Okay, I have a fun little factoid for you before we even begin this epic post about 7 of the best lighthouses in Portland Maine.
Because guess what? Well, if I’m being totally honest here, then I have to admit that there aren’t technically ANY lighthouses in Portland, Maine.
Yeah, I know, I know. I feel you judging me. I can see those eyes rolling and I know that there’s a gigantic thought bubble above your head that reads, “WTF?”
But it’s true. Because all of the lighthouses that I’m about to share with you today are at least a 10-minute drive away from Portland, like the immortal Portland Head Light.
Come on, you know which one I’m talking about. It’s basically the single most photographed lighthouse in the world and can found emblazoned upon almost every piece of promotional Maine material imaginable.
Thankfully though, I’m here to give you the inside scoop on not just Portland Head Light but on a ton of other super cool Maine lighthouses that you can quickly and easily visit while livin’ la vida loca and doing a ton of fun things in Portland Maine.
Because this chick right here? Well, she’s been to Maine more time times than she can count and has an unhealthy obsession with taking photos of next-level gorg lighthouses that sit along the Atlantic coast.
Which is awesome for you since you can learn from all of my epic lighthouse fails (there are a lot of them) and have the best time ever while exploring some of the best lighthouses in Maine.
So, if you’re ready to rock and roll like the lighthouse badass that I know you are, then swan dive with me into this epic post about the best lighthouses in Portland Maine.
Because along the way, you’ll learn all about:
- Where to Stay in Portland, Maine
- How Many Lighthouses are in Portland Maine
- What is the Most Photographed Lighthouse in Maine
- What is the name of the Lighthouse in Portland, Maine?
- Portland Head Lighthouse
- Cape Elizabeth Light
- Halfway Rock Lighthouse
- Portland Breakwater Light
- Ram Island Ledge Light
- Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse
- Wood Island Lighthouse
- And so much more.
Therefore, let’s blow the lid off this beyond glorious popsicle stand and do this thing!
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Where to Stay in Portland Maine
Not sure where to stay in Portland, Maine? Here are my picks for some of the best hotels in the city.
- The Blind Tiger Inn – Individually decorated rooms at this upscale, well-reviewed guest house sit inside a snazzy, Federal-style mansion from 1823, And, added bonus? This gorgeous, 3.5-star hotel is conveniently located in Portland’s posh West End, where rooms start at just $190 per night. You’ll also get a personalized welcome note upon arrival (aww) and can even enjoy a delicious complimentary continental breakfast with the price of your stay.
- The Inn on Carleton – Honestly, this place looks amazing and I’m totally staying here the next time I’m in town. I mean, not only do rooms here start at a mere $120 per night, but they are all uniquely furnished and sit hidden away inside a fully restored townhouse from 1869. Guests here also get to devour a scrumptious, two-course breakfast that is the stuff gastronomic dreams are made of. No seriously, this place is KNOWN for their epic breakfasts.
- The Press Hotel – Umm…this place is a 4-star Marriott Autograph Collection hotel where rooms start at just $140 per night. So yeah, need I say more? Okay, well, just in case I actually do then you’ll be delighted to know that this building was once the headquarters of the Portland Press Herald, As a result, you’ll find journalist inspired decor scattered throughout the building (Think vintage typewriters everywhere and old-school newspapers framed on the walls).Rooms here also kind of resemble these chic little writing nooks since they are outfitted with leather seats, old-world desks, and textiles from local artists. Add in an amazing on-site restaurant, Union, that is one of the city’s absolute finest eateries and you may never want to leave.
How Many Lighthouses are in Portland Maine?
Believe it or not, there are actually six different lighthouses that are just a short, twenty-minute drive from Portland.
Therefore, even though there are no lighthouses in Portland, Maine proper, you can still do a quick little road trip to some of the best lighthouses in Maine while staying in this amazing city.
So, to see these amazing Portland lighthouses for yourself, do this little day tour below.
- Drive to the Casco Bay Bridge and take Route 77 towards Cape Elizabeth.
- When you’re almost at the town center (of Cape Elizabeth), turn left and follow the signs for “Twin Lights State Park”. You can’t visit the lighthouses here but you can get a good view of them.
