When you sit down to plan your vacations this year, why go see the Grand Canyon for the tenth time, or spend all your money in Las Vegas again? Why not plan something out of the ordinary? Why not look into lighthouse vacations? Lighthouse vacations can be any thing from just relaxing at a bed and breakfast to actually being a lighthouse keeper. Lighthouse vacations are great vacations for the single traveler, couples and families too.

Ocean City LighthouseThere are about 700 lighthouses in the United States. Not all of these offer lighthouse vacations, some you can't even get to, but there are a great many that do offer lighthouse vacations. If you opt to go for the bed and breakfast style lighthouse vacation, you will find that although a few have a bed and breakfast place set up on the property, most of the time you will actually be staying in the keepers quarters. Sometimes the keepers quarters is a small house next to the light house and sometimes it's an apartment inside the lighthouse. This type of vacation has become so popular that some of the bigger lighthouse bed a breakfasts offer full hotel type amenities along with day programs for vacationers with children. You can find these lighthouse vacations mainly in the New England/Northeast, Mid-Atlantic/Southern seaboard, the Great Lakes area and the West Coast. For those of you who would like to stay in a lighthouse outside of the United States, you can find lighthouse vacations in Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Scotland, Germany, Australia and South Korea just to name a few.

lighthouseIf you really want to experience a lighthouse vacation, why not signup for to be a lighthouse keeper for your vacation? This could entail just a few hours of work a day or you can sign up to take care of the lighthouse full time for the length or your stay. These types of lighthouse vacations are called volunteer vacations. Different lighthouses offer different types of keeper programs. The best thing to do is find a few lighthouses that offer volunteer vacations and see what each one involves. When you sign up for the part time keeper programs you will be asked to devote 1 to 2 hours a day around the lighthouse. You will be asked to do a few chores and help maintain the place. If you sign up for the full time keeper programs you are asked to sign up for a week long stint and usually work 6 to 8 hours a day. Your job involves keeping track of the marine radio for weather info, and perhaps managing the NOAA weather station, wind powered electric system, and rainwater gathering system . The best part of this type of vacation, besides the sense of accomplishment, is that the money you paid to stay can be used as a tax write off due to most of these lighthouses being 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. Most people don't want to work on their vacations, but most people I've known who have done these types of vacations end up going back every year. It's not taxing work, and the value gained by getting their children involved out weighs the few times they had to push a broom or paint the fence. Plus, can you beat the views?

lighthouse islandTo really get into the spirit why not plan your lighthouse vacation during the week of National Lighthouse Day? August 7 is National Lighthouse Day, a day set aside by the U.S. Congress to provide recognition for the nation's lighthouses, to promote the values of safety, heroism and American ingenuity that they represent, and to encourage citizens to rededicate themselves to the protection and restoration of these facilities. National Lighthouse Day was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Nov. 5, 1988 after being sponsored by Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island.