If you’re looking for the most amazing road trip along Maine’s coast to see the best lighthouses the state has to offer, I’m so glad you’ve found me! Hi there, I’m Sam, and I spend pretty much all my free time exploring New England. This road trip is one of my most favorite I’ve ever taken in the region.
Doing a Maine lighthouse driving tour is an unforgettable experience! Not only will see some beautiful lighthouses, but you’ll also pass through some amazing coastal towns with stunning beaches and dramatic rocky coastline, get to eat delicious seafood, and even explore Acadia National Park if you have time (which I highly suggest doing!).
As someone who has done this Maine lighthouse driving tour a few times, I’ve also stopped at all these lighthouses several times over the years while driving around Maine. I’ve got so many tips to share with you, suggestions on where to stop, and give you all the information you need to plan the perfect trip. This itinerary was created after hours and hours of research, plus my own experiences driving along Maine’s coast for years, and I’ve finally perfected it.
Ready to start planning? Let’s go!
How Many Lighthouses Are There In Maine?
Maine has a whopping 65 lighthouses total. Not all of them are accessible on land, and in fact, many of them you can only get to or see by boat. But there are so many you can also drive to, visit, climb, which makes this an incredible state to tour lighthouses.
For this particular itinerary, you will visit 12 lighthouses, which doesn’t even include ones seen from the water, so you’ll have the opportunity to add on even more with optional boat tours along the way.
What Are The Best Lighthouses To See In Maine?
This Maine lighthouse driving tour is going to take you to what I think are the best lighthouses to see in all of Maine. These lighthouses are all accessible on land, and they include:
- Portland Head Light
- Bug Light
- Spring Point Ledge Light
- Doubling Point Light
- Squirrel Point Light
- Pemaquid Point Light
- Marshall Point Light
- Owls Head Light
- Rockland Breakwater Light
- Bass Harbor Light
- West Quoddy Head Light
- Nubble Light
How To Plan Your Maine Lighthouse Driving Tour
First, you’re in for a real treat! This is one of the best trips I’ve taken in all of my New England travels, and I wish I could do my Maine lighthouse driving tour all over again for the first time because I was so in awe of the stunning scenery everywhere I went.
Next, depending on how much time you have, you’ll need to decide what lighthouses you want to see, and any towns you want to stop in along the way. Once you’ve created your own must-see list, I also suggest breaking up the stops by visiting half of them on your way to the furthest destination, and then visiting the other half on your way back.
For example, all of the stops on this road trip are between Portland and Lubec (with the exception of Ogunquit, with is just south of Portland). I planned it so you’re seeing about half of the stops on this list on the way to Lubec, and half on the way back. This allowed me to break up my driving time, and I never felt like I was spending too much time in the car, so this is a very well thought-out itinerary.
How Many Days Do You Need For A Maine Lighthouse Road Trip?
10 nights and 11 days will be perfect for this road trip, which will allow you time to drive from Portland to Lubec and back, while having some free time in a few coastal towns to relax. If you don’t have 10 days, you could do this itinerary in 5-7 days, and just not have as much down time.
If you need to make a shorter road trip and still want to see some gorgeous lighthouses, driving from Portland to the Camden area is perfect, and you can do it in a weekend!
Maine Lighthouse Driving Tour
This Maine lighthouse driving tour will stop at lighthouses between South Portland and Lubec, and depending on where you’re coming from, you can begin at either point. If you’re coming from anywhere in New England, or the rest of the U.S., you’ll likely want to start in Portland, and work your way up and back. If you’re coming from Canada, start in Lubec, and work your way down and back up.
For the sake of this post, I’m going to start in Portland, and work my way north, but just reverse this route if you plan to start in the north and work your way south.
Maine Lighthouse Driving Tour Itinerary Overview
Day 1: Arrive in Portland, and see Portland Head Light, Bug Light & Spring Point Ledge Light.
