Famed for its stunning coastline and quaint fishing towns, Maine can keep both city lovers and nature enthusiasts busy throughout the year. In cities like Portland, Lewiston, Augusta, and Summer Ideas, Bangor, travelers can experience some of the best food, culture, and entertainment that Maine has to offer. Nature lovers will find Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Camden, Mount Desert Island, and several scenic state parks. Here are the best places to visit in Maine.
2. Bar Harbor, Maine
3. Acadia National Park
4. Camden, Maine
5. ME Places to Visit: Bangor
6. Places to Visit in Maine: Bay of Fundy
7. Maine Vacations: Rockland
8. Augusta, Maine
9. ME Vacations: Bath
11. Lewiston, Maine
13. Maine Vacations: Marginal Way
14. Places to Visit in Maine: Mount Desert Island
15. Camden Hills State Park - Mount Battie
16. Ogunquit Beach, Maine
17. Places to Visit in Maine: Jordan Pond
18. Wells Beach
19. Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
20. Popham Beach State Park
21. Places to Visit Near Me: Baxter State Park
22. Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park
23. Smalls Falls, Maine
24. Gulf Hagas
What are the 25 Best Maine Vacations & Places to Visit?
The 25 Best Maine Vacations & Places to Visit according to local experts are:
- Bar Harbor, Maine
- Acadia National Park
- Camden, Maine
- ME Places to Visit: Bangor
- Places to Visit in Maine: Bay of Fundy
- Maine Vacations: Rockland
- Augusta, Maine
- ME Vacations: Bath
- Lewiston, Maine
- Maine Vacations: Marginal Way
- Places to Visit in Maine: Mount Desert Island
- Camden Hills State Park - Mount Battie
- Ogunquit Beach, Maine
- Places to Visit in Maine: Jordan Pond
- Wells Beach
- Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
- Popham Beach State Park
- Places to Visit Near Me: Baxter State Park
- Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park
- Smalls Falls, Maine
- Gulf Hagas
More Ideas: Cliff Island
Located in Casco Bay off the eastern coast of the United States, Cliff Island is part of the city of Portland, Maine and is the smallest island in the bay with a year-round population. The islands of the Casco Bay initially gained national prominence during the Gilded Age the late 19th and early 20th century, with a number of major hotels and tourist sites constructed on the bay’s islands as a resort region for visitors from New York City and other major American East Coast cities.
The island tourist district was marketed as a getaway from the industrial nature and pollution of urban East Coast areas and a chance for city residents to reconnect with nature. Though many of the original hotels located on the islands were destroyed by fire in the early 20th century or have since been demolished, the region remains a popular tourist destination as a result of ferry and cruise services embarking from Portland and other sites along the Maine coastline. Cliff Island, the smallest and final island along the Casco Bay, is located approximately nine miles off the coast of Portland and is best known as the filming location for the 1987 feature film The Whales of August, starring Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, and Vincent Price.
Today, Cliff Island remains the only of its islands to maintain a year-round population without having paved roads. The island was historically known as Crotch Island due to its H-shape and its natural harbors. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, it has maintained a small year-round population of approximately 60 residents, though its population increases to approximately 500 throughout the summer months.
The island is accessible via ferry through the Casco Bay Lines passenger transit service, which transports more than one million annual travelers to eight islands within Casco Bay and provides mail service and education transportation for island residents. Approximate travel time to the island from mainland Portland ranges from one to two hours, depending on weather conditions and cargo volume. The service, which began year-round transit in 1878 as the Casco Bay Steamboat Company, was rebranded as Casco Bay Lines in 1919 and taken over by the nonprofit Casco Bay Island Transit District corporation in 1981. Daily ferry service is provided from Portland and nearby Bailey, Peaks, Great and Little Diamond, Long, and Chebeague Islands and Diamond Cove. A variety of scenic tours and special excursion cruises are also offered, including music cruises featuring local musicians and special event cruises in correlation with major holidays.
