Although I’m the kind of traveler who likes to do my research and pinpoint possible areas of interest, I always like to leave some wiggle room because it’s true that some of the best travel experiences are unplanned. You might pick up a recommendation from a friendly local or accidentally discover on your own something that wasn’t originally part of your agenda.
That’s what happened when I attended a literacy conference last month in Maine. I met a new friend who’d previously lived for some years in New England, and she advised that, on the drive home, we ought to stop in York, a coastal town about 45 miles south of Portland.
There we would find the iconic Nubble Light (officially Cape Neddick Light Station). Don’t miss it, she said. It’s the most photographed lighthouse in the country. Sold.
As soon as we stepped from the car, we instantly understood its appeal to the estimated half a million visitors per year. How had I never heard of this place before?
Although the lighthouse and island are inaccessible to the public, Sohier Park directly across from it offers spectacular views of the lighthouse and coast. Unlike so many attractions these days, parking is free, and there are benches and restrooms for public use.
First opened in 1879 after five years of construction, Nubble became fully automated in 1987. No one lives on the grounds anymore.
But the Town of York has worked hard to preserve Nubble. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Twice a year, crowds are drawn here for special holiday lighting observances. The first occurs near the end of July for a “Christmas in July” celebration; the second ceremonial lighting takes place on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving and remains lit every night through the New Year.
No matter the time of year, if you happen to be in the area, a stop is highly recommended.