Day 2-3: Drive to Boothbay Harbor, stopping at Doubling Point Light & Squirrel Point Light on the way. Spend 2 nights in Boothbay Harbor, including a boat tour to see Ram, Burnt & Pemaquid Lighthouses.
*Editor’s Note: As of November 2023, Doubling Point Lighthouse is closed to the public until further notice for repairs.
Day 4-5: Drive to Acadia National Park to see Bass Harbor Light. Spend 2 nights to also explore the park and Bar Harbor. Optional boat tour to see Winter Harbor, Egg Rock, Bear Island and Baker Island lighthouses from the water.
Day 6: Drive to Lubec to see West Quoddy Light, and spend the night. Option to take away a night from Boothbay Harbor or Acadia National Park, and add a night in Lubec to visit Campobello Island in Canada, and see Head Harbor Light.
Day 7-8: Drive to Camden, stopping at Schoodic Peninsula on the way. Spent 2 nights in Camden. Option to add a windjammer tour to see Curtis Island Lighthouse.
Day 9: Drive to Bailey Island, stopping at Rockland Breakwater Light, Owls Head, Marshall Point Light and Pemaquid Light along the way. This is a longer driving day, but broken up with lots of stops. Spend the night on Bailey Island.
Day 10: Drive to Ogunquit or Kennebunkport (both are great!) to spend your last night in a gorgeous coastal town. See Nubble Light while in this area.
Day 11: Drive home.
Check out my YouTube video on this amazing road trip!
Day 1: Portland Lighthouses
You’ll want to stay the night in Portland, and plan your arrival so that you have time to see three lighthouses: Portland Head Light, Bug Light and Spring Point Ledge Light, all of which are within a 15-minute drive from one another.
Portland Harbor Hotel in Old Port is in the best neighborhood for sightseeing in the city, and is walkable to all the best shops, the water front and amazing restaurants! It’s also only 15 minutes from the lighthouses in South Portland.
My suggestion is to arrive in Portland around lunch time, grab a bite to eat, and then head out to Bug Light, then Spring Point Ledge Light, and then Portland Head Light closer to sunset.
Portland Head Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Maine, and is definitely a must-see during your Maine lighthouse driving tour. The surrounding area with the rocky cliffs and stunning scenery will make for some amazing pictures, and the grounds are free to walk around. I would budget 1-2 hours here.
Bug Light is a really unique and ornate lighthouse that you likely won’t see anywhere else. It was actually inspired by Greek architecture, so this is a great one to stop by and see in person. It’s situated in a little park where you can linger and enjoy the scenery.
Spring Point Ledge Light is at the end of a breakwater, so it’s definitely fun to walk out to the end, and see the lighthouse up close.
I think all 3 Portland lighthouses are worth your time during your Maine lighthouse driving tour, especially since they’re all so close to each other.
After sunset, head into downtown Portland, and visit the Old Port neighborhood for a great dinner and drinks. Then head back to your hotel to get ready for your next day of sightseeing!
Optional Tour: If you’d like to take a tour of the city of Portland, led by a local historian, click the link below for an awesome option, which also includes all 3 Portland lighthouses!
Parking At Portland Head Light & Portland Lighthouses
Parking is free and easy at Bug Light and Spring Point Ledge Light.
Parking at Portland Head Light is also easy with two designated lots, but if you visit between April 1-November 15, you’ll have to pay for parking at the lots closest to the lighthouse. The metered parking is only about $2/hr, or a max of $10 for the day, so it’s not expensive. You’ll use a self-serve kiosk to pay for parking here. This lot is also free after 5p.
Day 2: Doubling Point & Squirrel Point Lighthouses & Drive To Boothbay Harbor
On your drive from Portland to Boothbay Harbor, you’ll want to stop at two adorable little lighthouses: Doubling Point & Squirrel Point. These lighthouses sit along the Kennebec River, and are small, but really fun to visit during your Maine lighthouse driving tour.
These lighthouses are less than an hour drive from Portland. I would suggest stopping at Doubling Point first, and then making your way to Squirrel Point, which is only a 15-minute drive from Doubling Point.
