Maine is out there!
Sandwiched between New Brunswick and Québec, you’d think Maine would have a difficult time keeping its American identity. But, it’s all American and has the roots and history to prove it.
Although a beautiful state, Maine isn’t exactly on the way to anything… But, there is so much that it has to offer! There’s the rugged coast, the (almost) mile high mountains and the quaint little towns dotted around that would make Norman Rockwell swoon.
Maine in some ways has been lost in time and reminds us of what yesteryear would have been like.
So let’s travel back in time together. Below, you’ll find my top picks for the most interesting and beautiful places to visit in the great state of Maine.
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Check out these guides on the best places to visit in…
Portland, Maine gets confused quite often with its quirky left coast cousin Portland, Oregon, but the two are really quite different.
Portland, Maine is known for its 200 year old cobblestone streets, beautiful sunrises and of course, the lobster. If you are in New England, this is a must see place to visit in Maine.
Portland mixes the perfect balance of hard work and lots of play. You can find evidence of that in the waterfront docks full of boats with the day’s fresh catch. But when it’s quitting time, there’s an amazing art scene and hundreds of boutiques and restaurants to choose from.
Walking along the cobblestone streets feels like you’ve been transported to a completely different era where technology and all the noise that goes with it isn’t front and center. But this doesn’t mean they don’t know how to integrate the 21st century.
The Old Port District has everything you would want in a vacation destination with boutique shops, world class restaurants and all sorts of entertainment options. Just ask my nine year old. She loved the blueberry lemonade at Luke’s Lobster Portland Pier and walking along the pier to see all the boats.
Monhegan Island is the perfect destination for the art loving adventurer and one of the best places to visit in Maine. Barely a square mile in size, this island is so small that you can walk everywhere, as there are no cars or even roads.
To get there, you must hop on a ferry that will definitely be half the fun of this getaway. Twelve miles out to sea, the island will come into view as you see the Monhegan Lighthouse standing tall to light your way.
Once at the island, there are twelve miles of hiking trails taking you to the highest overlooks in the state. Once again, this stop gives you a chance to unplug from technology and deep dive into the Maine before it was Maine in all its unchanged beauty and ruggedness.
But, there is still so much to do involving simple entertainment!
The island draws a crowd of artists every summer and it is so fun to watch them in action creating their magic. Perusing the galleries that are all over the island can add to your fun.
At the end of the day, you’ll love the stargazing opportunities from right off the coast due to the lack of light pollution. Monhegan Island will give you that unique getaway that only a New England destination can provide.
Much of the world knows Kennbunkport for one thing, the Bush Compound. But, not only is it the summer haven to the rich, it is a lovely beach town with gorgeous architecture and many things to keep you occupied.
Walker’s Point is where to go if you want photos of the meeting place of moguls and world leaders. From here, you can get a shot of the Bush compound. In the family since 1900, this compound has become a major draw for people visiting this small, adorable seaside town.
Of course, that’s not all. You can stroll down the street and browse the shops of Dock Square where you’ll find fine art galleries and shops selling everything from seashells to fine clothing. You can also spend a day at the Gooch’s Beach to get some sun and surf in.
When visiting the area, The Boathouse is definitely the place to stay. My family and I could walk to everything from this point and it made it easy to really enjoy the town. At the end of the day, we would dine at the hotel’s restaurant while we appreciated the amazing view.
Kennebunkport is as charming as it is amusing and will be a great place to spend a few days. This town will always go down as one of my favorite vacation spots in Maine.
Maine Maritime Museum
In Bath, Maine you will find one of the best maritime museums there is. You know when admission is valid for two days, it must be a good place to visit.
The Maine Maritime Museum takes you through what has been the lifeblood of Maine since before its inception. Visit the sculpture “The Wyoming”, the largest wooden shipping vessel in North America, or see a blacksmith in action and watch wooden boats actually being built. This was my son’s favorite thing at the 20 acre museum. It was amazing to see the artisans creating their craft and the history was fascinating.
If it’s a cold day, the interior exhibits, art galleries and artifact displays will teach you much about Maine’s history and how the the shipping business and fishing put it on the map.
The best part however is hopping on one of the museum’s daily cruises to see some of Maine’s most beautiful and historic lighthouses. If you have time, a cruise on the “Mary E”, a restored 1906 schooner would be the highlight of your trip.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Where can you see giant trolls, dahlias bigger than dinner plates, and a world where your five senses are taken for a ride? The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are one of the best places to go in Maine and will no doubt be one of the highlights of your trip.
With amazingly beautiful sights for adults and children alike, this place will please everyone in your crew. Take the kids to see the butterfly garden, the Fairy House Village and the Children’s Garden. They can build their own life-sized fairy garden and play among the fabulous flora as they watch butterflies swarm around them.
