Portland Headlight is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world. There are so many reasons to visit this gorgeous spot!
The famous Portland HeadLight is located in Cape Elizabeth Maine, at Fort Williams Park. It's a very popular spot for vacationers and locals alike. It is Maine's oldest lighthouse. It is a popular place in the summertime especially.
What is Fort Williams Park?
Fort Williams Park is a 90-acre state where visitors can spend an entire day. The activities are nearly endless - for instance, fly a kite, visit the Portland Headlight, explore Battery Keys, search for critters in the tide pools, visit the children's garden and much more.
What facilities are at the Fort Williams Park?
- tennis courts
- basketball court
- baseball diamond
- physical fitness course
- picnic tables and cookout areas
- picnic shelter
- paths for walking, running and dogwalking
It's a spectacular place to spend the day with your family. Pack a picnic and enjoy all there is to see and do and be sure to bring your camera.
Fort Williams is so beautiful that my husband and I (originally from Maine) considered being married here! It's a gorgeous area of coastline and one that's not to be missed when you visit Maine. It's just a stunning spot for photos! You'll find dozens of spots along the Cliff Walk from the headlight to the beach to stop and take photos.
Portland Headlight & Fort Williams FAQ
Here are some questions guests often ask about the Portland Headlight and Fort Williams, along with answers, of course!
Construction began in 1787 and there have been several additions and renovations since then.
There are small Museum Admission fees to visit Portland Headlight: $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for children ages 6-18. Children under 6 are free. There no fees to visit Fort Williams.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset.
There are no permanent restrooms at the park, but there are quite a few portable restrooms. In our experience, these have been maintained pretty well - all things considered!
Plan on at least one an hour total to visit the museum, gift shop and the lighthouse. You'll want much longer if you plan to explore the rest of Fort Williams.
Dogs are allowed throughout the park but they are not allowed in the buildings. Remember to always clean up after your pet!
With over 5,000 miles of coastline, Maine boasts 65 active lighthouses.
While Boston Head is the oldest lighthouse in the US (built in 1716, Portland Headlight is the oldest Maine lighthouse.
What lighthouses are in Maine?
There are so many gorgeous lighthouse in Maine. Some of the most popular are:
- Bass Harbor Head Light in Acadia National Park
- Cape Neddick "The Nubble Light" in York Beach
- Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Bristol overlooking Muscongus Bay and Johns Bay.
- Rockland Breakwater Light at Jameson Point in Rockland Harbor
- West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec, the furthest East point in the US
Maine Open Lighthouse Day
The US Coast Guard in partnership with the Maine Office of Tourism and American Lighthouse Foundation sponsors Maine Open Lighthouse Day. It will be September 14, 2019.
Portland Head is part of this event, along with about two dozen others. It is a unique chance to experience some of the lighthouses not normally open to the public. Check the website above for more information.
SPECIAL NOTE: Approximately 280 tickets will be made available for visitors on a first-come-first serve basis the day of the event, which are necessary for climbing the tower. You must be at least 48 inches tall and able to handle 85+ steps unassisted to climb the tower.
History of the Lighthouse
Merchants in the area petitioned for the creation of a lighthouse to help guide ships into the rocky coastline. Local masons began building Portland Headlight in 1787. It was completed in 1791 and was lit with an oil lamp.
In 1816, a new keeper's house was built. Then, in 1891, he old stone house was replaced with a a Victorian style home and it was again updated in 1929 with the addition of electricity.
Other various improvements or repairs have been made over the years continuing through to present day. Now a museum and gift shop are housed on the property and there is no longer a keeper on site.
Portland Headlight Facts
The lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Here are some more interesting facts:
- Commissioned by: President George Washington in 1787
- Build Completed: 1791
- First Lit: 1791
- Automated: 1989
- Construction: rubble stone with brick lining
- Height: 80 feet
- Range: 24 nautical miles
- For Museum visiting hours, click here.
- For park hours, map, and directions, visit the Portland Headlight webpage.
Visiting Portland Headlight
Please remember to always check the webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding hours and fees.
- The Museum and Gift shop are open Memorial Day to October 31 and Weekends Only in May and November.
- The Park is open year round from sunrise to sunset.
- There no fees to visit Fort Williams
- Museum Admission fees: $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for children ages 6-18. Children under 6 are free.
What else is there to do in Portland Maine?
There are six lighthouses located in and around Portland. Here's an amazing scenic tour that will take you to see them all. Casco Bay Lines offers boat tours that are an awesome way to see the Maine coast.
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