Rugged shores and picturesque landscapes epitomize the beauty of Maine with Portland Head Lighthouse, arguably, one of the prettiest places to visit. As soon as you catch a glimpse of this historic lighthouse you are transported into the world of a John Irving book.
The great news is that Fort Williams Park, where you will find the lighthouse, is open all year round from sunrise to sunset so there is no excuse not to visit. While there are no weather restrictions, you will need to take care near the rocks when it is raining as it can get extremely slippery. There is also a gift shop and museum located in the former keeper’s house where I bought a stunning print of the sun setting over the lighthouse – they’re open daily from May to November. If, like me, you are always on the lookout for a cheap day put then this is the perfect spot. Admission and car parking is free (although I always leave a donation of whatever is affordable on the day).
The whole Fort Williams site is made up of 90 acres, so there is plenty of space for children to run around, or you can take a nice stroll along the beach area. Picnic areas can be found all around the estate (but make sure you take a bag for your trash as there are no trash cans). Don’t worry if you forget to take your own food, as you can get food onsite—the lobster rolls are particularly good (visit in the Summer to grab one!). Portland Headlight is all about the rocks! Made up of quartzite and dark grey phyllite, we love exploring all of the layers and we get in a great geography lesson! There are numerous walks to take to suit all abilities, from cliff walks to walking paths through the coastal arboretum. I’d also suggest checking out the multiple abandoned buildings in Fort Williams Park, which feature great views of the lighthouse, some colorful graffiti, and lots of little nooks and crannies to explore.
It is best to visit on a clear day so that you can enjoy the view of Ram Island Ledge Light and Halfway Rock Light Station which was first lit in 1871. There is lots of interesting history to be found here, which is why September and October are popular with tourists arriving on large cruise ships. Of Maine’s 65 public lighthouses, Portland Head Lighthouse is one of my favorites, and each time I leave I listen to the foghorns in the background and think of Irving’s words – “Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England”.