25 Things to Do in Maine

By Janet Benoir – December 21, 2023

Maine presents itself as a sanctuary for those who cherish the outdoors. Its landscape, dominated by forests—including the esteemed Acadia National Park—offers a cool retreat with summers not breaching 85 degrees. In fall, you can witness a palette of vivid foliage, and when the snow falls, embrace the cozy charm of cabin life, partaking in winter sports or local festivities.

The splendors of Maine reach beyond the natural world. If you have an appetite for culture, you’ll find a vibrant art scene and a plethora of dining options to satisfy your culinary cravings. From skiing Sugarloaf Mountain to exploring the arts or feasting on the state’s signature lobster rolls, this coastal haven extends an invitation to an unforgettable adventure.

Portland

In the heart of Maine, the city of Portland is a bustling hub where classic New England charm meets vibrant cultural experiences. Your journey through the city isn’t complete without a visit to the historic Old Port area. Here, cobblestone streets guide you through a delightful array of shops and dining opportunities. Treat your taste buds at renowned establishments like Duckfat, Central Provisions, or enjoy the unique experience of dining on the water at DiMillo’s.

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Further enriching your Portland adventure, the Eastern Promenade offers serene waterfront views, while the Portland Museum of Art is a treasure trove for art aficionados. Should you fancy a local draft, Portland’s brewery tours are a must. Whilst exploring, consider the highly regarded Portland Harbor Hotel or The Press Hotel for a restful night’s stay amidst the city’s charming setting.

Casco Bay Islands

Your journey through the Casco Bay Islands, near the bustling city of Portland, offers a plethora of engaging activities. These coastal gems are perfect for savoring the tranquility of small-town charm. On Peaks Island, the most accessible and amenity-rich of these islands, activities abound—from cycling to leisurely beach strolls, complemented by the allure of savory local seafood.

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As an extension of your coastal exploration, consider the esteemed Mailboat Run day cruise. This roughly three-hour voyage provided by Casco Bay Lines allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of the bay. You will experience a guided passage that showcases Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Cliff, Long, and Chebeague Islands, offering a glance into the unique character of each locality.

Old Orchard Beach

Experience the charm of coastal Maine at Old Orchard Beach. Situated roughly 20 miles south of Portland, this resort destination offers a generous 7-mile stretch of sandy shores perfect for sunbathing and beach activities. You’ll find a scenic pier bustling with eateries and boutiques, elevating your beach day with convenience and local flair.

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Complementing the seaside allure is the family-friendly Palace Playland. With its iconic Ferris wheel, a selection of thrilling rides, and classic carnival games, it brings joy to visitors of all ages. For a comfortable stay, there’s a variety of oceanfront accommodations, including the Edgewater Motor Inn. Here, you can enjoy cozy amenities such as a heated pool and an eco-friendly electric car charging station, ensuring a memorable and comfortable beach getaway.

Ogunquit

Your experience in Ogunquit can be as leisurely or active as you desire. Enjoy the tranquility of Ogunquit Beach with its expansive sands suitable for sunbathing and swimming, or seek out Footbridge Beach for a quieter coastal retreat. Culturally enrich your visit by exploring the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, a seasonal exhibit housing over 3,000 pieces that narrate the American artistic journey.

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For an elevated stay, Cliff House Maine offers unparalleled rejuvenation just south of Ogunquit. Immerse yourself in the 9,000-square-foot spa with vistas of the cliffs, or indulge in the saunas and steam rooms featuring organic botanical treatments. The modern resort enhances your seaside escape with its indoor and outdoor pools, complimentary refreshment stations, scenic gardens, and exquisite oceanfront dining options.

Marginal Way

Your journey takes you along the picturesque Marginal Way, a little over one mile of paved trail that hugs the rugged shoreline. This path connects the sandy stretches of Ogunquit Beach with Perkins Cove, a quaint fishing locale known for its unique shops and delectable dining spots.

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Complete your excursion with a taste of the local cuisine. Consider the celebrated lobster roll at Footbridge Lobster or savor classic American dishes at That Place in Ogunquit. Both promise to add a delightful culinary endnote to your seaside stroll.

Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport is a must-visit coastal gem nestled in Maine, acclaimed for its picturesque beaches and maritime activities. Your days here are best spent by the water’s edge—whether you’re casting a line, soaking up the sun, or sailing beneath clear skies. Notable areas for beachgoers include the sandy stretches at Colony and Goose Rocks. Within the quaint realm of Cape Porpoise, a charming fishing hamlet awaits your exploration, as does the bustling hub of Dock Square.