- Go back the way you came (to the center of town) and make a right onto Shore Road. Stay on this road until you see a sign for “Fort Williams” and turn right. Follow this road all the way to Portland Head Light – basically the single most famous lighthouse in all of Maine (PSST…you’ll also be able to see Ram Island Light from the entrance to Portland Harbor off Portland Head as you leave).
- From here, you’ll want to get back in your car and go to Shore Road, veering right onto Preble Street. Go through Willard Square and make a right on Fort Road. Continue towards the Southern Maine Community College Campus and get out at Portland Harbor Museum. You’ll find Spring Point Ledge Light here and can even tour the inside during the summer.
- As you leave the college, make a right onto Breakwater Drive. Next, turn right at a stop sign onto Madison Street and go all the way to Bug Light at the end of the road.
What is the Most Photographed Lighthouse in Maine?
Easy! Portland Head Light is not only the most photographed lighthouse in Maine but it’s also the most photographed lighthouse in the world.
And that makes sense since it’s a stunning little structure that sits perched atop the ever-rocky coast of Cape Elizabeth. It’s also a classic, 80-foot tall, white lighthouse that was first built in 1791, making it the oldest lighthouse in all of Maine.
What is the Name of the Lighthouse in Portland Maine?
If you’re looking for the name of the lighthouse in Portland, Maine, then you’re probably thinking of Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth.
Because if you only see one lighthouse while in Portland, then let this be that lighthouse. And while it currently sits inside Fort Williams Park, it was first built during George Washington’s presidency and was later renovated in 1831.
For the most dramatic photos though, try visiting at high tide on a windy day, when the waves ferociously crash up onto the rocky shores that surround the lighthouse.
Pro Tip: During your visit, if you look out at Portland Harbor and Casco Bay, you’ll be able to see Spring Point Ledge Light (1897) on your left, Ram Island Ledge Light (1905) right in front of you, Halfway Rock Light (1871) off in the distance on a clear day, and Cape Elizabeth Light (1874) on your right.
Best Lighthouses in Portland Maine
1. Portland Head Light
Honestly, no list of the best lighthouses in Portland, Maine would ever be complete without mentioning Portland Head Light.
It’s easily the single most famous (and oldest) lighthouse in all of Maine and is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the Portland area.
See, it was first commissioned in 1791 by George Washington and was then later fully renovated in 1813 – where it was staffed by lighthouse keepers until 1989 when the lighthouse became fully automated.
So, if you want to see this amazing lighthouse for yourself, then head to Fort Williams Park and explore this enchanting, 90-acre park.
It’s filled with a ton of scenic walking trails that will take you to the ruins of an old fort, the remnants of a late 19th-century artillery base, and various WWII bunkers that were used to look for German U-boats off the coast (one was actually seen in 1942).
If you want, you can even check out the museum here, which is open from Memorial Day through October 31 (10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily) and sits inside the old Lighthouse Keepers residence.
Step inside to uncover the fascinating history behind one of the most amazing lighthouses in Maine and to see several old lighthouse lenses on display.
But the question remains, can you go inside Portland Head Light? Typically no. However, there is one day per year when the Coast Guard permits a few visitors inside the lighthouse. And that is for Maine’s annual Open Lighthouse Day in September (this year it’s on September 11th, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm).
Pro Tip: This park closes right at sunset at someone with a bull horn will actually “chase” you out of the area if you’re not ready to go right at sunset. There are also some awesome food trucks that tend to frequent the area so you may want to come hungry and have a picnic along the coast while you’re here during the summer. Local resident Jim Rowe also offers free guided tours of the park if that’s something that you’re into.
Distance from Portland: Around 5 miles or about a 15-minute drive
Address: 12 Captain Strout Cir, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107 (the address of the park itself is 1000 Shore Rd, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107)
Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Price: Free unless you want to visit the museum which costs $2 per adult and $1 per child.
2. Ram Island Ledge Light
I’ve got good news and bad news for when it comes to another one of the best lighthouses in Portland Maine.
But first, the good news? Because everyone likes good news. Believe it or not, you can actually see this gem of a lighthouse while you’re visiting Portland Head Light.
Therefore, it really is possible to enjoy two super cute lighthouses at the same time. Just look straight ahead and you’ll see it perched atop some gray granite rocks that sit about a mile offshore.
In fact, this lighthouse du jour was first built in 1905 since it was needed at the entrance to Portland Harbor. Apparently, the massive steamship The Californian ran aground here in 1900. And so, Congress was like yeah, okay, we need a lighthouse here ASAP.
