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 this coast. While Kittery is a long, commercial strip mall, Ogunquit has a lovely beach and is Maine's gay mecca.
Ogunquit & Wells
Known to the Abenaki tribe as the 'beautiful place by the sea,' Ogunquit (population 1300) 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 towns of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport make up the Kennebunks. Kennebunk is a modest working-class town, with few tourist attractions aside from its marvelous white sand beaches. Just across the river, proudly waspy Kennebunkport crawls with tourists year-round.
Western Lakes & Mountains
Western Maine receives far fewer visitors than the coast, which thrills the outdoorsy types who love its dense forests and solitary peaks just the way they are. While much of the land is still wilderness, there are some notable settlements. The fine old town of Bethel and the mountain setting of Rangeley Lakes are relatively accessible to city dwellers in the northeast.
Camden & Rockport
Camden and its picture-perfect harbor, framed against the mountains of Camden Hills State Park, is one of the prettiest sites in the state. Home to Maine'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 seafood restaurants and back streets ideal for exploring.
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.
An hour and a half 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.
On the banks of the powerful Androscoggin River, Brunswick (first settled in 1628) is a handsome, well-kept town with a pretty village green and historic homes tucked along its tree-lined streets. It's home to the highly respected Bowdoin College (founded in 1794), which infuses the town with a lively intellectual and artistic culture.