Maine comes by the nickname “Vacationland” honestly – the large, scenic New England state only has about 1.4 million residents, but welcomes more than 15 million visitors per year, most seeking a mix of outdoor adventures and top-notch seafood, like lobster rolls and oysters.

Everyone enjoys Maine’s enviable mix of picturesque beaches, pine tree forests and charming small cities with working waterfronts and intriguing museums – including the kids.

Forge new connections on your next adventure with the latest advice from our weekly newsletter.

Is Maine good for kids?

Childhood summers are made in Maine, eating fried clams and splashing in the lake. Even kids who typically only interact with video screens find it hard to resist the charms of Maine’s pristine natural beauty and abundant wildlife, from the chance to spot rare but awesome behemoths, like whales and moose, to minuscule yet marvelous crabs and sea snails, found in the biodiverse tide pools that form in the hollows of craggy oceanside cliffs.

Though some of Maine’s cities can be challenging to walk around with strollers – hello, cobblestones and hills of Portland! – the state practically runs on family-friendly tourism, so don’t be shy about traveling with wee ones. Maine welcomes families readily, with many top attractions offering helpful amenities, such as bathrooms with changing tables at beaches and campgrounds with playgrounds.

You'll find advanced hiking trails and plenty of excursions to engage confident teenagers, like summiting Mt Katahdin, the northernmost end of the Appalachian Trail, as well as accessible paths with jaw-dropping views, from wheelchair- and stroller-friendly paved sections of Acadia National Park to gently rolling hills with sturdy fences along the sheer cliff and famous Portland Head Light at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth.

The characteristic "gneiss" rocks along the coast of the Pemaquid Peninsula allows for water to form in recesses. The lighthouse is reflected on this water surface. The Pemaquid Point Light is a historic U.S. lighthouse located in Bristol, Lincoln County, Maine, at the tip of the Pemaquid Neck
Kids can clamber along rocks peppered with mesmerizing tide pools at Pemaquid Point © Photography by Deb Snelson / Getty Images

Where is best in Maine for kids

With 3500 miles of coast along the Atlantic Ocean and many more lakes inland, Maine offers countless beaches. Be warned that the ocean water stays cold even in the heat of summer, though, so be sure to pack rash guards that offer some warmth in addition to sun protection.

For building sandcastles and splashing in relatively calm waters, Short Sands Beach in York or Higgins Beach in Scarborough are perfect venues, with restrooms and changing tables. Or try somewhere like Pemaquid Point in Bristol, where the kids can clamber along rocks splashed by waves and peppered with mesmerizing tide pools. 

Best things to do in Maine with kids

Hang out at the excellent children’s museums

You could easily spend all day at the Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor or the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine in Portland, both of which have copious exhibits across three floors. While they do have experiences suitable for babies and toddlers (infants under 18 months enter the Children’s Museum for free), they’re especially great for kids who can self-lead a bit as they climb, reach into touch tanks and learn about hydropower through interactive waterworks tables.

The Children’s Museum also houses the country’s oldest continuously operating children’s theater, whose nearly year-round programming includes musicals based on iconic children’s books, like the Maine-based Blueberries for Sal.

Learn about legendary creatures at the International Cryptozoology Museum

Bangor and Portland also have locations of the quirky International Cryptozoology Museum, for kids and perhaps imaginative teens who want to learn more about legendary creatures like bigfoot. Babies get in free, while admission for children 12 and under is just $5.

Pique your kids' interest in local produce

Maine is big on small farms, fisheries and orchards, making it an ideal place to engage your kids’ interest in local produce. Shop the Portland Farmers’ Market in Deering Oaks park and picnic on fresh blueberries, breads, pastries and cheese, play in the wade pool and watch the ducks on the pond. 

If your kids want to see where their lobster roll comes from, take them on one of many lobster-boat tours, such as the Lulu lobster boat out of Bar Harbor. Sunflower Farm Creamery lets you do yoga with Nigerian dwarf goats, then snack on goat cheese. Navigate a corn maze, pet the animals in the petting zoo, take a ride in a horse-drawn wagon and, of course, pick your own apples, berries and flowers at Treworgy Family Orchards in Levant.

Amtrak's Downeaster train arrives at the Freeport Station to pick up passengers on its route South to Boston, Massachusetts
For the youngest kids, take advantage of scenic transportation options, like Amtrak’s Downeaster train © John M. Chase / Shutterstock

Best things to do in Maine with babies and toddlers

Spend time in Freeport

In addition to LL Bean and many other retail outlets, Freeport has attractions like Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, where the programming ranges from seed-starting workshops to farmyard story time and goat hikes. Visit the animal barns and gardens with your tots for free, and even camp overnight.

Take the scenic route and travel by train

For the youngest kids who aren’t quite free-range yet, take advantage of scenic transportation options, like Amtrak’s Downeaster train, which stops at six fun cities along the southern coast, including Freeport and the college town of Brunswick (Bowdoin College).

See the sights from the water

Maine’s 3500-mile coastline, with many inhabited islands, is connected by ferries. Look out for whales while you sail to artsy Monhegan Island from Boothbay Harbor, or visit up to seven islands on Casco Bay Lines’ round-trip mailboat run from Portland, which might pass seals as it delivers post and passengers.

Family with kayaks and canoes going down the Androscoggin River during summer near Bethel, Maine
In warmer months, explore rivers like the Androscoggin by canoe, kayak and whitewater raft © Cappi Thompson / Getty Images

Best things to do in Maine with tweens and teenagers

Taste Maine’s world-class cuisine

Book a walking tour with Maine Day Ventures, full of local history and food samples in maritime cities like Boothbay Harbor and Portland. (Make sure to get some pics for Instagram at the working dock behind Harbor Fish Market.) Or head to Glidden Point Oyster Farms in Edgecomb, where teens and older can learn to shuck their own freshly harvested oysters.

Get outside for action and adventure

Take sporty offspring to ski, snowboard, ice skate and ride ski bikes and fat bikes in the winter at Sugarloaf Mountain. In warmer months, explore the ocean, freshwater favorites like Sebago Lake or even roaring rivers like the Androscoggin by canoe, kayak and whitewater raft.

Some places, like North Country Rivers resort in Bingham, offer all of these activities and more in one place, including snowmobiling and moose-spotting hikes.

Root for the home team in Portland

If your teen would rather watch someone else exert themselves, Portland has several minor-league sports teams – Portland Sea Dogs baseball, Maine Mariners hockey and Maine Celtics basketball, all of which offer classic stadium concessions and mascot antics for low ticket prices.

Embrace the nostalgia at Old Orchard Beach

Another favorite is Old Orchard Beach, a resort town with a nostalgic boardwalk, amusement-park rides, beach volleyball and arcade games.

Take the teenagers for a campus visit

For older teens on the verge of college, some of the state’s best art museums are connected to Maine’s three highly regarded universities. Check them out at Bates College (Lewiston), Bowdoin College (Brunswick) and Colby College (Waterville).

Planning tips

  • Maine leans away from stuffy fine dining and dress codes, which means even many of the state’s most revered restaurants are pretty chill about kids. Don’t feel the need to seek out “kid-friendly” restaurants here at the expense of your palate.
  • This one seems simple, but it’s important: do your kids prefer snow to crowds? Maine gets walloped with tourists in the summer and fall, but it’s cold and quiet in the winter and spring, so you truly can avoid most waits in the offseason.
  • With all the outdoors time, make sure to pack hats, sunscreen and plenty of water!

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