Nestled in the northeast corner of the United States, the best places to visit in Maine are nothing short of breathtaking.
From the rocky, wind-swept coast to the vast forests and mountains in the interior, the best places to go in Maine will leave you in awe.
Whether you’re looking for a city escape, a quaint town on the coast, or an adventurous outdoor trek, you’ll find it in The Pine Tree State.
Many people (like me) put off visiting Maine because they think of it as a cold, remote state in the corner of the country.
But I’m here to tell you that Maine is anything but cold and distant. The top places to visit in Maine are full of warmth, charm, beautiful landscapes, and genuinely kind people.
Here are 25 of the best places to vacation in Maine that will show you the beauty and allure of this special state!
In This Post:
Map of the Best Places to Visit in Maine
This map of the best places to visit in Maine will help you visualize where the destinations on this list are located.
To make it easier for you, I’ve color-coded them and grouped them into three categories: cities, small towns, and outdoor escapes.
Click on the map to enlarge it and get a closer look at this New England state.
Psstt… some of these best places to visit in Maine make perfect additions to any New England road trip itinerary!
Gorgeous Cities to Visit in Maine
Portland is one of the most beautiful cities on the East Coast and one of the very best places to visit in Maine.
This vibrant coastal city is full of culture, history, and plenty of things to see and do. I was here for three days and couldn’t get enough of it.
Portland offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, and with easy access to nearby beaches, trails, and parks, it’s easy to enjoy nature without leaving the city limits.
The popular Eastern Promenade Trail is great for biking or jogging along picturesque Casco Bay, while Fort Allen Park offers stunning views from atop its historic fortifications.
Don’t forget to take a stroll through Deering Oaks Park – it’s one of Portland’s most beloved green spaces.
One of the most iconic areas in Portland is the Old Port district. This area is full of cobblestone streets, 19th-century brick buildings, quaint boutiques, and plenty of cute cafes and restaurants.
While in the Old Port, you’ll definitely want to go on this donut tasting walking tour. Portland is famous for its donut scene, with no shortage of bakeries offering the freshest, tastiest doughnuts.
From old-school glazed donuts to newfangled creations topped with inventive flavors, you’ll fall in love one donut at a time!
Peaks Island in Casco Bay is also worth a visit. This peaceful, car-free island is an idyllic spot to sit back and enjoy the views of Maine’s rugged coastline and nearby islands.
One of the biggest highlights of Portland is Portland Head Light.
Located in Cape Elizabeth in Fort Williams Park, Portland Head Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Maine.
Nestled in the Kennebec Valley at the foot of the Kennebec River, Augusta (Maine’s capital) is one of the best places to go in Maine to experience beautiful natural wonders.
Take a hike through nearby Hallowell City Forest and witness lush forests and rocky outcrops with views across the river, or take a kayak trip down the Kennebec River for an up-close look at local wildlife and rugged scenery.
Augusta is also home to many historic attractions that offer a fascinating look into its past.
Visit the Maine State House to catch a glimpse of the state capital’s grand architecture and monuments.
You can’t leave Augusta without seeing Old Fort Western. It was originally built as a military fort in 1754 and is now one of America’s oldest surviving wooden forts.
Other must-see historical and educational sites include the Blaine House, which serves as the official residence for Maine’s governor, and the Maine State Museum, which houses artifacts and art related to the history of Maine.
Finally, Augusta is full of restaurants and pubs that will tantalize your taste buds.
The city is home to several local restaurants serving up delicious lobster rolls, as well as several craft breweries and tap rooms.
If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in Maine that has everything from outdoor adventure to classic New England charm, Bangor is the place for you!
Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Penobscot River, Bangor is full of outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, mountain biking, and more.
Bangor, also referred to as the “Queen City,” also boasts several hiking trails that wind through the woods around the city.
Bangor City Forest, Kenduskeag Stream Trail, and Essex Woods are just a handful of the trails nature lovers can explore.
Bangor isn’t just about outdoor adventure; it’s also a great destination for art and history enthusiasts.
The Zillman Art Museum houses one of the largest collections of art in New England and features works ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces by local artists.
You can also learn about the city’s roots at the Bangor Historical Society.
This Bangor museum offers interactive exhibits that tell stories of Bangor’s past, including its role in lumber shipping during Colonial America.
