Located in the New England region in the northeastern part of the United States, Maine is the 12th smallest of the states in terms of size and has the 9th smallest population too, making it one of the top 15 most sparsely populated states overall. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.Overview

Overview
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Maine covers a total area of over 35,500 square miles and is home to an estimated population of around 1.34 million people. Maine has the unique distinction of being the northernmost state to the east of the Great Lakes and the easternmost state of the contiguous United States.

It only has a border with one other state: New Hampshire. The other land borders of Maine are with the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec, with the state also having a stretch of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.

Maine, like other parts of New England, is well-known for its rocky coastal areas, dense forests, seafood-based cuisine, and historic villages, with many of its towns and cities dating back to the 1600s and being founded by the first French and English settlers in the area.

The state capital of Maine is Augusta, but its largest city and metropolitan area is Portland. Read on for a detailed overview of Portland, as well as brief descriptions and statistics for some of the other largest cities in Maine.

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2.The Largest City in Maine - Portland

The Largest City in Maine - Portland
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Portland is the biggest city in Maine by population. It is located in Cumberland County in the southwest part of the state and is famous as a major port city for both Maine and the entire New England area. Portland covers a total area of around 69 square miles and is home to an estimated population of 67,000 people, but over half a million live in the surrounding Portland metropolitan area. This means that the Greater Portland area houses over a third of the entire state population of Maine, which makes Portland the largest metro area in all of Northern New England.

Portland is the main economic, industrial, cultural, and touristic center of the state of Maine, with tourism helping to play a big part in the city's economy. The Old Port area, which is home to many historic buildings and landmarks and has been renovated into a popular dining and nightlife location, is particularly popular with visitors, and the Port of Portland itself is still in use and plays a major role as the biggest tonnage seaport in all of New England. This city was founded back in 1632 by English settlers, who chose to name it after an island called Portland in the area of Dorset, England. Portland, Oregon was named after Portland, Maine.

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3.The Second Largest City in Maine - Lewiston

The Second Largest City in Maine - Lewiston
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Lewiston is the second biggest city in the state of Maine. This city is located in Androscoggin County in the southwest part of the state. Lewiston is located not too far south of Augusta, which is the Maine state capital, and is directly north of Portland, which is the state's biggest city, so has acted as a key gateway between these two locations over the years.

Lewiston covers a total area of 35.54 square miles and is home to around 36,000 people. It was founded back in the late 1700s and originally known as Lewistown, but was changed to Lewiston when it was officially incorporated. Lewiston is home to Maine's only basilica, the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, and is perhaps best-known for the local activities of rail tycoon Benjamin Bates, who helped the city to develop greatly in the 1800s.

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4.The Third Largest City in Maine - Bangor

The Third Largest City in Maine - Bangor
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Bangor is the third biggest city in the state of Maine. This seat is located in Penobscot County, of which it is the county seat, in the central-southern part of the state. Bangor covers an area of over 34 square miles and is home to an estimated population of 33,000 people, with its metropolitan area being home to over 150,000 people.

Bangor was founded in the late 18th century. The origin of its name is unknown, but it's possible that it was named after a city of the same name in Wales. This city is known as the 'Vegas of the Northeast' due to its huge casino complex, with Bangor also being home to the oldest state fair in Maine and many interesting museums, buildings, and public art installations.

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5.The Fourth Largest City in Maine - South Portland

The Fourth Largest City in Maine - South Portland
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South Portland is the fourth largest city in the state of Maine. South Portland is located in Cumberland County, and as its name indicates, it is located just south of Portland, which is the biggest city in Maine. South Portland is not officially a part of Portland, however, but is part of the Portland - South Portland - Biddeford metropolitan area.

The population of South Portland is around 25,000 and the city covers around 14 square miles. South Portland was established as a settlement back in the early 1600s. This city is home to several interesting historic buildings and locations of interest like the Portland Breakwater Light, the Portland Harbor Museum, the South Portland Farmers' Market, and the annual Art in the Park special events.

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6.The Fifth Largest City in Maine - Auburn

The Fifth Largest City in Maine - Auburn
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Auburn is the fifth biggest city in the state of Maine. This city is located in Androscoggin County in the southwest part of the state. Auburn is the county seat of Androscoggin County and has close ties with the local city of Lewiston, which is just on the other side of the Androscoggin River to Auburn. Together, these two cities are known by locals and Maine natives as the 'Twin Cities'.

