Last Updated on July 13, 2021 by Jeremy
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Of the roughly 700 lighthouses in the United States, Maine is home to 65 of them. When you see the state's rugged coastline, you'll quickly understand why so many are necessary- the coastal area is quite vast, rocky, and shallow which made early navigation a dangerous endeavor!
As the lighthouses along the coast are beautiful, you'll likely want to pick a few to see during your visit. It doesn't take long after starting to plan that you notice that some lighthouses in Maine are far more accessible than others.
This goes back to the size of the state's coastline. While Maine is only about 300 miles north to south, the coastline actually covers an impressive 3,478 miles thanks to the many inlets and bays you can find along the way. To give some context to this figure, that is like driving from Bar Harbor to San Francisco with having a few miles to spare (50 hours drive time at highway speeds). So what may appear to be a short detour down a peninsula could become a decent drive outright and is why we think advanced planning is a must.
As we were traveling between Portland and Bar Harbor when we wanted to see some lighthouses, we had to recognize that we were already in for quite the long day driving on US-1 on its own. As such, we planned our lighthouses around those that were most accessible in an effort of time. Couple these with a few you can see just outside of these two cities directly and we ended up seeing seven Maine lighthouses.
In this one, we wanted to share those lighthouses!
We'll start in South Portland and work our way north up the coast to Bar Harbor as you scroll through this list.
Portland Head Light
The Portland Head Light is the quintessential Maine lighthouse. It is located in a gorgeous park (Fort Williams Park), has an equally stunning building connected to the lighthouse, is the oldest lighthouse in Maine (commissioned by President Washington and opened in 1791), and overlooks some of the most dramatic coastlines you'll see.
But perhaps the best part is that this one is just a 15-minute drive south of Portland proper- making for a great half-day trip when staying in the city!
Beyond the lighthouse, the park is home to some hiking trails along the cliffside, the ability to see former military batteries, and of course grabbing a few Maine lobster rolls from food trucks which can often be found in the park. So if you're looking for a spot where you can spend a bit of time simply beyond catching a glimpse of a lighthouse- this is the one to visit.
The Portland Headlight is located at 12 Captain Strout Circle in Cape Elizabeth. Visiting the park is free but the parking lots at the park are metered.
If you are making the trip south of Portland to check out the Portland Head Light, be sure to add on a stop at Bug Light just across the water from downtown Portland. This tiny lighthouse was constructed in 1855 (rebuilt in 1875) and was inspired by Greek architecture which you can see reflected in the design.
This one has served Portland's harbor ever since and is not only in a scenic park for views of the lighthouse but also of the city itself!
After visiting the lighthouse, be sure to check out the Liberty Ship Memorial on the opposite side of the parking lot to learn about the area's shipbuilding history from WWII as well as the heroes from the area who served.
The Bug Light is located at Bug Light Park in South Portland. Parking is free at the Bug Light.
Doubling Point Lighthouse
Driving to Doubling Point Lighthouse (built 1898 and moved 1899) on the Kennebec River is an experience in its own right as you will head off the main roads and onto some narrow dirt and gravel lanes before reaching the private residence where this lighthouse resides.
As of our visit in 2021, despite being located on private property the owners are gracious enough to allow visitors to view this gorgeous lighthouse (however, we view all private residence attractions as liable to change- so double check before heading out).
One of the best aspects of this one is that since it is a river lighthouse it is not located high upon a hill but rather at the end of a short pier that you can walk out on. Great for views of the lighthouse but also for river views too! This made Doubling Point Lighthouse one of our favorites stops.
Doubling Point Lighthouse is located at Doubling Point Road in Arrowsic.
Curtis Island Lighthouse
Curtis Island Lighthouse (opened 1835 and rebuilt in 1896) is the only lighthouse in this list you really can't see close up- because it is on an island in the harbor!
As this lighthouse is typically not open for visitors, the easiest way to catch a glimpse of this one is from a small overlook on the mainland. The emphasis should be on the word small as we (along with another car stopping at the same time) passed the lookout multiple times before realizing where it was.
To reach the lookout, you'll want to drive to the intersection of Bay View Street and Beacon Avenue in Camden- exactly where it is listed on Google Maps. What is not readily apparent, however, is the small sign pointing out that you're in the right place- without spotting it you'd think it was a non-descript intersection and Google Maps is wrong. But if you look in the direction of the water just a few feet away from the intersection you'll see a small sign noting the overlook. Across the road there is a rudimentary dirt parking area large enough for a maximum of two cars (without any signage). Park here, cross the street, and head down to the lookout a few feet away to take in this glorious view.
Just be sure to have a zoom lens ready to go for photos- our image above is a pretty accurate depiction of what you will see without one!
The Curtis Island Lighthouse Lookout is at 148 Bay View Street in Camden.
Owls Head Lighthouse
Owls Head Lighthouse (built 1825 and rebuilt in 1852) is what we think of when we close our eyes and picture a lighthouse. A singular structure built on a hill next to a sheer drop-off overlooking Penobscot Bay that requires ascending a steep staircase to reach.
In fact, the view out over the water here may be more impressive than the lighthouse itself, but we'll hold off on sharing the photos of that in order to let you get the full experience when visiting!
Owls Head Lighthouse is located at 186 Lighthouse Road in Owls Head. After visiting, be sure to grab lunch at McLoons Lobster Shack just a short drive away- home to one of our favorite lobster meals we had while in Maine.
Fort Point Lighthouse
Odds are good you'll only spend a few minutes enjoying Fort Point Lighthouse if only because this lighthouse is technically located on a private residence that is not open to the public.
But this lighthouse is perfectly viewable from Fort Point State Park where you can take in the beauty of this square lighthouse (built to replace an older lighthouse in 1857) as well as walk down to a rocky beach to enjoy views of the water. The park is home to a fog signal bell just a few steps away from the lighthouse as well which you'll easily see at this viewing spot.
Fort Point Lighthouse is located at 180 Lighthouse Road in Stockton Springs. The entry fee to this state park is $4 per person but is an honor system payment kiosk.
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is a great one to visit when exploring Acadia National Park as it is located just one peninsula over from the main areas of the park and Bar Harbor. This makes it easily reached after hiking around Echo Lake or visiting Thurston's Lobster Pound nearby (both highly recommended).
While you may need to temper expectations at this one as the viewing area for the lighthouse is quite small (it is a small walkway leading to the modest lighthouse with a single viewing angle), it really is hard to say no to getting in another lighthouse so close to Bar Harbor!
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is located on Lighthouse Road in Bass Harbor. Parking here is free but note it is a small lot and during the busy season cars line up for entry but was quite orderly during our visit.
Do you have a favorite Maine lighthouse? Comment below to share more about it!
Looking to book your next trip? Check out the following services we use!
- Kayak to find a cheap plane ticket or AirTreks for RTW tickets.
- Booking.com to find a hotel deal.
- Rentalcars.com to pick up a car rental.
- World Nomads to insure your trip.
- Viator or Get Your Guide for a day tour.
- G Adventures for a multi-day guided tour.
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About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.