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Savor the ocean’s bounty at The Clam Shack with its fresh-off-the-boat seafood, or opt for an elegant dining experience at the White Barn Inn Restaurant, celebrated for its exceptional Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond service. Accommodations in Kennebunkport range from the opulent Nathaniel Lord Mansion to a myriad of cozy inns and cottages, promising a memorable stay regardless of where you choose to rest your head.

Nubble Light

Located in York, Maine, the iconic Nubble Light stands as a historic beacon since its establishment in 1879. Recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, this lighthouse attracts many for its creative and recreational allure.

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Visitors frequently commend the panoramic views offered here, with the juxtaposition of the lighthouse against the ocean backdrop regarded as exceptionally stunning. Prepare for your journey by noting the seasonal availability of facilities.

Maine Lobster Festival

Spanning five days, the Maine Lobster Festival attracts gourmands eager to savor over 20,000 pounds of freshly caught lobster. The culinary delights don’t end with lobster alone; there are seafood cooking competitions and an assortment of local treats to sate diverse palates. Alongside feasting, the festival’s itinerary is packed with entertainment, from live bands to arts and crafts stalls, and even a parade.

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The festivities cater to the energetics and the leisurely alike, with a 5K foot race for sport enthusiasts and a variety of lodging options for those extending their stay. With convenient overflow parking and shuttles from nearby schools, navigating the festival is a breeze. Preferred accommodations such as LimeRock Inn and 250 Main Hotel promise a comfortable rest to ensure you can thoroughly enjoy the vibrant festival atmosphere from start to finish.

Coastal Gardens of Maine

In the heart of Boothbay lies a verdant oasis that spans over 300 acres, known as the Coastal Gardens of Maine. These gardens offer a medley of flora and fauna, featuring specialized sections such as the Dahlia Garden and Butterfly House. Nature enthusiasts and families find the experience delightful, with trails winding through a tapestry of blooms, woodlands, and serene spaces like the Meditation Garden, structured for contemplation amidst nature’s splendor.

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Before visiting, securing your tickets online is advisable to ensure entry. For those who find themselves repeatedly drawn to this natural haven, membership options are available, which include benefits like complimentary access and additional exclusives. The gardens serve as a beautiful canvas of nature’s artistry, a short journey from the calming waters of Boothbay Harbor.

Monhegan Island

Monhegan Island, a small, unblemished locale accessible only via sea passage, waits 10 miles from the shoreline. Bearing a modest population—merely 70 residents all year—it boasts pristine wildlands. Traverse the rugged cliffs along 9 miles of trails, or explore the quaint village where artisan shops and local cuisine invite. Looming over the seascape is the historic lighthouse, paired with an art museum, for a touch of culture amidst the natural beauty.

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For those looking to extend their stay on this serene island, a selection of inns is available. Transportation choices to reach this coastal gem include an hour’s ferry journey from New Harbor, available May through mid-October courtesy of Hardy Boat Cruises. Alternatively, from June to September, Balmy Day Cruises offers a 90-minute sail from Boothbay Harbor.

Whale Watching

From mid-spring to the onset of autumn, whale enthusiasts can embark on an extraordinary venture to witness humpback, pilot, minke, and finback whales as they traverse the coastal regions of the state. Engaging with a specialized tour operator, such as Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., ensures a front-row seat to these marine marvels in their natural habitat—remember to come equipped with a camera and binoculars for an enhanced experience.

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Early mornings typically offer calm waters, while sunset adventures are known for their picturesque views. While summer promises clear skies and minimal fog, enhancing the probability of spotting these ocean giants, enthusiasts can generally anticipate a successful whale sighting during any tour throughout the season, thanks to the high frequency of whale presence in the waters of Frenchman Bay.

Farnsworth Art Museum

The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland stands out as a treasure trove, showcasing over 15,000 artworks that capture Maine’s contribution to American art. Established in 1948, this 20,000-square-foot venue regularly updates its displays, featuring works by renowned artists, including the sculptures of Louise Nevelson and the modern American realistic creations of Jamie Wyeth.

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As you explore the galleries, the depth and variety of the curated pieces may impress you, affirming the museum’s merit as a destination in Rockland. Upon completing your visit, consider dining at a local establishment such as the farm-to-table Primo or the family-run Hill’s Seafood Co.

