Beautiful Lighthouses in Maine to Visit, from Portland to the Canadian Border
Lighthouses are a quintessential symbol of Maine’s maritime history, and visitors have the unique opportunity to explore these fascinating icons year-round. Here is a list of the easiest lighthouses you can visit in Maine, organized by geographic location. I say the “easiest” because there are lots of lighthouses far out in the water.
As you’re planning your trip to Maine, keep in mind that there are very few lighthouses you can actually go into, but these ones you can visit and explore the grounds and such. Also, visiting Maine in winter means far fewer people than in peak summer, so keep that in mind too as you plan.
Easiest Southern Maine Lighthouses to Visit
So you’ve arrived in Maine, maybe you flew into Portland International Jetport (PWM) or maybe you drove in from Massachusetts’s or New Hampshire, and you’re ready to visit some of Maine’s best lighthouses… Let’s start in the Portland area, as there are some beautiful, easy to visit lighthouses here.
Portland Head Light
The Portland Head Light is a historic lighthouse located in the coastal town of Cape Elizabeth, near Portland, Maine. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the country and has been guiding ships into Portland Harbor since 1791. The lighthouse tower is a classic New England style, with a white clapboard exterior and a bright red roof. During the summer the landscaping around the Portland Head Lighthouse is full of flowers, and walking paths make it a fun place to visit with kids.
Visitors can tour the lighthouse and climb to the top of the tower for breathtaking views of Casco Bay ONLY ONE DAY EACH YEAR, Lighthouse Day in September. The Portland Head Light is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Its enduring legacy and stunning beauty make it a must-visit for anyone exploring coastal Maine.
Cape Elizabeth Light at Two Lights State Park
The Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, also known as Two Lights, is located in the coastal town of Cape Elizabeth, near Portland, Maine. This historic lighthouse is actually two lighthouses, standing side by side, and has been guiding ships into Portland Harbor since 1828. The lighthouses are set on a beautiful rocky promontory overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, providing breathtaking views of the coast and the surrounding islands.
Visitors cannot tour the lighthouse, but can enjoy the tidepools and take in the gorgeous views from the point. The surrounding grounds are a perfect spot for picnicking or taking a stroll, and there’s even a restaurant near the parking area. The Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse is a must-visit for anyone exploring Maine’s rugged coastline, and is a part of the state’s maritime history.
Spring Point Ledge Light
The Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse is located in the area of South Portland, Maine, basically Portland. It sits on a rocky ledge just offshore and is easily accessible via a walkway from the mainland. The lighthouse tower is a classic New England style, with a bright red roof and white clapboard siding. Visitors can walk about to and around the lighthouse, and there are exhibit plaques at the nearby fort to learn about its history. The Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse is really unique in both its location and the view from it: you can see three other lighthouses from its point!
Midcoast Maine Lighthouses Not to Miss
As you head north from Portland, you get into the Midcoast Maine area. Nobody calls it the central coast (that’s in California); this is MIDCOAST. Here you’ll find a number of both river lights and epically built light stations. We’ve picked the easiest lighthouses to visit in Midcoast Maine, and they’re easy to add to a road trip through the area.
Owls Head Light
The Owls Head Lighthouse is located in the coastal town of Owls Head, Maine. It sits on a rocky promontory overlooking Penobscot Bay and has been guiding ships into Rockland Harbor since 1825. Visitors can tour the lighthouse grounds and museum, and climb to the top of the point to circle the tower for stunning views of the coast and surrounding islands.
Also, be sure to visit the nearby Owl’s Head Transportation Museum for even more history and fascinating Maine memorabilia.
Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is located in the coastal city of Rockland, Maine. It sits at the end of a 1,200-foot breakwater, which serves as a protective barrier for the harbor. The lighthouse tower is a distinctive octagonal shape, and its beacon has been guiding ships into Rockland Harbor for over a century. I enjoyed watching sunset on the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse from the roof of the 250 Main Hotel in Rockland. Amazing view of it!
Visitors can walk out to the lighthouse on the breakwater and take in the surround Penobscot Bay. The lighthouse is still an active aid to navigation and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The Rockland Breakwater lighthouse is also special because it’s one of the few lighthouses in Maine that you can actually go into. It’s only open for visitors a few days a year and is fully dependent on volunteers, so check with the lighthouse website before you plan your visit.
Pemaquid Point Light
Pemaquid Point Light is a historic lighthouse located in Bristol, Maine, United States. It was first built in 1827 and replaced by the current tower in 1835. The lighthouse is located on a rocky point overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the more popular lighthouses to visit in Maine.
One of the unique features of Pemaquid Point Light is its distinctive white conical tower, which stands 38 feet tall and is made of rubblestone. The tower is attached to a one-and-a-half-story keeper’s house, which has a distinctive red roof. Before COVID visitors could go up in the lighthouse tower, and hopefully it’ll reopen in 2023.
The Pemaquid Point Light is also notable for its beautiful natural surroundings, including the rocky coastline, the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and the picturesque fishing village of New Harbor, which is located nearby. The lighthouse has been featured in many works of art and literature, including the Maine state quarter, and it is a popular spot for photographers, artists, and tourists to visit. It is also a functioning aid to navigation and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Fort Point Light
The Fort Point Lighthouse is located in the coastal town of Stockton Springs, Maine, near Searsport. It sits on a historic fortification that dates back to the War of 1812, offering a unique blend of maritime and military history. The lighthouse tower is a square style, with a bright red roof and white clapboard siding.
Visitors can tour the lighthouse and learn about its history, as well as enjoy the panoramic views of Penobscot Bay. The surrounding fortifications and grounds provide a unique backdrop for the lighthouse, and the area is a popular spot for picnicking and exploring via trails. The Fort Point Lighthouse is one of the more unique lighthouses to visit in Maine.