If you want to heighten all five senses, take a tour of Lerner Garden of the Five Senses. Smell fragrant herbs, taste delicious fruit, and see the entire garden from panoramic view at the highest point in the garden. Feel the trees, shrubs and flowers on the way down where you can sit and hear the birds chirping and water running in peace and quiet.
With seventeen different gardens, and 300 acres you could spend a couple of days wandering around this fabulous place. Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes, as this place is huge!
Known as the gateway to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbour gives you a glimpse of the beauty you will see in this stunning land preserved for the masses.
Named after the sand and gravel visible at low tide, this whimsical town on Mount Desert Island is a great base for your Acadia National Park excursions. Likewise, the town itself makes for a great vacation.
Bar Harbour is a lovely place to visit any time of the year. In summer you can visit the beaches, such as Sand Beach, in Fall the brilliant change in leaves brings people in droves and in winter, there is snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
There is always a chance to see wildlife in Bar Harbour. My family and I took a whale watching excursion out to sea in July and it was absolutely amazing! We were able to see a Humpback whale breach the water and a pod of dolphins! This is something we will never forget and I highly encourage you to take a whale watching tour. You may even get lucky and see a Great White Shark!
The Old Port and Portland Head Lighthouse
If you are going to visit a lighthouse while in Maine, this is the one to go to. Situated on the beautiful shores of Fort Williams Park, this lighthouse has been in working order since 1791, when its lantern was first lit.
Visit the lighthouse and learn all of the ineresting history behind its inception that includes the likes of American heroes such as John Hancock.
Walk along the banks and trails of Fort Williams Park and spend the day enjoying all that nature has to offer. Port Head Lighthouse is not only beautiful but is an amazing backdrop for a full day of adventure.
Acadia National Park
In my opinion, Acadia National Park is the crown jewel of not only New England but the entire eastern part of America.
I can only dream about what the first settlers thought when they first saw the coast and the beauty it encompasses.
Acadia National Park may not have come into realization if it weren’t for John D. Rockefeller and the foresight he had to donate 11,000 acres of land so that it may be protected for generations. Now, over 3.5 million people are able to see its rugged coast and varied flora and fauna.
Being in Acadia is seeing nature in its raw state. Danger and beauty wrestle for a place in your mind as you hike its trails and gaze at its coastline. There is no other National Park in my mind that gives you this feeling.
Don’t leave Maine without spending a few days climbing, hiking and immersing yourself in one of the best places to see in Maine.
Imagine a place so popular that you have to make a reservation just to get a parking space. If it’s that sought after, it must be great. Mount Katahdin is as gorgeous as it is treacherous and many seek to either conquer its summit or enjoy the more relaxed terrain of its base. Either way, it is one of Maine’s coolest places to visit.
At 5,267 feet in elevation, it is a mere 13 feet short of a mile and is the highest mountain in the state. It is a tough climb as it gains 4,000 feet in elevation to its summit, but you don’t have to get all the way to the top to have a good time.
Whether you take one of the trails such as Katahdin Falls which features the tallest waterfall in the state, or conquer one of the mountain’s 60+ easy to moderate trails, Mount Katahdin must see stop on your Maine itinerary!
Sugarloaf Mountain is the largest ski area in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. So, its no wonder that New Englanders and people from all over the eastern seaboard are clamoring to ski at Maine’s best resort.
There is a trail for every level of skier here at Sugarloaf Mountain. Visitors can take their pick from 162 trails via the resort’s twelve ski lifts… but experts will especially love the four progressive terrain parks and the Superpipe (you know, for all those tricks you’ve been practicing!)
If winter sports aren’t your jam, don’t worry. The summertime has all sorts of exciting activities to offer as well, like hiking, biking, zip-lining, paddle boarding and even disc golf. Making a stop here on your way to one of the other top Maine destinations on this list is something you definitely need to consider!
Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
One of the most unique places to visit in Maine is the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village. This is such an extraordinary place to go to because it is the last surviving Shaker community in the world.
Here, you can take a tour of the 1794 Meeting House where the traditions and the practices of the Shakers had a place in everyday life, or visit their Sisters’ Shop and find goods such as herbs, candy and other confections, sewing notions and furniture.
You can also walk through the more than 27 period museum rooms that will tell you the story of Shakerism and how it shaped this area of Maine.
This unique Maine destination allows all visitors to learn why this community is so important and how they give to their fellow man in such a distinctive and passionate way… if you’re looking for a unique Maine attraction to add to your list, this one is a must!
Did we miss anything you would like to see in Maine? We’d love to hear from you!
Leave what you’d like to see in the comments!