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Maine has plenty of picturesque destinations, but its rocky coast is full of towns with amazing sights, seafood and activities. While summertime is the most popular time to visit, spring and fall offer beautiful foliage with the benefit of smaller crowds. These are your “must-see” oceanfront places in the land of lobster and blueberries.
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Kennebunkport is an adorable storybook town with zero industrial feel. Because the area is surrounded by water canals and islands, a tour with Coastal Maine Kayak should be on the top of the list. While the area is quite upscale, it’s quintessential Maine and would be a shame to miss. From planters with flowers lining the bridge to adorable Halloween decor come fall, Kennebunkport is perfection. Grab a bundle of clam bellies from the Clam Shack before meandering eclectic downtown shops, then grab a wine goat cheese scoop of ice cream in a pretzel cone at Rococo. For dinner, Nunan’s trumps all with classic lobster and what is, by far, the best blueberry pie in town. There are many cottage-Iike, cozy inns that fit right into the picture-perfect theme, like The Nonantum Resort, which sits right off the water. Sandy Pines Campground is a good option for RVers.
Bar Harbor is likely the top tourist town in all of Maine – for good reason. There’s more to Bar Harbor than jaw-dropping ocean views, and a downtown area with treasure-filled local shops and dining options—Bar Harbor basically sits in Acadia National Park’s backyard. Just bike over, or take the free Island Explorer shuttle complete with bike racks. Slumber at the Bar Harbor Inn, which is full of history and classically decorated rooms. Bike the carriage roads, stop at the historic Jordan Pond House for popovers and jams, and see ocean spray bound over the rocky coastline. You can try lobster ice cream, and many notable restaurants, some with bay views, are packed at this stop. Opt for a bed and breakfast like the Ivy Manor Inn.
Old Orchard Beach is what childhood dreams are made of; it has that Coney Island feel with waterfront rides, games, and delicious food. Palace Playland prides itself on being New England’s only beachfront amusement park. Operating April through early October, the Park accents the beach with glittering fireworks on Thursday nights. A few steps away is the pier, featuring a stretch of restaurants serving local favorites like clams, lobster rolls, and other traditional Maine seafood.
Lubec, which is as far up and east as you can go without being in Canada. Quoddy Head State Park is technically the Easternmost Point of the United States and is complete with a plaque saying so, along with a lighthouse. You can peer over the water toward Canada. The Wharf is excellent for both lodging and for enjoying fresh seafood just hauled in on the boats. Monica’s Chocolates for dessert couldn’t be a better addition to a road trip up the Maine Coast.
One of the best towns in Maine for outdoor lovers, during June and July Boothbay Harbor is the place to see them. You’ll also find the best seafood experience around by going on the Cabbage Island Clam Bake Boat ride. After docking at the island, guests play games until the glorious meal of Lobster, corn, potatoes blueberry cake is prepared. Housing a 23-pound lobster, Boothbay is also home to the Maine State Aquarium.
Camden, one of the most beautiful small towns in the U.S. sits right on the ocean, and the downtown area is full of shops where you’ll likely rack up on most of the trip’s souvenirs. Explore parks or book a trip out on a classic schooner. When here, staying in one of the luxury inns is something every traveler should treat themselves to. And don’t forget to stop for blueberry pancakes at Boynton McKay on the way out. And if your up for a detour, veer inland to pick the most flavorful Macintosh apples at Hope Orchard during early autumn. Camden proudly describes itself as the Jewel of the Maine Coast, and boats enough activities to keep any traveler entertained. How many flawless towns can you fit into one state? A lot.
One of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S., Acadia National Park is located along the coast of Maine in the northeastern United States. There’s plenty to see and do along the mountain ridges, coastline, forests, and ponds. For picture-perfect views, the top of Cadillac Mountain is an ideal spot for sunset gazing. Fall is the most popular time to witness the changing colors of the autumn foliage. However, summer is a great time to visit for outdoor recreation. Take a drive along the 27-mile Park Loop Road and pull off to hop out and explore the coastline and trails on foot.
Flying into Portland, Maine is typically an easy experience with little confusion. Almost immediately after setting off on the highway, you can get that Maine vibe in the air. Portland is a cool city, chock full of trendy seafood restaurants that offer more twists than simpler but equally exciting seafood huts through the state. Bob’s Clam Hut originated in Kittery in a backyard, but now there’s a Portland location that offers gluten-free chowder and gluten-free fried clams. But you might not want to limit your food options to seafood alone in Portland. Spend a night in a historic hotel, take a downtown trolley tour and keep rolling.
Perfect for a romantic weekend getaway, Bangor is about two hours away, located ever so slightly inland, and really worth a stop. Not for its traditional coastal feels, but for its charming downtown, and strong correlation with Stephen King. One night will do, but make sure to see the sites that inspired famous King stories, as well as the writer’s very own crimson-colored home complete with bat detailed iron fencing. Pretty cool stuff. You might even see a clown hand coming from a storm drain—photo op!
In case you were wondering, the Blueberry Capital of the World resides in Machias, and there’s a Round, blue museum to commemorate this. A whopping 95 percent of the world’s wild blueberries grow in this tasty patch of paradise, and it’s all celebrated during august’s Wild Blueberry Festival.
Wiscasset is another charming Maine nook just 1.5 hours away, which warrants a drive-through, and a stop at the accurately hyped Red’s Eats. During peak season, lunch lines can be crazy long (we are talking two hours), so picking an obscure time is recommended. Or just enjoy conversation with friendly travelers and water views. Red’s has a killer lobster roll, and the best, butter-drenched gluten-free bread ever. After eating, move on to Camden.
Deer Isle will take adventurists away from the more populated areas of Maine, and out into the sprinkling of islands off the coast. Only a 1.5-hour drive away, the Isle is serene with pristine kayaking terrain and meandering hiking trails to granite flats. Nervous Nellies is a must-visit attraction in the woods, featuring artistic castle structures and other bizarre displays to explore. In the cottage, you’ll find fresh-made jams to taste and buy, along with teas and locally made goodies. Quaint lodging awaits, like the historic Pilgrim’s Inn.
Schoodic Peninsula is the too often overlooked side of Acadia only a short hour drive from Bar Harbor, offering some of the most serene overlooks in the state. When here, make the 15-minute drive to The Pickled Wrinkle, to taste two undersung classic Maine delicacies—pickled wrinkles (a type of preserved shellfish), and fiddleheads (a swirly green plant that has to be cooked just right or it’s poisonous). Together the combo is refreshing, but call ahead to make sure they have these particular items, or you’ll end up with another cup of chowder. Summer is usually the time.
Located on Schoodic Peninsula is the super small town that gained popularity as a fishing village, because the waters do not freeze over in the winter—thus giving it its name. It’s picturesque setting makes it popular in its own right—it’s simply a serene place to getaway and snap some gorgeous photos.