Discover America Radio
Maine

The Lighthouse Trail

Follow the lighthouses along Maine’s picturesque coast


If you had to pick one symbol to represent coastal Maine, it would have to be the lighthouse. Standing out on a cliff, or on top of a storm-racked island, these beacons act as earthbound stars to sailors on the dark sea. More than 60 of them dot the state’s shoreline, from Cape Neddick in the south to West Quoddy Head in the north, at the Canadian border; and many of them are accessible to the public.

Cape Neddick Light, aka the ‘Nubble Light’, sits on a small, characteristically rocky Maine island, just 100 yards off the mainland. First lit in 1879, it’s one of the most picturesque lighthouses in the country—so much so that the crew of the Voyager II space probe, launched in 1977 in the hope of finding extraterrestrial life, brought a picture of the Nubble with them, intending to use its image to represent all earthly lighthouses.

Further north up the coast, the majestic Portland Head Light is Maine’s oldest, dating back to 1791. Though the tower isn’t open to the public, the grounds and outbuildings are. The former keeper’s quarters houses a museum, while the Cliff Walk trail winds along the coast, offering spectacular views. Nearby, South Portland’s conical ‘sparkplug-style’ Spring Point Ledge Light sits at the end of a 900-foot stone breakwater that allows pedestrians and fishermen to walk out on to Casco Bay. At the foot of the jetty is the Portland Harbor Museum, with exhibits chronicling the history of the port.

South of Bath, at the mouth of the Kennebec River, the Seguin Island Light is perched on what looks like a Scottish moor. Though the present tower dates back to 1857, lighthouses have occupied the site since 1797. The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath offers boat tours that visit the Seguin Light and up to nine others.

About ten miles east of Boothbay, the Pemaquid Point Light is situated at the top of a dramatic granite ledge extending into the Gulf of Maine. Exceptionally well preserved, with an on-site art gallery and Fishermen’s Museum, it’s one of the most-visited sites along the Maine coast. Visitors can climb the tower for incredible views, and if they’re lucky they’ll catch a distant glimpse of Monhegan Island, site of its own quaint lighthouse.

Seen as you head north towards Penobscot Bay, the Marshall Point Light guards the entrance to Port Clyde, a long-time artists’ retreat, where painter Andrew Wyeth held his first one-man show in 1937. The 31-foot lighthouse tower is extremely photogenic, with a long wood-plank walkway connecting to its Colonial-revival keeper’s quarters, which dates from 1895 and now houses a museum.

In the town of Rockland, the Rockland Breakwater Light sits at the end of a stone jetty nearly a mile long. In town, the Maine Lighthouse Museum houses America’s best collection of lighthouse memorabilia, including an extensive collection of Fresnel lenses, the last word when it comes to lighting the seas.

This trip idea can be found in:

1,000 Places to See in the United States & Canada Before You Die®

Trip idea text ©Patricia Schultz. For contact information about the places mentioned and many more USA trip ideas, see Patricia Schultz's blockbuster book.

Welcome to Discover America!

Now that you have registered, you can save trip ideas to your suitcase.

Start exploring

Enter your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.

Please check your email.

Start exploring

The password on your account has successfully been changed. Please use your new password to login.

Start exploring

This website is set to 'allow all cookies' for the best user experience. By continuing without changing this setting, you are consenting to this. You may change your settings at any time at the bottom of this page.

More information about cookies

Cookies are very small text files that are stored on your computer when you visit some websites.

We use cookies to make our website easier for you to use. You can remove any cookies already stored on your computer, but these may prevent you from using parts of our website.

If you choose to disable non-essential cookies, the website will:

  • Allow you to log in and remember you are logged in, while in session
  • Determine your country of origin in order to serve you the most relevant version of the site

This website will not:

  • Restrict welcome messaging to the first time you visit the site
  • Track any activity on the site for analytics purposes

More information about cookies