Much of the island’s land is preserved as conservation land to ensure permanent protection of its rural atmosphere, which evokes a historic and picturesque setting typical of Maine islands at the turn of the 20th century. All of the island’s beaches are privately-owned, though visitor access is allowed. As the island has no paved roads, visitor transportation is provided by several golf cart rental services, which offer single-day and weekly rental rates. The island’s main center of commerce is its Cliff Island Store and Cafe, which offers groceries and amenities on its store side and serves American fare such as pizza and ice cream on its cafe side. A full-service post office, community hall, and public tennis court and ballfield are also offered on the island, along with a one-room schoolhouse and library facility. Several island-wise organizations operate public programming for residents and visitors, including athletics groups, exercise classes, and arts and crafts workshops.
A number of vacation and long-term rental properties are offered by island residents, including waterfront house and cottage rentals. Rental properties include Bayberry Cottage, Walden Cottage, and the Ben O’Reilly, Anderson, McDermith, and Maclean Houses. Most rentals offer two to six bedrooms along with a variety of household and outdoor amenities, including beach and cove access and seaside property views. Visitors interested in weekly or long-term rentals should contact property owners directly via phone or email for rates and arrangements.
Casco Bay Islands
In addition to Cliff Island, several other islands within Casco Bay are serviced by Casco Bay Lines and offer visitor attractions. Peaks Island, the former home of the Greenwood Gardens amusement park, offers an artist community with public galleries and studios and several restaurants. Great Diamond Island’s former Fort McKinley facility has been converted into the Diamond Cove gated community, which offers public dining at the Diamond’s Edge Restaurant and overnight accommodations at the Inn at Diamond Cove. Natural attractions are offered on Bailey and Long Islands, while historic attractions and a nine-hole waterfront golf course are offered on Chebeague Island.
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More Ideas: West Quoddy Head Historic Lighthouse
Located on the eastern most point of the United States, this candy striped historic lighthouse is a must see for any lighthouse enthusiast. Not only beautiful but also still active and important to the local economy, visitors should make this a stop on any trip to Maine. In 1808, President Jefferson ordered this lighthouse built. Although not operational until 1858, when its original wood was replaced to the current facility guests are able to view now, it has always been almost 50 feet tall and 16 feet in diameter.
Making use of a “Frensel” lens (standing over 5 feet tall), one of the most unique and beautiful lenses in the world (this one imported from France), that focuses the 1000-watt light bulb that lights up the night for the coast guard and other economy based ships, the lighthouse is now fully automated and no longer makes use of a full-time lighthouse keeper. However, the apartment located on the second floor of the home attached to the lighthouse is frequently inhabited by one of the park rangers that patrol the attached state park. The lighthouse is a certified 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and is currently run by a board of directors.
The main attraction and the biggest draw is the lighthouse itself.
Visitor Center - The first stop when visiting the lighthouse is to stop inside the visitor center, which is located on the first floor of the residence that has traditionally housed the lightkeeper. Here, run by the board of directors, guests will find interactive historical exhibits that provide information about the lighthouse itself, as well as the coast guard and the local economy. Guests can also speak with knowledgeable staff members and ask questions.
Art Gallery - Also inside the visitor’s center is an art gallery, featuring artwork by both local and nationally renowned artists. Some of the art, including limited edition numbered prints signed by the artists and certain sculptures, can even by purchased on site to allow guests to take home a piece of their visit.
Lighthouse - Although tours are only run once a day during the open season, the lighthouse is still a sight to see. With the traditional 15 alternating 25 foot red and white stripes (commonly referred to as candy striping), the lighthouse looks like a picture come to life. Still in working order, flashing in the set pattern of 2 seconds lit up, 2 seconds turned off, 2 seconds lit up, then 9 seconds turned off, 24 hours a day, the lighthouse is not only a tourist destination but also a functional light keeping ships clear of the shore.
Park - Outside of the lighthouse, make sure to visit this gorgeous, awe inspiring state park that sits on 541 mostly coastal acres of land. Guests should make sure to hike one of the miles of marked hiking trails (hiking the coastal trail is the best) or go on one of the self-guided nature walks. Make sure to visit the cranberry bog, an interesting ecosystem that guests can read more about on the plaque located close to the area. Watch the waves on the rocky beach, a beautiful and scenic site. However, most of the year the water is much too cold to swim. There are also picnic areas available within distance of accessible parking areas so that guests can picnic without having to haul their supplies too far into the park.
Although the lighthouse hosts occasional small events throughout the year, their two biggest events are their opening day and open lighthouse day.