How To Visit Doubling Point Lighthouse
*Editor’s Note: As of November 2023, Doubling Point Lighthouse is closed to the public until further notice for repairs.
If you type “Doubling Point Lighthouse” into your GPS or Google Maps, your navigation system will take you right there, but there are some things to know. First, this lighthouse is free to visit and open to the public, but it’s very, very close to a private residence. When I visited in mid-May, the people who lived in the adjacent house were there, so it’s best to be very respectful while visiting.
Secondly, you’ll be driving down a dirt road for a bit until you reach the lighthouse. Don’t worry! You’re on the right track to get there!
Lastly, while it seems like the lighthouse is part of the private residence, know it’s okay to walk right up to it. You don’t need permission. There is also a small parking area off to the side of the house that accommodates 2-3 cars, so you can easily park during your visit.
I like this lighthouse because there’s a long footbridge leading to the actual structure, and because it’s not one of the more popular lighthouses and a bit off-the-beaten-path, not many people visit. There are great views of the Kennebec River from here, too.
How To Visit Squirrel Point Lighthouse
Next, you’ll want to make your way to Squirrel Point Lighthouse. Use this address to get to the trailhead: 598 Bald Head Road Arrowsic, ME 04530.
A few things to know about visiting Squirrel Head Light:
- You’ll also drive down a long, dirt road to get to the trailhead.
- There is a short and scenic walk through the woods to get to the lighthouse, which is about 2/3 of a mile.
- You’ll want to be aware of tide schedules, as you’ll cross a bridge over a marsh to get to the lighthouse and back, so be sure you’re visiting well within low tide (or before high tide at the very least). If you visit during high tide, you won’t be able to cross the bridge. Click here for the local tide schedule for this area.
Once you arrive at the trailhead, which is at the end of Bald Head Road, there is free and easy parking. To get to the lighthouse. Once on the trail, veer left when the trail splits – it’ll be easy to follow. The walk is very scenic, and there are a few really cool photo spots along the way!
Once you get to the lighthouse, you’ll likely either be there by yourself, or only with a few other people since this is also a more off-the-beaten-path destination. You’ll have awesome views of the Kennebec River, and be able to enjoy some quiet moments.
Drive To Boothbay Harbor (+ Optional Pitstops)
After you’re done at Squirrel Point Light, head off to Boothbay Harbor to spend 1-2 nights. There are two great options for pitstops along the way. One is Georgetown, which is out of the way, but if you’re looking to see as many beautiful coastal towns as possible, this is a great stop to make. You’ll also be able to eat at one of the best seafood shacks in Maine while here, Five Islands Lobster Co.
Another option for a pitstop is Wiscasset, which is a charming little town with a great seafood shack, Red’s Eats. Wisacasset is right on the way to Boothbay (you’ll have to drive through it to get there), so it’ll be a very easy stop to make without detouring.
Once you arrive in Boothday Harbor, check into your hotel and get settled, and get ready to explore one of Maine’s most awesome coastal towns!
Day 3: Boothbay Harbor & A Lighthouse Cruise
While in Boothbay Harbor, you’ll have lots of options to get out onto the water. Since this is all about a Maine lighthouse driving tour, you’ll definitely want to consider a cruise with to see some more lighthouses from the water. This tour company offers cruises to see the Maine puffin colonies, whale watching, lighthouses and even lobster trap hauls.
Most of these tours will go by three lighthouses: Ram Light, Burnt Light and Pemaquid Light (Pemaquid is later on this itinerary, so stay tuned!). But be sure to check the descriptions for each tour to know what lighthouses you’ll see if that’s your primary focus.
I’ve personally been on the puffin cruise and had a blast! But I also think this Seals, Lighthouses and Lobster Trap Sightseeing Tour is perfect for seeing more lighthouses.
