Chances are that when you think of a lighthouse, the image that pops into your head is the iconic Portland Head Light. The tapered white tower on the end of a rocky cape buffeted by crashing waves? Yup, that’s the one. The adjacent Keeper’s House has been turned into a great little museum with maritime artifacts and Fresnel lenses and a charmingly retro admission price of $2. Picnic tables and benches have been placed around the extensive parkland surrounding the lighthouse so you can enjoy a picnic with the ultimate New England view.
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Pines, roses, salt; the scent of summer along the Maine coast
My wife and I had flown overnight from Arizona to Maine--the next morning, the first stop (after coffee) for our ocean-starved eyes was here.
The Portland Head Light, just south of the city, is one of the oldest (commissioned by George Washington,built in 1791) and most-photographed lighthouses in the U.S. What struck us more than the panorama of water and architecture, though, was the simple act of inhaling--for our desert-acclimated noses, the mixture of evergreens, wild roses, and the salty sea air was potent, heady.
Taste and smell are often more viscerally evocative than sight alone. Even now, when we look at this photo, the scent returns.
The lighthouse is about a ten to fifteen minute drive from downtown Portland:
1000 Shore Road (in Fort Williams Park)
Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
Commissioned by George Washington, many consider this lighthouse to be the most photographed in the world. Sitting at the picturesque entrance of the shipping channel to Portland Harbor in Casco Bay, it is about a ten-minute drive to this Cape Elizabeth spot. Additionally, there are picnic facilities and hiking opportunities. A classic sight along the New England coastline, there are five other lighthouses in this area of Maine.