Maine offers numerous adventures, from summiting jagged peaks to kayaking cliff-lined shores. With vast forests, seaside villages and island getaways, the state invites seemingly limitless wandering.
Maine was at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, and no matter where you travel in the state, you can find a memorable meal. There are so many ways to eat local, whether feasting on lobster at a dockside eatery on Mount Desert Island, slurping down some of America’s best-tasting oysters in Damariscotta, or tucking into Machias blueberry pie in the heart of wild blueberry country. Portland is famed for its food and drink scene, but you’ll find plenty of culinary temptations beyond the city streets and a growing number of international restaurants cropping up in small-town Maine.
The Great Outdoors
Maine seems spoiled when it comes to nature’s gifts. It has hundreds of miles of coastline, encompassing sea cliffs, sandy beaches and craggy wave-kissed shores. Offshore, there are countless islands for exploring, with scenic walks amid empty coves and misty forested shorelines, while villages nearby boast year-round populations that don't reach into the triple digits. Inland, Maine has vast tracts of wilderness, with thick forests, alpine lakes and treeless boulder-strewn peaks. Such a magnificent landscape offers limitless adventures, and you can spend the day cycling along winding shore roads, kayaking beside curious harbor seals or hiking up above falcon nests to wondrous mountaintop overlooks.
Art & Culture
Maine residents are known for being independent and rugged, but they also have a soft spot when it comes to the arts. This is a state with a fabulous collection of artistic treasures, from famous works created by homegrown artists (at the Farnsworth Art Museum) to indigenous treasures from the tribes that flourished here before the Europeans arrived (visit the Abbe Museum). The state hosts a packed cultural calendar, with year-round plays, dance performances and concerts in Portland, and plenty of surprises beyond, including indie cinema in Bar Harbor, experimental theater in Stonington, and a classical-music fest in Brunswick.
Maine has plenty of one-of-a-kind restaurants and striking scenery, but it’s also an undeniably fun place. You can plan your trip around visiting state fairs, watching pie-eating contests and listening to old-fashioned jam sessions, or spend time frolicking on the beach followed by stargazing around a campfire. You can hit one of the state’s many food fests (dedicated to lobster, clams, oysters and blueberries), catch an open-air movie at the Bridgton drive-in or indulge in a bit of kitsch watching log rollers and pole climbers at Timber Tina's Great Maine Lumberjack Show. Maine hasn't lost its love of a good time.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Maine.
One of Maine's most stunning protected areas, Baxter State Park is a verdant wilderness encompassing nearly 210,000 acres. Some 215 miles of trails draw hikers in the summer, and snowshoers in the winter. Mt Katahdin, at 5267ft, is the highest peak in Maine and the end point of the 2190-mile Appalachian Trail. There are numerous other mountains to climb, as well as waterfalls, streams and lakes (canoes are available to hire for $1 per hour).
New England's only national park turned 100 in 2016 – it's a fine-looking centenarian. Within its borders are impressive coastal landmarks and great visitor activities. Drivers and hikers alike can thank John D Rockefeller and other wealthy landowners for the aesthetically pleasing bridges, overlooks and stone steps that give the park its artistic merit. Rockefeller in particular worked diligently with architects and masons to ensure that the infrastructure – for both carriage roads and motor roads – would complement the surrounding landscapes.
This little-known reserve a few miles northeast of Cutler has hiking trails amid spectacular coastal scenery. If you've visited Acadia National Park and wondered what the shoreline trails would be like without the crowds, this is the place to come. This 12,000-acre expanse encompasses lush forests thick with moss and ferns, blueberry barrens, and jagged headlands overlooking hidden coves and rocky beaches.
Nervous Nellie's cooks up delicious jams and chutneys the old-fashioned way from its base on Deer Isle. It's well worth making the trip to load up on jars of sweetness made from Maine blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. But Nervous Nellie's is also a sprawling fantasyland where the artist Peter Beerits has taken old buildings and transformed them into vivid installations using found and repurposed objects. Afterward, visit the shop and cafe for hot drinks and jam-topped scones.
There's a palpable mix of reflective nostalgia and horizon-scanning adventure at this wonderful museum, which preserves the Kennebec's long shipbuilding tradition with paintings, models and hands-on exhibits that tell the tale of 400 years of seafaring. The on-site 19th-century Percy & Small Shipyard, preserved by the museum, is a working wooden-boat shipyard, and there's no shortage of enthusiasts on hand to answer questions on such craft.
Don't leave the park without driving – or hiking – to the 1530ft summit of Cadillac Mountain. For panoramic views of Frenchman Bay, walk the paved 0.5-mile Cadillac Mountain summit loop. The summit is a popular place in the early morning because it's touted as the first spot in the USA to see the sunrise. Not an early riser? The sunset is always a good bet.
The highlight of a trip to Campobello Island is a visit to the 34-room 'cottage' where Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt spent many fine summers. Free guided tours depart every 45 minutes or so, and provide a fascinating insight into the Roosevelts' days on this serene island.
These magnificent gardens are one of the state's most popular attractions. The verdant waterfront kingdom has 270 acres, with groomed trails winding through forest, meadows and ornamental gardens blooming with both native and exotic plant species. The storybook-themed children's garden offers interactive fun, and visitors with kids in tow shouldn't miss the daily story time, puppet theater or chicken-feeding (daily from mid-June to early September).
Tackle the rugged stone breakwater that stretches almost 1 mile into Rockland Harbor from Jameson Point at the harbor's northern shore. Made of granite blocks, this 'walkway', which took 18 years to build, ends at the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, a sweet light sitting atop a brick house, with a sweeping view of town. While on the breakwater, watch for slippery rocks and ankle-twisting gaps between stones. Bring a sweater, and don't hike if a storm is on the horizon.
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