Maine — Attractions
The largest of the New England states, Maine is something of a last frontier before reaching Canada’s Maritimes. The mix of rugged, dramatic coastline, postcard-perfect fishing villages, and watery interior woodlands ensures a complete package for visitors no matter what their agenda. The outdoor recreation in Maine is superb, both inland and on the coast. But it’s along the sea that this state really shines, from villages like Camden to large cities such as Portland. Travelers can get the best of all worlds in this well-endowed, historic state’s attractions.
Maine’s largest city is a real gem to explore. Located right on the coast, Portland has been an important harbor on Casco Bay for centuries. Its historic Old Port waterfront area is loaded with charm, tasty seafood houses, and cool bars. Wandering its cobbled lanes is a highlight, grab a ferry to one of the little offshore islands, shop in the boutiques, and let the brisk salt air soak into your bones. This neat little city warrants at least a long weekend to truly experience it.
Address: Coastal Maine
Acadia National Park
The jewel in the crown of Maine’s many natural attractions has to be Acadia National Park. Covering 47,000 acres along the coast and much of Mount Desert Island, this wild park combines beautiful New England scenery with convenient public access, bike paths, and hiking trails. The historic carriage paths are particularly fun to explore on horseback. Park rangers even lead boat tours for a closer (and informed) look at the coastal side of Acadia. The quaint town of Bar Harbor is on the doorstep for easy lodging, food, and shopping.
Address: Acadia National Park, 25 Visitor Center Road, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
It really doesn’t get any more picturesque than in the village of Camden. This coastal fishing hamlet epitomizes Maine at its best and has all the amenities needed to host travelers for a few days. Its downtown is just the right size to explore on foot, with plenty of galleries, boutiques, and cafés to pass the time. Besides the historic attractions, Camden is also a superb town for biking thanks to its paved paths. Camden Hills State Park is right outside town for awesome hikes through hardwood forests that climb the flanks of Mount Megunticook.
Address: Coastal Maine
Portland Museum of Art
The architecture of this slick museum is courtesy of legend IM Pei. Inside, visitors are treated to an impressive number of works by American artists through the centuries like Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and other rotating collections from around the world that change several times a year. Maine’s premier art venue certainly deserves a couple of hours, especially if it’s a rainy day in Portland.
Address: Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Square, Portland, ME 04101
The Kennebunks refer to the twin villages of Kennebunkport and Kennebunk, two of New England’s oldest and most famous resort towns. First colonized in the late 1600’s, the area blossomed after the American Revolution as whalers, ship captains, and wealthy merchants built their homes here. The long, beautiful beaches and charming architecture ensure plenty of reasons to stop over for a few days. From Dock Square to Walkers Point, the Kennebunks have top-notch dining, shopping, and lodging for a taste of the good life.
Address: Southern Coastal Maine
Although most of Maine’s forests are owned by giant paper companies, the town of Fryeburg is an outpost of inland Maine that provides access to the woodlands of this great state. Some of the prettiest sections of the Appalachian Trail pass right next to town and in winter, several ski resorts like Sunday River keep everyone warm and entertained. The White Mountains run right up to the edge of Fryeburg, which is home to one of Maine’s most stunning lakes, Kezar Pond. The town itself is charming with plenty of history and a nice downtown where visitors can rest, eat, and stock up on goods before venturing back into the wilderness.
Address: Northern Maine
Portland Head Light
Built way back in 1794, this lighthouse on the outskirts of Portland is one of America’s oldest and most picturesque. You might even recognize it from a Maine postcard. It is still in operation today, guiding boats into Portland Harbor, so visitors cannot enter the lighthouse itself. The grounds of Fort William Park (where the lighthouse stands guard) are beautiful and the museum and gift shop make this attraction a worthy half day trip.
Address: Portland Head Light & Museum, 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107