From Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to Maine’s easternmost tip at the Canadian border, more than 60 working lighthouses guide mariners along the rugged, rockbound Northern New England coast.
These structures, some dating back more than two centuries, bear witness to the days before automation when they demanded constant hard work and sacrifice of the keepers and their families who endured isolation, fierce weather, and other daunting challenges. Standing sentinel in harbors, beside treacherous waters, and atop remote shores, they draw visitors with breathtaking settings and compelling tales of the past.
“Lighthouses are among the most sought-after destinations for our visitors,” says Steve Lyons, director of the Maine Office of Tourism. “On social media platforms like Instagram, we see that their allure is as strong as ever, with lighthouse photos being some of the most popular posts by our visitors.”
Most towers on the mainland are relatively easy to access. Sightseeing cruises, regularly scheduled ferries, and sightseeing flights offer views of many others located in offshore waters and on islands. Some lighthouses schedule visiting hours during the warmer months, and more than 20 welcome visitors during the annual Maine Open Lighthouse Day (lighthousefoundation.org) held on a Saturday in September.
Most of the lighthouses on this list can be reached by car. Follow Route 1 northeast along the coast, turning seaward onto secondary roads to find them on craggy headlands and scenic coves.