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12 Best Places to Visit in Maine

Maine is a beautiful state with lots to offer from charming fishing villages and picturesque coastal towns to lakeside retreats. If you plan to visit, here is a look at some of the most unforgettable spots to experience along the coast and inland.

Camden Camden Harbor in Maine
Credit: Camden Harbor in Maine by © Efaah0 | Dreamstime.com

Camden

Camden is known as the “jewel of the Maine coast.” This former manufacturing haven is now a popular vacation destination with its picture-postcard looks. It’s so charming that it’s been used as the setting for a number of movies, including the 2001 film “In the Bedroom.” You’ll see sailboats gliding across the water in Penobscot Bay and you’ll have the chance to enjoy delectable seafood in waterside eateries. The High Street Historic District, with its classic New England architecture, is a perfect place for a stroll, and if you’re looking for something more challenging Camden Hills State Park offers scenic hiking trails.

Kennebunkport Kennebunkport, Maine
Credit: Kennebunkport, Maine by Bigstock.com

Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport is a pretty Maine beach town that is renowned for its colorful eateries and its historic district that’s steeped in local lore. Many also come to enjoy the unique treasures that can be found in the shops at Dock Square, though they often discover that the highlight of their experience is taking a scenic drive on the back roads, gazing at the lobster traps piled high on Cape Porpoise, a small strip of sand at Goose Rocks Beach. Driving down Ocean Avenue with its Blow Holes, amazing ocean vistas and view of former President George Bush’s summer home is also a must, while charming accommodation can be found around every corner.

Portland lighthouse on the coast, Portland, Maine
Credit: lighthouse on the coast, Portland, Maine by Bigstock.com

Portland

Portland is an impressive seaside city on Maine’s southern coast that draws visitors with its wild, rugged beaches and picturesque lighthouses as well as its abundance of museums, art galleries, fantastic restaurants, and bars. It’s also a great place for brew lovers, with a long history of micro-brewing and excellent local institutions, like Allagash and Shipyard. The Old Port area is known for its East Coast charm and offers a foodie scene known as one of the best in the nation. You’ll find a lot more than clam chowder and lobster rolls, Sam Hayward’s Fore Street kicked off Portland’s food revolution some 20 years ago with his daily changing menu of locally-sourced items prepared in a wood-burning oven.

Rockport Rockport, Massachusetts
Credit: Rockport, Massachusetts by bigstock.com

Rockport

Rockport is known for its tranquil and beautiful harbor, where you’ll see grand schooners and fishing boats bobbing up and down while restaurants are teeming with fresh-caught seafood and other dishes featuring high-quality farm- or sea-to-table ingredients. There are local artisan shops for picking up gifts and souvenirs and a variety of activities can be enjoyed too, like beachcombing for shells and wading at Walker Park. One of the must-dos is to take a selfie next to the commemorative statue of Andre the Seal, the honorary Harbor Master for some two decades. Andre spent his summers here in the harbor after being released from his winter stay at Boston’s New England Aquarium. A book about him, A Seal Called Andre, was published in 1975, and after Andre’s passing in 1985, a movie was made about him and his influence on the local community.

Bar Harbor People gathering for Independence Day in Bar Harbor, Maine
Credit: People gathering for Independence Day in Bar Harbor, Maine by © Sphraner - Dreamstime.com

Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor, perched on Mount Desert Island at the gateway to Acadia National Park, is a historic resort town that’s managed to hang on to its Victorian splendor of bygone days. The downtown area is especially walker and bicycle-friendly, and streets are lined with magnificent Victorian-era mansions that have been converted into romantic B&Bs and elegant eateries. One of the most popular things to do is to enjoy the miles of trails in nearby Acadia National Park, where the most popular is the trek that leads to the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Old Orchard Beach Old Orchard Beach
Credit: Old Orchard Beach by bigstock.com

Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard Beach is home to the only beachfront amusement park in New England, Palace Playland. It sits on a boardwalk along the oceanfront, with food and entertainment hosted on the wooden pier. Visitors can enjoy shopping, dining, dancing, concerts, fireworks, fishing and more, as well as hop aboard a boat to take a whale watching tour. Nearby, the Dunegrass Golf Club offers 18 holes of golf, and the town also boasts a seven-mile beautiful stretch of beach.

