20 Things to Do in Maine Ultimate Bucket List Must-See Attractions 202
Maine, the northeasternmost U.S. state, is known for its rocky coastline, maritime history and nature areas like the granite and spruce islands of Acadia National Park. Moose are plentiful in Baxter State Park, home to Mt. Katahdin, the endpoint of the Appalachian Trail. Lighthouses such as the candy-striped beacon at West Quoddy Head, dot the coast, as do lobster shacks and sandy beaches like Ogunquit and Old Orchard.
- Capital: Augusta
- Nickname: The Pine Tree State
- Area: 91,646 km²
- Governor: Janet Mills (Democratic Party)
Maine has a long history as a vacation hotspot. The coastal state’s colonial past has left it with charming cobblestone and brick towns, while miles of sandy beaches and rocky cliffs are as popular with travellers as its western mountains with skiers seeking the best runs in the Northeast. Sea seekers or amateur historians will find plenty to do, but here’s a list of our favourite attractions to help you focus your time.
1. Acadia National Park
The coastal haven of robber barons, there’s no shortage of sights to inspire you in Acadia. Whether you want the charms of the fishing village of Bar Harbor, breathtaking views atop Cadillac Mountain, one of the first sunrise spots in the country, or to see the sea in its most elemental form at Thunder Hole, the park Maine National never fails to impress.
The highest peak in Maine, located within the path of Baxter State Park, should be on the list of all things to do in Maine. Making do with the desert, Katahdin commands 360-degree panoramic views of central Maine. The 10-hour drive alone is worth the trip: hikers hug a beautiful, noisy creek, plateau at a clear glacial lake, and then scramble over the fallen rock before reaching the summit.
3. Helmet Bay
Images of Maine most often evoke scenes of Casco Bay, where the state’s largest city and a host of charming passenger islands call home. Whether you’re island hopping on ferries, surfing, kayaking, or cooking on the beach with your first baked lobster, Casco Bay can’t be ignored. Day-trippers from Portland often head to Peaks Island, making for a fun bike ride. Or head to Bailey Island, which has one of the prettiest harbours in the state.
4. Portland Old Port
Urban without forgetting its rural roots, Portland’s Old Port is a mix of winding cobblestone streets and brick colonial buildings. The city’s commercial centre and creative hub, the Old Port, is where you’ll find some of Maine’s best restaurants, breweries, and boutiques. People-watching alone is worth a trip, whether it’s tourists spending a night on the town or islanders taking the ferry home after a day’s work.
5. Portland Art Museum
In short, the museum has everything you’d expect from significant capital, without the lines and prices. Old world legends, modern masters, and beloved Maine artists rub shoulders at this intimate museum located in downtown Portland. Whether it’s Picasso’s favourite Andrew Wyeth, Monet, or Maine, the museum is home to more than 18,000 works of art dating from the 18th century to the present day, with a dedicated room featuring works from the coast of Maine by Winslow Homer.
6. Gulf Hagas
The Grand Canyon East is a little-known gorge located in some of the most rural parts of the state. Here, the Pleasant River drops dramatically through a series of drill falls into expansive pools teeming with trout. A trail skirts the gorge, offering stunning, albeit steep, views of the wild river below.
7. Allagash Waterway
Wild, unapproachable, and unique. If you’re looking to get away, look no further. As it is known, the Allagash is a 92-mile stretch of interconnected lakes and rivers that wind through some of the most remote rural areas of the state. Best seen by kayak: There is plenty of camping along the coast; visitors should know that trips start in one day and go to 10, a spiritual escapade as much as a physical feat. The rewards are pristine, even virgin woods where moose only spectators.
8. Asticou Azalea Garden
Elegant, understated, and impressive, this small Japanese-inspired garden gives you yet another reason to visit Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. Asticou sometimes slips under the radar, and there is rarely, if ever, anything in the lines. It is fantastic because when the flowers bloom, the garden’s flow, the natural design flows from one section to another, allowing it to meander from one colour to another.
9. Sugarloaf and Sunday River
Maine’s premier winter playgrounds offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding anywhere.
10. Rangeley Lake
Rangeley Lake is surrounded by mountains, elk and is home to some of the best wild cutthroat trout in the state. A four-season destination for the world-weary. Located in rural western Maine, the lake offers boating opportunities in the summer, spectacular leaves for fall hikers, and miles of groomed trails in the winter.
