While we were in Portland, Biddeford, and Kennebunkport, ME, we headed over to one of the East Coast’s most gorgeous lighthouses, Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth, Maine. This lighthouse is so idyllic, picturesque, and easy to get to that it’s worth visiting, even if you must drive to reach it. If you enjoy visiting such landmarks and want to learn more about the lighthouse’s history and the history of Fort Williams around it, read on to learn everything you need to know to plan your visit.
Portland Head Lighthouse
Location: Cape Elizabeth, ME
Address: 1000 Shore Road
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
Admission: $2 Museum Admission
Hours: See hours here
Parking: Paid Parking Lot
Our Visit to Portland Head Light
We visited Portland Head Light for about two hours during our time in the Portland area. That was enough time to visit the lighthouse, walk around the exterior, take photos, and read up on the lighthouse. If you plan to go to the lighthouse’s museum, which is only open a few hours each week, that may require additional time.
Parking was around $5 an hour if I recall correctly, and there is no free parking anywhere on site. There are however plenty of space for picnics and similar activities on the 90-acre park, which is really lovely to do, particularly closer to the quartzite and dark grey phyllite layered cliffs.
Overlooking Casco Bay, this lighthouse is a great spot to spend a morning or afternoon. It’s even better to watch the sunset here!
How to Reach the Museum & Get Tickets
The museum is located in the same place as Portland Head Light. It’s open hours aren’t very long (find them here), but if you plan your visit right you can check it out for only $2 per adult. The funds from this go to preserving the lighthouse.
The history of the lighthouse is really cool, because it begins well before the Revolutionary War. So, if you like history, there’s plenty of it here! Even if you don’t, the views alone are worth a drive no matter the weather. It’s truly breathtaking.
Other Quick Facts About Portland Head Light
The lighthouse is 80 feet tall today and was first lit in 1791 after several years of going back and forth with the newly formed United States government about funding. The lighthouse is the oldest in the Maine, and one of the most photographed lighthouses in America.
Portland Head Light keeps the shoreline and those who sail along it safe and it’s estimated that this lighthouse alone has saved tens of thousands of lives over the centuries. Originally lit using whale oil lamps, the lighthouse is now fully electronic but can be lit with oil and fire should the power and back-up power fail. While the light itself is automated now, meaning no lighthouse keeper needs to live there, the U.S. Coast Guard now maintains it and performs regular checks on it, however the city of Cape Elizabeth, ME, officially owns the light.