Ogunquit Ogunquit beaches
Credit: Ogunquit beaches by @nddwld/Twenty20.com

Ogunquit

One of the cutest beach towns in New England, the name Oquinquit means “beautiful place by the sea,” and it’s aptly named as the home of southern Maine’s most beautiful beach. When the sizzling heat of summer hits, visitors and locals alike head to a flat stretch of sand that rolls down the bank of Ogunquit River with their inner tubes and rafts to cool off and enjoy floating with the current. Ogunquit is famous as the birthplace of summer stock theater, and its Ogunquit Playhouse is a must-visit, still thriving after more than eight decades. The town also hosts classic seafood shacks and boutiques selling locally-made goods.

Rangeley Lakes Rangeley Lake
Credit: Rangeley Lake by bigstock.com

Rangeley Lakes

Some of the country’s largest wilderness areas are found in Maine – it has more undeveloped land than any other state. Paddling across one of the Rangeley Lakes region’s many waterways, you’ll not only get to enjoy peaceful solitude and tranquility but the chance to spot moose, eagles and herons, which are all found in abundance in this area. Rangeley Lakes consists of six major lakes, as well as hundreds of smaller lakes, ponds, rivers and streams that stretch below Saddleback Mountain. In addition to paddling, during the warmer months of the year, swimming, boating, fishing and lake cruises are popular.

Rockland Rockland, Maine
Credit: Rockland, Maine by Stefan Krasowski via Flickr

Rockland

Many visitors come to Maine for the lobster, and if that’s your goal, you may want to head to Rockland in late July or early August to enjoy the annual Maine Lobster Festival. This quintessential Maine experience features an astounding 20,000 pounds of lobster for indulging as well as cooking contests, live entertainment, and a crate race in which participants run across lobster crates floating in the water. The town itself offers lots to keep you busy no matter what time of year you visit, with museums, art galleries, interesting shops, outstanding restaurants and the always popular Project Puffin Visitor Center.

Wiscasset Wiscasset, Maine
Credit: Wiscasset, Maine by © Bert Folsom | Dreamstime.com

Wiscasset

Wiscasset overlooks the Sheepscot River and is known for its historic charm that represents quintessential Maine, with lovely old churches and grand historic homes. Practically every corner has something interesting to see, including some of the area’s most famous architectural landmarks, like the Nickels-Sortwell House on Main Street with its Federal-style architecture, an elliptical stairway with rope-like carvings and a beautiful oval skylight. The downtown area is filled with shops, antique stores, restaurants and attractions, like the 1812 Jail and the Musical Wonder House.

Chebeague Island Chebeague Island
Credit: Chebeague Island by RogerGoun via Flickr

Chebeague Island

This island town can be reached by taking a 25-minute water taxi ride from Portland. Chebeague Island itself is the largest in Casco Bay and has a long history of sailing, particularly stone sloopers, who were men that carried ballast for 19th-century sailing ships, and later granite for one of America’s most iconic landmarks, the Washington Monument. The impressive Greek Revival homes you’ll see on the island were built by those very sloopers.

Castine Castine
Credit: Castine by Hunky Punk via Flickr

Castine

Castine is known for its pretty harbor and as the home of one of the finest stands of elms in all of New England. Like many other Maine towns, it has a rich history, with well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century Georgian and Federal homes. The walkable village is lined with historic sites, a variety of eateries, shops and galleries. Some of the activities offered include kayaking, golf, sunset sails and concerts on the pier. It also hosts a great farmers market and the Wilson Museum, which features rocks and fossils from the earliest geologic times.

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