Lastly, if you’re a Stephen King fan, several spots are scattered around the city commemorating the famed author.
Set along the rocky coast of midcoast Maine, Belfast is a picturesque city steeped in rich history.
It’s one of the lesser-known Maine destinations, but it’s one of the best places to go in Maine if you’re looking for a laid-back coastal getaway.
Main Street is one of Belfast’s most vibrant areas and the perfect place to start your exploration of the city.
Here you can find unique shopping experiences, including gift and souvenir shops, art galleries, and antique stores with everything from old postcards to locally owned jewelry.
Local Color Gallery and The Lupine Cottage are my favorite shops to pop into.
When you need a break from the hustle and bustle, take a stroll along Belfast Harborwalk for stunning views of Penobscot Bay and its colorful boats, or cross the river to East Belfast via the footbridge.
After a long day of exploring, watch a movie at the Colonial Theater.
It has a classic vibe and shows a mix of independent, foreign, and Hollywood movies.
Lewiston is an unassuming city full of surprises and charm, and it’s one of the best places to visit in Maine.
For an insight into the city’s past, the Bates Mill Complex is a must-see. This iconic landmark originally served as a textile factory in the mid-1800s.
Today, it houses various restaurants, office buildings, lofts for rent, and Museum L-A.
(No, it doesn’t stand for Los Angeles).
Rather, it stands for the Lewiston-Auburn Metropolitan Area, and you’ll learn about the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the two cities.
One of my favorite buildings in Lewiston is the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, founded in 1870.
It resembles the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and has a stunning interior with intricately carved marble and detailed stained-glass windows that light up the room.
If outdoor recreation is more your speed, go for a walk on the Auburn Riverwalk.
The Androscoggin River separates Lewiston and Auburn, and the Riverwalk is a great way to take in views of the river, waterfalls, and bridges.
Wedged between Bangor and Bar Harbor on Union River Bay, Ellsworth is one of the top places to visit in Maine when it comes to coastal fun.
Ellsworth looks and feels like one of those Hallmark Christmas movie towns with its historic downtown atmosphere and classic New England charm.
Take a stroll downtown, and you’ll find several shops, restaurants, breweries, and art galleries in the old brick buildings.
You’ll definitely want to grab a latte from Flexit Cafe while exploring downtown.
One of the highlights of Ellsworth is the Woodlawn Museum. This historic estate belonged to the Black family, who were business tycoons.
You’ll get a feel for life during the 19th century while looking at original furnishings, artifacts, and documents from that era.
Another unique attraction in Ellsworth is the Downeast Scenic Railroad. Climb aboard a scenic ten-mile round-trip train ride and take in the beauty of Maine’s countryside.
You’ll see all kinds of wildlife, including ospreys, deer, eagles, and more!
Beautiful Small Towns to Visit in Maine
7. Kennebunkport (One of the Absolute Best Places to Visit in Maine)
Tucked away on the southern coast of Maine, there’s a small, picturesque town like no other: Kennebunkport.
It tops the list of the best places to visit in Maine and is the idyllic spot to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Dock Square is the heart of the town, and you’ll find plenty of restaurants, boutiques, and shops here.
Speaking of restaurants, pop into Alisson’s Restaurant for classic lobster rolls and blueberry pie.
If I had to choose one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Alisson’s blueberry pie.
Kennebunkport also has some of the most gorgeous beaches in the area. From secluded coves to long stretches of soft white sand, there’s a beach for everyone.
If you’re looking for a great place to sit back and relax with a good book, head over to Gooch’s Beach, Colony Beach, or Goose Rocks Beach — three popular spots among locals and visitors alike.
Kennebunkport is also known for being the summer getaway spot for the Bush family.
You can get a peek at their residence, known as Walker’s Point, as you’re exploring the area.
Other fun things to do in Kennebunkport include the Mathew J. Lanigan Bridge, the Seashore Trolley Museum, First Families Kennebunkport Museum, Cape Porpoise, and Goat Island Lighthouse.
Just a few miles south of Kennebunkport is the delightful village of Ogunquit.
It’s one of the best places to visit in Maine for its stunning beaches and natural beauty.
No visit to Ogunquit is complete without visiting its most famous beach — Ogunquit Beach, one of the best beaches in the USA.
