a delightful piece of history. It’s a privately-owned lighthouse that was built in 1823. This two-story structure is made of granite blocks and includes eight rooms along with a cast-iron tower. It offers breathtaking views of the Long Island Sound and the nearby shoreline.

 

Stonington Harbor Light | Stonington

The Stonington Harbor Light is in the charming town of Stonington, CT. This historic gem has been repurposed as a museum. Visitors are invited to climb the tower, enjoy the surrounding lawn, and immerse themselves in the lighthouse’s rich history. Constructed in 1889, this lighthouse plays a significant role in the town’s maritime past.

 

Lighthouse Tours & Cruises in Connecticut

Lighthouse cruise offering close view of lighthouses in CT

Ready to explore Connecticut’s historic lighthouses? Boat tours or lighthouse cruises are the way to go. These journeys offer a peek into the history of these structures. You’ll also learn about their role in maritime safety. Cruises are available from Greenwich to Groton. You can find wildlife tours, historic tours, and fishing trips among charter tours. Some cruises even allow you to visit the islands where the lighthouses are located.

 

Norwalk Seaport Association Lighthouse Cruises

The Norwalk Seaport Association Lighthouse Cruises offer a gateway into the world of the Sheffield Island Lighthouse. These ferries provide guided tours, immersing visitors in the region’s natural beauty. They also offer a chance to learn about the lighthouse’s history and significance.

 

The Cruise to Nowhere in Greenwich, CT

Embark on a unique maritime adventure with The Cruise to Nowhere in Greenwich, CT. This experience, managed by the Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation, takes you on a two-hour boat ride aboard a lobster boat. The ferry ride offers stunning views of Greenwich’s beautiful coastline.

 

Thames River Heritage Park Water Taxi Tour

Explore the Thames River and some of the most iconic national and historic sites in the area with the Thames River Heritage Park Water Taxi Tour. This tour doesn’t specifically focus on lighthouses. That said, it offers a unique perspective on Connecticut’s maritime history and the role these sites played in shaping the nation.

 

Cross Sound Ferry Lighthouse Cruise

Experience southern New England and Long Island’s history from the most New England of perspectives: the water. Board the comfortable high-speed SEA JET for your sightseeing adventure.

 

You have two lighthouse cruises to choose from with the Cross Sound Ferry:

 

  • The Classic Lighthouse Cruise is a scenic journey. You’ll traverse from New London to Long Island. Along the way, you’ll encounter nine lighthouses and two Revolutionary-era forts. The journey starts in New London and takes you past North Dumpling Light, Race Rock Light, and Plum Island.

 

  • The Lights & Sights Cruise is an architectural adventure. The tour begins in New London and heads east to Rhode Island. It stops at eight lighthouses, including Latimer Reef Light and Watch Hill Light. Along the way, you’ll see Simmons Castle and Ocean House. This cruise is a blend of maritime history and architectural beauty.

 

New London Maritime Society also provides tours to the lighthouses in New London harbor from Pine Island Marina.

 

More Unique Coastal Connecticut Attractions

One of the Thimble Islands

Connecticut’s coastline offers more than just its iconic lighthouses. The state is home to a variety of coastal attractions. Each of these unique CT attractions provides a unique blend of natural beauty, historical significance, and diverse marine life.

 

Thimble Islands | Branford

The Thimble Islands in Branford, known for their sheltered waters, freshwater streams, and a cobblestone beach adorned with pink granite boulders, are a coastal gem.

 

Enders Island | Stonington

Enders Island

Enders Island, off the coast of Stonington, is a secluded gem offering breathtaking water views of Fishers Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Its stunning gardens enhance its beauty. If you’re seeking a peaceful retreat or a chance to explore stunning landscapes, Enders Island should be on your list.

 

Mystic Seaport Museum | Mystic

The Mystic Seaport Museum, located in Mystic, Connecticut, is a hoard of the state’s maritime history. The museum boasts a collection of historic ships and maritime artifacts, providing a comprehensive experience of Connecticut’s seafaring past. Among the collection is the Charles W. Morgan, the world’s last wooden whaleship. The Mystic River Scale Model is another highlight.

 

Even More Lighthouses Nearby

Southeast Light on Block Island, RI

Connecticut boasts a diverse array of lighthouses. And yet, the allure of these maritime beacons extends beyond the state’s borders.

 

Venture a bit further and explore some captivating lighthouses in nearby New York and southern New England.

 

Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse | Tarrytown, NY

Sleepy Hollow Light in the Hudson River

The Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, situated in Tarrytown, NY, is a historic beacon on the Hudson River. Constructed in 1883, it served as a guide for numerous vessels until 1961. Today, it’s a renowned landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a must-see for anyone touring the Hudson Valley.

 

Watch Hill Light | Westerley, RI

Watch Hill Light

The Watch Hill Lighthouse has a rich history. A beacon for ships has been there since 1745. A storm in 1781 destroyed the original lighthouse, prompting the construction of a new one. This lighthouse was crucial for warning mariners about a dangerous reef. Over the years, it has weathered numerous disasters including:

 

  • The Metis crash in 1872
  • The Hurricane of 1938
  • The Leif Viking running aground in 1962

 

Today, the Lighthouse Museum, managed by the Watch Hill Lighthouse Keepers Association, is open to the public. It houses historical items such as letters, bills, and journals.

 

Southeast Light | Block Island, RI

The Southeast Light on Block Island is a historic monument. This lighthouse, completed in 1875, boasts a unique architectural style. It’s equipped with a first-order Fresnel lens, adding to its charm. Its unique design makes it a landmark that’s definitely worth a visit on Block Island.

 

Newport Harbor Lighthouse | Newport, RI

Further along the Rhode Island coast, you’ll find the historic Newport Harbor Lighthouse. Located in Newport, this beacon dates back to 1842. It’s managed by the United States Coast Guard and continues to guide ships into the protected harbor. This lighthouse stands as a testament to the region’s rich maritime history.

 

Tl;dr

Exploring Connecticut’s coast and its historic lighthouses is a magical journey. From the grandeur of the Great Captain Island Lighthouse to the haunting tales of the Ledge Lighthouse, each one has a unique story. These lighthouses in CT, often seen as mere navigational aids, are much more. They stand as monuments to the maritime history of New England. They are timeless sentinels guarding our coasts.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

How many lighthouses are in Connecticut?

Connecticut is home to fourteen operational lighthouses. There are also two private aids to navigation. Six more lighthouses, while no longer active, still stand as historical landmarks.

 

Does Mystic CT have a lighthouse?

Mystic, CT, does indeed have a lighthouse. That said, it’s a replica of Brant Point Light. This replica is located on the grounds of Mystic Seaport, the largest maritime museum in the United States. It was built in 1966.

 

How many lighthouses are on Long Island?

Long Island is home to 25 lighthouses. This bond with lighthouses has been present since 1796.

 

What is in lighthouse?

A lighthouse typically contains a tower. At the top of this tower, there is a lantern room. This room is where the lamp and lens, which produce the light, are housed.

 

How old are the lighthouses in Connecticut?

Many lighthouses in Connecticut have a history spanning over 200 years. They date back to the 18th century.

 

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