Connecticut’s Legendary Lighthouses Last Updated 7/17

Situated along the edge of Long Island Sound, and, further east, the Atlantic Ocean itself, Connecticut’s lighthouses are among the most photographed in New England. From Revolutionary War-era beacons to lights that guided over a century of maritime history, here’s a list of some of Connecticut’s best known lighthouses, along with a few ways to capture the experience yourself! 

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Ledge Lighthouse, New London

On a man-made island at the entrance to New London Harbor, you’ll find Ledge Light, built in 1909 to help manage the traffic to New London’s busy port. Its unique Colonial Revival design was inspired by wealthier homeowners along the shoreline, who wanted the lighthouse to reflect the style of their houses. According to legends, Ledge Light may be haunted by Ernie, a keeper in the 1920s who allegedly jumped off the roof of the lighthouse and whose body was never found. You see Ledge Light by boat. Project Oceanology out of Groton is one of the companies that offers tours in July and August.

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Stonington Harbor Light, Stonington

On the east side of Stonington Harbor, you’ll find the Old Lighthouse, which was built in 1840 to guide ships across Fishers Island Sound, and in 1927 became the first lighthouse in the nation to be turned into a museum. You can visit the lighthouse daily, May 1–October 31, and see its collection of artifacts or picnic on its scenic waterfront grounds. Don’t miss the chance to climb to the top of the tower, for a view of three states.

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“Pequot” New London Harbor Light, New London

The Pequot New London Harbor Light is one of the oldest in the country and the first to be built on Long Island Sound. While the current lighthouse was built in 1801, a light here was first lit in 1761, before the Revolutionary War. George Washington himself signed the contract to keep the light lit with a supply of whale oil. Visit the New London Custom House Maritime Museum for a tour and to discover the rich history of this lighthouse and others nearby.

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Penfield Reef Light, Bridgeport

Built in 1874 to prevent wrecks on the mile-long rocky shoal that extends from the coast of Fairfield, the Penfield Reef Light can be seen distantly from the shore of Fairfield and Bridgeport, but is best viewed by boat. You can get a tour with the 40-foot Navy Launch “Chief” out of Bridgeport. Today the Penfield Reef Light is automated, so there’s no lighthouse keeper, unless you count the ghost of an old keeper that many say still roams the reef.

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New Haven Harbor Light, New Haven

Also known as Five Mile Point Light due to its location five miles from the famed New Haven Green, this 1847 lighthouse stands alongside Island Sound at the entrance to New Haven Harbor. Today, the lighthouse remains a towering feature in Lighthouse Point Park, a beach park open year round that is also home to an antique carousel that’s one of only 100 still in operation today. 

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Sheffield Island Light, Norwalk

At the entrance to Norwalk Harbor, Sheffield Island is home to a mid-Victorian style lighthouse that began its colorful history in 1868. Today, festivals and events are held on Sheffield Island, including clambakes, a Pirate Weekend and even a Haunted Lighthouse. The Sheffield Island Lighthouse can be reached by a ferry operated by the Norwalk Seaport Association from May through Labor Day. A tour of the lighthouse is included in the ferry trip. The Research Vessel (RV) “Spirit of the Sound”, operated by Norwalk’s Maritime Aquarium, also offers cruises to see the lighthouse.

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Saybrook Breakwater Light, Old Saybrook

Sometimes referred to as the Saybrook Outer Light, this lighthouse sits at the mouth of the Connecticut River, which was dredged in 1870s to improve ship traffic along this historically popular and valuable waterway. Old Saybrook’s most famous resident, Katherine Hepburn, donated 4 acres of beachfront land on her property which allows unobstructed views of the lighthouse. It is also familiar to Connecticut residents as the lighthouse featured on the “Preserve the Sound” license plates. Today, the Saybrook Breakwater Light is privately owned, but you can sleep in the “lighthouse suite” at nearby Saybrook Point Inn.

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Stratford Point Light, Stratford

One of the few lighthouses in Connecticut that you can drive to, the Stratford Point Light marks the entrance to Stratford Harbor, at the point where Long Island Sound meets the mouth of the Housatonic River. Dedicated by President Thomas Jefferson, its beacon was known to cut through heavy fog, until a loud siren was added in 1911, unsettling the neighbors. Currently home to a Coast Guard family, the lighthouse is never open to the public, except for an occasional open house.

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Morgan Point Lighthouse, Groton

Privately owned Morgan Point Lighthouse in Noank marks the entrance to the Mystic River. The current lighthouse on the spot was built in 1868 and helped to improve entry to the port at Mystic, which was home to a growing shipbuilding industry. Today it’s a summer home for a family, and can only be viewed from the water. 

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Take a Cruise to Get Up Close

The best way to see many of Connecticut’s favorite lighthouses is of course from the water. And several companies offer boat tours that can give you a closer look, and help you experience what it may have been like to see these lighthouses as sailors did generations ago. Downeast Lighthouse Cruises operates out of Groton, as does Project Oceanology. Cross Sound Ferry runs cruises and high speed Sea Jets out of New London. Down in Norwalk, the Research Vessel (RV) “Spirit of the Sound”  offers year-round cruises to a variety of historic lighthouses. And in Bridgeport, “Chief” gives you a guided one-hour tour of the haunting Penfield Lighthouse in Black Rock Harbor.

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Sleep in a Lighthouse

Unless you’re a lighthouse keeper, (or in some cases, a ghost!) you can’t sleep in any of Connecticut’s historic lighthouses.  But fortunately, we do have a few places where you can capture that feeling. As mentioned, the Saybrook Point Inn Marina & Spa has a suite that’s tucked inside its own working lighthouse. And Winvian Farm in Morris offers luxury with a taste of the seaside in its maritime-themed lighthouse cottage in the Litchfield Hills.