This 3-mile-long stretch of golden sand has some of the most gorgeous views in all of Maine.
If you’re looking for something to do besides being a beach bum, hit the trail at Marginal Way.
This 1.25-mile path winds along the Ogunquit coastline from Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Beach and offers stunning views of rocky cliffs and crashing waves.
One of the best things about visiting Ogunquit is exploring all the unique restaurants and quaint shops throughout town.
From fine dining to casual eateries to delicious seafood shacks right on the beach, you’ll be in foodie heaven!
You can also find many art galleries and boutiques featuring locally-made goods from local artisans, bookstores with rare editions from yesteryear, and so much more.
For a quintessential Maine experience, head to Damariscotta to experience a small-town feel you won’t find anywhere else.
Known as the “Oyster Capital of Maine,” Damariscotta is just an all-around perfect town that will captivate you with its charm.
One of the highlights of Damariscotta is Main Street which lies adjacent to the Damariscotta River.
As with any small town in Maine, this seaport town is lined with various gift shops, galleries, and restaurants where you can find everything from freshly-baked pastries to handmade jewelry.
If you’re a bibliophile, you’ll love Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop. It’s attached to a coffee shop and is the go-to spot for finding rare books.
A hidden gem behind the main drag is The Lobster Haul. This is where you’ll find the best lobster rolls and fried shrimp in town.
Damariscotta also has a twin town, Newcastle, which is just a short drive away.
Although there isn’t much to do in Newcastle, it’s worth checking out for some stunning views of the river and surrounding areas.
Camden is a small town with a big heart, and it’s no wonder it’s one of the best places to visit in Maine.
One thing you shouldn’t miss in Camden is admiring the stunning views from Mount Battie.
The summit offers sweeping ocean vistas that will take your breath away.
Just to warn you — the trail is only 1.1 miles long, but it packs a punch with its steep incline and rocky terrain. Alternatively, you can drive up to the summit.
After enjoying the view from Mount Battie, head over to the nearby Camden Hills State Park, where you can enjoy miles upon miles of hiking trails that take you through forests filled with pine trees and wildflowers.
If you want to keep enjoying the outdoors, rent a kayak and explore the waters of Megunticook Lake or meander around Camden Harbor.
End your day in Camden by embarking on a sunset sailing tour. You’ll experience Maine’s coastal beauty from a windjammer while watching the beautiful sunset and spotting wildlife.
From sailing and kayaking to hiking and biking trails, there are endless opportunities for exploration and adventure in Camden.
11. Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is perhaps the most popular vacation destination in Maine, and it’s easy to see why.
This quaint seaside town has been popular with visitors since the 1800s and continues to draw people in with its natural beauty and attractions.
Located on Mount Desert Island, there are so many unique things to do in Bar Harbor Maine and many activities for you to enjoy.
Most people use Bar Harbor as the base for exploring Acadia National Park. But even just exploring the town itself is an adventure.
Go on a sailing tour of Frenchman Bay and admire the scenery, or take a whale-watching tour and spot some of these majestic creatures.
If you’re looking for more land-based activities, you can walk along the Bar Harbor Shore Path, which will take you around Bar Harbor’s coast.
Lastly, downtown Bar Harbor is lined with craft breweries, restaurants, pubs, antique shops, coffee shops, and more, so you can experience the bustling nightlife after a day of sightseeing.
12. Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach is the perfect spot for a beach getaway and one of the best places to vacation in Maine for tourists and locals alike.
This beach town boasts seven miles of sandy shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, making it a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing on the sand.
The Old Orchard Beach Pier is an iconic landmark in this area, extending 500 feet and serving as the backdrop to some of the best sunsets in Maine.
Apart from relaxing on the beach, you can also visit one of Maine’s oldest amusement parks, Palace Playland.
This family-friendly beachfront amusement park has classic boardwalk games and plenty of rides for adrenaline junkies.
For a more daring experience, you can bike along the Eastern Trail that goes through several towns in Southern Maine, stretching 28 miles.
13. Boothbay Harbor
A list of the best Maine vacation spots wouldn’t be complete without Boothbay Harbor.
Boothbay Harbor’s most iconic activity is going on boat tours and whale watching trips.
Whether you want to take a sightseeing tour around the harbor or head off into the open seas in search of whales, this coastal town is the place to do it.
