Located in the easternmost part of New England is bordered by Canada to the north and the Atlantic Ocean on both the east and south. Maine accounts for almost half of New England’s entire land area. Its northern reaches, known as The Great North Woods, are largely pristine wilderness while the coastal regions, supported over the years by fishing and tourism, are more heavily populated, particularly in the southern, warmer part of the state.
While the state is most frequently known for its rugged coastline and proliferation of lighthouses, Maine also has much more to offer. Here, visitors will discover national parks with boundless wildlife, charming historic towns, and ski resorts. An overview of the best places to visit in Maine:
Situated in the remote forests of northern Maine, Baxter State Park is an expansive wilderness area boasting a diverse population of wildlife and majestic mountain views. Among the most common wildlife making their home in Baxter State Park are black bear, moose, and white-tailed deer. Several active beaver colonies also exist in the park. Birdwatchers often visit the park for the opportunity to catch sight of such species as eagles, hawks, owls, thrushes, warblers, and flycatchers. The park also features several hiking trails and excellent overlooks. Overnight summer and winter camping is allowed in the park with reservations. Fishing, boating, swimming, and picnicking are also popular activities in the park.
Located in western Maine is the popular Sugarloaf Ski Resort. The largest ski resort located east of the Mississippi, Sugarloaf Ski Resort features a number of areas to appeal to skiers of all levels. The Timberline Quad is located at Sugarloaf’s summit and boasts easy runs. For advanced runs, skiers head over to SuperQuad, which is the most popular lift on Sugarloaf Mountain. The resort is home to six restaurants and boasts a number of summer activities, including golf, mountain biking, hiking, ziplining, and tennis.
Known as the Lobster Capital of the World, Rockland has developed an entire economy based on lobster catching. Each year, thousands of visitors make their way to Rockland to enjoy the annual Maine Lobster Festival as well as the North Atlantic Blue Festival. Along Main Street, visitors can sample excellent restaurants as well as shops, and the well-known Farnsworth Art Museums. Windjammer cruises are also popular among visitors who wish to explore the nearby islands. While sailing and stand up paddle boarding are also popular activities, many visitors prefer taking a stroll along the breakwater out to the lighthouse.
Ogunquit in southern Maine may have started out as a small fishing village, but today this artists’ haven is a popular summer destination. Best known for its 3-mile sandy beach, Ogunquit offers plenty of charm along with galleries, and art museums. Visitors will find a lovely selection of bed and breakfast inns. While the town is easily walkable, there is also a trolley that makes it easy to get around town. Marginal Way, a paved pathway located above the Atlantic Ocean, offers fabulous views as well as the opportunity to stop for a snack or a cold drink while meandering between Perkins Cove and Shore Road.
Known for its wide sandy beach and carnival-like atmosphere, Old Orchard Beach has much to offer, including ample shops, activities, and festivals. Among the top attractions at Old Orchard Beach is The Pier. This 500-foot (150 meter) wooden walkway extends out into the Atlantic Ocean and is filled with a variety of souvenir shops, food stands, restaurants, and nightclubs. Palace Playland is another top attraction, particularly for young visitors, who will enjoy roller coasters, fireworks, and carnival games while at this beachfront amusement park. During the summer, Old Orchard Beach boasts a music festival, fireworks, chowder fests, and a hot air balloon festival.
Camden Hills State Park boasts an array of activities for visitors of all tastes. Among the popular activities include scenic drives, hiking, and camping. Many visitors also enjoy taking a ferry ride out to the nearby islands. Sea kayak tours, windjammer tours, and fishing charters are also great ways to explore the nearby coast. Oceanside picnic areas provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxing lunch. A favorite hike is the 45-minute climb up Mount Battie, which offers exquisite views of the surrounding wooded hillsides, lakes, Penobscot Bay, and Camden Harbor. The park is open from mid-May through mid-October.
Known for its historic homes dating back to the 18th century, Kennebunkport is located in southern Maine and offers an array of attractions to explore. The epicenter of activity is Dock Square lined with cafes, art galleries and upscale boutiques. Kennebunkport is also home to one of the biggest beaches in the region. Grand mansions and hotels overlook the surf, including the massive George Bush Sr compound on a protected spit of land called Walker’s Point. Numerous bed and breakfast inns are also situated throughout Kennebunkport and nearby Kennebunk, making it easy for visitors to find accommodations.
From ornate mansions to ocean views, Portland is a charming city (the largest in Maine) that offers an eclectic array of attractions. Visitors to Portland may enjoy walking down the cobblestone streets of the revitalized Old Port District or explore the city’s many unique boutiques, shops and art galleries. Portland is also well known for its local breweries as well as breathtaking views of Casco Bay and the surrounding islands. Since Portland is a seaport town, there are many types of water-based activities to enjoy, such as whale watching trips, lobster boat tours, fishing trips, ferry cruises, and more.
Situated on the northeast shores of Frenchman Bay, the bustling town of Bar Harbor is the largest community on Mount Desert Island. A variety of activities is on tap at Bar Harbor, including shopping at a myriad of quaint shops, boutiques, and galleries. Visitors will also find an excellent selection of restaurants. Other popular attractions include the Bar Harbor Historical Society, Abbe Museum, and Asticou Azalea Gardens. Bar Harbor is also conveniently located near Arcadia National Park, making it an ideal base for visitors to the park. Summer and fall tend to be the most popular times to visit Bar Harbor.
Boasting pristine views and abundant wildlife, Arcadia National Park is the only national park in all of New England. Here, visitors are able to enjoy boundless opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, biking, or enjoying scenic vistas. The carriage road system that winds its way through Arcadia National Park was originally developed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and offers many excellent points of interest. An Island Explorer bus makes its way through the park, making it easy for visitors to enjoy all of the park’s many scenic views. Among the most popular drives in Arcadia is Park Loop Road, which boasts multiple scenic overlooks.