Lighthouses, lobster shacks and thousands of miles of rugged coastline – this is New England at its most wild and wonderful. As you head into this far north-eastern part of the country, life takes on a somewhat slower pace and you can’t help but be in awe of the dramatic vistas that present themselves around almost every corner. The spectacular coast is Maine’s most obvious draw, yet the inland regions hold their own when it comes to epic natural landscapes and wilderness adventures.
While Maine isn’t particularly known for its urban centres – it’s much more of an outdoorsy sort of place – it’s well worth visiting Portland, a small-yet-cool city located on the south coast overlooking Casco Bay. In the characterful Old Port, you can spend hours wandering down cobbled streets and exploring locally-owned boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants – the city is a foodie’s favourite thanks to its excellent seafood restaurants and strong farm-to-fork movement. One of Maine’s most iconic symbols is the Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park, which was commissioned in 1790 by George Washington and is the state’s oldest lighthouse. To the south of Portland are several charming towns, such as Kennebunkport with its rich maritime heritage and York, known for its sandy beaches.
Maine’s shining star has to be the beautiful Mount Desert Island. Located in the Down East region in the south-eastern corner of the state, the island is home to one of the north-east’s only national parks, Acadia, which showcases the very best of Maine’s spectacular landscapes – from a rugged coastline shaped by the waves of the North Atlantic to rocky mountains, dramatic cliffs and clear-water lakes. The 47,000-acre park covers much of the eastern part of the island and surrounds the main town of Bar Harbor, a bustling tourist hub with shops, restaurants and some fine historic houses. The town really comes alive in summer and autumn, when cruise ships anchor off the coast in the Mount Desert Narrows and passengers disembark to enjoy the natural wonders of the park.
Acadia boasts miles upon miles of hiking trails, both along the coast and inland – this is a destination that is made for outdoor adventures. Climb to the peaks of mountains such as Gorham, Champlain, Pemetric and Cadillac or follow the island’s south-east coast for beautiful landmarks including Schooner Head, Sand Beach and Thunder Hole. If you’re short on time or would rather let your car do the work, you can drive the seasonal Park Loop Road, a 27-mile route which passes popular trailheads and leads to attractions such as Jordan Pond and Cadillac Mountain’s peak. Escape the crowds and visit charming towns and villages on the quieter western side of the island, home to the famous Bass Harbour Head Lighthouse, or take a boat out to one of the nearby islands or over to secluded Winter Harbour.
Maine’s Mid Coast region, which sits between Greater Portland and Down East, is characterised by a jagged coastline scattered with a handful of sandy beaches and historic lighthouses. Nothing quite beats kayaking to secluded coves and untouched beaches with only a few seals for company; or crossing the many peninsulas as you follow US Route 1, stopping-off in quiet towns, villages and working harbours along the way. If you have time, it’s well worth diverting southwards to witness the beauty of at least a couple of the headlands or visit the beautiful Popham Beach State Park.
There’s no doubting the beauty of Maine’s seashore, however the state offers so much more than just its coastline. Western Maine’s Lakes and Mountains region, bordered by New Hampshire and the Canadian province of Québec, is an outdoor playground where you can hike and cycle pretty trails, try watersports on Sebago Lake in the summer and enjoy a range of snow sports once the winter rolls around. To the north of the Mid Coast and Down East regions is the Highlands, a vast wilderness area which is home to the trailhead of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail; the region’s Baxter State Park is centred on Maine’s highest mountain, Katahdin, which marks the start (or end) of the epic hike.
Much like its restaurants and shops, Maine’s accommodation options are delightfully local in style and include waterfront inns and resorts, chintzy family-owned bed-and-breakfasts and boutique gems overlooking secluded coves. In Portland, there’s a selection of well-known properties as well as a few big-name luxury hotels, while up in the Lakes and Mountains region you’ll find rustic lodges, lake-houses and secluded cabins.
Maine is served by two small international airports – one in Portland and another in Bangor, a city in the Down East region. There are also numerous regional, county and municipal airports throughout the state, including Hancock County Airport which is the closest airfield to Acadia National Park. Simply contact one of our team and we can arrange everything you need to charter a jet to Maine.