And thus, Ram Island Ledge Light was born. It’s also still an extremely important structure and is currently in use, even today.
So, keep an extra close eye on it and you’ll see it blink twice about every sixty seconds.
And now, the bad news. Yeah, it’s never actually open to the public. Accordingly, you can’t visit the lighthouse itself and just have to admire it from afar.
It’s also located well offshore shore and can really only be accessed via private boat.
That’s why, if you’re a diehard lighthouse enthusiast who needs to get an up-close and personal look at this lovely little structure then you could always book a tour with Portland Paddle and do a full-day fort and lighthouse sea kayaking trip.
You know so that you can marvel at this sweet piece of manmade architecture from the water.
Pro Tip: This lighthouse is pretty far away from shore. Therefore, you’ll want to use a telephoto lens to take some pretty sweet pics.
Distance from Portland: Take a 15-minute drive to Fort Williams Park and you’ll see this lighthouse off in the distance.
Hours: The park where you can see the lighthouse is daily from sunrise to sunset.
3. Cape Elizabeth Light (aka Two Lights)
Locally known as Two Lights, this is one of those best lighthouses in Portland that is kind of an anomaly. See, it’s actually two different lighthouses.
Yeah, one is an antiquated seaside warning system with two beacons (only one of which is still in use) that were used to prevent the nautical nonsense (read, shipwrecks) that ensued in this more-than-a-little dicey area.
And the second of these two snazzy lighthouses? Yeah, it’s an uber-fab residence that you are unable to visit.
But wait, because the confusion doesn’t stop here. Because believe it or not, there’s actually a nearby state park that is also known as Two Light State Park.
And guess what? Yeah, you can’t actually get to either of these lighthouses from this aforementioned park, with its 41 acres of scenic walking trails (translation, you SHOULD visit). Although, you can get some sweet shots of Two Lights from here if you’re into that sort of thing.
And I mean really, who isn’t? Anyway, the park is lovely and was named for these two, Gothic Revival-style lighthouses, which were first built-in 1828.
It’s also a great place to relax – at one of the many picnic tables – and enjoy sweet views of Casco Bay since neither of these lighthouses is currently accessible to the public (there’s also a playground here too).
Afterward, mosey on over to the Lobster Shack at Two Lights (open April through October) for some delicious lobster and some perfect photo ops of these marvelous lighthouses.
Pro Tip: While you’re here, be sure to visit Crescent Beach State Park since it’s like 5 minutes away and is home to an actual sandy beach – a true novelty in Maine since many of the beaches here are extremely rocky.
Distance from Portland: Take a 15-minute drive to Two Lights State Park (it’s 8 miles away) and you can see the lighthouse from here.
Address: 7 Tower Dr, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
Hours: The park is open from 9:00 am to sunset daily.
Price: $5.00 for adult Maine residents, $7.00 for non-Maine residents, and $2 for seniors.
4. Portland Breakwater Lighthouse (aka Bug Light)
First rule of visiting Portland, Maine? Don’t refer to Bug Light as Portland Breakwater Lighthouse.
“Why”, you may rightly wonder. Well, because locals will have exactly no idea what you’re talking about since this cute little lighthouse derives its nickname from its teeny tiny stature.
Truth be told though, it’s never been a major lighthouse. Instead, it just kind of quietly sits there, along the mouth of the Fore River on the south side of Portland, gently guiding local ships safely past in the night.
It was also first built n 1855, out of cast iron and brick, and features a strong granite foundation. Eventually, it was officially lit in 1875 and then later decommissioned in WWII as the result of ongoing security concerns.
Fast forward a solid 60 years and it was once again put back into use, a la 2002, with solar power.
So, if you want to see this cute little lighthouse for yourself, just mosey on over to the appropriately named, Bug Light Park – preferably on Maine Open Lighthouse Day (in September) when it’s actually open to the public.
It’s a charming green space that offers stunning views of the lighthouse (with its unique Corinthian-style columns since it’s thought to be the only lighthouse in the world that is modeled after a Greek monument) and the Portland waterfront as a whole.
For the best photo ops though, try to visit in the evening for a wonderfully dynamic shot.
Distance from Portland: A 12-minute drive or 4 miles outside of Portland.
