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The Portland Observatory

Indoor $May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
Historic Sites, Educational, Historical
138 Congress St, Portland, ME
URL: The Portland Observatory  Phone: 207-774-5561
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Activity Overview

Don't miss the Portland Observatory, a watchtower erected in 1807 to send up flags when ships were reaching Portland Harbor.

Sitting idle for a time when two-way radios were introduced, the Observatory was eventually restored and transformed into a 5-story museum as a means of treasuring Portland's rich maritime history. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006 and visiting it can be a fun family outing.

Visitors must explore the Observatory with a guide who will lead you up the five flights of steps, stopping at each floor for a history lesson about the tower, its construction and use, and also about Portland Harbor and the city itself. At the top of the stairs, kids of all ages will be treated to a spectacular view of the harbor and city.

Things to Do

  • On most Thursday evenings throughout the summer, the Observatory is open after hours for visitors to take a self-guided "sunset tour" from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Docents are available to answer questions during this time period, and regular admission rates still apply.
  • Visit the gift shop on the first floor which contains postcards, local history and architecture books, posters, children’s toys and more.

The Portland Observatory Insider Tips

  • Allow 45 minutes for the tour.

A lift provides access to the first floor only. The stairs become steeper toward the top.

On street parking is available nearby. The parking lot next to the building cannot be used.

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