4 Lighthouses You Should Visit in Maine
If you’ve ever gone on vacation in Maine, chances are you’ve sent someone a postcard with a picture of a lighthouse on the front. After all, it’s either that or a lobster. Lighthouses have become so synonymous with the state of Maine and its rocky coast that the U.S. Mint decided to include one on the back of the commemorative state quarter.
No trip “Down East” along the shoreline is really complete without a stop to take pictures, enjoy a picnic lunch, and maybe even spend the night at one of these historic Maine lighthouses.
Portland Head Light – Cape Elizabeth
This is probably the most famous of all Maine’s lighthouses. Portland Head Light is not actually located in the city of Portland, but in Ft. Williams State Park in Cape Elizabeth. The lighthouse’s name comes from the granite outcropping at the “head” of Portland’s harbor where the lighthouse was built. The original lighthouse on this site was commissioned by George Washington in 1789. In addition to being one of the most-photographed sites in the state, Portland Head Light was the inspiration for the poem, “The Lighthouse,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who used to walk there from his home in Portland. Today, a commemorative marker notes the rock on which he is believed to have written the poem.
Cape Elizabeth Light – Cape Elizabeth
This lighthouse is one of the matching pair that gave Two Lights State Park its name. One of the lights is located on private property these days and sits in the front yard of someone’s home. This one, however, still operates and is the most powerful lighthouse in Maine, shining its beacon up to 27 miles out to sea. The Cape Elizabeth Light may seem familiar even to first-time visitors, as it was made famous by a series of paintings by the artist Edward Hopper, which remain popular as prints and posters.
Pemaquid Point Light – Bristol
Partly because of its whitewashed rock walls and white picket fence, and partly because it is one of most accessible lighthouses in Maine, the Pemaquid Light is a favorite with photographers. Often, you’ll see pictures of the lighthouse taken at a dramatic angle from the craggy rock ledges on the shore below it. In good weather during the summer, visitors can climb the lighthouse tower. For a unique vacation experience, a one-bedroom apartment in the light keeper’s house can be rented by the week.
West Quoddy Light – Lubec
If you drive as far to the east as you can while still remaining in the United States, you’ll reach the town of Lubec, where the West Quoddy lighthouse guards the Quoddy Narrows waterway between America and Canada. Thomas Jefferson originally commissioned this lighthouse when he was president. Today, the lighthouse sports a distinctive red-and-white horizontal stripe as it greets each new dawn ahead of the rest of the country.