Indian River Life-Saving Station: Tours by lantern-light and rescue re-enactments are two major reasons to visit this well-kept station in Delaware Seashore State Park, in Rehoboth Beach (1-302-227-6991; destateparks.com/attractions/life-saving-station).
HI Nantucket: This 1873 station in Natucket, Mass., now serves as a 49-bed hostel (1-508-228-0433; hiusa.org/massachusetts/nantucket/nantucket). The nearby Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is a replica of the historic building and showcases lifesaving memorabilia (1-508-228-2505; nantucketshipwreck.org/shipwreck-lifesaving-museum).
Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum: Perched on the southern tip of Ocean City, a bustling Maryland beach town, the 1891 station-turned-museum has impressive interactive displays and artifacts (1-410-289-4991; ocmuseum.org).
Assateague Beach Coast Guard Station: Built in 1922, the two-story, red-roofed building on Virginia's Assateague Island represents an early descendant of the lifesaving service. Vacant and accessible only on foot, it's well worth the trek as it is part of an intact complex with a tower, boathouse and garage (1-757-336-6577; nps.gov/asis).
Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge: Warm waters off the Florida coast made it easier for shipwrecked sailors to get ashore, where they needed food and shelter. So the service established 10 houses of refuge to provide both. This museum in Stuart, Fla., is the only one left (1-772-225-1875; houseofrefugefl.org).
Point aux Barques: When this pretty white station in Port Austin, Mich., was decommissioned in 1964, it was moved about 9 miles northwest along the shores of Lake Huron to be part of the Huron City Museum (huroncitymuseums.org).
Vermilion Life-Saving Station: This endangered station in Paradise, Mich., overlooks Lake Superior's "Shipwreck Coast," a desolate, beautiful part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The building is owned by the Little Traverse Conservancy (1-231-347-0991; landtrust.org).
Coast Guard House: In Point Arena, Calif., take your pick of four rooms and two cottages in the 1901 station overlooking the Pacific (1-707-882-2442; coastguardhouse.com).
Robin T. Reid