6 Popular Portland Lighthouses You Cannot Afford To Miss (2023)
Portland is so popular that some people often confuse it with Maine Capital City (it’s Augusta, though). Brimming bright with the coastal scenery, Portland is amongst the top 10 places to live in the United States. Though this northeastern port has a lot of things to see and explore, Lighthouses have always been its USP. Fortunately, enough, Portland is blessed to have nearly six lighthouses within cities’ proximity and a few slightly far away. These lighthouses offer everyone stunning views of the east coast and, of course, allow for making many unforgettable memories.
A visit to Portland is incomplete without tasting lobsters and visiting its lighthouses. These stunning structures are family-friendly, romantic, and filled with so much information to learn about. The towering height of Portland lighthouses allows visitors to bird-eye and get a close view of surrounding parks and the glorious Atlantic. Here we have a Guide that will share all the insights about Lighthouses in Portland.
6 Popular Portland Lighthouses You Cannot Afford To Miss
Have a look at the list of Best Lighthouses to visit in Portland, Maine.
1. Portland Head Light
The most iconic and popular lighthouse in Maine, the Portland Head Light, deserves to be number one on the list. This spectacular structure is also Maine’s oldest lighthouse and is right adjacent to 90-acre Fort Williams Park. The lighthouse was first lit in 1791 with 16 whale oil lamps and, since then, has provided years of impeccable service. Today, the Portland Head Light is owned and managed by the Town of Cape Elizabeth and is noted as a popular place in Portland. The former lighthouse keeper’s house has today turned into a museum that exhibits an award-winning collection. Right adjacent is Fort Williams Park, an outdoor playground for nature and history buffs. Hiking, Bird watching, and exploring the fort remains are noted as some popular activities here. During winter, the same park draws adventure enthusiasts for cross-country skiing, sledding, and ice skating.
Fortunately, the Portland Head Light also allows entry inside the lighthouse. However, it is only limited to one particular day in September, the ‘Open Lighthouse Day.’ The coast guard allows only a limited number of entries and one clearly has to be lucky to go inside. Portland Head, though, has a spectacular view from the ground, but for more impeccable pictures and views, consider taking Portland Discovery Land & Sea Tours’ lighthouse cruises.
2. Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse
Another breathtaking lighthouse in Portland is the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers originally constructed this 54 feet lighthouse in 1897. The purpose of it was to warn mariners of a dangerous ledge in Portland Harbor. The lighthouse is also listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and today is one of Maine’s most popular tourist attractions. Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse is also the only caisson-style light station in America that’s connected to land from a breakwater, but still, one can walk towards it. This is also the only lighthouse in Portland that visitors can regularly explore from the inside. However, for volunteer-led tours, one has to wait until Saturdays, Sundays, and Tuesdays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse is a photographer’s dream and a nature lover’s wonderland. On the one hand, its layout offers some incredible photographing opportunities. Simply stand halfway on the rock pathway right in between the lighthouse and the photographer, and no one can stop you from getting a dramatic picture. On the other hand, nature enthusiasts can visit Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse for some excellent sunrise and sunset views.
3. Cape Elizabeth Light or the Two Lights
Cape Elizabeth Light which is also known as Two Lights is probably the best lighthouse in Maine. The lighthouse is just 20 minute’s drive away from downtown Portland and is a part of Two Lights State Park. True to its name, it was Maine’s first twin lighthouses; basically, the two rubble stone towers 885 feet towers built back in 1828. One amongst those, the ‘Western light’ is a private property since it ended lighthouse operations in 1924. It is very unlikely for the public to visit until the owner permits so. People also find it difficult to locate Western lights since it isn’t categorized as tourist attractions. At the same time, the ‘Eastern light,’ which is today popular as Cape Elizabeth light, is still under operation and is visible up to 17 miles from the ocean.
The Eastern Lighthouse is still a working structure and also a popular tourist attraction in Maine. However, considering it is under operation, the public cannot visit it from the inside. Except on the Maine Open Lighthouse Day, Cape Elizabeth light operates for a public visit with just 280 tickets available on a first-come first-visit basis. On the rest of the days, people can explore its surrounding grounds and take panoramic pictures of the lighthouse. You may even find some food trucks selling mouthwatering lobster rolls nearby.
4. Portland Breakwater Lighthouse or Bug Light
The Portland Breakwater Lighthouse is South Portland’s small lighthouse. Locals commonly refer to it as Bug Light and reach here to spend a relaxing evening. Bug light was built back in 1875 with the purpose of helping ships navigate easily into Portland Harbor. This 26 feet lighthouse was originally a wooden structure, but it saw a major restoration in 1989, which got it its current building. Bug Light is a one-of-a-kind lighthouse in Maine and is popular for its 4th-century Greek monument. Couples and pre-weeding photographers often choose it as their go-t0 location. And why not? This elegant lighthouse looks mesmerizing yet unique no matter which angle/ direction you photograph it from.
Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, the little lighthouse gem, though, isn’t open for a public visit, but people can still walk up to its base and enjoy the views. Standing on its base takes one closer to the astounding views of Portland Harbor and a huge green parkland. Visitors can also explore the South Portland Historical Society Museum right at the park’s entrance. For best photography, experts suggest visiting Bug light during a stary night or a moody, dusky evening.
5. Ram Island Ledge Light
If you want to explore something old and remote, then head to the Ram Island Ledge Light in Portland, Maine. The lighthouse was built using gray granite blocks in 1905 and is nestled in the tiny rock island of Casco Bay. It even has a living twin in Boston, ‘the Graves Light Station,’ which was also built on the same day and year. Ram Island Ledge lighthouse marks the northern entrance into the outer harbor of Portland. It is currently owned by a neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Florman who was keen on preserving this spectacular historic structure. The lighthouse is also a part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is quite popular in Maine.
However, unlike many other Maine lighthouses, the Ram Island Ledge light isn’t really easy to visit. It, instead, isn’t even open to visitors. One can either observe its phenomenal views while on the shore or via a boat tour, or from land within some distance. During high tide days, the lighthouse appears as if it is floating in the sea, truly a mesmerizing sight. The Private Lighthouse Sightseeing Charter on a Vintage Lobster Boat provides some closer experiences of the lighthouse.
6. Halfway Rock Lighthouse
Halfway Rock Lighthouse is the last but definitely not the least, on our list. The lighthouse is remote, nearly inaccessible, and a wave-swept beacon nestled across the mouth of Casco Bay on a barren ledge of two acres. Its location is truly responsible for giving it the name Halfway Rock Lighthouse. Considering how it is nestled, one cannot obviously visit it or even reach close, but that doesn’t make it any less admirable. Very keen people often choose to get closer on a boat. To level it even further, one can visit the Halfway Rock Lighthouse via private helicopter tour (if the weather permit) and land on the barren lighthouse island. It may take quite a lot of effort, but for an enthusiast, the experience is worth it.
Halfway Rock Light is 77 feet tall, made with granite, and has an extremely magnificent appearance. It is also known as one of the most dangerous places. Well, it is since during its operational years, Halfway Rock was considered too dangerous for kids and women to live in. Therefore the lightkeeper was on his own, and families were not allowed along. Even today, when it has lost many of its original features, the Halfway Rock Lighthouse is considered the most endangered lighthouse in America. It is undoubtedly a truly fascinating structure to learn about.