Auburn covers an area of over 65 square miles and is home to around 23,000 people. This city was first settled in the late 1700s but didn't become known as Auburn until the mid-19th century. Auburn has an interesting history associated with shoe manufacture, with the Lewiston-Auburn Shoe Strike of 1937 being one of the most important labor disputes to ever occur in all of Maine when thousands of shoe-making workers went out on strike.

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5 of the Largest Cities in Maine



More Ideas: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Visiting the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens immediately elicits a sense of peace and serenity, not often found in today’s society. Come alone or bring friends and family and enjoy nature as it was meant to be enjoyed. Originally opened to the public in 2007, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens was dreamed up by a group of local residents who wanted to display local flora.

History

The gardens now sit on 295 acres and welcome over 100,000 guests yearly. The gardens are always looking to expand and spread their message as well, recently creating a 20-year plan for their growth and continued success. They also recently expanded their website to include a “flora finder,” an area where guests can plan tours based on what is in season.

Permanent Exhibitions

There are many different exhibition areas at the botanical gardens. Each one is unique and interesting in its own way.

Sculpture - Built by local and regional artists, the art garden features many permanent sculptures for visitors to see as they wander through the gardens. “Alert Wolf” and “Stalking Wolf,” both by Wendy Klemperer are some of the favorites, both made from creatures made from steel. Andreas Von Huene’s “Alexander’s Threshold” is a beautiful granite piece, allowing guests to walk directly through it. The carved stone “Basin” by David Holmes is a centerpiece of the meditation portion of the garden and should not be missed as well.

Great Lawn/Founders Grove - The largest area of the botanical gardens, with a wide variety of annuals and perennials (like Snapdragons, Johnny jump-ups, and Lupines)

Meditation Garden - With granite local to Maine, the Vayo garden is a great place to sit and exist in the moment, either alone or with friends and family.

Kitchen Garden - The garden where the on grounds cafe is located, featuring not only flowers but also fruits and vegetables in use in the cafe, the “kitchen” garden lives up to its name in both beauty and usefulness.

Rhododendron Garden - Featuring a stunning multi-level waterfall, this garden is one of the highlights of the grounds. Sit in front of it and take in its natural beauty and enjoy the rhododendrons surrounding it. It is a place of perfect peacefulness and serenity and should not be missed by visitors.

Children’s Garden - The newest addition to the botanical gardens, the children’s garden allows families of all ages and sizes to enjoy the garden together. Specifically designed with children in mind, this garden is a great new addition to an already diverse botanical garden.

There also are many seasonal exhibits, depending on what is in bloom at the botanical garden at any given time. Favorite features and creatures has always been a favorite, as well as the everyday gardener and multiple fruit and vegetable studies held in the kitchen garden. For those brave enough, there are also winter exhibits and programs. Dress warmly, as winter in Maine is no joking matter!

Educational Opportunities

There are three different options for field trips at the botanical gardens.

The first is an intensive study field trip, which works well when working with a specific curriculum. Activities for both before and after the visit are available through the garden so that teachers can connect their students with learning in an outside of the classroom environment. The price is per class, up to 25 students, and does not include admission.

The second option is a walking tour of the gardens. Led by a botanical garden guide and lasting just over an hour, on average, this tour is good for students of any age. Costs is also per class, up to 25 students, not including admission. Self-guided options are available as well.

Field studies comprise the last category. Working in a few different categories - plant life or decomposers - teachers can introduce their students through hands-on experiences.

Dining and Shopping

Dining can be found on site at the Kitchen Garden Cafe. Featuring fresh food, much of it grown in the kitchen garden, this cafe offers a seasonal menu as well as packaged snacks and drinks. Grab a sandwich, panini, salad or enjoy a delicious dessert.

There is also a gift shop. The Gardens Gift Shop is the perfect place to pick up a unique souvenir, like handmade jewelry, scarves, home gardening accessories and more. Pick up a cookbook to learn how to prepare some of the produce grown in the gardens as well.

