The lighthouses of Maine are full of history and they have amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean, so we took a big road trip across the entire state recently to see some of the best Maine lighthouses. This travel guide is the result.
There are a grand total of 65 historic lighthouses in Maine stretching all along the rocky coast of the state and its outer islands, and 55 of these buildings still have working lights maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Many of these have been guiding ships into safe harbor for hundreds of years, and each one has a human story.
Some of the lighthouses can only be viewed and photographed from a distance, while others will let you look inside and climb to the top of the light tower. Some places will even let you rent the keeper’s house and stay overnight at the lighthouse, which is a great experience!
There are several famous lighthouses in Portland Maine that are easy to visit, and there are a few good lighthouses near Acadia National Park as well. With a bit of exploring, you can also find some hidden gems that aren’t as busy with tourists.
I hope you enjoy this map and list of the best Maine lighthouses! This is not a complete list of every single one, but these are just some of the top ones to visit in my opinion. These ones are especially accessible, photogenic, or interesting!
Maine Lighthouses Map
First of all, here’s a Maine lighthouse map you can use to plan your own trip. You can click the icons to get directions and more info for each point of interest, but keep in mind some of the locations on this map may be approximate.
Best Lighthouses In Maine
1. Portland Head Light
Of course, Maine’s most famous lighthouse — the beautiful and photogenic Portland Head Light!
This is the most photographed lighthouse in America, and probably the world. It has everything you’d expect from a classic Maine lighthouse, with a dramatic rocky shoreline, crashing waves, and spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.
If you only have time to visit one lighthouse in Maine, it should be this one. Portland Head Light is also the easiest lighthouse to visit in Maine since it’s located just a 15 minute drive from the city and the airport. The park is open to visitors year round from sunrise to sunset.
There are lots of interesting stories behind the Portland Head Light. It was first commissioned by George Washington in 1787, and then the building was finished in 1791, making it the oldest lighthouse in Maine.
You’ll want to budget at least a couple hours to walk along the coastline and take pictures, see the museum and gift shop, eat lobster rolls from the food trucks, and stroll around the grounds at Fort Williams. If you look closely, you can also catch a glimpse of another lighthouse, the Ram Island Ledge Light, in the distance.
The Portland Head Light is free to visit, and parking is also free if you don’t mind the short walk from the overflow parking area. There’s a small fee for the museum, which you can check on their website (and it also has a handy map).
2. Spring Point Ledge Light
Located just a 10 minute drive from the Portland Head Light is another lighthouse called the Spring Point Ledge Light. It’s the only caisson-style light station in the United States that visitors can walk to.
This lighthouse was built in 1897 to protect ships coming into Portland Harbor from a dangerous ledge or obstruction near the shipping channel, which was causing boats to run aground.
The granite breakwater path was added in 1951 to connect the lighthouse to the mainland, and you can use this today to walk over to it and see the building up close. Take note there are big gaps between the rocks, so the path may not be suitable for small kids and elderly folks.
The Spring Point Ledge Light is free to visit, and parking is also free. It’s worth a quick stop here after you get done at the Portland Head Light. It’s fun to sit and watch the boats go by, and you can also see the historic Fort Preble while you’re at it.
3. Portland Breakwater Light
Also known as the Bug Light, this little lighthouse holds the record for being the shortest lighthouse in Maine. It’s also located conveniently close to the other lighthouses in Portland Maine, including the famous Head Light.
This lighthouse was first built with a wooden design in 1855, but it was replaced in 1875 with the current design and its decorative Greek columns, after which the lighthouse served as a marker for the end of the rocky breakwater shielding Portland Harbor.
Like the other lighthouses in Portland, this one free to visit and it’s open daily. It’s supplemented by a nice pet-friendly park where you can enjoy a picnic or fly a kite!
4. Cape Neddick Light
Also known as the Nubble Light, this is a photogenic lighthouse near Portland Maine that you can easily visit on a day trip from the city. It’s less than a 1 hour drive south of Portland.
The Cape Neddick Light was built in 1879, and it’s still in use today, although it was automated in 1987. The lighthouse and grounds of the ‘Nubble’ aren’t open to the public, but you can still enjoy amazing views from the parking area and along the coast.
The Nubble Lighthouse is a famous American icon, and it’s one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States. The scenery here changes dramatically with the seasons, and sunrise or sunset can also be a wonderful time to visit. I saw the most spectacular sunrise of my life here one morning in October!
Cape Neddick is free to visit, and the parking is also free. There’s a gift shop and lots of parking space, but it fills up quickly because it’s very popular. This is definitely one of the best lighthouses in Maine to see on your next trip!
5. Doubling Point Lighthouse
This lighthouse is a bit of a hidden gem, although it’s easy to reach with a 45 minute drive from Portland. We were alone when we visited in October! There are only a few parking spaces.
The Doubling Point Light is still an active navigational aid with the U.S. Coast Guard, although it’s automated now. It was built in 1898 to warn boats of two hazardous, double bend turns on the Kennebec River.