Pro Tip: Since you’re in the area anyway, stop by the South Portland Historical Society Museum. It’s open seasonally, from May through October, and holds a wealth of fascinating exhibits that detail the city’s unique history.
Address: S Portland Greenbelt Pathway, South Portland, ME 04106
Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
5. Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse
Brace yourself because to visit this lighthouse, oddly enough, you’ll have to go through a local community college campus.
I pinkie promise that you’re in the right place though as long as you park next to the remnants of an old fort (aka Fort Preble from just before the war of 1812) that overlooks the water.
Because this little lighthouse right here? Well, it was first built around 1897 to help boats make their way through the shallow waters of Spring Point Ledge.
It’s also pretty unique because it has a “spark plug” design where the main body of the structure actually sits atop a caisson with the living quarters lying just beneath the light station.
Plus, added bonus? You can actually walk out to this structure since a giant breakwater connects it to the shore and to the Southern Maine Community College Campus.
If you want, can also visit this still active lighthouse on a regular basis since volunteers routinely lead tours through the building on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Pro Tip: Look southeast for lovely panoramas of Simonton Cove and visit nearby Willard Beach if it’s low tide.
Distance from Portland: A 12-minute drive or 3.8 miles outside of Portland.
Address: 1 Fort Road – SMCC Campus, South Portland, ME 04116
Hours: Open most weekends in the summer from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm,
Price: $5 for a tour but you can visit the campus any time for free.
6. Halfway Rock Lighthouse
This is one of the best lighthouses in Portland Maine that you’ll have to squint kind of hard to admire. You’ll also need a bright, clear, sunny day if you actually want to see it since it’s about 10 miles off the coast of Maine.
It’s worth a look though since this structure features a lovely black and granite tower that is named for its location in between Cape Elizabeth and Cape Small.
See, it was initially built-in 1871 when a lot of the ships in the area were running aground due to a distinct lack of visibility while navigating these treacherous waters.
Currently, though, the only part of the old lighthouse that actually remains is the lighthouse itself and the adjoining boathouse since all the other structures here were destroyed by passing storms – structures that have been purchased and fully restored by Ford Riche.
For the best views though, head to the Portland Head Light and look straight ahead. Because if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see Halfway Rock Lighthouse off in the distance.
Distance from Portland: N/A (drive to Portland Head Light and you can see this lighthouse from there).
Address: Halfway Rock Light Station, Bailey Island, ME 04003
Hours: N/A (you can admire this lighthouse from Portland Head Light)
7. Wood Island Lighthouse
And last, but certainly not least, is Wood Island Lighthouse. It’s a 47-foot tall, conical, white lighthouse that is nestled atop granite rubble and that lies on the east side of Wood Island in Saco Bay.
It was also originally constructed in 1808 (by order of the then president, Thomas Jefferson), was later fully automated in 1986, and is currently still in use – making the waters near the entrance of Biddeford Pool and the end of the Saco River safe for passing boat traffic.
And although it does sit well off the coast, visitors are still welcome to visit during the summer months when seasonal boat tours take enthusiastic lighthouse lovers out the island through the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse organization.
However, if you want to nab a primo view of this iconic edifice during the winter months, then head to the Audubon Trail. Just drive about a half mile past the end of SR-208 and onto Lester B Orcutt Bl.
Once here, you’ll see an entrance to an Audubon trail on the left side of the road that you can use to reach a scenic overlook with awesome views of the ligthouse.
Distance from Portland: It’s about a 37-minute drive or 25 miles to the lookout point in the East Point Sanctuary.
Address: Wood Island Lighthouse, Biddeford, ME 04005 (address of the sanctuary Biddeford, ME 04005)
Hours: Open daily from dawn till dusk.
Map of the Best Lighthouses in Portland Maine
Additional Maine Resources You’ll Love
- 12 of the Best Hikes in Acadia National Park
- 13 of the Best Hikes in Maine
- 10 of the Most Scenic Drives in Maine
- 15 Romantic Getaways in Maine
- The Best Time to Visit Maine
- 15 Stunning Beach Towns in Maine
- 17+ Amazing Things to do in Rockland Maine
Guess what? You did it! You made it to the end of my epic guide to 7 of the best lighthouses in Portland Maine!
So, did your fave Maine lighthouse make the list? If not then let me know in the comments below!
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