Southern Maine Coast
Maine's southern coast embodies the state slogan 'Vacationland,' with busy commercial strips, sandy beaches and resort towns that get packed in the summer months. Despite the crowds, there are some charming features to be found. While Kittery is a long, commercial strip mall, Ogunquit has a lovely beach and is Maine's gay mecca.
The agreeable hub for Acadia visits, Bar Harbor is crowded for most of the year with vacationers and visiting cruise-ship passengers. Downtown is packed with souvenir stores, ice-cream shops, cafes and bars, each advertising bigger and better happy hours, early-bird specials or two-for-one deals.
Ogunquit & Wells
Known to the Abenaki tribe as 'the beautiful place by the sea,' Ogunquit is justly famous for its 3-mile sandy beach. Wide stretches of pounding surf front the Atlantic, while warm back-cove waters make an idyllic setting for a swim. In summer, the beach draws hordes of visitors from near and far, increasing the town's population exponentially.
A longtime destination of moneyed East Coasters, the Kennebunks comprise the towns of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. Kennebunk is a modest town largely centered on US 1, with few tourist attractions beyond its lovely beaches. Just across the river, proudly waspy Kennebunkport crawls with tourists year-round.
Camden & Rockport
Camden, with its picture-perfect harbor, framed against the mountains of Camden Hills State Park, is one of the prettiest sites in Maine. Home to the state's large and justly famed fleet of windjammers, Camden continues its historic intimacy with the sea. Most vacationers come to sail, but Camden also has galleries, fine restaurants and backstreets ideal for exploring.
An hour and a half's drive northwest of Portland, Bethel is surprisingly lively and refined for a town surrounded on all sides by deep, dark woods. Summer visitors have been coming here to escape the coastal humidity since the 1800s, and many of its fine old cottages and lodges are still operating.
Once a beautiful little seafarers' village on a wide blue harbor, Boothbay Harbor is now an extremely popular tourist resort in the summer, when its narrow and winding streets are packed with visitors. Still, there's good reason to join the holiday masses in this picturesque place.