Stephen King’s House

While Stephen King’s striking home in Bangor, Maine, is not open for public tours, it remains a staple for fans of his work. The residence, a red Victorian-style dwelling, is easily recognizable by its distinct fence embellished with spider and dragon motifs. You’re welcome to view the property from the outside and capture photographs of its unique characteristics.

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Adjacent to the main house, you’ll find a captivating wooden sculpture reaching 15 feet tall, skillfully chiseled from a deceased tree. This sculpture showcases a fantastical array of creatures encircling a bookcase. For a more in-depth experience, consider joining one of the SK Tours excursions, which offer a comprehensive three-hour journey through King’s significant local spots, including places that inspired his writing or settings featured in film adaptations of his novels.

Cape Elizabeth

Your journey through Cape Elizabeth will lead you to an iconic beacon, the Portland Head Light, Maine’s oldest lighthouse. Erected in the 18th century and soaring to a height of 80 feet, this lighthouse is nestled within the picturesque Fort Williams Park. Explore the keeper’s house which now operates as a museum, providing a narrative of the region’s maritime saga.

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Venture further into Cape Elizabeth’s charm by visiting the serene Crescent Beach State Park or discovering the rugged coastline at Two Lights State Park. As the day winds down, consider a restful night at the local favorite, Inn by the Sea, or make your way back to the bustling scene of Portland.

Bar Harbor

Your escape to Bar Harbor offers a serene ambiance coupled with the allure of nature. Here, the proximity to Acadia National Park invites you to embrace outdoor excursions. Stroll along Frenchman Bay’s shoreline or indulge in bird-watching at the local parks and preserves, immersing yourself in the tranquility of Mount Desert Island’s landscapes.

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Bar Harbor’s culinary scene will satisfy your taste for fresh, succulent seafood, while artisan ice cream parlors and craft breweries add a delightful twist to your gastronomic journey. During late July to mid-September, seize the opportunity to pick fresh wild blueberries at area farms or markets. For lodging that merges comfort with charm, consider the Balance Rock Inn, the seasonal Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina, or select from various cozy local rentals.

Acadia National Park

Stretched across 47,000 acres, Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island entices you with its natural mosaic of oceanic coastline, forest canopies, and granite peaks. Cadillac Mountain rises as a hallmark peak, providing panoramic views from its summit. To truly experience Acadia’s diverse landscapes, you are invited to traverse its extensive network of trails, totaling nearly 160 miles.

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Your adventure might lead you to conquer the Beehive Loop or to explore the ridges of Cadillac Mountain. For a change of pace, the smooth gravel of the carriage roads is perfect for biking, while the rocky shores offer unique opportunities for bird-watching and climbing. After a day of invigorating outdoor pursuits, you can savor the historic flavors of popovers and tea at the park’s exclusive eatery, Jordan Pond House Restaurant—a tradition upheld since the 1890s.

Terramor Outdoor Resort

Just a short journey from Acadia National Park, this resort melds the serenity of nature with the comforts of modern amenities. It’s a setting where you can immerse yourself in various outdoor pursuits including hiking and fishing, or simply relax and indulge in celestial observation.

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Your stay will be in one of the elegantly furnished tents complete with power, temperature control, and internet connectivity. Outdoor enhancements like screened living areas and, for some, personal bathroom facilities and wood-burning fireplaces, elevate your camping experience, complemented by the warmth of the staff and enchanting vistas.

Baxter State Park

In the heart of Maine, nestled near Millinocket and approximately 70 miles north of Bangor, lies the expansive Baxter State Park. This untouched expanse covers over 200,000 acres and is the custodian of Mount Katahdin, the state’s highest peak, which rises imposingly to 5,270 feet. While ascending this peak presents a challenge requiring physical fitness and mountaineering knowledge, reaching its summit rewards you with breathtaking panoramas.

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The park offers an array of outdoor activities—whether you’re an avid adventurer seeking to navigate the Penobscot and Kennebec rivers by kayak or canoe, or you prefer the tranquility of biking through nature. With over 215 miles of hiking trails, the park is also a part of the legendary Appalachian Trail. As you traverse this diverse landscape, you might encounter majestic moose among other regional wildlife.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Nestled in the heart of Carrabassett Valley, western Maine, Sugarloaf Mountain serves as a hub for vigorous outdoor pursuits throughout the year. Come summer, the landscape transforms into a playground where you can engage in hiking, mountain biking, golfing, kayaking, and even zip-lining.