11. Grafton Notch State Park
The notch between the mountains separates Maine from New Hampshire. The park itself is a hiker’s paradise, with 12 challenging miles of Appalachian Trail, including the region’s tallest mountain, Old Speck. Peregrine falcons frequent the range, containing secret waterfalls, gorges, and scenic drives. Visit Table Rock, a bald swath of granite that will make you think of the Lion King.
12. Sebago Lake
Maine’s second-largest lake is just a short drive from Portland, its largest city, a coincidence that belies its popularity. Sebago is Maine’s water park, New England’s deepest lake, and a water source for Portland,
Boaters, kayakers, and sport fishermen call the huge lake home to numerous lakeside cabins and campgrounds. For summer fun, Sebago is a must.
13. Moosehead Lake
The largest lake in the state is a series of sheltered coves and bays, perfect for anyone looking for a rustic retreat. Moosehead is famous for its cold water (infamously, if you’re swimming), making it an ideal fishing destination. Located to the north, Moosehead is more than 40 miles long and covers some 75,000 acres. Inside there are beautiful views, magical wildlife (beavers, loons and, you guessed it) moose) plus plenty of shorelines.
14. Maine desert
Glaciers left their mark by depositing a massive sandbox in Freeport, Maine. Discovered after generations of poor farming practices, the Maine desert grew as vegetation receded, leaving behind a patch of sediment. This oddity is now a tourist attraction, a unique aberration (Maine gets too much rain for a real dessert) that draws tens of thousands of visitors each year.
15. Coastal Maine Botanical Garden
The garden is spread over 270 acres of prime coastal waterfront in beautiful Boothbay, north of Portland. The botanical gardens are impressive, with different sections with roses, native plants, greenhouses, and lakes. Modern art sculptures by local artists are on display, and in winter, the Lights Aglow exhibit, the annual holiday extravaganza, attracts colour-hungry visitors.
16. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse
Lighthouses dot the shoreline wherever ships are, but only a few, like Pemaquid, are iconic. Commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1827, the lighthouse stands at the entrance to Muscongus and John’s Bays in the city of Bristol. Crashing waves and rocky cliffs bring weddings, and the first floor features a museum (visitors can rent the upper apartment).
You’ve probably seen parts of Vinalhaven, the town on the largest of the Fox Islands, even if you’ve never been there. For a century, granite was quarried here and shipped to New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, leaving behind a network of rain-filled pits that created famous swimming holes. A well-known fishing community, summer retreat, and artist colony, Vinalhaven is a small community only accessible by a 75-minute ferry ride. Don’t expect big crowds or packed activities; instead, enjoy a slice of quiet summer life.
18. ground height
Tucked away in the small town of Roxbury in western Maine, this overlook is so popular it’s earned its name. Views of Mooselookmeguntic and Rangeley lakes impress the region’s wild beauty, which is popular with anglers, hunters, and families looking to get away to cabins for a week. Traverse the Appalachian Trail, which offers plenty of activities for a day trip.
19. Stonington Harbor
One of the most photographed harbours in Maine, Stonington at night is a painter’s dream. Quaint, picturesque, and laid-back, the city attracts only a specific type of traveller during the busy summer months. Life has remained more or less the same as ever, with fishing and lobster being the main commercial activities, leaving much of the city trapped in time. Please stop by for a show at the iconic opera house, which attracts household names for its acts from time to time.
20. Old Sow Whirlpool
If the legendary tides of the Bay of Fundy weren’t enough to get you to Eastport, the easternmost city in the US and a stone’s throw from Canada, this whirlpool should be enough to suck you in. The largest in the Western Hemisphere, Old Sow forms daily as the rising tide passes each side of Indian Island, loops around Deer Island, and squeezes through the Western Passage. It is best viewed three hours before high tide when the choppy waters are at their strongest.
21. Fort Gorges
Fort Gorges, accessible only by boat, sits abandoned on an island in Portland Harbor. Constructed of granite in 1865, the historic structure was most recently used to store underwater mines in World War II. It was named for Maine’s colonial owner, Sir Ferdinand Gorges, primarily to support nearby forts. Construction initially accelerated during the Civil War, although the development of modern explosives made the fort obsolete by the time it was finished.