In my opinion, I think the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are the best part of Boothbay Harbor, where you can browse the 300+ acre garden and admire the many flowers, trees, and shrubs native to Maine.
The highlight of the gardens is the five giant wooden trolls made of recycled wood that are scattered around the area.
Nestled along the Kennebec River in Southern Midcoast Maine, Bath is known for its history and cultural attractions.
Start your day with a trip to the Maine Maritime Museum, which celebrates all things maritime, from shipbuilding to seafaring traditions.
This museum offers interactive exhibits that give you an in-depth look into life at sea and houses an impressive collection of artifacts from over two hundred years ago when shipbuilding was booming in the area.
Bath’s Historic District is filled with homes and buildings that date back centuries, where you can stroll through the cobblestone streets while admiring the grandeur of these old homes.
As you explore the area, be sure to take time and appreciate the architecture because each structure has its own unique history that adds character and charm to this quaint town.
Brunswick is a city on the rise and one of the best places to go in Maine.
This vibrant college town has something for everyone, from lively restaurants, galleries, and shops to outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking, and biking.
Head downtown to enjoy the bustling scene surrounded by brick buildings over 100 years old.
You can visit one of the many museums, such as the Pejepscot History Center or the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, to learn more about Brunswick’s past and culture.
Freeport is a small town in the Midcoast area of Maine known for its outlet stores and unique shopping experience.
Just a short drive from Portland, Freeport has become a popular tourist destination due to its many outlet stores featuring designer brands like L.L. Bean, Nike, Patagonia, and more.
Besides shopping, take a walk along the winding roads of Freeport’s adorable downtown area and explore its many shops and restaurants.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, check out Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, with its miles of hiking trails and beautiful views of Casco Bay.
Rockland is a charming little waterfront town that sits on the coast of Penobscot Bay, and it’s truly one of the best places to visit in Maine.
This bustling port town offers plenty, from waterfront shopping and dining to watersports and outdoor activities.
Rockland is renowned for its lobster-catching industry, so don’t miss out on trying some of the best lobster in Maine.
Once you get your belly full of seafood, spend some time at museums and galleries, such as the Farnsworth Art Museum (Wyeth Center), which features works from some of the most influential American artists.
The Maine Lighthouse Museum is also a must-see if you’re interested in learning more about Rockland’s history.
The museum is home to the largest collection of Fresnel lighthouse lenses, and the museum showcases the rich maritime history of lighthouses, ships, and sailors.
If you find yourself in Rockland during the first weekend of August, don’t miss out on the Annual Maine Lobster Festival!
Best Places to Visit in Maine for Natural Landscapes
18. Acadia National Park (One of the Best Places to Visit in Maine for Nature)
Acadia National Park is an absolute must-visit for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of Maine.
Located mostly on Mount Desert Island, this 48,000-acre park offers stunning views of rocky coastline and lush forests filled with wildlife.
The main attraction here is Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on the eastern seaboard, and its summit offers breathtaking panoramic views.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can explore the 150+ miles worth of hiking trails that range from easy trails for beginners to strenuous trails for experienced hikers.
If you’re not a fan of hiking, you can opt-in to drive along the 27-mile-long Park Loop Road, which will take you through some of the most stunning parts of Acadia, including Cadillac Mountain, Bass Harbor Head Light, Sand Beach, Jordan Pond, and more.
Acadia National Park is indeed one of the absolute best places to visit in Maine with its rugged beauty and tops the list of the best national parks on the East Coast.
19. Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a pristine and unspoiled wilderness located in the heart of Maine in Millinocket.
This 200,000-acre park is home to ample wildlife and picturesque landscapes filled with forests, meadows, lakes, and rivers.
It also features the highest peak in Maine — Mount Katahdin. And you can take on the challenge of climbing it!
Other popular activities in Baxter State Park include fishing, kayaking, snowshoeing, and camping.
Plus, if you’re lucky enough to visit during the fall months, you’ll be able to witness the changing foliage, which is truly a sight to behold.
It’s important to note that Baxter State Park is completely remote, so ensure you are equipped with all the necessary supplies and safety equipment.
20. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park is one of the best places to visit in Maine for lighthouse enthusiasts.
The park is home to the iconic Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1827 and stands 38 feet at the west entrance of Muscongus Bay and Johns Bay.
