Sodus Point Light

9 Lake Ontario Lighthouses in New York

These New York State lighthouses along Lake Ontario’s southern shore are all within a two hour drive of Rochester. And where there is a lighthouse there is a beautiful, sweeping view of our great lake.

My best friend Cady’s passion for lighthouses rivals mine for trains. She plans her day trips around which lighthouse she’d like to visit, with things to do along the way and in the area.

She has taken photos of all of the lights from Lake Erie to the Saint Lawrence River—many of the lighthouses along Lake Ontario we’re featuring in this article.

Lighthouses along Lake Ontario from west to east

  1. Fort Niagara
  2. Olcott
  3. Thirty Mile Point
  4. Oak Orchard
  5. Braddock Point
  6. Charlotte-Genesee
  7. Sodus
  8. Oswego West Pierhead
  9. Salmon River
Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Fort Niagara Lighthouse
Old Fort Niagara Lighthouse

1. Fort Niagara Lighthouse

1872

There have been multiple lights on this land here at the mouth of the Niagara River. The first Fort Niagara Light was established on the roof of the stone fort in 1781.

From the Old Fort Niagara website, “The architectural collection includes six 18th-century buildings, the oldest extant structures of any type in the entire Great Lakes region. The earliest, known as the French Castle, was built in 1726 and is the oldest building in North America situated between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.”

The 1872 lighthouse that still stands is the forth iteration. Visitors are able to observe the lighthouse from the grounds, but the tower is closed.

Things to do nearby

Old Fort Niagara

Fort Niagara was active for 300 years as a strategic stronghold during the French and Indian Wars, War of 1812, American Revolutionary War, and American Civil War.

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3-Day Lewiston Getaway

Ranked as one of the “Top Ten Small Towns,” you’ll love a getaway in Lewiston, with its excellent shops, restaurants and Niagara River views.

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18 Discover Niagara Shuttle Stops

The Discover Niagara Shuttle is a 2-hour round-trip journey from any starting point if you’d like to simply enjoy the ride. Otherwise, you can hop on and off at any stop–no ticket required!

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Niagara Falls, USA

Niagara Falls is beautiful year round. I highly recommend going at different times during the year to witness the uniqueness of each season.

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Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Olcott
Olcott Lighthouse

2. Olcott Lighthouse

1873 – replica

In 2003, this replica was built from old photographs. The lighthouse is open to the public 8am-7pm daily.

It is next to the Lakeview Village Shoppes—a colorful little boardwalk of shops featuring ice cream and lake-themed clothing and decor. It is the center of summer activity in Olcott, with parades and concerts throughout the warmer months.

Within a short walk is the Olcott Beach Carousel Park and Krull Park.

Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Olcott Lakeview Village Shoppes
Lakeview Village Shoppes
Krull Park
Krull Park & Beach
Olcott Beach Carousel
Olcott Beach Carousel
Ye Old Log Cabin
Ye Old Log Cabin

Things to do nearby

Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Golden Hill New York State Parks
Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse

3. Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse

1876

Located in Golden Hill State Park, the light served as a coastal light. This point, thirty miles east of the mouth of the Niagara River, is the northernmost point on Lake Ontario’s southern shore.

Because of its distance from the major cities of Rochester and Buffalo, you’ll find one of the darkest skies in the region, perfect for star gazing or trying to catch the Northern Lights in action.

Lighthouse tours are available for $1 per person.

You can also spend the night at the light. According to the NYS Park website, “At the Lighthouse Cottage, renters have a private entrance, kitchen with refrigerator, electric stove, microwave, coffee maker, cooking utensils, silverware and dishes, living room with electric fireplace, couch, two chairs and a writing desk, full bath with an old fashioned bathtub, three bedrooms with queen size beds and pillows and a view of Lake Ontario that is stunning.”

Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Golden Hill State Park lighthouse
Inside the lighthouse
Medina Railroad Museum Union Station
Medina Railroad
Golden Hill State Park Yurts
Yurts
Lockport Lock 35
Lockport Lock 35

Things to do nearby

There are few attractions in the immediate area, which is part of the draw, but head south to visit Medina and the Medina Railroad, or south-west to Lockport and the Lockport Locks. Transportation history is alive and well in both.

Or enjoy the quiet, natural environment at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is the largest in New York State at 10,828 acres, not even including the surrounding Oak Orchard and Tonawanda WMAs.

