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Beautiful Maine borders the Atlantic Ocean with its jagged, rocky coastline, blankets of green forest and exquisite parks. Reigning as the “king of seafood,” Maine calls to you with authentic New England towns, a gorgeous coastal landscape and wild blueberry everything! We’ve rounded up the 12 best things every traveler must do in Maine, a destination for all seasons.
1. Visit Acadia National Park
Welcome to the most stunning vistas and diverse wildlife on the Eastern Seaboard. Hike, fish, ski, bike or spot wildlife at Maine’s only national park open year-round. You’ll find that Acadia National Park is the perfect outdoor playground. Catch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain. Hear the thunder in Thunder Hole. Go for a narrated bus tour with Oli’s Trolley or take a horse-drawn carriage ride along the park’s carriage roads. Bar Harbor and Ellsworth make an ideal home base if you’d like more comfortable surroundings.
2. Go lobster boating
Set sail for an afternoon on the water and experience what it’s like to be a lobsterman (or woman.) Don an orange apron and a glove and you’re ready to discover what comes up from the bottom of the sea. See how the lobsters are netted, harvested and prepared for market as well as sustainability efforts. As a bonus, you’ll most likely spot sea birds, bald eagles and other marine wildlife in their natural environments. Best bets are Lucky Catch Cruises in Portland and Lulu Lobster Boat in Bar Harbor.
3. Sail on a Windjammer historic schooner
With the wind at your back, discover the lure of the sea aboard one of these historic vessels, and get up close and personal with seals, whales and other marine wildlife. Traditionally, itineraries are 3-6 days and cruise through Maine’s islands and waterways. You’ll get to participate in all of the shipboard activities from navigating the wheel to raising and lowering the sails. In the afternoon, the ship drops anchor in a quaint fishing village or uninhabited island for exploration. At night, indulge in a heavenly lobster bake on the beach while star gazing and feel at one with the sea. Imagine the adventure when you’re aboard the American Eagle as it competes in the Gloucester Schooner Cup Race. Check out the Maine Windjammer Association representing eight Windjammer vessels departing from Rockland, Camden and other seaport cities.
4. Hike the Appalachian Trail
It’s rough, it’s rugged, it’s challenging. But the Appalachian Trail is probably one of the most beautiful hikes out there. The famous footpath covers 14 states with almost 300 miles in Maine, reaching the summit at the top of Mount Katahdin. Go for a day hike, ranging from 2 to 7 miles, and take in the majestic mountains, rushing rivers and gorgeous scenery that await. With its unique wildlife including loons and painted turtles, Maine’s Appalachian Trail creates a true sense of adventure.
5. Scout out a moose safari
See the majestic Maine moose in their natural habitat and catch a glimpse of other wildlife in a kayak or canoe, gliding through the quiet Maine ponds. Or, go on a land tour where you’ll enjoy the serenity of the woods and learn about the fascinating legend and lore that make the Moosehead Lake region truly unique. These elegant creatures forage for food at night, so an evening tour is recommended. Check out Northeast Whitewater in Shirley Mills or Northwoods Outfitters in Greenville.
6. Snap a lighthouse selfie
Next to another state that starts with M, Maine comes in second with the greatest number of lighthouses—65 to be exact. For over two hundred years, Maine lighthouses have stood as beacons in the night, guiding vessels to safety. The oldest lighthouse in Maine (and the most photographed lighthouse in the U.S.) is the Portland Head Light. Check out the adjacent museum, walk the cliffside loop or see it from the comfort of your car.
7. Catch a tale of a whale
Connect with nature and marine life on a breathtaking excursion out to the Atlantic on a whale watching tour. While whale watching tours can be found up and down the Maine coast, Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. in Bar Harbor offers several great options, including the chance to spot humpback, minke and finback whales, the latter of which can grow as large as 80 feet. You’ll catch all the action front and center as whales, dolphins and seals frolic in the water and play hide and seek with you. The world’s largest living creatures can be found just 20 miles off the Maine coast from mid-April to October.
8. Pick your own wild blueberries
These healthy, anti-antioxidants grow throughout the state and you’ll find them in everything from muffins, cakes, jams, doughnuts, juices and more. Pick your own blueberries from 40 farms, patches and orchards. Best times are late July to mid-September. Blueberry Hill Farm outside of Portland and Berry Best Farm in Lebanon make great choices.
9. Try a lobster roll
Imagine succulent sweet lobster laying front and center in a grilled hot dog bun, topped with butter, lemon juice, salt and black pepper or mayonnaise. Locals also serve it up with diced celery, scallion and other spices. On the side come chips, fries or coleslaw and a view of the water. Solid bets are seafood shacks that line the coast like Harraseeket Lunch and Lobster in South Freeport or Luke’s Lobster in Portland.
10. See what’s in bloom at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Walk through the lovely Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine, the largest arboretum in New England with almost 300 acres. Considered one of the most distinguished botanical destinations in the country, CMBC is a people’s garden filled with many of Maine’s native plants and a true Maine experience. Enjoy the exquisite gardens as well as the dramatic, compelling natural landscape with its tidal saltwater frontage. The Gardens also showcase a variety of art exhibits during the season. Open from April 15 to October 31.
11. Follow the Maine Art Museum Trail
Prepare to be awed along the Maine Art Museum Trail, created to share the rich heritage of Maine artists with those seeking cultural masterpieces. Tour nine museums, representing 80,000 works of paintings, sculpture, photographs and prints in Portland, Bangor and Rockland. Many American artists have been inspired by Maine’s exquisite scenery and coastline, beautifully captured by Thomas Cole, Winslow Homer and Robert Indiana (of “LOVE” sculpture fame), to name a few. Maine is also synonymous with three generations of the Wyeth family who call Maine home.
12. Net a fishing lesson with a registered Maine guide
Reel in brook, brown and rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, largemouth bass and more in this sports fishing paradise. With over 3,000 miles of shoreline, rivers, clear lakes and ponds, you’re destined to catch that big one. Enrich your experience by hiring a registered Maine Guide, who can help maximize your experience in this untamed wilderness. Guides show you where the fish are hiding, give you fly-fishing lessons and help you wade into small streams. More adventurous fishermen can spend a night back-country camping or have their guide take them to a remote lake in a floatplane.
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