Packing for Maine is sort of like packing for an adventure: You’ll want to bring your sturdiest boots and most weather-resistant jacket, and the kind of bag that has room for fresh blueberries. Scenic Maine is known for its relaxed New England lifestyle, not so much the mansions of Greenwich or Newport as the earthy, sea-dashed homes that look like they’ve got stories. Bring your flannel, your favorite Stephen King novel (for the full experience of Maine’s most famous resident, of course), and a taste for lobster, and you’ll be ready for anything.
Eastern Standard Time
Best Time to Go
Maine gets cold in the winter, so unless winter is your favorite season and you are a big fan of the cold (no judgment here), summer and fall are the best times to go. While summer is peak tourist season and allows visitors to enjoy all that Maine’s beaches and seafood have to offer, fall might even win out — the weather is usually brisk and comfortable, and the New England fall foliage can’t be beat. In fact, Maine has entire events planned around its famous foliage: Harvestfest in York, Fryeburg Fair, OgunquitFest, and more. Craft fairs are extremely popular during the fall throughout Maine, so if your favorite part of traveling is discovering unique treasures, you’d be hard-pressed to find a season to visit better than autumn. And, of course, there’s Halloween. Though not as popular a New England destination as Salem, Massachusetts, or New England neighbor Sleepy Hollow, New York, Maine nonetheless does Halloween in style, and fans of the holiday will find themselves among like-minded people.
Things to Know
Maine is a largely laid-back, outdoorsy state. If you’re too clipped when speaking to locals, you might come off as uptight — be friendly with your communication and you can’t go wrong. Don’t eat lobster with a bib, don’t ask if the blueberries are local (they are), and get comfortable with small talk, because Maine locals love to talk about the weather. For a state where so much of what there is to do is outdoors, it makes sense.
For some local delicacies, try Moxie, a soft drink that can be an acquired taste. Amato’s pickles are based in Portland, and have the market cornered in Maine. And, of course, whoopie pies. The very first ones were sold in Lewiston, Maine, and nowhere does them better.
There’s also a huge antiquing scene in the state, and if you’re at all interested in ferreting out some vintage finds, Maine is an excellent choice for you. Almost every town has its own antique shop that folks swear is the best around. Even if you’re not an avid thrifter, it’s worth checking out some of Maine’s most famous antique shops, just for the experience.
How to Get Around
Depending on where in Maine you’re spending your time, there are a variety of ways to get around.
Trains: Amtrak runs a local service known as the Downeaster, which runs from Boston, Massachusetts, to Brunswick, Maine. Hop on for easy transportation to major towns and cities throughout Maine.
Buses: There are several bus lines operating throughout Maine, depending on what counties you’re in. Greyhound runs throughout, but there are several more localized services that might be better for your needs.
Taxis: Taxis are available throughout Maine, but as in most places, you must call a service directly if you’re not in an urban area already.Ferries: Maine is serviced by two ferry lines specific to Casco and Penobscot Bays.
Credit: Irvin Serrano
Inn by the Sea
Address: 40 Bowery Beach Rd., Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
Phone: (207) 799-3134
A skip away from Portland lies the Inn by the Sea, a gorgeous beachfront resort with a full-service spa. Inn by the Sea’s outdoor fire pits and fireplaces in every suite make it a prime choice for a winter stay. Have breakfast at Sea Glass, the property’s restaurant, before taking a long walk on the pristine private beach, or heading into Portland for a day of fun.
Cliff House Maine
Address: 591 Shore Rd., Cape Neddick, ME 03902
Phone: (207) 361-1000
Cliff House Maine sprawls along the oceanside cliffs of Cape Neddick, making a stay here feel like something out of classic literature. The ocean looks close enough to touch, and the sounds of it will lull you to sleep each night — almost every suite has a partial or complete coastal view. Cliff House Maine also features a full-service spa for the ultimate relaxation experience.
Black Friar Inn and Pub
Address: 10 Summer St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Phone: (207) 288-5091
This charming establishment has an old European charm, created from salvaged wood from historical mansions that didn’t make it to modern day. Breakfast is included at this cozy, comfortable inn, and each of the six rooms is in high demand during peak season – especially for those wanting to explore nearby Acadia National Park.