Psst! I have an entire guide on the best things to do in Boothbay Harbor, if you need more ideas 😉
Day 4: Drive To Bar Harbor & Acadia National Park
The drive from Boothbay to Bar Harbor will about 2 hours and 45 minutes, and you’ll be in Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park for 2 nights.
Once you arrive in Bar Harbor, I recommend getting settled, and exploring the town first. Bar Harbor is the town adjacent to the park, and it’s really quaint with fun things to do.
Optional Tours: You can do a whale watch or lighthouse boat cruise from downtown Bar Harbor, and with the lighthouse cruise option, you’ll get to see 4 additional lighthouses from the water that you can only see by boat, which are Winter Harbor, Egg Rock, Bear Island and Baker Island. Click here to check out the lighthouse cruise from Bar Harbor!
Another option during your time in Bar Harbor is to explore Acadia National Park by e-bike! There are tons of carriage roads inside the park that are really scenic, and this is a fun way to get around. Click the link below for more information, or to book your e-bikes.
Best Bar Harbor Restaurants
While in Bar Harbor on your Maine lighthouse road trip, I recommend checking out these restaurants:
- Side Street Café is a great place for comfort food and awesome cocktails. My personal favorite is their lobster grilled cheese, which totally hits the spot after exploring Acadia all day.
- The Travelin’ Lobster is located just outside of downtown, but worth the trip for amazing and fresh seafood.
- Jeannine’s Great Maine Breakfast is my favorite breakfast spot in town. They have traditional offerings, and open super early, so if you catch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, they’ll be ready for you when you want breakfast.
- Mount Desert Ice Cream is a great spot for unique flavors and delicious ice cream!
Best Bar Harbor Hotels
Bar Harbor Villager Motel – Awesome budget-moderate hotel right in the heart of downtown Bar Harbor, so you can walk everywhere. I was surprised at how clean, spacious and modern the rooms were, and I loved coming back here after a day of hiking. Free parking and continental breakfast are included.
Little Fig Hotel – Located within walking distance to downtown is this stylish little hotel, which is perfect if you’re looking for more of a retreat with beautifully-decorated rooms. This hotel also has pet-friendly rooms!
Day 5: Explore Bass Harbor Lighthouse & Acadia National Park
This is your free day to explore Acadia National Park, and be sure to plan your visit to Bass Harbor Lighthouse, which is about 30 minutes from Bar Harbor. The lighthouse is part of the park.
To explore Acadia National Park, you’ll need to purchase a park pass, which you can buy online here.
I suggest visiting Bass Harbor Light during sunrise, especially if visiting in peak summer season. The parking area for this lighthouse is not small, but fills up fast, and if you arrive when the lot is full, you have to wait until a spot opens up. The park rangers do not allow you make a U-turn and make your way back, so you’ll have no other choice but to wait if it’s full.
At sunrise, however, you’ll likely only see a few other people, and snag your spot right away. When I visited during sunrise in May, I was there alone.
Here are some other awesome things to do in Acadia National Park:
- Ocean Path – A very easy walking path that connects Sand Beach and Otter Cliffs, and will provide some of the best, and most famous, landscapes in all of Acadia. Very big pay off for minimal effort!
- Jordan Pond House Lunch – A restaurant located right inside the park, overlooking Jordan Pond, and is famous for their popovers. This is a really fun and serene experience. Open seasonally, so be sure to check hours before arriving.
- Gorham Trail – A moderate hiking trail with amazing views at the summit.
- Great Head Trail- An easy to moderate trail with spectacular coastline views, and great views of Sand Beach.
- Cadillac Mountain For Sunrise or Sunset – This is one of the most popular things to do in the park! Having done both sunrise and sunset here, I love them both, and would say choose based on what you think you’ll enjoy more. The sun will rise over the water, and set behind the mountain, so sunrise is a bit more dramatic, but sunset fills the sky with a warm glow as it sets behind you.
The park does now require reservations to drive to Cadillac Mountain between mid-May and mid-October!
Click here to make your vehicle reservation!
