The northeasternmost start in the union, Maine is famous throughout the country for its natural beauty. Featuring stunning landscapes, gorgeous coastlines, and pristine state parks, all complimented by its dramatic seasons, Maine is a wonder to behold. Whether you’re looking for great hiking, scenic views, serene beaches, or historical sites, Maine has something for you. With that in mind, here are the best places to visit in Maine.
A coastal town located in southern Maine, Kennebunkport is a very popular destination thanks to its beautiful sandy beaches, excellent restaurants, lighthouses, boat tours, and more. During the first Bush administration, Kennebunkport was known as the “Summer Whitehouse,” as the Bush family frequently vacationed in the area. It’s not hard to see why they enjoyed spending time in Kennebunkport so much. In the spring and summer the weather is absolutely beautiful, with temperatures that average in the high 70s, and very little precipitation. Popular activities and attractions in Kennebunkport include:
Whale Watching: Besides being one of the best places to visit in Maine, Kennebunkport is one of the best places in all of New England for whale watching. Whales frequent the waters off of Kennebunkport during the summer months. Anywhere from April to October is peak whale watching season, and you will be sure to see a variety of whales, dolphins, and other marine life. Whale watching tours can be booked for $25-50 and the trip is well worth it.
Watersports: kayak excursions, surfing, stand up paddleboarding, motorboating, deep sea fishing, and sailing are all very popular in Kennebunkport. There are a wealth of yacht and boating clubs, and watersports instruction centers to help beginners partaking in any sport they are interested in.
Beaches: Perhaps Kennebunkport biggest attraction is its beaches. The beaches are sandy with calm Atlantic waters and beautiful views. The most popular beaches in Kennebunkport include:
Gooch’s Beach: Large beach with lifeguards. Great for swimming, surfing, and fishing.
Mother’s Beach: Small, sandy beach with rock formations on the sides. Calm waters make this a great beach for children.
Middle Beach: Rocky beach located between Gooch’s Beach and Mother’s Beach. One of the least crowded beaches in the area, but not great for relaxing due to the rocks.
Colony Beach: Small, 150 foot beach next to the Kennebunk River. Limited parking, and no lifeguards on duty.
Museums and Historical Sites: Kennebunkport was first incorporated in 1653, and has a long colonial history. In the 19th century, the area became a popular tourist destination, and hotels and homes were built up and down the coastline. Throughout its history, Kennebunkport remained an important fishing and port city, as the lighthouses and commercial fishing buildings still standing in the area attest to.
Kennebunkport Historical Society is an excellent foundation that schedules walking tours of historical sites, operates museums in the town, and ensures the continuation of Kennebunkport’s historical legacy.
Historical attractions in Kennebunkport include:
Seashore Trolley Museum: The world’s first and largest museum focusing on public transportation, the Seashore Trolley Museum’s collection houses over 350 vehicles, and 10 trolley and railroad cars
Goat Island Lighthouse: Accessible only via boat, the Goat Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1833 to guide ships into Cape Porpoise Harbor. During the George H.W. Bush administration, secret service agents used the lighthouse to watch over the Bush compound.
Summer Street Historical Homes: Kennebunkport’s Summer Street is lined with historic mansions that were built and owned by sea captains who lived and worked in the town.
Brick Store Museum: First opened in 1936, the Brick Store Museum preserves the history of the town through artifacts and historic photographs.
Casco Bay Islands
A large bay on the Gulf of Maine, Casco Bay is a scenic area with dozens of small islands dotted throughout its waters. There are six main islands that are tourist destinations in the bay. Also known as the Calendar Islands, these islands include Peaks Island, Little Diamond Island, Great Diamond Island, Long Island, Chebeague Island and Cliff Island. Known for their beautiful beaches, great summer weather, excellent restaurants, and wealth of activities to take part in, these islands are well worth traveling to if you have the opportunity.
The islands are served by the Casco Bay Lines, a public transportation company with five ships that transport residents and visitors to and from the islands. The largest and most populous of the Casco Bay islands is Peaks Island, located about two miles off the coast of Portland.
Peaks Island, along with the rest of the islands in Casco Bay, make for great summer vacation spots. Popular activities on the islands include boating, sailing, kayaking, fishing, cycling, hiking, and more. Major attractions include:
Restaurants: Scattered throughout the Casco Bay Islands are many incredible restaurants, offering fresh Maine seafood, including its famous lobster dishes, plus many international restaurants and great bars and pubs.
Historical Sites: Casco Bay is full of historical buildings and lighthouses, including Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse, Spring Point Ledge Light, and Portland Breakwater Light. Peaks Island is the site of Battery Steele, a World War II fortification built to protect the New England coast. Walking tours of the historic districts of each island are popular attractions, as are the maritime museums.
Sightseeing: The Casco Bay Islands have some of the most stunning scenery in all of New England walking and hiking tours through the natural areas on the island, and boat and island hopping tours through the bay are well worth the trip.
Perhaps the Casco Bay Islands’s biggest attraction, however, is the beaches. Some of the best beaches on the islands include:
Sandy Beach, Peaks Island: A small, sandy beach on the southwest coast of the island. Calm waters at low tide. Good for kids, swimmers, and kayakers.
Cairn Beach, Peaks Island: A rocky but beautiful beach that has great views but is not suitable for swimming.
Fowler Beach, Long Island: A wild, rugged beach, surrounded by woods and grass. The beach is secluded, with beautiful views of the surrounding islands, and a great place for birdwatching and watching the sunset.
Chebeague Island Beach: Long, sandy, swimmable beach.
Acadia National Park
A 47,000 acre national park located in the middle of Maine’s coastline, Acadia National Park is renowned for its stunning landscapes, dramatic seasons, clean air and water, and natural beauty. One of the best places to visit in Maine year after year, Acadia National Park is Maine’s only national park, and attracts visitors year round from around the world, who come to hike, bicycle, horseback ride, rock climb, kayak and canoe on the lakes and rivers and in the ocean, go on boat tours, fish, cross country ski, snowmobile, snowshoe, and more.
With nearly 3.5 million visitors in 2019, the park is Maine’s biggest tourist attraction. The most popular sites in the park include:
Cadillac Mountain: A 1500 foot tall mountain on Mount Desert Island, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point in main, and the first place in the United States to see the sunrise. The mountain is a popular hiking spot, and the views from the top make hiking it well worth the effort.
Jordan Pond: A scenic pond surrounded by woods and walking trails. Jordan Pond covers 187 acres and is 150 feet deep at its deepest. The waters of the pond are crystal clear, and it is a great place for fishing and boating, although swimming is forbidden.
Sand Beach: 300 yard long swimmable beach on Newport Cove. Scenic views in a tranquil environment.
Thunder Hole: A small inlet along Acadia’s coast, where waves crash loud and fiercely on days with rough seas, producing thunderous noises and water spouting as high as 40 feet.
Eagle Lake: The largest freshwater lake in the national park, spanning 425 acres. Great for fishing, boating, and kayaking.
Otter Cliff: A 110 foot tall cliff overlooking the ocean. The cliff is an absolutely stunning site in person, and well worth the trip to get to.