Portland Observatory
Portland Observatory
4.5
About
Opening May 25th for the 2022 season! Breathtaking views and fascinating history at America’s last standing maritime signal tower. 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.
Duration: < 1 hour
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  • WhoWhereWhy
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania84 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great tour! Great views! Highly recommend
    Absolutely the best lighthouse tour we took in Maine!! Too bad someone stole the Fresnel lens. The views are spectacular but Barbara, our guide, said she loved giving tours on foggy days the best. Barbara is an excellent guide and very knowledgeable. However she tried to tell us the stairs to the ballast had been removed but Peg let us go down to see the ballast. We laughed more on this stop than any other stop in Portland! Full disclosure- we know this isn’t a lighthouse! It’s a navigational aid. It never had a light. There are no stairs to the see the ballast. We wrote this review just for Barbara and Peg who are wonderful.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written September 4, 2023
  • bianca0907
    Louisville, Kentucky14 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    gorgeous on a nice day
    We did the guided tour. Knowledgeable docent. The view from the top was very nice. I am not sure what it would be like if the weather had not been so clear ... so I would consider the weather before heading up there. Walking around the neighborhood was also interesting as this is a little bit further away from the main Portland attractions.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 19, 2023
  • joshandjenna117
    Charleston, South Carolina38 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Last minute decision - worth it!
    This place is a lot neater than expected. The history of the tower and its uses, as well as the person who started it is very interesting. On a hot day, it was still cool inside with a breeze blowing through the windows. We missed the guided tour and went in the 5 PM hour self-guided. I’m sure the guided is interesting, but we found the self-guided to be perfectly fine.
    Visited June 2024
    Traveled with family
    Written July 4, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles538 reviews
Excellent
345
Very good
162
Average
25
Poor
4
Terrible
2

Shane W
Brooklyn, IA82 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2023 • Couples
We almost chose not to do this,but glad we did. Check their hours- we went on a Wednesday night and it was not crowded at all and the tour was $10 per person and self guided with a docent at the top to answer any questions. The history was interesting as there were story boards on each floor on the way to the top to tell the story of the observatory. It’s worth the money for the incredible views on a gorgeous evening!
Written June 21, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KthSch
Aurora, IL3,527 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
The ticket includes an informative tour that gradually takes you to the top of the Observatory. It stops on 4 or 5 levels making it quite manageable for people like me who are, shall we say, “not thin.” Then you have time at the top to just take in the views. On my visit it was a little hazy which hurt photo ops, but it was still a beautiful day to be there.
Written February 14, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MaineMountainOwl
Maine282 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021
If anyone sought a unique view of Portland, this would be the place to go. Built in 1807, this adorable edifice stood atop Munjoy Hill in the city’s East End. When I went, the signal tower was still closed for the season, but the unusual octagonal structure itself was worth a stop. Time-limited parking was curbside. Sidewalks were uneven. The area had an extraordinary array of places to eat, drink, and shop. Historic Eastern Cemetery was just downhill on Congress Street. I liked all that I saw here; I only wish the tower had been open.
Written May 28, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dana
Arlington, VA15 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2021
I highly recommend the Portland Observatory tour for fans of local history or maritime history. The tour leads you from the main floor (intro information, gift shop) to the observation deck up top, and you stop on each level for information about the construction and purpose of the observatory, important events in its history, the biography of the original owner and his family, and different aspects of shipping in the area. If you're not in town for long and on the fence, you can definitely do the tour in about an hour while on your way to the Eastern Promenade, and the top offers a full view of the area and the bay on a clear day.
Written June 17, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Susan H
Lyon, France32 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Family
A worthwhile stop. In about 45 minutes on the tour, you will learn the history of the town via the life and times of this building and tits owner and in the end be rewarded by amazing views (if not foggy). But even if foggy it’s still worth the climb.
Written July 11, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Michael H.
Chester, UK60 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2022 • Couples
What a wonderful way to spend an hour or so. We wandered past here on a walk to a planned bike tour and decided to pay a visit as it looked fascinating. The lovely ladies working here were a delight and we received a private tour which was wonderful. Every floor hosts a display explaining some part of the tower's history. The fact this is a rare ballast supported building is incredible and something you will think about at the top. Thoroughly enjoyed the story of Captain Moody and how the sea trade operated in Portland back in the day. The highlight of course is the small telescope room and open walkway at the top - incredible views all the way around and a stunning view across the waters towards all the islands. Wonderful place, wonderful people, and do check out the gift shop as they carry some fantastic items to take away with you.
Written April 15, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Diane P
Portland, OR833 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2021 • Solo
First make sure you make advanced reservations! I thought this was a worthwhile tour filled with really interesting information and a nice, unique view from the top. I’m not aware of other locations that have this view. You will be part of a 35-45 minute group tour with a docent so be prepared for that. And you’ll climb some stairs too. Really worth the $10 and check out Washington Avenue on. Munjoy Hill for a nice pre/post meal. There were also some cute neighborhood spots very close to the observatory if that’s more convenient.
Written July 11, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kevin R
Madison, AL45 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2021
This place is about a 3/4 mile walk from the pier area but worth the trip. This is the only observatory of its type left in the U.S. just as a warning, there is no elevator, you climb some narrow steps. However, you do stop at almost each level and get some additional info about the observatory and the history of Portland. Our volunteer guide was Jeff and he was very knowledgeable and answered all questions that were asked. The tour takes less than an hour so it is well worth making the trip there if you are in Portland
Written October 2, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

o2bretired64
Atlanta, GA12 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2021
This is well worth a trip. This was a signal tower (not a lighthouse). The keeper looked for vessels on the horizon and would raise flags indicating the type of ship or schooner arriving, so the dock workers could prepare. During WWII it served as a spotter for aircraft flying towards the coast. there is nothing like it anywhere else. Originally constructed from 65 foot single timbers from single trees as the outer frame. Highly recommended addition to your trip to Portland.
Written September 21, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Neal751
Washington DC, DC46 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2022 • Family
Pleasantly surprised. I thought it would be nice, nice views, but wasn't expecting much more. It turned out to be very interesting. Lots of history and context for the Portland old port.
The doscent Doug Johnson really made it. He had a mastery of the history and weaved in the technical and business of the observatory, and even personal stories. It was largely like a story narrative.
The observatory has steep stairs that spiral around and go up 4 levels, but we went up only one level at a time, with narrative and demo at each level.
And of course wonderful views.
Written June 25, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Portland Observatory - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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