The dark halls of Fort Gorges are steeped in history and mystery, and its position on the island gives the appearance that the walls are rising from the sea. Keep an eye out for the local harbour seals and boats that dot the surface of the water. Once you reach the island, there is a small beach and a granite block pier. Perhaps the best part of exploring the fort is the incredible view of the Portland city skyline, seen from the rooftop.
22. east walk
Portland’s Eastern Promenade stretches just over two miles along the waterfront in one of the city’s most beautiful outdoor spaces. Overlooking the activity of Casco Bay and adjacent to the grassy Fort Allen Park, the trail (known to locals as “East Prom”) offers some of the best views of the surrounding natural landscape. You can also take a look at the many lobster boats and schooners.
Much of the 68-acre walking area boasts views of the islands off the Portland coast. In addition to walking the trail, bird watching, biking, and picnicking are options for enjoying the outdoors here. The tour begins in Portland’s Old Port, lined with historic docks and cobblestone streets. Parallel paved, and dirt paths take you along the boardwalk. You’ll pass many sports fields and recreation areas to play baseball, tennis, and basketball before the trail ends at East End Beach.
23. Premium Kittery Stores
Located next to the beaches and towns of southern Maine, Kittery Premium Outlets is one of the best shopping districts in New England. Their collection of over 60 stores offers premium brands at discounted prices ranging from 25-65%. Exclusive stores include Polo Ralph Lauren, J. Crew Factory, Columbia Sportswear, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, and Coach. Outside of women’s and men’s clothing, home goods are available at Yankee Candle and Brookstone stores. Sportswear and sporting goods and children’s clothing stores, and specialty shoe stores, are also located on-site.
Shopper services include an information desk, guest concierge, and international currency and size exchange tables. There are 60 more stores located just a few minutes down the street, so there are over 120 shopping opportunities in total. During the seasonal sales, the discounts are even more significant.
24. Tate House Museum
From 1755, Portland’s Tate House Museum in Maine is the only extant example of pre-Revolutionary architecture open to the public. In its heyday, it was the residence of Captain George Tate, a senior mast officer in the British Royal Navy, although it is now a museum, with period furniture, a herb garden, and a gift shop.
25. New England Distilling
Whether you’re looking for whiskey, rum, or gin, New England Distilling produces some of the best in the region. Each one is created with raw materials by a family that has been distilling for many generations; New England Distilling’s roots date back to the 1850s. Today the facility includes a mix of traditional and modern equipment.
Local ingredients are used in recipes worldwide to create premium spirits by hand in small batches. In the distillery, you can see the traditional copper pot still, which gives a bit of history to the process. Whiskey and gin are made from New England and the Midwest grains, while rum is made from Caribbean molasses. The spirits are fermented with yeast from the Maine Beer Company. On-site tastings allow visitors to experience all three.
26. Rising Tide Brewing Company
Rising Tide Brewing Company serves up one of Portland, Maine’s most beloved beers, along with living music and food trucks. The lively tasting room features craft beers brewed by the small-scale, family-owned brewing company, which has since become one of the area’s leading breweries. There is a local atmosphere in the tavern and a long tasting bar overlooking the production area.
Sample four different beers on a brewery tour or tour your visit on craft beverage tour of the city.
What is the number 1 attraction in Maine?
1. Acadia National Park. The rugged and beautiful stretch of coastline that is set aside as Acadia National Park also surrounds a large inland region of lakes, streams, and forests. It provides a playground for locals and visitors who enjoy the outdoors.
Is there anything to do in Maine? Things To Do In Maine
- Portland Museum of Art. Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock. …
- Portland Head Light. Sara Winter / Shutterstock. …
- Acadia National Park. Eric Urquhart / Shutterstock. …
- Mt. Katahdin. …
- Farnsworth Art Museum. Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock. …
- Windjammer Cruise. Allan Wood Photography / Shutterstock. …
- Kennebunkport. …
- Casco Bay.
What is the best month to visit Maine?
The best time to visit Maine for good weather is between June and August. If you’re hoping to avoid the crowds and enjoy a more laid-back holiday, the best time to visit Maine is during the spring or fall.
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26 Things to Do in Maine Ultimate Bucket List Must-See Attractions 2022