Maine’s Famed Lighthouses Will Guide You to a Great Time
A trip to Maine would be incomplete without at least one stop at a lighthouse. While New York is known for its skyscrapers, Maine is recognized as the unofficial home of lighthouses. Stretching from Portsmouth all the way to Saint Stephen, Maine’s coast is sprinkled with lighthouses that once were beacons of hope and safety for ships heading into port.
If you’re hosting out-of-towners or simply want to get back to your Maine roots, you have to check out these must-see lighthouses.
Top Five Maine Lighthouses
Maine is home to a total of 65 lighthouses scattered across the state’s coast. These iconic structures draw in thousands of visitors annually, just like they used to guide ships to safe harbors. Here are our top lighthouse picks.
Located in Bristol, this picturesque postcard of a lighthouse features an attached keeper’s house. This tower dates back to 1827 and was built by order of John Quincy Adams. Gazing out into the deep blue Atlantic Ocean, this lighthouse is still in operation today while also serving those who want to learn about Maine’s history. For those daring enough, you can book a night in the apartment above the former keeper’s home, but be warned. There are plenty of tales surrounding the solitude of being a lighthouse keeper and how that can slowly turn a man’s mind toward madness...
Sitting on Cape Neddick in York is one of the most well-known lighthouses in the Pine Tree State. Completed in 1879, Nubble Light sits on a tiny island just off York’s rocky coastline. Standing 41 feet tall, the structure has added vantage from the steep rocky islet it calls home, giving it a total height of 88 feet. Fun fact: A photo of this structure is included in the list of most important Earth structures that the Voyager II carried in case it fell into extraterrestrial hands - and if it’s good enough for aliens, it’s certainly good enough to show to your out-of-state friends!
The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse sits perched above the rugged coastline of Mount Desert Island. Located in Acadia National Park, this lighthouse dates all the way back to 1858, and the keeper’s quarters are in the same condition as they were back when the building was first constructed. The rocky cliffs below the structure serve as a constant reminder of the natural treachery that ships had to endure before the lighthouse’s construction was complete.
One of the top lighthouses to visit in Maine is also one that most tourists never reach. That’s because the West Quoddy Head Light is the easternmost lighthouse in the U.S., making it tricky to visit. Hard to miss due to its iconic red and white stripes, this structure was once seen for miles by sailors, but now it’s more often found in pictures than enjoyed in person. The lighthouse was completed in 1808 under orders from President Thomas Jefferson, but it was reconstructed in 1858 and is registered in the National Register of Historic Places. If you can’t get out to West Quoddy to visit the lighthouse in person, check out the free virtual tour.
Located in Cape Elizabeth, Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in Maine as it first illuminated the way for boats coming to harbor back in 1791. Construction of the keeper’s quarters began in 1790 by order of John Hancock. Situated at the main channel leading into Portland Harbor, this lighthouse once was the first light many sailors saw coming in from their voyage across the Atlantic. At that time, whale oil lamps were the source of light, and the tower utilized 16 lamps in total. Today, the light station is still functioning and is maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Lighthouse Real Estate
While living next to the sea secluded from society doesn’t sound appealing to everyone, some may be interested to know that there are lighthouses throughout the state available for sale. For example, the 4 bed, 2 bath Isle Au Haut Lighthouse is for sale. A rare opportunity, this idyllic seaside retreat has recently entered the market, priced at a whopping $2 million. The 2,500-sq.-ft. beautyis located on the northwestern side of the island. Near Penobscot Bay, Isle Au Haut Lighthouse is accessible through the mainland via ferry operating out of Stonington.
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