Newport, Rhode Island
Travel time: 3 hours.
Size: Sleeps 6.
Dates: July 14–21, July 21–28, August 18–25.
Price: $2,100 a week.
Few can say they spent their summer vacation helping skiffs and sloops navigate their way into Narragansett Bay. Bragging rights are yours if you sign up to be a keeper at the Rose Island Lighthouse, a mile off the coast of Newport. Stock up on provisions at the Stop & Shop (250 Bellevue Ave.; 401-848-7200) before meeting lighthouse director David McCurdy, who’ll ferry you over and lead you through a brief orientation. The daily chores, which include checking the batteries that drive the beacon, take just twenty minutes, leaving you plenty of time to swim, sun, and explore the eighteen-acre island with the rest of the tourists. The modest keeper’s quarters are located on the second floor of the lighthouse. Ask the staff for a lobster pot, which will come in handy when you catch one with the trap at the end of the dock (McCurdy or his crew can show you the ropes). Kids must be at least 5 to stay over.