Maine Travel Guide
- Impressive rugged coastline with attractive sandy beaches
- Northern Maine's parks have untouched natural beauty
- Boundless nature for hiking, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing or mountain biking
- Nationally recognized culinary scene in Portland
- The lobster is fresh, cheap and seemingly endless
- Moose and whale sightings are considered typical experiences
- Small authentic fishing villages
- Picturesque lighthouses
- Cold winters bring intense snowfall (a pro for skiers)
- Very limited airport access: Get ready to drive (especially up north)
- Coast can be desolate in the off-season (October through April)
What It's Like
Trying to describe Maine is like trying to describe the perfect three course meal: No matter how good you make it sound or plan it out, you always manage to leave an important element out. The state is more diverse than many may realize. There's as much for beachgoers and skiers and snowboarders as there is for gourmands and intrepid nature explorers. As the locals would put it, it's just a "wicked pretty" place.
Maine's natural beauty has inspired everyone from Winslow Homer to Stephen King (although there are no sinister clowns here...that we know of). During the summer, tourists flock to the rugged, lighthouse-dotted coastline made up of sharp rock cliffs and sandy beaches with striking views of offshore islands. Campers and hikers flock to Acadia National Park (the only National Park in New England) which has over 47,000 acres of untouched forest, coastline, mountains and lakes. During the winter months, Maine's winter resorts (including Sugarloaf and Sunday River) open for droves skiers and snowboarders.
Portland, the state's largest city, has plenty to offer, and its Old Port neighborhood has cobblestone streets, red brick buildings and shops. The culinary scene here has caught national attention in the past few years -- not that easy access to cheap lobster has ever kept it off the food destination radar. Outlets in Freeport (also L.L. Bean's headquarters) and Kittery have long been a draw for shoppers.
Where To Stay
Where you stay in Maine completely depends on what you're looking to do. Beachgoers mostly prefer to stay south for the sandy beaches: Kennebunkport (home of the Bush compound), Ogunquit (home to fantastic dining and a lively LGBT community) and York are among the most popular spots. All of these towns are within an hour's drive of Portland, which features a burgeoning culinary and gallery scene, and is Maine's biggest city (though it's still not actually big, compared to urban centers in other states).
Farther north there are plenty of picturesque waterfront options, but the shoreline becomes rugged and the water frigid. The farther north you go, the more untouched Maine becomes. Camden is one of the most interesting coastal towns in New England (similar to Gloucester or Chatham in Massachusetts) and is easy to explore on foot. Bar Harbor serves as a good base for anyone hiking Acadia National Park. When the weather gets cold, visitors tend to head inland towards Newry (Sunday River) or to Sugarloaf Mountain to hit the slopes.