Psst! Need more ideas for your Acadia visit? I have an entire post on the perfect Acadia National Park itinerary, so be sure to check that out for more information.
Day 6: Drive to Lubec To See West Quoddy Lighthouse
The drive to Lubec is about 2 hours and 15 minutes from Bar Harbor, and I would suggest going straight to West Quoddy Lighthouse first, and budgeting time to see the actual lighthouse, and walking on some of the surrounding trails. You’ll also be spending a night in Lubec to explore the town, relax and hit up some of the hiking trails.
I can’t suggest the Lubec hiking trails enough! They totally surprised me, and I found them to be just as awesome as some of the Acadia trails. Click the link below for all my suggestions on hiking in Lubec, and the best things to do, eat and where to stay while here.
Optional Extra Day In Lubec: If you wanted to take an overnight stay away from another destination, and add a night in Lubec, that would allow you time to drive to Campobello Island in Canada, which is only 10 minutes from Lubec. You’ll be able to explore this beautiful area, and add another lighthouse notch in your belt, which is Head Harbor Light. Be sure to bring your passport with you if you decide to do this, since you’ll be crossing the Canadian border!
Psst! Here’s my detailed post on all the best things to do in Lubec, if you want to spend more time here!
Day 7: Drive To Camden With Pitstop In Schoodic Peninsula
The drive from Lubec to Camden is about 3 hours, but it’s great to break it up with a stop in Schoodic Peninsula, which is the lesser-known/visited part of Acadia National Park. A park pass will be required to stop here, but if you went to Acadia, your park pass is good for 7 days, so you may not need to buy a new one!
Tips & Best Things To Do When Visiting Schoodic Peninsula:
- Schoodic Peninsula is one big, one-way, looped road. Meaning if you drive past something you want to do, there is no option to make a U-turn and backtrack, and you’ll have to finish your drive to the park exit, and re-enter. It’s not a huge deal because the drive around the entire peninsula is about 15-20 minutes, but it’s best to have a plan for the stops you want to make to avoid this mistake.
- Definitely stop at Raven’s Nest, which is no longer on the park map because it could potentially be dangerous. I found it much less dangerous than some areas in Acadia National Park, but if you have young children that might run away from you, you may want to skip this one.
To find Raven’s Nest lookout, you’ll pull into the third pull-over for cars (on your left), or use these GPS coordinates: 44.352005, -68.074934. Park your car, cross the street, and you’ll see the trail head. The walk is about 5 minutes or less to the amazing overlook.
- Schoodic Point is absolutely worth the stop! It has amazing, giant rocks you can climb out onto and watch the crashing waves. Lots of space to explore and take pictures.
- There are also some great hiking trails inside this part of the park. If you’re looking to do some hiking, consider either the Blueberry Hill trail, or the Buck Cove Mountain trail.
Once you’re done in Schoodic, drive to Camden, which is just under 2 hours. Once you arrive in Camden, check into your hotel, and enjoy walking around the adorable town and harbor.
Day 8: Free Day In Camden
Camden is a great town for relaxing because it’s small, but also has a lot to do. So if you’re feeling tired from all the hiking you’ve just done so far on your Maine lighthouse driving tour, this is a good time to relax and do some easy activities. Camden is packed with amazing restaurants as well.
Here are a few awesome things to do in Camden:
- Explore the Main Street shops.
- Stroll around the harbor to see the awesome sailboats that are docked, as well as the nearby park.
- Drive to Camden Hills State Park, and take the auto road to the summit of Mt. Battie, which provides incredible views of Camden from above.
- Take a sunset sailing tour on a class Windjammer, which will also sail by Curtis Island Lighthouse. Click the link below for more information, or to book your tour.
The Camden Maine Stay Inn is an awesome choice for an overnight stay! It’s a short walk to Main Street and the harbor, and it offers complimentary breakfast and cozy New England-style rooms.
Day 9: Drive To Bailey Island With Stops At 4 Lighthouses
This is a bit of a long driving day, but I promise you, it’s loads of fun and absolutely worth it!