Coastal Main Botanical Gardens, 132 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay, ME, 04537, Phone: 207-633-8000

More Maine things to do

More Ideas: Great Wass Island

Located within the Great Wass Archipelago off the eastern coast of the United States, Great Wass Island is a 1,700-acre uninhabited island incorporated as part of the town of Beals, Maine and is operated as a natural preserve protecting the region’s largest stand of jack pine, along with a variety of indigenous plants and wildlife species.

History

The rugged coastline of the state of Maine was formed as the result of glacier retreat at the end of the last Ice Age approximately 11,700 years ago. Today, more than 4,000 islands, inlets, and bars are located off the coast of Maine. A large number of Maine’s islands remain uninhabited or are preserved as natural refuges, including the islands preserved as part of Acadia National Park. Many islands have been developed and house seasonal or year-round populations, offering historic lighthouse facilities, New England-style towns and villages, and outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and kayaking. Most of the islands within the Gulf of Maine are accessible via ferry or water taxi service from coastal harbor cities such as Portland, Boothbay, and Portsmouth.

Great Wass Island is the largest island and approximate geographic center of the Great Wass Archipelago, which extends off the coast of Jonesport and contains more than 43 islands. Together with the nearby 1,100-acre Head Harbor Island and 450-acre Steele Harbor Island, Great Wass Island comprises much of the Great Wass Pluton igneous rock thrust. The island extends five miles long by 1.5 miles wide and is connected to the mainland via a bridge that connects to nearby Beals Island. 1,450 acres of the island’s 1,700-acre land area was acquired by the Nature Conservancy in 1978 for the purposes of creating the Great Wass Island Preserve, which protects a number of significant populations of indigenous Maine flora and fauna.

Attractions

Today, Great Wass Island is incorporated as part of the nearby town of Beals, Maine, located within Washington County. The island is connected to mainland Maine via a bridge to nearby Beals Island, which is connected via bridge to the town of Jonesport. 1,450 acres of its land is maintained by the Nature Conservancy as Great Wass Island Preserve, which protects significant populations of indigenous Maine flora and fauna.

The island’s ecosystem is classified as a coastal bog plateau, featuring a variety of unique wildlife species. The island is most noted for its population of jack pine, the largest stand of the trees anywhere in coastal Maine. The tree population grows on extremely thin soil that cannot house other species and is unique for its ability to reproduce without the aid of fire, unlike most related jack pine species. Several rare plant species are found on the island, including Iris hookeri beach-head irises, Lomatagonium rotatum marsh felwort, and Primula laurentiana bird’s-eye primroses.

Other notable plants within the island’s central peatlands area include Rubus chamaemorus baked appleberry plants, Arethusa bulbosa dragon’s mouth orchids, and Trichophorum cespitosum deer-haired sedges. The crowberry blue butterfly, a rare butterfly species found in Maine, populates the island’s peatland areas. Carnivorous plants such as sundew and pitcher plants also thrive off the island’s peat soil. Off the island’s coast, which has been classified as one of the richest intertidal marine systems in the Gulf of Maine, eelgrass beds serve as nesting and feeding areas for fish, waterfowl, wading birds, and invertebrate species, including populations of commercially-viable shellfish and the threatened harlequin duck species.

A 4.5-mile trail system is offered for island visitors, beginning at the Little Cape Point Trail trailhead located near the preserve’s parking lot. The 2.2 mile trail winds through jack pine, spruce, and fir forest regions and ends at the Cape Cove shoreline area. A boardwalk is also provided for safe viewing of the island’s sedge-shrub marsh, and coastal views of the island’s bogs are offered at several points along the trail. The 2.3-mile Mud Hole Trail is also offered, leading to a fjord-like tidal cove formation on the island known as the Mud Hole and offering views of pink granite shoreline cliffs. Due to the island’s difficult terrain, visitors should allow four to six hours for completion of both trails and should exercise caution when hiking during heavy fog conditions.

The island is available for day use only and enforces a strict carry-out policy to ensure preservation of natural wildlife areas. Camping on the island is not allowed. Pets, fires, bikes, and other motorized vehicles are also prohibited for wildlife protection. Kayaking opportunities are offered around Great Wass Island, though visitors should be advised that water conditions are not recommended for novice kayakers. Several nearby islands within Great Wass Archipelago may also be explored by kayakers, including Pig, Alley, Green, Mink, and Little Water Islands.

