For some travelers, the lure of a lighthouse is irresistible. Just ask Kraig Anderson, who took a trip to see one in North Carolina more than a decade ago, and has since visited every beacon in the country — that's more than 750 depending how you define them. "Following lighthouses has taken me to pretty spectacular places," he says. "They're really beautiful structures. Some are amazing feats of engineering." He maintains both a web site (LighthouseFriends.com) and an app, and shares some of his favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY..
Heceta Head, Ore.
This lighthouse not only welcomes visitors but overnight guests at a bed-and-breakfast in the light keeper's house. Anderson says it's a standout beacon for its setting in a cliff-side notch above a Pacific cove. During an overnight stay, he marveled at the light, which shoots out in eight directions like a wagon wheel. "You can see these spokes of light extending miles out to the ocean. We sat there in awe as the beams were circling overhead." 866-547-3696; hecetalighthouse.com
Bodie Island, N.C.
This 156-foot Outer Banks beacon is often overshadowed by the nearby Cape Hatteras lighthouse, located on the same National Seashore. But its renovation last year, which opened the tower for climbing, makes it a must-see. "It's stunning," Anderson says, and one of many standouts in the region. "The Outer Banks has the premier collection of lighthouses in the United States." 252-473-2111; nps.gov/caha
Split Rock, Minn.
This Great Lakes light station perches on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior. Although just a century old, it's one of Anderson's favorites. "It's probably the most dramatic setting of all the lighthouses I've been to." The lens is illuminated every Nov. 10 in memory of the Great Lakes freighter Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975, claiming 29 lives. 218-226-6372; sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/split-rock-lighthouse
Portland Head, Maine
One of the nation's oldest and most visited lighthouses, this landmark was constructed by the Massachusetts Colony and its first keeper was appointed by George Washington. "It's on a rocky shore that protrudes into Casco Bay," Anderson says. "Maine is my favorite state for visiting lighthouses." 207-799-2661; portlandheadlight.com
Ponce de Leon Inlet, Fla.
The third tallest lighthouse in the country stands just south of Daytona Beach. Not only can visitors climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower, but they can also marvel at the jewel-like Fresnel lenses exhibited in a separate building. "It's one of the premier lens displays in the country," Anderson says. 386-761-1821; ponceinlet.org
Block Island Southeast, R.I.
The Victorian style light keeper's building is what makes this spot stand out to Anderson. The 2 1/2-story building is topped with a pink roof and connected to the beacon atop the Mohegan Bluffs. "It's probably my favorite lighthouse for its architectural beauty." cr.nps.gov/maritime/nhl/blockisl.htm
Thomas Point Shoal, Md.
This offshore structure is called a screwpile lighthouse because it stands on a wooden foundation that's supported by cast-iron poles literally screwed into the bottom of Chesapeake Bay. Located about two miles offshore, it can be visited on boat tours from Annapolis. "It's a unique style, having been able to survive on a spindly foundation," Anderson says. thomaspointlighthouse.org
Eldred Rock, Alaska
Vacationers on Inside Passage cruises have the best chance of seeing this lighthouse in the Lynn Canal, a natural fjord near Skagway. "You have this relatively narrow canal and snow-capped, jagged mountains on either side," Anderson says. "Even for keepers that lived there, it was a special place." lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=828
This cast iron tower now sits in the middle of a four-lane highway on the Gulf Coast. The building was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, with water climbing nearly two dozen feet inside the tower. The building is the city logo and was even on the state's license plates for many years. "It's such a symbol of the survival of the coast," Anderson says. 228-374-3105; biloxi.ms.us/visitor-info/museums/lighthouse
White Shoal, Mich.
With more lighthouses than any other state, Michigan has no shortage of commanding beacons. But Anderson likes this offshore tower, painted with red barbershop-pole stripes, near the Straits of Mackinac. "You can't go in it, but there are boat tours running quite frequently out of Mackinaw City that pass by the light," he says. michigan.org/property/white-shoal-lighthouse