Opening Day - Starting in the summer, during opening day and opening week the lighthouse hosts a variety of events and tours to welcome guests to the new season. Come and learn about this historic and one of a kind lighthouse with other lighthouse enthusiasts. View special art pieces and view the interactive exhibits to learn about the importance of the lighthouse to the local culture and economy, as well as the coast guard’s relationship.
Open Lighthouse Day - Normally in September, Open Lighthouse Day is a state tradition sponsored by the US Coast Guard, the Tourism Office of Maine and the American Lighthouse Foundation. Attracting nearly 20,000 visitors a year and involving almost two dozen different lighthouses located across the state of Maine, West Quoddy is one of the top visited destinations.
West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, 973 S Lubec Road, Lubec, Maine, 04652, Phone: 201-733-2180
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More Ideas: Asticou Azalea Garden
Visiting the peaceful serenity of the Azalea Garden in Maine can provide even the most stressed person a sense of relief and calm not present in much of the rest of everyday life. Guests can spend as much or as little of the day as they want here, either with family or in quiet contemplation. Created by Charles Savage (a noted local as well as a landscape designer) in 1957 as a project meant to showcase the beauty of the azalea, the garden was actually partially transplanted from another collection (that of Beatrix Farrand, a well known landscape designer) with the financial backing of a Rockefeller.
One of the oldest specimens in the garden is a weeping hemlock tree north of the bridge from that same collection. Headed up by a lead gardener who has been there since the late 1980s and a garden staff of four staff gardeners, the board of directors keep the garden beautiful, clean, and growing year after year.
The Azalea Garden is part of a larger set of gardens that make up the Land and Garden Preserve in Northeast Harbor, Maine.
Open seven days a week during the day from May to October (and even extending into November if it is a reasonably mild fall/winter) to visitors (no dogs are allowed, unfortunately), the Asticou Garden is one of the most stunning and serene places in the state of Maine. Depending on the season guests choose to visit in, different colors and flowers can be found in bloom. For instance, the middle of May finds the beginning of the cherry tree flowering. From the end of May through the end of June, the rhododendrons and azaleas are colorful and in bloom. Then, in July, the Japanese Iris, rosebay rhododendron, and smoke bush have their time to shine, as well as the sweet azaleas which are always fragrant in nature. Water lilies bloom in August and the fall months (September and October as well as November if the weather permits) bring brilliant fall colors.
The garden is an homage to japanese strolling gardens, with complex and expansive views of water, trees and flowers meant to inspire visitors to think the space is larger than it actually is and to forget the outside world for a moment or two.
Located around Asticou Pond and bordered by Peabody Drive, the garden seems like an oasis in the middle of a world that can sometimes be loud and overwhelming. The azaleas have also been planted purposefully around the outside of the pond to increase the way that their reflections would show on the surface of the water. There even is a hidden, secondary pond that is sand instead of water called the Sand Garden, an interesting and very Japanese feature that was inspired by a similar garden in Kyoto, Japan.
While in the garden, make sure to also check out the moss corridor, pebble point, streamside garden, and the azalea mountainscape. No food is allowed in the garden and wheelchair accessible parking is available very near to the garden. There are also wheelchair accessible bathrooms on the premises.
Ceremonies of all varieties are welcome at the azalea garden provided guests follow guidelines. No more than 30 people can be present at a time. It is recommended that visitors stay on the North Lawn due to its more accessible areas as well as lack of flowers and vegetation, but any open areas are acceptable provided guests stay away from destroying any of the living plants. Due to limited parking, garden staff recommend that guests attempt to carpool as much as possible and don’t take up the entirety of public parking for regular guests. Photographers are also welcome provided they follow the same rules and respect the property as well as other visitors who may not be apart of the ceremony.
Make sure to reserve the area in advance with the knowledge that the gardens will not be closed at any point and will be accessible to members of the general public as well. No drinks, food or structures (tents, canopies, etc) as allowed. However, chairs may be used temporarily to help elderly or handicapped guests provided they be taken down immediately after the ceremony is over. There is no cost but a suggested donation is recommended to help maintain the garden. Contact information is available on the website to inquire about a specific date or time.
Asticou Azalea Garden, 3 Sound Drive, Northeast Harbor, ME, 04662, Phone: 207-276-3727
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