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Portland Observatory

138 Congress St., Portland, ME 04101
207-774-5561
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Ranked #10 of 66 Attractions in Portland
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Observation Decks/ Towers, Observatories/ Planetariums, Historic Sites, Landmarks/ Points of Interest
Activities: Group tours/walking tour
Owner description: In the 1800s, Captain Moody used this observatory to monitor the routes of ships as far as 30 miles away. Today visitors can tour a museum focusing on... more » Owner description: In the 1800s, Captain Moody used this observatory to monitor the routes of ships as far as 30 miles away. Today visitors can tour a museum focusing on the history of the watch tower and get a stunning bird's-eye view of Portland and the harbor. « less
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137 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
woburn,ma
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2014 NEW

This structure was so interesting. We had a tour by an amazing gentlemen. Unfortunately, I didn't get his name, but at the end after giving us an amazing amount of information about how the observatory was designed and built and its use, he mentioned he was 89 years old. (This was after he led us us 5 flights of stairs... More

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Paris, France
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2014

We spent half a day in Portland and decided to visit the Observatory One cannot go to the top of the tower without guides and they usually start a new tour when they have several customers but it was not a very busy day and we had a guide for the 2 of us only. Our guide was a local... More

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Huntington Beach, California
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 8, 2014

My tour guide was born in 1932! That fact alone, once I teased it out of him, amazed me about this place. The observatory isn't what you think. It's an old lookout tower that was an early warning system for dock workers back before two-way radios or cell phones. There are 104 steps up to the top, but you ascend... More

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Toronto
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
37 attraction reviews
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2014

This was a very unique building and is very visible from many places in Portland, which I suppose was the point of the building. It is funny yo see a wood structure to have lasted to long intact. Certainly worth the visit.

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Rapid City, South Dakota
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
8 attraction reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2014

Great place to stop in and get information and an unbelievable view of the city and harbor. The staff was very knowledgeable and friendly!

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Bradford, Vermont
2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 25, 2014

Really cool place, but would have been MUCH cooler if we could have gone to the top without a tour group!

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
16 attraction reviews
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 22, 2014

The observatory is not an astronomical observatory, but a place where you can climb a tower to see the city of Portland from a high view. It was once a Marine watch tower which sent up flags to report when a certain vessel had arrived at the port. After its usefulness was replaced by radios, it sat idle, but was... More

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New York City, New York
Top Contributor
127 reviews 127 reviews
73 attraction reviews
71 helpful votes 71 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 10, 2014

Practical aspects: last tour is at 4.30 and you cannot go up without a tour. Should be obvious but just in case: not a good place for you to visit if you struggle with stairs.... The observatory is at the top of a little hill which has a lot of very cute houses and is worth walking through in its... More

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Rockford, IL
Top Contributor
133 reviews 133 reviews
9 attraction reviews
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2014

A guided tour to the top of this early 1800's observatory. Ship owners relied on the observatory to tell them what ships were approaching port, 20 miles out in ocean. A flag of the owner/ship would be hoisted and owner arranged dockage and sale of cargo. Be prepared to climb steps but worth the effort. Great photos of early Portland... More

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Boston, Massachusetts
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
6 attraction reviews
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2014

This is a nice way to learn some interesting history without being stuck in a museum. The observatory is far enough from downtown Portland that there's plenty of street parking available (you could walk to it from downtown if the hill doesn't intimidate you). Tours last about 30 mins and seem to be roughly on the half-hour. The two tour... More

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