Doubling Point is free to visit, and you can walk along the wooden pier and around the lighthouse. There’s car access all the way to the keeper’s house via privately-owned and maintained gravel roads, and they allow people to visit from 9 AM to 5 PM.
6. Pemaquid Point Light
The Pemaquid Point Light is one of my favorite lighthouses in Maine. It’s open to visitors with a small entrance fee, and you can climb the tower seasonally. As a bonus, there’s also a small fisherman’s museum on the first floor in the keeper’s house.
The best spot for taking photos of Pemaquid Light is on the smooth, flat bedrock below the lighthouse. This rock is really unique looking and gives it a nice foreground. If you’re lucky, you can even use one of the tide pools to capture reflections of the lighthouse.
Overall, Pemaquid is a really nice location with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and coastal Maine. It’s easy to see why it was chosen to be featured on the Maine state quarter.
This lighthouse is quite popular and busy with tourists in the summer, but it’s still absolutely worth a visit if you’re in the area!
The Pemaquid lighthouse was originally commissioned in 1827 by President John Quincy Adams, and it stands watch over Pemaquid Point and the Muscongus Bay, near Bristol, Maine.
Interestingly, salt water was used in the mortar mix the first time around, causing the building to decay early, so the Pemaquid lighthouse was rebuilt properly in 1835. It’s been good ever since.
Pemaquid lighthouse is a 1.5 hour drive from Portland, and it’s only a 20 minute detour from Maine’s Route 1 highway, so it’s very accessible if you’re driving along the coast of Maine!
7. Marshall Point Lighthouse
One of the best lighthouses in Maine for sunset viewing would have to be Marshall Point Light! The sun sets almost directly behind this one, so you can get some wonderful pictures here on most days.
The location of Marshall Point is a bit remote, so it’s not the easiest lighthouse to visit. It’s a 2 hour drive from Portland, or 2.5 hours from Acadia National Park. We visited on a day trip from the Rockland area of Maine, which was an easy 30 minute drive.
This lighthouse and its walkway was famously featured in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump, where it was one of the places that the main character Forrest (played by Tom Hanks) visited on his cross-country run.
The Marshall Point Light was built in 1832 to assist boats entering and leaving Port Clyde Harbor, although the original tower was replaced with the present lighthouse in 1857. Automated in 1980, it’s still an active U.S. Coast Guard navigation aid.
The road to Marshall Point is paved all the way, and it’s open to visitors daily from sunrise to sunset. It’s free to visit, and there’s also a small museum and gift shop that’s open during the summer.
When you get done taking pictures, you can walk down to the rocks to look at crabs and other wildlife in the tide pools. Overall, it’s one of my favorite Maine lighthouses!
8. Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
This is a very interesting lighthouse situated at the end of a 4,000 foot long breakwater, which was built to protect the ships at Rockland Harbor during severe storms. The rocky breakwater was built in the 1890s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and then the present lighthouse was added in 1902.
You can walk all the way out to the end of the breakwater and see the lighthouse up close, which is a great experience! You do have to watch your step carefully, because there are crevices between the big granite rocks and they can be slippery when wet. However, my parents did it as seniors, so don’t let that deter you.
Once you reach the lighthouse, you can walk through the historic keeper’s dwelling and climb to the top of the tower for a bird’s eye view of the harbor and passing boats.
Approximately 700,000 tons of rock were used to build the Rockland breakwater! The one way distance out to the end is almost one mile (or almost 1.6 kilometers), so it takes about 20-40 minutes to walk there, depending on your pace and how surefooted you are.
For a summer visit, you’ll probably want to bring bottled water, and if you go in the winter, be sure to dress warm because there’s always a breeze on the breakwater. It can get surprisingly chilly out there.
The Rockland Breakwater Light is a 1.5 hour drive from Portland, so it’s quite doable as a day trip from the city. The grounds are open from sunrise to sunset, and it’s free to visit. Highly recommended!
9. Maine Lighthouse Museum
Okay, this one’s not a lighthouse, but actually it’s a museum about them. The Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland is a great place for anyone who’s interested in Maine lighthouses, how they work, and all of the history behind them!
Inside the museum, you can see giant Fresnel lenses up close, along with a bunch of other maritime displays and historical information.
They also have a very comprehensive map of lighthouses in Maine that spans the whole coast of the state, with some nice supersized models of the famous lighthouses near Portland and other parts of the state.
It’s a fairly small museum (only a few rooms plus a gift shop), but it still manages to be the largest collection of lighthouse artifacts and mementos in the United States.
Most people will probably spend an hour or less at the museum, although it’s still worth seeing. We visited on a rainy day and enjoyed it. Current entrance fees can be checked on their website.
This museum is located in Rockland Maine, so it’s an easy 1.5 hour drive from Portland, or 2 hours from Acadia National Park. You can combine it with some of the aforementioned lighthouses near Rockland and make a nice day trip of it!