White Barn Inn
Address: 37 Beach Ave., Kennebunk, ME 04043
Phone: (207) 967-2321
No list of top Maine getaways would be complete without the inclusion of White Barn Inn, whose luxurious suites and Forbes Five-star restaurant make it a must-stay for any discerning traveler. As a resort, White Barn Inn features several activities and experiences, from cooking alongside the hotel’s chef to woodland dog sledding.
Lighthouse Suites at Pine Point
Address: 3 King St., Scarborough, ME 04074
Phone: (800) 780-3213
What would Maine be without its lighthouses? Lighthouse Suites at Pine Point embraces all that is classic to Maine, starting with its charming New England decor. Pine Point’s beaches are some of the most gorgeous on the East Coast, and Lighthouse Suites are a mere few steps away. Designed for extended stays, the luxurious suites are built for long-term comfort, and are ideal for those looking to get away for a season.
Address: 354 Goose Rocks Rd., Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Phone: (207) 967-9050
A private woodland resort, Hidden Pond’s most incredible amenity is its Treetop Lodges — tree houses from studios to two bedrooms, tucked among the birch trees. If you prefer more grounded lodging, Hidden Pond’s bungalows and cottages are cozy, charming options. Enjoy a massage at the full-service spa, take a dip in one of the two pools, or harvest fresh berries for your own dessert at Hidden Pond’s farm.
The Press Hotel
Address: 119 Exchange St., Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 808-8800
The Press Hotel is a Portland icon — a boutique stunner inspired by writers’ offices of the 1920s. Each of the 110 rooms is uniquely decorated with pieces from local artists, making no two stays the same, should you be a repeat guest. Centrally located within easy visiting distance of many of the city’s most beloved institutions, The Press Hotel is a perfect choice for those heading to Portland.
Nathaniel Lord Mansion
Address: 6 Pleasant St., Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Phone: (207) 967-3141
Maine is dotted with historical mansions that have found new life as inns and bed-and-breakfasts, and the luxurious Nathaniel Lord Mansion is one of the most well-known. Formerly a shipbuilder’s and sea merchant’s mansion, the property has been carefully maintained, from the gorgeous original paneling to the stunningly restored furniture. The building overlooks the river and is a short walk to Dock Square for dining and shopping.
Credit: Courtesy of The Knotted Apron
Address: 414 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 805-1085
Portland’s Central Provisions gets its name from its history — originally a storehouse for provisions, it has been renovated and updated with the help of local craftspeople and artisans into the eatery and market it is today. A focus on small plates with fresh ingredients allows you to sample everything Central Provisions has to offer, and on your way out, you can grab a few things — farm fresh eggs, aromatic coffee, and more.
Eventide Oyster Co.
Address: 86 Middle St., Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 774-8538
Eventide Oyster Co. has a location in Boston now, but the original is in Portland — and where else would a brown butter lobster roll spring into existence? Eventide Oyster Co.’s original takes on New England favorites include a fried oyster bun, a lobster stew, and house-made oatmeal cream pies. Reservations are recommended.
The Knotted Apron
Address: 496 Woodford St., Portland, ME 04103
Phone: (207) 805-1523
This bistro’s limited menu will have you ordering one of everything — and with its seasonal changes, you can go back and have a new, unique experience. Nestled in the bustling heart of Portland, The Knotted Apron is famous for its classic recipes with a refreshing, delicious twist.
Anju Noodle Bar
Address: 7 Wallingford Sq., Unit 102, Kittery, ME 03904
Phone: (207) 703-4298
Satisfy your cravings for cozy ramen, delectable bao, and zippy kimchi at this incredible Kittery noodle bar. Anju is known for its individual takes on classic ramen recipes, with ingredients so fresh you’ll wonder how you can eat noodles at home again. Don’t miss the pork buns and spicy miso ramen.
Address: 18 Franklin St., Biddeford, ME 04005
Phone: (207) 284-0015
The Palace Diner is a railcar-style eatery serving up breakfast and lunch daily, with a down-home menu to die for. Fill up on classic buttermilk flapjacks or a juicy fried chicken sandwich, and don’t forget to grab a slice of their famous brown butter banana bread, too.