Marshall Point Light
The Marshall Point Lighthouse is located in the small coastal town of Port Clyde, Maine, near the picturesque island of Monhegan. This iconic lighthouse has been guiding ships into the harbor for over 150 years and is famous for its appearance in the film “Forrest Gump”. Visitors can walk the boardwalk out to the lighthouse and enjoy awesome bird watching all around the point. The town of Port Clyde is a charming fishing village with a great general store, and is surrounded by beautiful rocky beaches and dense forests. Also, this is where you can catch the puffin cruise!
Monhegan Island, just a short ferry ride away, is a peaceful escape from the mainland, and is home to stunning cliffs, serene hiking trails, and an artist community. Both Port Clyde and Monhegan offer a unique blend of natural beauty and coastal charm, making them a must-visit for anyone exploring Midcoast Maine.
Northern Maine Lighthouses
Heading from the Midcoast Maine region up towards Canada there are even more lighthouses to visit. After you’ve toured Down East Maine and up to the border, catch the hydrofoil to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and keep on visiting more lighthouses. I’m in love with them all, so maybe don’t listen to me, because you’ll be touring the Maritimes and looping back down the Maine coast for the rest of your summer.
West Quoddy Head Light
The West Quoddy Head Light is a historic lighthouse located on the easternmost point of the contiguous United States, in Lubec, Maine. It was first built in 1808 and replaced by the current tower in 1858. One of the unique features of West Quoddy Head Light is its distinctive red and white striped tower, which stands 49 feet tall and is made of brick. The tower is attached to a one-and-a-half-story keeper’s house, which is also painted in red and white stripes.
The West Quoddy Head Light is also notable for its scenic location on the rocky coast of Maine, overlooking the Bay of Fundy and the Atlantic Ocean (you MUST visit the Bay of Fundy!!!). It is surrounded by a state park and hiking trails that offer visitors views of the coastline and to Canada.
Another unique feature of the West Quoddy Head Light is its fourth-order Fresnel lens, which is still in use today and can be seen from up to 18 nautical miles away. The lighthouse is also equipped with a foghorn and a radio beacon to aid in navigation, just like the Passamaquoddy Lighthouse from Pete’s Dragon.
Bass Harbor Head Light
This lighthouse is located in Bass Harbor, near Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island. It actually lies within one of the parts of Acadia National Park. Visiting the Bass Harbor Head Light is easy, but getting down to the spot that all of the epic photos you may recognize of the lighthouse, that’s a different story.
Parking is limited at the Bass Harbor Light, so be patient, and then once there, be efficient so others can see the lighthouse and the grounds as well.
To get to the really beautiful view of the Bass Harbor Light, you do have to take the trail into the woods, and then scale the wooden staircases down to the rocks. Where the stairs end, you then have to traverse the rocks and tide pools until you get the view you want. The best time to visit is in the morning so the morning sun hits the Bass Harbor Lighthouse just right.
“Where is the Lighthouse from Pete’s Dragon?”
So, that’s a complex question. You CANNOT visit the lighthouse from Pete’s Dragon because it was actually a movie set built in Morro Bay, California, not in Maine. Yes, the original “Pete’s Dragon” movie was partially filmed in Maine and, specifically, the film crew shot some scenes in the town of Rockport and at the nearby Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde, but a lot of it was filmed in California.
As for which lighthouse is most like the Passamaquoddy light from the movie, it’s difficult to say for certain since the Passamaquoddy light in the movie is a fictional creation. However, the lighthouse used in the film’s exterior shots is actually fashioned after the lighthouse at Quoddy Head State Park as well as other hexagonal lighthouses on the west coast. The West Quoddy Light is known for its distinctive red and white stripes versus the solid white like in the movie.
FAQ about Lighthouses in Maine
There are 65 lighthouses in Maine. Not all are operational, in good shape or can be visited easily, but there are indeed 65 still standing in full form.
The Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in Maine. They started building it in 1787.
Yes! 57 Maine lighthouses are still operational. Some are fully managed by the US Coast Guard and some privately or through local societies.
You can visit MANY of Maine’s lighthouses, but there are a lot that are off limits for safety or because they are so remote. When you visit the Portland Head Light you can actually see two lighthouses in the far distance out in the water that you cannot visit and that are not operational. Most lighthouses can be visited with access to the grounds or breakwater, but usually not the lighthouse tower.
The most popular lighthouses in Maine are the Portland Head, Nubble Light (to the south), Rockland Breakwater and Bass Harbor Lighthouses.
Maine’s lighthouses started getting built in the late 1700s as navigational beacons for the many sailing ships coming from Europe and Canada.
The lighthouses in Maine are preserved through a variety of channels, including private societies, city municipalities, the US Coast Guard and Maine State Parks.
Some people believe a lot of lighthouses to be haunted, but concrete evidence of any specific haunting does not exist.
Lighthouses, to this day, serve the purpose of providing a navigational beacon to ships at sea, whether in the dark or cloudy days. Lighthouses each have a different flash and look which helps sailors identify where they are based on the light flash and color/shape of the lighthouse.
Mount Desert Rock Lighthouse is 25 miles off the coast of Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island in the Down East area of Maine.
Whether you’re in southern, central, or northern Maine, there’s a lighthouse waiting to be explored. These are some of the easiest lighthouses to visit, and really, did you even go to Maine if you didn’t see at least one lighthouse?
If you have any questions or want to leave some comments about YOUR favorite lighthouses in Maine, leave a note or send us a message. We’re always happy to share!
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