On your drive from Camden to Bailey Island, you’ll stop at 4 incredible lighthouses: Rockland Breakwater Light, Owls Head Light, Marshall Point Light and Pemaquid Point Light. That is also the order in which you’ll drive to them. I suggest you have a good breakfast and pack some snacks for the road, and leave early this day so you don’t feel rushed at each lighthouse.
Visiting Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
The drive to Rockland Breakwater Light is only about 15 minutes from Camden. Parking here is free street parking. Once you arrive at the lighthouse, just look for the closest spot along the road.
The lighthouse is at the end of a breakwater that’s just less than a mile long, so be prepared for a bit of a walk! But it’s a really cool and different lighthouse to see on your road trip, and I think it’s worth a stop.
Visiting Owls Head Lighthouse
Owls Head Lighthouse is actually one of my absolute favorites in all of New England. I love this little lighthouse so much! The drive here is about 20 minutes from Rockland Breakwater Light, and parking is free and easy. Once you park, you’ll walk a short distance to the lighthouse.
During your visit, I recommend looking for the little path to the pebble beach (to find it, it’ll be on your right if you’re walking to the lighthouse along the path, and closer to the parking area). When I visited in May, there was no one else there, and it was so beautiful. It’s not a big beach, but nice for a quick walk and a quiet moment.
In the town of Owls Head, you can also swing by the harbor, which is a working fishing dock, and very small, but if you love coastal New England scenes like this, it’s worth a stop.
Visiting Marshall Point Lighthouse
Also one of my top lighthouses to visit on your Maine lighthouse driving tour is Marshall Point Lighthouse. You may recognize it from the movie Forest Gump – a scene from the movie was filmed at this lighthouse. The drive to this lighthouse from Owls Head is about 35 minutes.
Parking at Marshall Point is free and easy. This is a really serene spot in the town of Port Clyde, and unless you’re visiting on a weekend in the summer, you might not see more than 1-2 other people while here. I was alone for about 30 minutes when I visited in May, and my visit prior to that in September, I only saw one other couple.
Visiting Pemaquid Point Lighthouse With An Optional Stop In Friendship
The drive straight from Marshall Point Light to Pemaquid Point Light is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you decide to make the detour to the small town of Friendship, it’ll only add about 15 minutes of extra driving time.
Friendship is home to probably the most photogenic market I’ve ever seen called Wallace’s. In the town, there’s also a cute little harbor. There’s not much else to see in Friendship, but if you’re looking for a fun, off-the-beaten-path pitstop, its definitely worth it.
From Friendship, the drive to Pemaquid Point Light is just under an hour. To visit Pemaquid Point, there is a $3 per car entrance fee, and on-site are public bathrooms, a lighthouse museum and lots of coastline to explore.
If you’re looking for a great lunch spot nearby, drive to Pemaquid Seafood, which is a casual seafood shack with outdoor tables and a great view!
Drive To Bailey Island
The drive from Pemaquid Point to Bailey Island is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can choose to stay in any town in this area that would allow you to easily break up your drive the next day to the Ogunquit/Kennebunkport region. Other great options for an overnight stay in this area would be Wiscasset (mentioned earlier in this post!), Georgetown (also mentioned earlier) and Sebasco.
I chose Bailey Island because I wanted to explore the Harpswell area, and wanted to stay in a smaller, lesser-known town. I loved my stay here! There isn’t much to do, and that was the appeal for me. I wanted to slow down after a longer day of driving around to the different lighthouses.
The main attraction in Bailey Island is the Giant’s Stairs trail, which is a short cliff-walk that has huge rocks you can climb on for incredible views of the ocean. I loved this so much, and it was worth the overnight stay just to see them.
Bailey Island is also home to the only cribstone bridge left in the world. You’ll cross it as you come from Orr Island!