The Clam Shack
Address: 2 Western Ave., Kennebunk, ME 04043
Phone: (207) 967-3321
Serving fresh lobster, scallops, fish, and more since 1968, The Clam Shack is Maine’s most famous seaside seafood spot. The lobster rolls here are simple and incredible, with butter and a hint of herbs, letting the fresh lobster really shine. Don’t miss the fried clams, either — it’s called The Clam Shack for a reason. Note: It’s only open seasonally.
White Barn Inn
Address: 37 Beach Ave., Kennebunk, ME 04043
Phone: (207) 967-2321
The White Barn Inn features a Forbes Five-star, AAA Five-diamond restaurant, and the food is as good as those accolades claim. The White Barn Inn has two dining options — its namesake restaurant for a more elegant and romantic meal, or the Little Barn, a relaxed, casual experience with the same acclaimed food. Reservations are recommended.
Earth at Hidden Pond
Address: 354 Goose Rocks Rd., Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Phone: (207) 967-6550
Hidden Pond is one of Maine’s top spots to stay, not in small part because of its incredible restaurant. With fresh ingredients from the on-site farm, it’s hard not to be a little overblown in the description of Earth’s dishes. Inspired by a little of everywhere, Earth offers three-course prix-fixe meals for $65 per person and four-course options for $80 per person. Reservations are recommended.
Credit: Douglas Rissing/Getty Images
Things to Do
Acadia National Park
Maine’s most stunning attraction takes up most of Mount Desert Island, and is replete with hiking for all levels, hidden natural beauty, and educational events for families. Whether you plan to hike, camp, swim, or kayak, Acadia National Park’s legendary beauty is a can’t-miss for any Maine visitor.
Farnsworth Art Museum
Address: 16 Museum St., Rockland, ME 04841
Phone: (207) 596-6457
With a range of thoughtful, eclectic, and fascinating exhibits alongside its permanent collection, the Farnsworth Art Museum is a gem tucked away in Rockland. Featuring American artists with a focus on those with Maine connections, the museum frequently hosts lectures, workshops, and performances that make it a must-visit for any art lover.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Address: 132 Botanical Gardens Dr., Boothbay, ME 04537
Phone: (207) 633-8000
Open seasonally from May through October, this botanical garden is known not only for its lush flowers, but also for its comprehensive herbarium, which draws botanical enthusiasts from all around. Enjoy a relaxing stroll through the blooming gardens or learn about conservation and horticulture through the venue’s programming.
Portland Museum of Art
Address: 7 Congress St., Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 775-6148
This museum is as much a piece of art in and of itself as it is a collection. The stunning architecture of the PMA, as it’s fondly known, draws as many design lovers as its exhibitions do art lovers. With a focus on fostering connections between the community and art, the PMA provides educational programming as well as rotating exhibitions. With pieces by Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, and many more, the museum frequently switches out what’s on display, so check in advance to see if your favorite is out.
International Cryptozoology Museum
Address: 32 Resurgam Pl., Portland, Maine 04102
This tiny museum has, according to one enthusiastic reviewer, a “real mystery shack vibe,” which makes sense given its devotion to all things cryptid. Including, but certainly not limited to, exhibitions dedicated to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, the museum also focuses on those cryptids that were eventually proven real, like the coelacanth.
Wild Blueberry Land
Address: 1067 US-1, Columbia Falls, ME 04623
Phone: (207) 483-2583
If you’ve ever wondered what happened to that one girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, now you know — she’s having a grand old time at Maine’s most charming farm. Living peacefully somewhere between theme park and farmers’ market, Wild Blueberry Land is a beloved landmark and home to arguably the best blueberry pie within the state’s borders.
Merryspring Nature Center
Address: 30 Conway Rd., Camden, ME 04843
Phone: (207) 236-2239
This 66-acre park is perfect for families, with programming specifically tailored to children of all ages. Enjoy trails, birding, a diversely populated arboretum, a vernal pool, and a wide variety of wildlife as you explore the park and its many habitats.