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Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Oak Orchard Point Pleasant
Oak Orchard at Point Pleasant

4. Oak Orchard Lighthouse

1871 – replica

The original lighthouse stood on the west side of the Oak Orchard Creek (or Oak Orchard River, depending on who you ask!) between 1871 and 1916.

Using a 1909 survey, this full-scale replica was constructed in 2010 and now sits in the Orleans County Marine Park on the east side of the river. The grounds are accessible to visitors.

Historic Inns Around Rochester: Tillmans Village Inn
Historic Inns Tilman’s Village Inn
cobblestone museum
Cobblestone Museum

Things to do nearby

Head straight down NY-98 to NY-104. At this intersection you’ll find The Cobblestone Museum and Tillman’s Historic Village Inn.

Or head upstream to Waterport to the Oak Orchard Dam and Lake Alice.

11 Self-Guided Tours

These self-guided tours around Rochester are like a regional scavenger hunt! Learn the stories behind some of the things you see along our roadways.

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Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Braddock Bay Lighthouse
Braddock Bay Lighthouse, photo by Cady McMaster

5. Braddock Point Lighthouse

1896 – private bed & breakfast

The light was extinguished between 1954 and 1996. Today, the lighthouse is privately owned and operated as a bed and breakfast. It is one of the few privately owned, fully functioning lighthouses in the country.

According to their website, “the innkeeper’s quarters have been completed restored back to the original government blue prints. The tower, while not completely original, has been rebuilt as a tribute to the original grand tower with the original staircase intact.”

Hamlin Beach State Park lifeguard chairs
Hamlin Beach State Park
30 day trips within 30 minutes of Rochester: Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area at Marina
Braddock Bay Marina Trail

Things to do nearby

Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area

The Braddock Bay complex includes the bay and the surrounding wetlands. We break it down so you can start exploring!

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Hamlin Beach State Park

Hamlin Beach State Park has 7 miles of beautiful biking and walking trails, including a mile-long self-guided tour of a CCC/POW camp.

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Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse
Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

6. Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

1822

The Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse was abandoned for 100 years until its rescue and restoration in 1982. Built in 1822, it is the oldest active surviving lighthouse on Lake Ontario. At the time of its construction it was much closer to the shoreline.

You can climb the tower when it is open, but be warned! It is a tight, 40-foot-high, spiral staircase, then you climb an 11-rung ladder, and, once to the top, you crawl through an opening in the ceiling to access the 12-foot-high lantern room.

It’s toasty up there in the summer but the view of Lake Ontario, the Genesee River, and Ontario Beach Park is amazing!

There are two additional lights at the end of Charlotte Pier and Summerville Pier, flanking the mouth of the Genesee River.

Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Irondequoit Summerville Pier Light
Irondequoit Summerville Pier Light
Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Irondequoit Bay Pier Light
Irondequoit Bay Pier Light
Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Charlotte Pier Light
Charlotte Pier Light
Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Webster Pier light
Cady at the Webster Pier light


Things to do nearby

There are two more pier lights heading east along the lake shore; one at the mouth of Irondequoit Bay and the other on Webster Park pier.

13 Places in the City to Enjoy the Genesee River

At Genesee Valley Park, the Genesee River begins her journey through the city, racing over a dam and three waterfalls before emptying into Lake Ontario.

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Ontario Beach Park

Lake Ontario Beach Park is located at the northernmost tip of the city of Rochester, and is bordered on the East by the mouth of the Genesee River.

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Durand Eastman Park

Durand Eastman Park encompasses 977 acres of land including Durand Lake, Eastman Lake, and a swimming beach on Lake Ontario.

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Seneca Park and Zoo

The Seneca Park Zoo is a but a small part of the greater 297-acre Seneca Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1893.

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60 Day Trips within 30 Minutes of Rochester

Sometimes you just need a fun, spontaneous adventure or quick getaway to refresh your day. Try one of these day trips within 30 minutes of Rochester.

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Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Sodus Lighthouse
Sodus Lighthouse, photo by Cady McMaster

7. Sodus Lighthouse

1870

The Sodus Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1901. The museum is open to visitors, with special events and a summer concert series.

There is a second light at the end of the pier which you can walk to.

