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Sturgeon Bay Pierhead Light

The bright red Sturgeon Bay Pierhead Light is an iconic site in Door County, one that has appeared in countless photographs and served as a powerful symbol of the region’s maritime past. Early in the morning or just before sunset is primetime for visiting. Visitors can walk to the end of the breakwater, beneath the iron walkway, to get closer. There, within stone's throw of the lighthouse itself, they can stand, take in the beauty of the weathered structure, and look out onto the massive lake, just as the lighthouse’s many keepers once did as they searched the horizon for approaching ships.

Red lighthouse on a rocky outcropping with a boat coming in

Located at the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal property, the famously red Pierhead light is one of two lighthouses. The other is the Sturgeon Bay Canal Lighthouse.

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The Pierhead navigation light was built in 1882, and the station and its tower light were built in 1899. The building was automated in 1972.

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A popular spot for photographers and history buffs, the Pierhead is accessible by parking at the canal and walking along the lower-level breakwater.

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The Pierhead is on the east side of the peninsula and therefore makes for excellent sunrise scenery.

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The lighthouse sits on the east side of the 1.3-mile Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. It was originally built so ships could avoid sailing around the north end of the peninsula and having to cross the famously fatal Port de Morts (AKA "Death's Door").

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Bowl of clam chowder with slices of bread.

Harbor Chowder

An ode to lake life, this chowder-style soup calls for fresh whitefish and seasonal vegetables. Best enjoyed inside your lighthouse beside a window on a rainy evening.

Lake Waves

Waves crashing against the breakwater as distant ships glide across the horizon

Lighthouse building on the edge of the lake

Door County’s Maritime Historical Sites

Living and working on Lake Michigan has long been a part of the Door County identity, and relics of the region's maritime roots can still be seen today at these nautically inspired attractions.