Address: Sohier Park Rd., York, ME 03909
Of Maine’s 65 lighthouses, the most famous is the Nubble Lighthouse, whose classic silhouette is almost synonymous with New England itself. Visit to take in the beauty of the lighthouse, then explore the park surrounding it, where visitors can enjoy fishing, scuba diving, and more.
Credit: Courtesy of Longfellow Books
Len Libby Candies
Address: 419 US Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074
Phone: (207) 883-4897
Google Len Libby Candies and you’ll see they are the proud home of a life-size chocolate moose named Lenny, who has been around since 1997 and shows no signs of melting down. He alone is worth a visit, but while you’re paying your respects to legendary Lenny, don’t miss Len Libby’s confections, which range from homemade peanut butter cups and truffles to lobster-shaped lollipops.
Address: Multiple Locations
Maine’s most popular curio and artisan crafts shop, Abacus Gallery has several locations throughout the state, each with unique offerings. They are best known for their iconic calendar and stock of jewelry, but they also sell home goods, art, and much more.
Address: 1 Hummingbird Ln., Freeport, ME 04032
The Freeport Outlets include over a dozen shops both small and large, including designer names like Dooney & Bourke and local comic shops like DotCom Comics and Collectibles. There’s a little something for everyone here, making it a real family pleasure.
Address: 663 Stillwater Ave., Bangor, ME 04401
Phone: (207) 947-7334
If you find yourself in need of some basics, itching to have a little shopping frenzy, or just missing that mall vibe, Bangor Mall is a great option. It’s quite large, clocking in at about 40 shops and restaurants and spanning a wide variety of big-box stores and boutiques.
Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies
Address: 598 Sunshine Rd., Deer Isle, ME 04627
Phone: (800) 777-6845
Located on a several-acre campus, Nervous Nellie’s features the promised jams and jellies, as well as a tea room, sculpture workshop, and Nellieville, the town-in-progress built by the sculptor in residence. Worth a visit just to see what Nervous Nellie’s really is, you’d be remiss not to leave with at least a few of their delectable canned jams.
Address: 107 Rockland Rd., Coopers Mills, ME 04341
Phone: (207) 549-7671
Elmer’s Barn does not have a website, only a Facebook page — if you know, you know. A sprawling barn full of curios, antiques, oddities, and all kinds of little treasures, Elmer’s is a local legend and a state-wide icon.
Address: 47 Exchange St., Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 775-6133
This indie shop is a real joy for adults and children alike. With a welcoming, colorful aesthetic and a real devotion to play, Treehouse Toys carries brand names as well as more local and hard-to-find toys.
Address: 1 Monument Sq., Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 772-4045
Named for the famed Maine poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Longfellow Books is a gorgeous independent bookstore that’s a must-visit for any Portland tourist with a love for the written word. It also hosts lectures, speakers, and author Q&As, so check the events calendar before heading over.
Address: 585 Congress St., Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 370-7570
A gem in Portland’s Arts District, Portland Flea-for-All is a curated vintage, antique, and artisan market that’s easy to spend hours wandering through. The market’s mission is to make itself as accessible and welcoming as possible, so go ahead and browse — it’s for a great cause.
Spring: Summer temperatures range from 20°F to 65°F on average, with a bit of rain but generally lovely weather. If traveling during spring, be sure to bring an umbrella, just in case.
Summer: Summer is peak tourist season — no wonder, given Maine’s stunning beaches and delicious lobster. Summer is also the best time for wild blueberries. Maine sees occasional summer thunderstorms, but overall, the weather is warm and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 51°F to 75°F, though they can sometimes reach 80°F and beyond.
Fall: Fall is a stunning time of year in Maine, thanks to the legendary foliage. It can be chilly, especially later in the season, and temperatures range from 25°F to 50°F on average. Fall in Maine tends to be a drier season — if you choose to visit at peak foliage time, you should enjoy beautiful weather.
Winter: Winter is very cold, and Maine sees a lot of snow. You should visit during winter if it’s your favorite season, but otherwise, stick to milder seasons. Winter temperatures frequently get into the single digits – the average is 4°F — and below with wind chill. The average high for the season is 40°F; if you choose to visit, bring a warm coat.
Apps to Download
Steepandcheap.com: Brand-name hiking gear, raincoats, boots, and more at discount prices.