Lighthouse Hopping in Connecticut (2023)
The beautiful shoreline of Connecticut is located along Long Island Sound and is dotted with many stunning lighthouses – from the town of Greenwich all the way to Stonington. While some of these lighthouses are open to the public, for the majority of them, it is best if viewed by boat or from the shore. Some remain closed to visitors as well.
The good news for lighthouse aficionados in Connecticut is that there are many organizations in the Nutmeg State that organize lighthouse cruises to give visitors a closer look at these beacons of hope and light that welcome ships to the shores of the state even today. Some of these include the Norwalk Seaport Association, the Greenwich Parks Ferry, Captain’s Cove, Mystic Seaport, the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, and many more.
Here are some of the must-see lighthouses in Connecticut if you want to take the offbeaten path and go lighthouse hopping. It is best to keep in mind that unless otherwise specified, these lighthouses are not open to the public for indoor tours and are best viewed from the boat itself.
1. Great Captain’s Island Lighthouse
Located on the Great Captain’s Island, just 1.5 miles off the coast of the small town of Greenwich, the lighthouse and island have a rich history. The ‘Captain’ in the name of the lighthouse refers to Captain Daniel Patrick, who was the first military commander of Greenwich. Both Connecticut and New York claimed ownership of this island until 1879, after which jurisdiction was awarded to the state of Connecticut.
The lighthouse sitting on Great Captain’s Island is famous for being first constructed as a wooden structure in 1829. In 1868, it was later replaced by the magnificent stone facade we see today. The island is open to the public, and you can access it by taking a ferry from the Arch street Dock in Greenwich, but only in the summers.
2. Greens Ledge Lighthouse
The Greens Ledge Lighthouse sits off the southwest end of the Norwalk Islands. This sparkplug lighthouse was constructed in 1902 to replace the Sheffield Island Lighthouse.
In 1990, the Greens Ledge Lighthouse became a part of the National Register of Historic Places. However, the lighthouse is not open to the public, though it serves as the starting point for the Ladrigan Lighthouse Swim Race, which takes place every year. The lighthouse is best seen by boat.
3. Stratford Shoal Lighthouse
The Stratford Shoal Lighthouse is located very far away from shore. Again, due to this distance from the shore, there has been a lot of debate on whether the lighthouse belongs to Connecticut to New York. The best way to view the Stratford Shoal Lighthouse is from the decks of the Port Jefferson Ferry.
4. Faulkner’s Island Lighthouse
Faulkner’s Island Lighthouse is the second oldest surviving lighthouse tower in Connecticut. Located just off the coast of Guilford, this lighthouse was constructed in 1802. Even today, it remains an active guiding beacon to incoming ships. The lighthouse is maintained by an organization named Faulkner’s Light Brigade.
5. Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse
The Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse is perhaps the most famous lighthouse in Connecticut. This is the tower you will find depicted on Connecticut’s ‘Preserve the Sound’ license plates. The lighthouse is located at Fenwick Point near the town of Old Saybrook. The Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse is one of the two lighthouses that were built off the Lynde Point and is known as the other pair’s Outer Light.
6. Lynde Point Lighthouse
The Lynde Point Lighthouse is popularly known as the Inner Light, and it is the other pair of the lighthouses constructed off Lynde Point near the town of Old Saybrook. It is the twin of the Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse. Together, the two lighthouses highlight the channel that is located at the mouth of the charming Connecticut River.
7. New London Harbor Lighthouse
The New London Harbor Light is the oldest and the tallest lighthouse in Connecticut. It is located on the western side of the New London Harbor entrance, with the tower reaching a height of 90 feet. What’s amazing is that the light from this lighthouse is visible for over 15 miles. The light has been set to flash at three seconds of white light that comes on every six seconds. In 1990, the lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The lighthouse is currently owned and also maintained by the New London Maritime Society under the esteemed National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program.
The lighthouse is open to the public, and if you want to visit the lighthouse, you can check out the website of the New London Maritime Society for more information.
8. New London Ledge Lighthouse
The New London Ledge Lighthouse is another beautiful lighthouse located in Groton in the state of Connecticut. The lighthouse sits at the mouth of the New London Harbor on the Thames River. The lighthouse is owned and maintained by the New London Maritime Society, and the group takes care of it as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act program.
Now this lighthouse has many legends associated with it. It is locally famous for the ghost of an early lighthouse keeper named Ernie, who is said to haunt the lighthouse even today. In fact, the Coast Guard crew on duty here have reported experiencing unexplained knockings at night, along with the opening and closing of many doors. Even the television set turns on and off by itself from time to time, and even the bedsheets are removed periodically.
The New London Ledge Lighthouse has been featured on many paranormal reality shows, including the renowned show Ghost Hunters and Scariest Places on Earth. However, investigators from the Atlantic Paranormal Society concluded on the show Ghost Hunters that there was not enough evidence to say that there was any kind of paranormal activity taking place at the lighthouse.
9. Avery Point Lighthouse
The Avery Point Lighthouse is located on the campus of the famous University of Connecticut at Avery Point in Groton. This is known to be the last lighthouse that was constructed in Connecticut. The Avery Point Lighthouse is a famous symbol that pays homage to the US Coast Guard’s duty to the lighthouse keeping responsibilities. Owing to the efforts of the Avery Point Lighthouse Society, the light at Avery Point was relit in 2006 after being deactivated for almost 40 years. The grounds are open for visitors, and you can get an up-close view of the lighthouse.
Owing to the efforts of the Avery Point Lighthouse Society, the light at Avery Point was relit in 2006 after being deactivated for almost 40 years. The grounds are open for visitors, and you can get an up-close view of the lighthouse.
10. Stonington Harbor Lighthouse
The Stonington Harbor Lighthouse is the incredible sight that greets you as you enter Stonington Harbor in Connecticut. The lighthouse was first constructed in 1823, and it now serves as Stonington’s Old Lighthouse Museum, which is open to the public.
11. Sheffield Island Lighthouse
The Sheffield Island Lighthouse is a historical lighthouse that is located at the southern end of the Norwalk Islands in the town of Norwalk in Connecticut. The lighthouse marks the west side of the opening of the Norwalk River on the northern Long Island Sound. In 1857, the light in the lighthouse was upgraded to a fourth-order Fresnel lens. In 1900, the Greens Ledge Lighthouse was built to the west of Sheffield in a better location to warn ships of the shoals and rocks on the approach to Sheffield Island Harbor and the Norwalk Harbor.