If the tide permits, you can go down and sit on the rocks, take in the views, and even spot some harbor seals or bald eagles soaring overhead.
The park also has a museum and gallery that tell the stories of this historic lighthouse and its past.
21. Sugarloaf Mountain
Sugarloaf Mountain is a great destination for skiing and snowboarding in winter, but it’s also the perfect place to visit during the summer months.
Located in the Carrabassett Valley, this 4,237-foot peak offers incredible views of the surrounding countryside.
It’s the third-highest peak in Maine, and it’s the largest ski area east of the Rocky Mountains.
You can see lakes, forests, and miles of rolling hills from the summit.
In the summer, you can take a scenic chairlift ride to the top, where you can hike around or relax and take in the views.
And if skiing is your thing, then Sugarloaf Mountain boasts some of the best ski resorts and runs in Maine with plenty of options for all skill levels.
22. Rangeley Lake State Park/Rangeley Lakes Region
Rangeley Lake State Park is great for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to experience Maine’s beautiful wilderness.
Rangeley Lake is home to some of the best trout and salmon fishing in the state, and the many nearby rivers and streams provide ample opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and tubing.
And if that wasn’t enough, Rangeley Lake State Park is just a few miles away from Maine’s best outdoor activities like snowmobiling and ATV trails.
The Rangeley Lakes Region comprises over 110 lakes and ponds and offers plenty of hiking, biking, scenic drives, and more.
From breathtaking views to incredible outdoor activities, Rangeley Lake State Park/Rangeley Lakes Region is one of the best places to vacation in Maine.
23. Monhegan Island
Have you ever wanted to explore a remote island with barely any tourists? If so, Monhegan Island is the place for you!
This small island is just 10 miles off the coast of Maine and offers a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
One of the most interesting things about Monhegan Island is that there are no paved roads or cars.
To get to Monhegan Island, you’ll have to take a ferry from Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor, or Port Clyde.
Once you get there, head to Main Street and check out the art galleries and shops, snap some photos of the Monhegan Lighthouse, and visit the museum on-site.
Monhegan Island is truly one of the best places to visit in Maine if you’re looking for a peaceful and tranquil getaway.
24. Bay of Fundy
This list of the best places to visit in Maine would not be complete without mentioning the Bay of Fundy.
This bay is sandwiched between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, with a tiny piece touching Maine.
The Bay of Fundy is known for having the highest tides on Earth, with water levels rising and lowering up to 50 feet.
Additionally, the bay is famed for its amazing whale-watching opportunities, as you can spot humpback whales, fin whales, sei whales, and various dolphins.
The Bay of Fundy is one of the more unique Maine destinations and is perfect for anyone looking for an unforgettable experience.
25. Moosehead Lake
The final place on our list of the best places to visit in Maine is Moosehead Lake, the largest lake in Maine and the second largest lake in New England.
The lake is around 40 miles long and 22 miles wide and stretches nearly 75,000 acres.
Can you imagine how much you can explore here?
Moosehead Lake offers ample fishing opportunities, including salmon and brook trout.
You can also go boating, kayaking, and swimming in the lake and its many rivers.
In addition to outdoor activities, Moosehead Lake is home to an array of wildlife like moose, deer, bears, and more.
This lake is one of the top places to visit in Maine if the outdoors and nature are what you’re looking for.
Best Places to Go in Maine Summary
I know that was a hefty list of the best places to visit in Maine, so here’s a quick summary in case you need a refresher:
- Portland (Maine’s largest city by population)
- Bar Harbor (Mount Desert Island)
- Old Orchard Beach
- Boothbay Harbor
- Acadia National Park
- Baxter State Park
- Pemaquid Point Lighthouse Park
- Sugarloaf Mountain
- Rangeley Lake State Park/Rangeley Lakes Region
- Monhegan Island
- Bay of Fundy
- Moosehead Lake
Best Places to Visit in Maine Final Thoughts
So, there you have it — the best places to visit in Maine!
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway in New England or an adventure of a lifetime, this list of the best places to go in Maine will give you plenty of ideas and inspiration.
From beaches and lighthouses to mountains and trails, there’s an activity for everyone in Maine. After all, they don’t call it Vacationland for no reason!
Have you been to any of these best places to vacation in Maine? Let me know in the comments below!
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Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.