Hotel In Bailey Island, ME
Bailey Island Motel: This was an awesome place to stay! Not only was it affordable, it was stylish, clean and welcoming. They even had an extensive snack basket in my room that was completely complimentary.
Day 10: Drive To Ogunquit For 1 Night And See Nubble Lighthouse
The drive to Ogunquit will be about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Bailey Island, and you can also choose to stay in Kennebunkport, which would be about the same distance. For the sake of this post, I’m going to suggest Ogunquit because I think it’s easier to do with a 1-night stay, but I love Kennebunkport equally as much, and both are a great choice.
On your drive to Ogunquit, you can stop in Freeport to see the flagship L.L. Bean store (and take a picture with the giant boot!), and also Old Orchard Beach (just be prepared to pay a daily parking rate for Old Orchard, which can be upwards of $20).
Visiting Nubble Lighthouse
During your stay in Ogunquit, be sure to venture over to Cape Neddick, and see Nubble Lighthouse. Parking here is free, and while it’s a popular destination, the parking area is large enough that I’ve never had to wait for a spot longer than 2-3 minutes (if I had to even wait at all).
Once you park, you’ll see the lighthouse, which is on an island across from the overlook. Even though you can’t walk up to it, you’ll get an awesome view from the overlook area.
Once you arrive in Ogunquit, almost everything will be walkable, making it really easy to explore a lot of things with a short amount of time. Click below to read my detailed travel guide on Ogunquit to get some ideas on things to do.
The Terrace By The Sea is an awesome place to stay in Ogunquit for the night! It offers views of the ocean, is a short walk to Ogunquit Beach, and is walkable to all the shops and restaurants in town!
Psst! Here’s my detailed post on the best things to do in Ogunquit if you’re looking for more ideas!
Day 11: Drive Home
Your Maine lighthouse driving tour is now complete! It’s time to head home, and scroll through all the amazing pictures you took to remind you of the incredible adventure you just had.
If you’re flying out of Boston and have some time to make stops on your way from Ogunquit, here are some places I recommend checking out that are worth your time:
- York, Maine, including the Stonewall Kitchen Flagship Store
- Portsmouth, NH
- Newburyport and Plum Island, MA
- Rockport, MA
- Salem, MA
- Marblehead, MA
I have some posts on these destination, if you’d like to visit and need some ideas:
- Things To Do In Newburyport, MA & Plum Island
- Things To Do In Rockport, MA
- Things To Do In Marblehead, MA
- Ultimate Guide To Taking A Salem, MA Day Trip
Can You Tour Lighthouses In Maine?
Yes, many lighthouses in Maine offer tours of the interior, including the light towers. It’s best to keep in mind that these tours are usually offered in the summer months only, so if there’s a specific lighthouse you want to climb, you’ll want to confirm when the lighthouse will offer tours, if at all.
Most lighthouses in Maine that are on the mainland will be open for visitors to explore the grounds and walk up to the lighthouse year-round.
What Lighthouses In Maine Can You Climb?
There are a few lighthouses in Maine that allow visitors to climb to the tower. Below is a list of each lighthouse you can climb that you can drive to (this list does not include lighthouses only accessible by boat). Be sure to click on the links for information about tours offered to climb inside the lighthouse. If you click on the link during off-season, many websites don’t update their upcoming tour season until May, so be sure to check back!
Tip: Jump down to the section about lighthouses you can stay overnight in, as many of them will offer opportunities to climb to the tower during your stay!
Maine Lighthouses In Portland
There are 3 lighthouses in South Portland that are a short 15-minute drive from Portland’s downtown, and they are Portland Head Light, Bug Light and Spring Point Ledge Light. These lighthouses are all very close to each other, and you can see them all with just a few hours.
Maine Lighthouses Near Bar Harbor
The only lighthouse that you can drive to near Bar Harbor is Bass Harbor Lighthouse, which is within the grounds of Acadia National Park in the town of Tremont. The drive is about 30 minutes. You can also take a lighthouse cruise from Bar Harbor to see other nearby lighthouses like Egg Rock, Bear Island, Winter Harbor and Baker Island Lights.