Chimney Bluffs State Park
Chimney Bluffs State Park
Camp Beechwood State Park
Camp Beechwood


Things to do nearby

Chimney Bluffs State Park

The bluffs in Chimney Bluffs State Park are fragile drumlins, like all of the truncated drumlins along this section of shoreline.

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Park Owsego Light House
Oswego Lighthouse

8. Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse

1934 – viewable only

From the H. Lee White Museum website, “In 2006 the structure was deemed excess and made available, and in 2009 was acquired by the City of Oswego from the United States Coast Guard to continue serving as a historic and cultural symbol of the City.”

The H. Lee White Maritime Museum at Oswego offers tours to the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse by boat each year, mid-June through early September, on Fridays and Saturdays from 1:30 to 4:00 pm (weather pending).

Visitors to the Lighthouse should plan to spend roughly two hours (including transit) for their experience and captains reserve the right to cancel or cut-short any trip due to weather or safety concerns.

Fort Ontario
Fort Ontario
Fair Haven State Park pier
Fair Haven

Things to do nearby

Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario: Salmon River Selkirk Light
Salmon River Lighthouse, photo by Cady McMaster

9. Salmon River Lighthouse

1838 – private vacation rental

The lighthouse at the mouth of the Salmon River is referred to as Selkirk Light, Selkirk Point Light, Port Ontario Light, and Salmon River Light in various texts and at different points in history. Today, the structure is called the Salmon River Lighthouse & Marina.

Salmon River Lighthouse is one of only four in the United States that retains its original birdcage design. The lighthouse was deactivated between 1858 and 1989. It has served as a hotel since 1895, though the original buildings were razed in 1916.

Salmon River Lighthouse still offers the option to spend the night. From their website, “Our fully-operational Selkirk Lighthouse, built in 1838, and five cottages (three right on the Marina property and two across the River) offer spacious and comfortable vacation accommodations throughout the spring, summer, and fall.”

According to AFAR, there are free open houses held the third Sunday of every month from April to November. Call ahead if this is something you’re interested in doing.

Things to do nearby

Great thanks to Lighthouse Friends for the wealth information on available their website about these lighthouses along Lake Ontario.

Also, to PBS for sharing this exceptional video about New York’s Seaway Lighthouses: (Special – 1h 26m 49s) “Along the New York shores of the Seaway Trail, from Ogdensburg, to Barcelona, New York, are 23 lighthouses.

This documentary probes the stories behind when and why these lighthouses were built, the functions they served, and the people who spent their lives keeping the lights burning.” Enjoy!

The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail

The Lake Ontario Seaway Trail runs along the southern Lake Ontario shoreline, from Fort Niagara in Youngstown to Fort Ontario in Oswego.

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Which are your favorite lighthouses along Lake Ontario in New York State?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!

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7 thoughts on “9 Lake Ontario Lighthouses in New York”

  1. Thank you. As a lighthouse enthusiast I find this information very valuable. Not sure when I will visit this part of NY but now I know where to get info to prepare for such a trip. See the lighthouse section of my website.

    BJK

  2. I just looked back and saw that Cady likes the lighthouses and you like trains. I have a few older relatives who have worked for the railroad. They are pretty interesting as well.

  3. Hello, I’ve recently became interested in the history of lighthouses. I’m curious why Stony Point lighthouse is not listed?

    1. Hello David! I had to look that one up to find out. The ones on this article are just along Lake Ontario’s southern shore. Story Point is on The Hudson, but still a worthy destination to explore! A little far from Rochester, but could still be done in a day if you’re ambitious.

      1. Hello Debi, maybe it’s called the Henderson Harbor lighthouse? I am not talking about the one on the Hudson lol. The one I am asking about is on the seaway trail in Henderson. I’m not sure of the road name but it’s off of Military rd. It’s definitely Stony Point on Lake Ontario. It comes up when I google it. I’d love to know more about lighthouses. Thanks, David

        1. Funny, Dave, I just looked at my own Google Maps and I have it saved! I think I decided not to add that one because it’s more than 2 hours away and privately owned. And I’m pretty sure my friend Cady has indeed stopped there for a peek on her many trips to the Thousand Islands. That area is so beautiful, and I’d imagine that point is just perfect at sunset.

          1. Hello, yes it is beautiful there at sunset and at sunrise. A family friend has a camp there so I’ve been there quite a bit through the years. I’m in Syracuse by the way. What do you like about lighthouses?

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Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home. The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly.