25 Best Places to Visit & Maine Vacations
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. Photo: alpegor/Fotolia
» Maine Destinations: Portland
Portland is a popular tourist destination in southern Maine. Known as the state's main population center, Portland is home a selection of unique attractions. Visitors generally spend time in the Old Port district, which boasts cobblestone streets, quaint brick buildings, and picturesque views of the Fore River. Other attractions in Portland include the Portland Head Lighthouse, the Arts District, and eight unique beaches. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in the city, and for nature-lovers, Portland has plenty of space for hiking, biking, fishing, golf, skiing, and more. Kids can stay busy at Portland's amusement parks, museums, and discovery centers.
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» Maine Vacations: Bar Harbor
Home to nearly 6,000 people, Bar Harbor is a quiet town that got its start as one of the premiere destinations in the East for wealthy Americans. Following the devastating Mount Desert Island fire in 1947, Bar Harbor became a tourist hotspot for all types of vacationers and attracted several prestigious universities and businesses.
Some of Bar Harbor's best features are Acadia National Park and Cadillac Mountain. During cruise season, massive ships make upwards of 100 visits to Bar Harbor's main port. The town is also a popular waypoint for cyclists on the Northern Tier Bicycle Route.
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» Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is home to some of Maine's most incredible landscapes. Known as the first eastern national park, Acadia boasts granite peaks, winding bike trails, and sprawling bodies of water. Acadia is an ideal destination for all kinds of outdoor adventures like climbing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, and birdwatching.
In the summer months, visitors can swim and sunbathe on the shores of vast lakes. Some of the main attractions within the park are Bass Harbor Head Light, Cadillac Mountain, Isle au Haut, Park Loop Road, the Schoodic Peninsula, and the Wild Gardens of Acadia. Acadia National Park is open throughout the year.
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» Maine Destinations: Camden
Dubbed the prettiest place in Maine, Camden has a rich history that stretches back to 1768. The town was originally inhabited by Native Americans. After Maine was recognized as a state, Camden's economy became centered on ship building and other forms of manufacturing.
Today, Camden draws tourists from all over the world because of its rugged mountains, spacious lakes, and meandering rivers. It is one of the few spots along the Atlantic Seaboard where the water and mountains come together in one place. In recent years, Camden has attracted a thriving community of retirees because of its peaceful and secluded location.
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» Maine Vacations: Bangor
Bangor, Maine is located along the edge of the Penobscot River. Home to 150,000+ people, Bangor is a lively city that began as a hub for the lumber and shipbuilding industries. Thanks to the Penobscot River, lumber workers could easily transport logs between main cities along the river's edge. Today, Bangor has evolved to become the center of the pulp and paper industry in Maine.
The town is a prime destination for adventure-seekers since it is surrounded by thick woods, vast waterways, and mountains that receive snow in the winter months. Bangor is also home to a massive casino that houses a 7-story hotel and more than 1,000 slot machines.
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»Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy is shared between the United States and Canada. Known for having the highest tidal range in the world, the Bay of Fundy can recede up to 55 feet at certain times of the year. The bay is a popular tourist destination because of its gorgeous surroundings.
Dense forests, picturesque islands and islets, and spacious parks are located throughout the bay. A famous area known as the Hopewell Rocks is situated close by. For entertainment, visitors can go sea kayaking, take a whale watching trip, or explore the many hiking trails that surround the Bay of Fundy. The Canadian city of Saint John is also easily accessible from here.
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Celebrated for its delectable lobster, Rockland is a classic example of a coastal town in Maine. It was recognized as the “Coolest Small Town in the US” by Budget Travel and the “Top Adventure Town in Maine” by National Geographic Travel.
Downtown Rockland is filled with quaint shops and restaurants housed in buildings that date back hundreds of years. Travelers can experience Rockland's incredible coastal scenery by joining a windjammer tour. For an all-day getaway, guests have the option of taking ferries to see the islands of North Haven, Vinalhaven, and Matinicus. There are also plenty of options for romantic sunset cruises and sailing excursions in Rockland Harbor.
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»Maine Vacations: Augusta
Augusta is the capital of Maine and the ninth-largest city in the state. Situated along the Kennebec River, Augusta's origins stretch back to the early 1600s. However, the city didn't grow into the bustling place that it is today until the 19th century.
Some of the most prominent tourist attractions in the city include the historic Blaine House, the Lithgow Public Library, the Maine State Museum, the Capitol Building, and the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine located at the University of Maine at Augusta. The city also offers plenty of options for shopping, entertainment, lodging, restaurants, and outdoor recreation.
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The city of Bath is home to less than 10,000 people. Located in Sagadahoc County, Bath is popular among tourists because of its unique 19th-century architecture. It is known as the “City of Ships” because of its lengthy history in the shipbuilding and iron working industries.
Visitors can enjoy checking out the Maine Eastern Railroad, the Chocolate Church Arts Center, the Bath Skate Park, and the Marine Maritime Museum. Bath also has several beautiful parks and recreation areas where guests can hike, jog, relax, and take in the scenery. The Whiskeag Trail is one of the most popular spots for hiking in the city.
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York is located near the southern tip of Maine. Nestled by the Gulf of Maine, it is probably best known as a resort destination. The town is home to three 18-hole golf courses and four pristine beaches. Visitors also enjoy seeing Mount Agamenticus and Cape Neddick.
York has a handful of distinctive buildings that have been transformed into shops, restaurants, galleries, and other tourist attractions. For accommodation, visitors can choose from a range of motels, hotels, inns, and vacation rentals. York is easy to reach from most of Maine's major cities, including Augusta and Portland.
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As the second largest city in Maine, Lewiston sees thousands of visitors each year. The city was once home to a major water power entity called Androscoggin Falls, Dam, Lock and Canal Company. Later, Lewiston became a major player in the textile industry because of its mills and department stores.
Now Lewiston is home to several major museums, a handful of prestigious universities, and the main offices for some of America's largest companies. Lewiston holds several noteworthy events each year, including the Emerge Film Festival, the Liberty Festival, and the Patrick Dempsey Challenge, which is a fundraising event that has brought in more than a million dollars for cancer research since 2009.
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»Maine Vacations: Ellsworth
Ellsworth, Maine, is a small city situated in Hancock County. Although the city is home to less than 10,000 people, it is a popular destination among tourists because of its well-preserved buildings and relaxing atmosphere. In its early days, Ellsworth was inhabited by Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indians.
The French arrived in Ellsworth in the early 1600s, and the English sought to gain control of Ellsworth for years after that. Some of the main attractions in Ellsworth include the Ellsworth Public Library, the Birdsacre Homestead and Wildlife Sanctuary, the Telephone Museum, and the Grand Performing Arts Theatre.
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Marginal Way is celebrated as one of the most beautiful walking paths in the State of Maine. It is popular among tourists because of its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Starting at Perkins Cove, Marginal Way stretches 1.25 miles to the middle of Shore Road.
Guests can enjoy spectacular views of the ocean as well as Ogunquit Town all along the trail. There are plenty of spots on the trail where visitors can relax while taking in views of the incredible Maine coastline. More than 100,000 people visit the Marginal Way each year to get a taste of Maine's breathtaking coast.
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»Mount Desert Island
Mount Desert Island, known locally as MDI, is a tranquil island that serves as a home to 10,000 people. In the summer, the island hosts thousands of tourists, including high-profile guests like Martha Stewart and the Rockefeller family. MDI is officially part of Acadia National Park, and the highest point on the island is Cadillac Mountain.
The 47,000-acre park stretches to Isle au Haut and the Schoodic Peninsula. Tourists on MDI stay busy by sightseeing, hiking, camping, shopping, and visiting local attractions. The Holbrook Island Sanctuary and Warren Island State Park are also popular destinations among guests.
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»Camden Hills State Park - Mount Battie
Camden Hills State Park is home to Mount Battie, a peak that offers incredible views of the surrounding area. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the town of Camden, Penobscot Bay, Acadia National Park, and Mount Megunticook from the top of Mount Battie.
After enjoying the scenery in the park, visitors can travel into the quaint New England town of Camden for harbor tours, whale watching trips, and puffin spotting adventures. The area is famous for its spectacular colors in the fall and its starry night skies. Other family-friendly destinations like Warren Island State Park, Moose Point State Park, and Owl's Head State Park are located close by.
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Ogunquit Beach was recently named one of the 25 Best Beaches in the United States by TripAdvisor. The 3.5-mile-long beach boasts white sands, clear blue seas, and an abundance of amenities for visitors. For activities, guests can swim, bodysurf, walk, or run along the beach and relax on the shore.
There are public restrooms available for use as well as ample parking, a small boat ramp, a picnic area, and outdoor showers. Lifeguards patrol the beach on a regular basis to keep visitors safe. At the end of Ogunquit Beach, visitors will find North Beach, which provides access to the famous Marginal Way beach path.
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Jordan Pond is a beautiful body of water that sits inside Acadia National Park. Formed by a glacier, Jordan Pond has exceptionally clear and clean water. On some days, it's possible to see down more than 40 feet into the water. Swimming isn't allowed in Jordan Pond, but visitors are allowed to take kayaks, canoes, and other small watercraft onto the pond.
The water is surrounded by rolling hills and wide open fields. For entertainment, visitors can hike around the pond, ride on biking trails, check out bars, clubs and taverns, and visit the Jordan Pond House, which is the only full-service restaurant inside Acadia National Park.
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»Best Places to Visit in Maine: Wells Beach
Celebrated as one of the best family destinations in Maine, the Wells Beach area is home to four separate beaches: Moody Beach, Crescent Beach, Wells Beach, and Drake's Island Beach, all of which boast soft white sand and incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Moody Beach is the most popular spot for adventure seekers since it has plenty of access points for boats and kayaks. Surfers gravitate toward Drake's Island Beach because of the large waves, while Wells Beach attracts anglers because of its long jetty. At Wells Harbor, visitors can enjoy scenic sailing trips, free summer concerts, and other family-friendly events. The tourist towns of Ogunquit and Kennebunkport are just a short drive away from Wells Beach.
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»Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Established by the State of Maine in 1966, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is a popular destination for migratory birds. The refuge currently covers 50 miles of coastline in York and Cumberland counties. Future expansion plans show that the refuge will soon cover close to 15,000 acres.
Filled with thick boreal forests, a tidal salt marsh area, and a stretch of wooded uplands, the refuge is home to unique species of birds and plants that aren't found in other parts of Maine. There are walking paths throughout the refuge so that visitors can explore the area or spend time birdwatching.
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»Popham Beach State Park
Popham Beach State Park is located on the southern side of the mouth of the Kennebec River. Known as one of the rarest geologic formations in Maine, Popham Beach State Park features rolling sand dunes and expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean. The beach is a hotspot for surfers who come to experience the roaring waves of the Atlantic and is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and shell collecting.
The beach also has historical significance because of the Popham Settlement, which was located in the area during the early 1600s and archaeological excavations have been ongoing here.
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»Maine Vacations: Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a fun destination for outdoor enthusiasts. A prime spot for hiking, camping, and other forms of outdoor recreation, Baxter State Park was named after Percival P. Baxter, Maine's governor from 1921 to 1924. An avid outdoorsman, Percival Baxter facilitated the purchase of 6,000 acres of land in 1930.
The parcel included Maine's tallest peak, Mount Katahdin. Baxter State Park has expanded to include nearly 210,000 acres. The park contains miles of mapped-out trails as well as designated areas for fishing, hunting, and trapping. About 75 percent of the spacious park serves as a wildlife sanctuary.
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»Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park
Located just 5 minutes outside Freeport, Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park is a popular getaway for people who want to experience some of the best scenery that Maine has to offer. Covering over 200 acres, the park was founded in 1969 after Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence M.C. Smith gave the land to the state.
Today, the park houses a variety of fragile ecosystems, including forests, a salt marsh estuary, and the picturesque coastlines of Casco Bay and the Harraseeket River. Visitors can walk along the Casco Bay Trail to enjoy views of Maine's breathtaking coastline and rent shelters throughout the park on a daily basis.
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»Places to Visit in Maine: Smalls Falls
The Smalls Falls Rest Area is located just south of Rangeley, a quiet roadside town. Smalls Falls is not your average rest stop. Home to a steep waterfall, a beautiful gorge, and some large swimming holes, the Smalls Falls area attracts out-of-town visitors as well as locals. The multi-tiered waterfall empties out into a wide circular basin, where visitors can swim or relax on hot summer days.
There is also plenty of space around the waterfall to set up a picnic or relax on the colorful rocks. Smalls Falls is easily accessible from the parking lot at the rest area.
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Located in Maine's North Woods area, Gulf Hagas sits along the Appalachian Trail Corridor. Federally owned and managed, Gulf Hagas is far off the beaten path. Hikers travel there at their own risk since services of any sort are miles away.
A couple of attractions in the area include the Hermitage, a preserved forest area with beautiful views, and Screw Auger Falls, a tranquil waterfall along the trail. It is possible to reach the Gulf Hagas area by car at Hay Brook, but visitors have to ford a river with a mild current in order to access it. The Hermitage is about half a mile from the parking area, and Screw Auger Falls sits just a mile beyond that.
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25 Best Places to Visit & Maine Vacations
- Maine Destinations: Portland, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Maine Vacations: Bar Harbor, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Acadia National Park, Photo: Courtesy of alpegor - Fotolia.com
- Maine Destinations: Camden, Photo: Courtesy of hberal - Fotolia.com
- Maine Vacations: Bangor, Photo: Bangor
- Bay of Fundy, Photo: Courtesy of AleCam - Fotolia.com
- Rockland, Photo: Courtesy of Shakzu - Fotolia.com
- Maine Vacations: Augusta, Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
- Bath, Photo: Bath
- York, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Lewiston, Photo: Courtesy of Enrico Della Pietra - Fotolia.com
- Maine Vacations: Ellsworth, Photo: Ellsworth
- Marginal Way, Photo: Courtesy of marvellousworld - Fotolia.com
- Mount Desert Island, Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
- Camden Hills State Park - Mount Battie, Photo: Courtesy of Chris Soucy - Fotolia.com
- Ogunquit Beach, Photo: Courtesy of alwayspp - Fotolia.com
- Jordan Pond, Photo: Courtesy of Rixie - Fotolia.com
- Best Places to Visit in Maine: Wells Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Thadd - Fotolia.com
- Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: Courtesy of Janis - Fotolia
- Popham Beach State Park, Photo: Courtesy of leekris - Fotolia.com
- Maine Vacations: Baxter State Park, Photo: Courtesy of johnburk1 - Fotolia.com
- Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Cappi Thompson - Fotolia.com
- Places to Visit in Maine: Smalls Falls, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Gulf Hagas, Photo: Courtesy of destillat - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of alpegor - Fotolia.com
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