Maine Lighthouses You Can Stay Overnight In
There are 7 lighthouses in Maine that offer overnight stays. Some you can easily book online or by calling to reserve, and some require a donation in order to stay overnight, which goes into preservation efforts for that particular lighthouse. The Maine lighthouses you can stay overnight in are:
- Goose Rocks Light
- Burnt Coal Harbor Light
- Pemaquid Point Light
- Little River Light
- Seguin Island Light
- Whitehead Light
- Marshall Point Light
Why Does Maine Have So Many Lighthouses?
Maine has over 280 miles of coastline (and over 3,400 miles of tidal coastline, which accounts for all the inlets, and navigation around Maine’s islands). To keep sailors safe while getting around Maine’s famous jagged coastline and islands (which could be dangerous in the dark), quite a few lighthouses were needed. Considering how much coastline there is to navigate around Maine and its islands, 65 lighthouses doesn’t seem like that many!
Best Time Of Year For A Maine Lighthouse Driving Tour
The summer months are undoubtedly the most popular time to visit Maine in general because the weather is the warmest, and there’s fewer chances of rain. All restaurants and shops will also be open during the summer. This is also when hotel prices and crowds will be at their highest, so it’s a bit of a trade off. Visiting Maine in the summer is exciting!
I also personally love visiting Maine in late May just before Memorial Weekend, the first week of June (right after Memorial Weekend), or in September after Labor Day. In the spring season, especially, you’ll find very few crowds and pleasant weather (with the occasional chance of rain). September is slowly becoming more popular for New England travel, and I’ve experienced some crowds during this month, but late September seems to quiet down a bit.
One thing to note is that many of the seafood shacks in Maine are very seasonal, and they don’t usually begin to open until mid-May at the earliest – some not even until June. If you’re looking to stop at some of the best seafood shacks during your Maine lighthouse driving tour, it’ll be best to plan your trip between June-Labor Day.
What To Pack For A Maine Lighthouse Driving Tour
In addition to what you plan to pack for clothing during your Maine lighthouse driving tour (and assuming you’re traveling in any season other than winter), here is a list of things you may forget, and may want to consider bringing:
- Rain gear (especially if traveling in the spring or fall), which includes an umbrella or waterproof jacket and/or rain boots.
- Swimsuit and beach towel if you want to visit any beaches during your trip (summer only).
- Sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Camera with a back-up battery and charger (if you have one).
- Tripod for your camera or iPhone to take pictures with the self-timer function.
- Lightweight jacket or sweater for boat tours, since it’s always colder out on the water.
- Dramamine if you get seasick!
- Band-aids for blisters from hiking.
- Hiking boots and apparel.
- Small backpack for hiking and boat tours.
- Reusable water bottle.
- Travel-sized dish soap to wash your reusable water bottle.
More Of My Maine Travel Guides:
- Maine In November: Is It Worth Visiting?
- Maine In The Spring: Where To Go & What To Do
- Maine In October: Best Fall Foliage Spots & Things To Do
- Maine In The Winter
- Portland, Maine In The Winter
- Best Stops To Make On A Portland, Maine To Acadia National Park Road Trip
- Best Breweries In Portland, Maine
- Where To Find The Best Whoopie Pies In Maine
- Best Day Trips From Portland, Maine
- Best Breweries In Portland, Maine
- Blueberry Picking In Maine
Other posts you may find helpful:
- 7-Day New England Road Trip Itinerary (+5 & 10-Day Options)
- The Most Incredible New England Lighthouses To Visit
- Best New England Gifts To Look For During Your Trip
That’s A Wrap On Planning The Best Maine Lighthouse Driving Tour
Now that you know how to plan the most amazing Maine lighthouse driving tour, I hope you feel excited and inspired to take this trip. It’s such an underrated part of the U.S., and perfectly balances being outside with eating amazing food and getting to see some beautiful, small towns.