The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Maine
Nicknamed Vacationland, Maine is a state worth exploring any time of the year.
Hike miles of trails through pristine wilderness, cool off in refreshing lakes, meander the rocky shorelines of the north to the long sandy beaches of the south. Rest up in quaint fishing villages or pitch a tent in a remote campground. Fill your appetite with sea-to-table dining (I’m sure you’ve heard of Maine lobster) and quench your thirst with award winning craft beers.
Whether for a day’s escape or for a month’s retreat, a trip to Maine will surely not disappoint.
3 charming coastline towns
A classic road trip in Maine is to drive along “Coastal Route 1” - a 290-mile long stretch along the northern Atlantic seashore. This epic journey begins in Kittery at the New Hampshire border to the town of Perry on Passamaquoddy Bay. Along the journey you’ll encounter everything from historic lighthouses and Victorian mansions to quirky roadside attractions and classic diners. Get off the beaten path a little bit more and cruise along the Schoodic National Scenic Byway.
1. Boothbay Harbor
Known as the boating capital of New England, this bustling harbor town seems to have just as many boats as buildings. The summer months can be quite busy offering unlimited opportunities for fishing, sailing, and cruising. Boat excursions can be arranged by local outfitters to see whales, seals and puffins up close or take to one of the many inlets and rivers on a kayak.
Really jazz up your coastal experience with Cabbage Island Clambakes for a traditional New England clambake on a private island. If you need a break from the water then head over to the 300 acre Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.
A trip to Maine wouldn’t be complete without visiting the lobster capital of the world and host of Maine’s annual Lobster Festival.
When you’re not stuffing your face with a lobster roll, head out on a sailing excursion on the waters of Penobscot Bay and take in the views of lighthouses that dot the shoreline.
If you are not up for sailing you can hike along the granite boulders that create much of shoreline on the Rockland Breakwater.
Nicknamed “beautiful place by the sea”, this charming little town home to a spacious 3-mile long peninsular beach that lies between the Atlantic Ocean and Ogunquit River. When visiting this town, do as locals do and rent a bicycle to navigate the alleyways that are filled with shops, restaurants and art galleries. Or opt to take a stroll along Marginal Way observing birds and historical landmarks on your way to the lobtsering village of Perkins Cove.
Tour operators offer outings of all kinds, from hands-on lobstering cruises to deep sea-fishing charters, cocktail cruises, and lighthouse tours.
If you are seeking entertainment in the evening then test your vocals at The Front Porch’s sing-along piano bar.
3 Peaceful Country Towns
Sure the coast is beautiful but there is also lots of exploration and adventure awaiting in the wide-open spaces in the deep woods of inland Maine. From stone peaks to pristine lakes to abundance of big game wildlife, the heart of the state offers up inspiration to those seeking the natural world. Unlike the coast where everything seems to be connected by highways and byways, up in the country the common mantra of the locals is “can’t get there from here”.
Situated on the south shore of Maine’s largest lake, Moosehead Lake, Greenville is considered the gateway to the wilderness of the north.
Lily Bay State Park is a great way to experience the lake year round with swimming, fishing, snowmobiling and cross country skiing.
Spring season is the best time to spot moose gazing in the fields or you can go on a moose safari with a local outfitter.
Climb up Mount Kineo if you are looking for a wonderful hike combining mountain vistas with a lake backdrop.
The epicenter of the Rangeley Lakes Region, this town boasts year-round outdoor activities.
The lakes are the most popular drawing fishing enthusiasts after world-class trout, paddlers seeking quietness on the serene waters, and bird watchers hiding in the blinds that dot the shorelines.
There are numerous hiking trails as well and part of the Appalachian Trail runs through this region along Saddleback Mountain.
During the fall be sure to drive along the Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway for spectacular foliage views.
3. Grand Lake Stream
A year-round destination for those seeking the quiet life and simple pleasures Grand Lake Stream is engulfed by seemingly endless lakes and streams. Sitting on the edge of Canada this is a sportsman's dream paradise and home to some of the world’s best fly fishing.
The deep woods are ideal for hunting in the fall and snowshoeing in the winter. Native artworks can be found in local museums and several festivals are hosted each year to pay tribute to the arts of the Native people. Canal Side Cabins is open all year round and offers guided hunting and fishing tours.
Get your adrenaline pumping
Now that we’ve recommended a few towns to check out, let’s get into the nitty gritty of it all. Listed below are some all time classics and a few off-the-beaten adventures of the Pine Tree State.
- Whitewater rafting on the Kennebec; paddle Class III and IV rapids of rocky gorges saddled by pine trees in the upper North Woods. This adrenaline rushing excursion is a perfect way to spend a day.
- Moxie Falls Trail; this hike of moderate difficulty is only 2 miles round-trip but brings you into gorgeous scenic areas, a 90-foot cascading waterfall and lovely pools for a swim.
- Bike the trails of Carrabassett Valley; start at The Outdoor Center at Sugarloaf Mountain and choose from a gentle 30-minute upwards to 6-hours on a vigorous backcountry hut-to-hut loop.
- Hike the 100-Mile Wilderness; comprising the northernmost section of the Appalachian Trail lies an extremely beautiful route that runs over mountain ranges and past picturesque lakes, and not to mention the Gulf Hagas Rim Trail. Hint: this is a challenging hike.
- Paddle an ancient Native American route; 350 miles of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail are in Maine. No, you don’t have to do the entire length in one trip. Sections are portioned out from 1 day to multi-day.
It’s easy to see why Maine truly is Vacationland. Outdoors activities never take a day, or a season, off in this part of the world. So, next time you are either in the mood for an adrenaline rushing activity or simply just want to unwind in a quiet town, consider exploring this northeastern-most U.S. state.
If you are looking for like-minded travelers to get your Maine adventure started, join Under30Experiences to Acadia National Park.
Thinking about camping during your visit to Maine, check out our camping tips article to get you started.
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