More Things to Do in Maine, Best Islands in Maine

More Ideas: Manana Island

Located in Lincoln County, Maine near Monhegan Island, Manana Island is part of the Plantation of Monhegan and features a historic sound signal station, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

History

The rugged coastline of the state of Maine was formed as the result of glacier retreat at the end of the last Ice Age approximately 11,700 years ago. Today, more than 4,000 islands, inlets, and bars are located off the coast of Maine. A large number of Maine’s islands remain uninhabited or are preserved as natural refuges, including the islands preserved as part of Acadia National Park. Many islands have been developed and house seasonal or year-round populations, offering historic lighthouse facilities, New England-style towns and villages, and outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and kayaking. Most of the islands within the Gulf of Maine are accessible via ferry or water taxi service from coastal harbor cities such as Portland, Boothbay, and Portsmouth.

Monhegan Island, a small island community located approximately 10 miles off the coast of Maine, includes a number of smaller nearby islands such as Manana Island. Monhegan Island has been used as an important marine navigational landmark within the Maine coastal region since the mid-19th century, when the United States Lighthouse Board proposed the construction of a fog signal on Manana Island in 1853. Funds for the project were approved by Congress the following year, and in 1855, the Manana Island Fog Signal Station was constructed to house a manually-operated 2.5-ton bell, originally operated under the administration of the nearby Monhegan Island Light. Additional technologies were added throughout the 1850s, including an automatic striking machine and a steam-powered 10-inch Daboll trumpet, which drastically improved the signal’s strength. The station’s trumpet was moved to the Portland Head Light in 1872 and replaced by a whistle. In the 20th century, an air siren and radio beacon were added to the facility, though the station’s radio tower was removed in 1995. In 2002, the station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Attractions

Though the Manana Island Fog Signal Station was automated in 1986, it remains one of the only separately-managed fog signals in the United States today. The station is located on the highest point of the island, containing several historic brick buildings and structures. The station’s historic main signal building, constructed in 1889, measures 33 by 20 feet and features a low tower, originally used for housing the station’s Daboll trumpet. An equipment house, constructed in 1906 over the island’s former signal house, stores the station’s signal equipment, and an attached shed contains several iron pressure tanks. An 1855 keeper’s house, a 1 ½-story building with a wood frame, is also preserved as part of the station. The station is currently serviced by an electromechanical hoist system for the transportation of materials, including a set of rails extended to the island’s boat landing.

The island, which is only accessible via boat or skiff via several of Monhegan Island’s hotels, is famous as the former residence of Ray Phillips, known as the “Hermit of Manana Island.” Phillips, a New York City native and architecture graduate of the University of Maine, served in World War I as a captain and fought with troops in Europe. Upon returning to the United States after the end of the war, Phillips became disenchanted with urban life and began sailing frequently in Long Island Sound aboard a personal sloop. On a sailing trip in 1928, Phillips sailed north to the Gulf of Maine and landed on Manana Island. He decided to relocate to the island that year, originally renting cottage space during the winter and living on his vessel during the summer. In 1930, Phillips purchased a large portion of the island’s land and constructed a cottage out of driftwood, which he lived in until his death in 1975. A short documentary film, The Hermit of Manana, chronicles Phillips’ life and may be viewed on YouTube. Though Phillips’ cottage has since washed away, the remains of another cottage are visible, constructed by a family who attempted to follow Phillips to the island and left after two seasons.

Manana Island is part of Monhegan Island, which is located approximately 10 miles off of the coast of Pemaquid Point. Monhegan Island’s name is derived from the Algonquian word monchiggon, which means “out-to-sea island.” Throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century, the island community served as a popular artist colony, housing noted American artists such as Edward Hopper, Frederick Waugh, and Robert Henri. Several prominent archaeological sites are located on Monhegan Island, including a petroglyph and stone cairn. The island community is part of the Plantation of Monhegan and is serviced by scheduled ferry service from nearby Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor, and Port Clyde. Though Manana Island is uninhabited today, the main island of Monhegan Island houses a year-round population of approximately 75 people and offers several historic hotels, art studios, and churches. The historic Monhegan Island Light, a conical stone lighthouse constructed in 1824, is also located on the island.

More Things to Do in Maine, Best Islands in Maine