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Winter casts a snowy blanket over Sugarloaf, turning it into a frosty paradise that boasts a unique feature in the eastern United States—the only lift-accessible, above-treeline skiing. As the largest ski area this side of the Rockies, it provides more than 30 miles of trails for cross-country skiing, along with opportunities for snowshoeing and ice skating.

Maine Maritime Museum

The Maine Maritime Museum offers a wealth of knowledge on Maine’s rich maritime heritage, set against the picturesque backdrop of the Kennebec River. Your exploration of the museum’s 20 acres in Bath brings you face-to-face with both indoor and outdoor exhibitions. Walk through the expansive shipyard, where sea breezes carry stories of yesteryear.

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While traversing the grounds, you have the opportunity to engage with historical films, marvel at an extensive collection of nautical machinery, and browse an array of maritime relics and artwork. If you choose, cap off your experience with a delightful river cruise, giving you a glance at the operational shipyard and coastal lighthouses, offered when the season permits.

Wadsworth-Longfellow House

The Wadsworth-Longfellow House, preserved by the Maine Historical Society, stands as a testament to America’s rich cultural history, originating in 1785. This landmark was home to the distinguished Wadsworth and Longfellow families, with the acclaimed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as its notable resident.

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When you visit this historic location between June and October, you’re able to wander through the elegantly maintained interiors, housing a collection of authentic household items. The property also boasts the tranquil Longfellow Garden, offering a serene retreat at the heart of Portland, near the Portland Museum of Art.

Victoria Mansion

Constructed from 1858 to 1860, Victoria Mansion serves as a historic emblem in Portland, originally established as a private residence. This structure, which opened to the public as a museum in 1941, is also known as the Morse-Libby House. Its uniqueness lies in being the only extant U.S. structure that showcases the decorative craft of Gustave Herter, a renowned interior designer of the time.

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When you visit, you are presented with the option of either a guided or self-guided tour, allowing you to explore an array of exquisite artifacts and unparalleled decor. The Italian villa-style architecture is extraordinarily well maintained, making it among the finest in the nation. Visitors frequently express their admiration for the mansion, noting the informative nature of the tours provided.

L.L. Bean Flagship Store

In the heart of Freeport, less than 20 miles northeast of Portland, you will find the prominent L.L.Bean flagship store. Since its establishment in 1917, this multi-level retail haven has become a beacon for over 3 million visitors each year. Capture a memorable moment with the 16-foot-tall boot sculpture outside before diving into the numerous sections, which include everything ranging from clothing to outdoor gear.

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Expect to be drawn into a world where quality and variety meet, with the assurance of finding something that suits your adventurous spirit. The store is not just a place to shop; it’s a destination that offers a glimpse into outdoor traditions and innovation.

Funtown Splashtown USA

In Saco, a short drive from Portland, lies a destination replete with excitement and aquatic adventures. Funtown Splashtown USA offers diverse attractions to satisfy thrill-seekers and families alike. Test your courage on Maine’s only wooden rollercoaster or experience the highest log flume in New England. For an adrenaline rush, the drop tower plummets you from a dizzying height of 220 feet.

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For those with younger companions, gentler amusement choices are plentiful. Enjoy the pleasure of a kiddie train, navigate through the water in bumper boats, or enjoy the timeless experience of a classic carousel. Your aquatic entertainment extends to Poseidon’s Plunge, an exhilarating waterslide, and a family-friendly raft slide. The lagoon area provides a perfect spot for swimming and enjoying the water.

Allagash Brewing Company

In Portland, you’ll find an acclaimed independent brewery known for its expertise in crafting Belgian-inspired beers. Allagash Brewing Company is celebrated for its Allagash White, a Belgian-style wheat beer, among others. With a diverse selection that includes sours, barrel-aged, wild, and beers brewed through spontaneous fermentation, there is something to suit every taste preference.

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The brewery welcomes you with a family-friendly tasting room where you can savor their unique brews. For an elevated experience, consider the 1.5-hour guided tasting in The Cellars, offering a sample of five distinct beers. Alongside top-notch beverages, an on-site food truck offers local gourmet treats like the famous lobster rolls, further enhancing your visit in this agreeable indoor or outdoor setting.