10. Bass Harbor Light
The Bass Harbor Head Light was built in 1858 to protect the entrance to Bass Harbor, which is on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island. It’s the only lighthouse in Acadia National Park.
They don’t let you go inside the keeper’s house or the tower of this one, but you can walk around the lighthouse on either side, and there’s a short path to go down to the seashore, where you can look at the tidepools, watch the waves come in, and admire the lighthouse from below.
Admission and parking at the lighthouse is free, but it fills up easily since there are only about 20 parking spots or less. The most popular and busy time to visit is at sunset, but honestly any time of day is nice for taking photos, so I’d avoid sunset unless you’re really intent on seeing it at that time.
11. Burnt Coat Harbor Lighthouse
The Burnt Coat Light is one of the only lighthouses near Acadia National Park, but it’s still a bit of a hidden gem because it’s located on a small island that you can only reach by ferry, which is a fun experience in itself.
The ferry to Swan’s Island from Mount Desert Island (Bass Harbor) runs back and forth several times a day, even in the winter months, and the journey takes about 40 minutes each way.
You can drive your car onto the ferry, take your bicycle, or walk on. The current schedule and fares can be found on the MaineDOT website.
We really enjoyed visiting sleepy Swan’s Island, and it was a nice glimpse into rural New England life on an island. It’s an interesting excursion even before you see the lighthouse.
Built in 1872, the lighthouse marks the entrance to Burnt Coat Harbor. It was fully restored in 2006, giving it new life and a fresh coat of paint.
The tower is open for climbing seasonally, and you can even rent the comfy upstairs apartment in the keeper’s house. You can find more info on their official website.
12. West Quoddy Head Light
One of the most fun and unique lighthouses of Maine would have to be the West Quoddy Head Light, which straddles the Canada border. It’s actually the easternmost point in the continental United States!
This was one of our favorite Maine lighthouses for its Waldo-esque color scheme of red and white stripes. It’s a 2 hour drive from Acadia National Park, so it’s not too hard to visit on a day trip from that area, or elsewhere.
We visited West Quoddy from Acadia, and for us it was well worth the drive!
The West Quoddy Head Light was built in 1858 to guide ships through the Quoddy Narrows, and it’s still an active aid to navigation today. The keeper’s house has been turned into a mini museum for visitors, and they occasionally give tours to the top of the tower in the months of July and August.
There’s a small entrance fee at West Quoddy, and you can visit year round, although the museum and visitor center are closed during the off season.
Needless to say, there are lots of photo opportunities at this lighthouse, and it’s also fun to walk down to the beach and explore the coast for awhile!
Best Lighthouses Near Portland Maine
If you’re mainly wanting to visit lighthouses near Portland Maine, here are some top recommendations.
All of these lighthouses are near Portland and pretty easy to reach from there:
- Nubble Lighthouse (1 hour drive south of Portland)
- Portland Head Light (located in Portland)
- Bug Light (located in Portland)
- Spring Point Ledge Light (located in Portland)
- Doubling Point Light (45 minute drive northeast of Portland)
- Pemaquid Point Light (1.5 hour drive northeast of Portland)
- Maine Lighthouse Museum (1.5 hour drive northeast of Portland)
- Rockland Breakwater Light (1.5 hour drive northeast of Portland)
- Owls Head Light (1.5 hour drive northeast of Portland)
Most of these lighthouses are located between Portland and Acadia National Park, so they’re great to visit if you happen to be driving to (or from) the park!
Best Maine Lighthouses Near Acadia National Park
Unfortunately, there aren’t many lighthouses near Acadia National Park, although you still have some options if you do a bit of driving.
These are your best choices within a 2 hour driving distance of Acadia:
- Bass Harbor Light (located in Acadia National Park)
- Burnt Coat Harbor Light (reachable by ferry from Mount Desert Island)
- Rockland Breakwater Light (2 hour drive west from Acadia)
- Maine Lighthouse Museum (2 hour drive west from Acadia)
- Owls Head Light (2 hour drive west from Acadia)
- West Quoddy Head Light (2+ hour drive east from Acadia)
How Many Lighthouses In Maine?
Maine has a whopping total of 65 lighthouses along its 3,500 miles of combined coastline, inlets, and islands. That’s why it’s sometimes called ‘The Lighthouse State.’
Here’s some more fun trivia: the oldest lighthouse in Maine is Portland Head (1791), and the last lighthouse built in the state is Whitlocks Mill (1910).
As you’ve probably noticed, the lighthouses of Maine come in all different shapes and sizes. The tallest lighthouse in the ‘Pine Tree State’ is Boon Island at 133 feet (40 m), and the shortest is Bug Light at 19.5 feet (6 m).
Best Maine Tours
More Maine Travel Guides
Thanks for looking! I hope you enjoyed this Maine lighthouses map, and my list of some of the best lighthouses in Maine to visit.
If you’re planning a trip to the Pine Tree State soon, don’t forget to check out my travel guide for the best hikes in Acadia National Park!