Great road trip idea: Visiting New England Lighthouses


Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Looking for a fun summer weekend activity that combines history and scenic splendor? Plan a road trip to visit a few of New England’s many lighthouses – there are almost 200 up and down the coastal states, and even Vermont gets in on the act with lighthouses on the shores of Lake Champlain. This would be a good weekend to make that trip since Sunday is National Lighthouse Day.

Here’s a resource to help you plan your trip: New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Tour is a site compiled by tour guide, lecturer, historian, photographer and author Jeremy D’Entremont, who is an expert on New England’s lighthouses and other maritime subjects. The site offers a breakdown of lighthouses by state. Each lighthouse has a dedicated page with maps, photos, key facts, history, public accessibility info and more. If you’d like to visit the lighthouses by sea rather than by land, the site offers a list of Lighthouse Cruises in New England.

You can also head for the Maine Lighthouse Museum on the waterfront overlooking the scenic harbor of Rockland, Maine. It houses the nation’s largest collection of lighthouse artifacts and mementos, as well as exhibits on exhibits paying tribute to the United States Coast Guard and United States Life-Saving Services. Maine is often called the “Lighthouse State,” but it is not the state with the most lighthouses – Michigan is!

If historical landmarks are your thing, Boston Harbor is also a good destination. It boasts the Boston Lighthouse on Little Brewster Island, Boston Harbor, MA. You can take a tour and actually climb the 76 open spiral stairs and two ladders with hatches to get to the top.

According to Lighthouse Digest:

“This is the oldest light station, but not the oldest tower. The original tower, built in 1716, was destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The tower that stands there today was built in 1783.”

It’s also the only lighthouse that isn’t automated:

“All lighthouses in the United States are automated with the exception of Boston Lighthouse. Because Boston Light is the oldest station in the United States, Congress has declared that Boston Light always be a staffed station where the keepers must still turn the light on at night and turn it off at daybreak. Boston Light is the only official lighthouse with a keeper. However, there are many other light stations around the United States that have people living at them, however they are not keepers, and the lighthouses at these locations are automated and do not require a keeper to turn them on and off.”

Here are some other resources for planning your trip.