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The Best Lighthouses in New England

The Best Lighthouses in New England
4 votes, 4.25 avg. rating (83% score)
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We’ve selected the five best lighthouses in New England using Jon Marcus’ comprehensive list from his book Lighthouses of New England, which covers everything from the most stunning to the most haunted beacons found anywhere in the world.

Nubble Lighthouse

Nubble Lighthouse

Best Scenic Lighthouse

Gay Head Light – Aquinnah, MA
On the western end of Martha’s Vineyard, visitors are allowed into the red-brick lantern tower, where they can watch the two lights rotate–and take in extraordinary sunsets over the Aquinnah Cliffs and surf below. 508-627-4441; gayheadlight.org.

Best Lighthouse for History Plus a View

Stonington Harbor Light – Stonington Point, CT
In the darkest days of the War of 1812, five British warships lined up off the coast of Stonington, Connecticut, and attacked the town. The bombardment is commemorated at the site’s Old Lighthouse Museum insideThe vista here is a bonus: From the octagonal tower of this granite lighthouse are views of three states: New York, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. 860-535-1440; stoningtonhistory.org

Most Haunted Lighthouse

Seguin Island Light – Popham, ME
In the mid-1800s, one keeper’s wife couldn’t stand living at this desolate station. To appease her, he arranged to buy a player piano. When it arrived, however, there was only one piece of music, and she played it over and over for hours at a time. Driven mad, the keeper strangled his wife and took an axe to the piano. Now witnesses say that at night they can hear a phantom piano playing from the lighthouse. 207-443-4808; seguinisland.org

Naturally Iconic Lighthouse

Petit Manan Light – Petit Manan Island, ME
The most extraordinary natural lighthouse setting is the 3,335-acre Maine Coastal Islands which includes Petit Manan Island, famous for its colony of puffins and its nesting birds, including Arctic terns. 207-546-2124; fws.gov/refuge/maine_coastal_islands

Most Widely Traveled Lighthouse

Nubble Light – York Beach, ME
So archetypal is Cape Neddick (“the Nubble”) Light off York Beach, Maine, that a photo of it was launched, along with other artifacts, aboard the Voyager II spacecraft in 1977. But space scientists weren’t the first to recognize the value of its appeal. One entrepreneurial keeper in the early 20th century ferried as many as 300 visitors a day to the lighthouse for 10 cents apiece. For a nickel more, his wife would give them tours. They were fired for neglecting the light. 207-363-1040; nubblelight.org

(Bonus!) Best Classic Attractions in Rhode Island | 2014 Editors’ Choice Awards – Best Island Light

Southeast Lighthouse – Block Island, RI
Built in 1874 to thwart shipwrecks, today the iconic red-brick Southeast Light is a beacon attracting visitors from near and far. Moved back from its precarious perch on the edge of the Mohegan Bluffs in 1993, this National Historic Landmark promises one of the best island vantages; if the guided tour to the top is on offer, it’s a must. 401-466-5009

(Bonus!) Best Bargains in New Hampshire | 2014 Editors’ Choice Award – Best Lighthouse

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse - New Castle, NH
Sundays from May to October you can climb the 44 steps to the Watch Room, then a ladder to the Lantern Room, while volunteers share the light station’s history. portsmouthharborlighthouse.org/open-houses-tours

(Bonus!) Best Attractions in Maine | 2014 Editors’ Choice Award – Best Walk To A Lighthouse

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse - Rockland, ME
A nearly mile-long granite breakwater tethers Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse to the shoreline. Volunteers usually open the 1902 lighthouse and 25-foot-tall tower to visitors on weekends and for special events. 207-542-7574; rocklandharborlights.org

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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6 Responses to The Best Lighthouses in New England

  1. Dottie Palmer October 25, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    My favorite lighthouse is Portland Head. I live is Texas now and miss seeing all the Maine lights. I have pictures and Harbor Lights in my home

    • Joe Foster October 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

      Our favorite is also Portland Head, with Nubble a close second. Maine lights have a “WOW” factor that does not exist in other states with lighthouses. But all of them are treasures and should all be saved for future generations.

  2. George October 25, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    We enjoyed (?) walking out to the Rockland lighthouse (3/4 mile).
    However, we were disappointed that there were no souvenirs (I walked the breakwater at Rockland!) waiting for us there at either end!!

  3. Dorothy Gerstenlauer August 13, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Nubble Light is my favorite. It brings back so many happy childhood memories of vacations in York Beach in the 1930s and 40s. All lighthouses are unique and have their wonderful historical stories.

  4. Margarett March 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    THE MOST BEAUTIFUL.. AND ..THE MOST SPECTACULAR ..is WEST QUODDY HEAD LIGHT IN LUBEC , MAINE..OVER THE RISE IN THE ROAD SURROUNDED BY TOWERING PINE TREES IS AN OPENING BEFORE YOU . And is truly breathtaking …thIS ONE OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR SIGHTS IN THE WORLD…the ocean stretching for miles by this incredible lighthouse and old Lightkeepers cottag(now an accessible visitor center) in front.THIS IS A SIGHT THAT YOU WILL NEVER FORGET….

  5. Larry August 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    Pemaquid Point Light being omitted here is an egregious oversight

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