It's not hard to entice people to Maine- the state's earned the hype! From hiking, to biking and skiing, it's an easy sell to any nature lover; but what about other travelers less eager to brave the elements in the Great North Woods? For the professional shoppers out there, discover the bargains in Freeport. Those artists looking for breathtaking scenes can find inspiration on one of the hundreds of pristine islands lying off the coast, and those with a sweet tooth will be in heaven with blueberry pie and whoopie pies. Of course it's impossible to forget about the lobster (or lobstah), a staple to any visitor's diet - just don't forget about the bib!
Most Maine visitors hardly make it past the border and York Beach. Even if they do, Portland is often as far north as any tourist ever makes it. It's time to come in and venture further into the Pine Tree State. From the warm-hearted Mainers welcoming you to one of the quintessential New England bed and breakfasts along the rugged coast to the snow covered orchards, it's hard to find any other U.S. destination so diverse in natural beauty. So ignore the old adage you can't get there from here and make it past Portland (not without making a stop of course!) to explore the greater side of Maine that few see. You may just find it's the way life should be.
Acadia National Park
Acadia is a summertime favorite for Mainers and tourists alike. The four-hour drive along the coast is well worth it for hiking, biking, and everything quintessentially Maine. The perfect day in Acadia would start with a morning bike ride along the Carriage Trails, known for their beautiful stone bridges and car-free paths that welcome bicycles, pedestrians and horses alike. For lunch, stop in at the Jordan Pond House for their famous fresh popovers and hand-squeezed lemonade. Opt to sit outside overlooking the lake, even if there's a wait- there's nothing better after a long bike ride. In the afternoon, take a short hike on the Beehive Trail right next to Sand Beach. This trail gets the adrenaline pumping as hikers climb iron ladders mounted directly onto the rock face. Finish the night by kicking back next to a fireplace at one of the two state campgrounds in the park.
Downtown Portland, or the Old Port, is the perfect combination of big city amenities and small town Maine charm. Wander through the cobblestone streets and eclectic stores for anything from eccentric dog supplies to surf gear or classic music. Every year in early June, the city hosts the Old Port Fest, where local and national bands perform on several stages scattered throughout the city streets. On the first Friday night of every month, local galleries, studios, and museums open their doors for a free Art Walk. Most of the galleries are located centrally around Congress St. Sports fans can also take in a Sea Dogs game, the local AA baseball team, which is even better with a Shipyard (Portland's own brew) and a famous Sea Dog Biscuit (Shain's of Maine ice cream cookie sandwich)!
Lobster, blueberries, and whoopie pies!
Hands down, Maine has some of the best state foods! Few can disagree with the merits of anything lobster (bisque, roll, macaroni & cheese, or just plain armed with a pair of crackers and a bib) or blueberry (pie, pancakes, or jam). True lobster lovers can head to coastal Rockland for the Lobster Festival the first week in August. For those that want to cut to dessert, Maine's got plenty of that too. After a heated debate in the Maine State House, blueberry pie was named Maine's official dessert. Whoopie Pie (two mounds of dense chocolate cake sandwiching a sweet creamy filling) was named Maine's official treat. There is some controversy here as both Maine and Pennsylvania's Amish claim to be the originators of the chocolaty treat. You can be the judge of which is better!
It's nearly impossible to name the best ski mountain in Maine. The debate between Sugarloaf and Sunday River will forever live on. Those with a season pass get lucky and don't have to choose - the pass covers both mountains and also Loon in New Hampshire. There are other hometown favorites like Shawnee Peak, Black Mountain, and Saddleback where most Mainers learned how to do their first snowplough. Maine also offers a Ski Maine pass for those who want to experience many of the mountains in one winter.
Maine Agricultural Fairs
What's better than watching a redneck truck pull, woodsmen competitions, and a pig scramble? Maine truly goes country, complete with flannel, Dickies, and steel-toe boots. Come with a sense of humor and you may your find yourself coming home with a prize pig. Some of the most popular fairs are in Fryeburg, Topsham, Bangor, and Windsor.
Located just 10 miles from mainland, Monhegan is one of the best day trips off the coast of Maine. The island covered with dirt hiking trails is a popular summer destination because of its rocky pristine shoreline and old fishing community. It's also completely carless and unpaved. For over a 100 years, artists have escaped to an art colony on the island. Famous artists like Rockwell Kent, James Fitzgerald, and the Wyeths have all called Monhegan home. The island can be reached by ferry from Boothbay Harbor, Port Clyde, and New Harbor.
Outlet shopping in Freeport
Snag a bargain in Freeport, known for its outlet shopping. Shoppers will find deep discounts at North Face, Coach, Ralf Lauren, and more. Freeport is also home to Maine's most famous brand, L.L. Bean. The store is sprawled across the town with five separate buildings and is open 24/7 365 days a year. For a break from shopping, try the Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster, a dive seafood restaurant that remains a secret due to its hard to find cove-side location overlooking local lobster and fishing boats in South Freeport. Try the fried clams, onion rings, or the lobster delight, which comes complete with lobster, clam, and corn on the cob.
If you come to Maine, you expect to see a moose. What better place than Moosehead Lake Region. If you want to guarantee a sighting, hire local companies such as Young's Guide Service for Moose Safaris and fishing tours. One of the best places to get away is Lily Bay State Park, where camping is rustic and you fall asleep to the sound of loon. Plus, with the lack of cell service, it will truly be a relaxing vacation!
There's a reason Maine is known as the lighthouse state! Maine has the third-most lighthouses in the U.S. At its peak, Maine had more than 70 lighthouses to guide ships away from the rocky and craggy coast. With new GPS technology however, lighthouses are seen as less of a necessity. Yet, their beauty against the jagged Maine coast remains. Some of the most famous include the classic New England Nubble Light in Cape Neddick and the striped red and white West Quoddy Light in far downeast Lubec, marking the easternmost point of the continental U.S.
Allagash River Trip
For many, a trip along sections of the 100-mile Allagash River is a rite of passage. Most make a multi-day trip floating from campsite to campsite while fishing for brook trout. The otherwise lazy trip is sure for some excitement with class II white water. For this remote trip, head up to northern Maine. Popular entry points include Chamberlain Bridge, Indian Stream, and Churchill Dam. If getting deep into nature just isn't cutting it, try the Saco River in southern Maine, known for being a giant tailgate party on water.