Maine has plenty of unique things to do among its beautiful natural landscapes. The coast dominates the state’s attractions with historic lighthouses dotting the rugged shoreline and picturesque windjammers sailing in the seas. The Maine coast is also home to the popular Acadia National Park, which is often considered the highlight of the state.

    Aside from the pretty coastal views, the US state is home to the incredibly vibrant city of Portland, which is full of culinary delights, historic buildings, and cultural offerings. Whether you prefer a city escape, beach vacation or hiking adventure, Maine has plenty of things to do for everyone.

    What are the best things to do in Maine?

    1

    Acadia National Park

    Acres of woodlands, peaks and rugged shoreline

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    Acadia National Park is a 47,000-acre coastal park showcasing the best of Maine’s natural beauty. It’s the main attraction on Mount Desert Island, just off the North Atlantic coast. The rugged and rocky national park is one of the most visited in the whole country.

    For visitors who love the outdoors, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the park. There is a scenic drive along Park Loop Road, over 100 miles of hiking trails and 2 main campgrounds. A real highlight is hiking up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, where you can enjoy the panoramic vista from the highest point on the east coast of America.

    Location: Acadia National Park, ME 04675, USA

    Phone: +1 207-288-3338

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    2

    Marginal Way

    Walk this incredible coastal cliff path

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    The Marginal Way is a beautiful coastal cliff walk from Ogunquit Beach to Perkins Cove on the southern end of Maine’s coast. The 1.5-mile paved footpath is one of the best ways to appreciate the beautiful beaches of the area.

    Along the way, the trail passes several secluded sandy coves between 2 towns. The walk is suitable for most fitness levels with park benches scattered along the path so you can stop to appreciate the views whenever you like. Ogunquit is a bustling vacation town, while Perkins Cove is a quainter fishing port, and both are delightful stops on Maine’s southern coast.

    Location: Ogunquit, ME 03907, USA

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    3

    Casco Bay

    Visit an island in this picturesque inlet

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    Casco Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Maine, home to the state’s largest city and picturesque islands. It encompasses many coastal communities and opportunities for a range of outdoor activities.

    The city of Portland sits on the southern coast of the bay, from where some of the nearby islands can be enjoyed on a day trip. An easy ferry ride from the city takes you to Peaks Island, one of the most popular spots of Casco Bay. On the northern side of the bay, Bailey Island has a charming community and pretty harbour. It’s common to explore the islands by bicycle once you arrive from the mainland.

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    4

    Old Port

    Explore the historic district of Portland

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    Portland’s Old Port is a historic seaside district in Maine’s largest city. It’s characterised by narrow cobblestone streets and old brick buildings around what was once the busiest port on the east coast.

    The district is one of the city’s main attractions and where you can find the state’s best restaurants, gourmet food shops and boutique stores. It’s also a nightlife hotspot with a lively gastronomic scene that includes cocktail bars, pubs and breweries. Down by the pier in the Old Port is also where you’ll find ferries heading to islands in Casco Bay.

    Location: Portland, ME 04101, USA

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    photo by Dirk Ingo Franke (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    5

    Portland Museum of Art

    Admire the collection of the state’s premier art museum

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    Portland Museum of Art is the state’s premier art collection, located in downtown Portland. It’s particularly known for its work from local painters and world-renowned artists. There are over 18,000 pieces of artwork on display, which date from between the 18th century and present day.

    There are various permanent exhibitions with a particular focus on local painters such as Winslow Homer, Rockwell Kent and the Wyeths. However, you’ll also see work from Warhol, Monet, Picasso and Whistler. If you opt for a tour of the museum, you’ll be able to see the original studio of Winslow Homer, which is in a separate building restored by the museum.

    Location: 7 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101, USA

    Open: Wednesday and Saturday–Sunday from noon to 6 pm, Thursday–Friday from noon to 8 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +1 207-775-6148

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    photo by Bd2media (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    Maine windjammer cruise

    Join a coastal cruise for an iconic Maine experience

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    A cruise on a traditional windjammer is an iconic experience in Maine. Some of the old schooner-type sailing vessels have been restored and converted to carry passengers on cruises along the coast.

    There's a variety of cruise options from several hours to weeklong journeys, with the slow-paced travel a great way to appreciate the beautiful coastline. Some of the cruises offer whale watching, lobster hauling, or lighthouse sightseeing as part of the itinerary. Depending on what you want to see, popular windjammer cruise departure towns are Boothbay Harbour, Ogunquit and Rockland.

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    Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

    A historic lighthouse with panoramic views

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    The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is one of Maine’s most recognisable and popular lighthouses. It’s located at the end of Pemaquid Point in mid-coast Maine, near Bristol town. It's a very well-preserved complex, with a light tower, keeper's cottage, and sound signal house that date back to 1835.

    Despite the lighthouse being owned by the US Coast Guard, it’s open to the public for a small entrance fee. The keeper’s cottage holds a Fisherman’s Museum and an art gallery, while the tower offers incredible panoramic views across the sea and rocky coastline.

    Location: Bristol, ME 04554, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 207-677-2492

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    8

    Mount Katahdin

    Climb the highest mountain in the state

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    Mount Katahdin, located in Baxter State Park, is the highest mountain in Maine. The peak offers an incredible panorama across the Maine highlands in the middle of the state. It’s often considered a bucket-list summit for keen hikers.

    The trail up to Mt Katahdin is reserved for the fit and adventurous. There are various routes to reach the peak, but all are relatively strenuous and take around 10 hours roundtrip. The mountain is the northern terminus for the long-distance Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine – it's pretty common to come across thru-hikers along the way.

    Location: Northeast Piscataquis, ME 04462, USA

    Phone: +1 207-723-5140

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    9

    Old Orchard Beach

    A popular summer getaway with a beachfront amusement park

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    Old Orchard is a beach and resort town just 15 miles south of Portland. The town has a long stretch of golden sand, which is great for just about every type of beachgoer. It’s frequently considered one of the best beaches in Maine.

    It’s especially popular for its oceanfront amusement park, which is one of the last remaining in the country. The Palace Playland has a Ferris wheel, roller coaster and an old-fashioned carousel. The famous Old Orchard Pier stretches from the park out into the sea and has a range of fair food and drinks and games. The pier is also the main nightlife hotspot during summer vacation.

    Location: Old Orchard Beach, ME 04064, USA

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    10

    Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

    Beautiful seaside gardens across 250 acres

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    Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a seaside garden encompassing 250 acres on the coast in Boothbay. The manicured plants are beautifully designed and landscaped with greenhouses, lakes, native and exotic plants and walking trails.

    You can enjoy the gardens by taking a stroll along the paths and admiring the scattered sculptures by local artists. There are also educational workshops and events on throughout the year for all ages. If you time your visit for winter, you’ll be able to enjoy the so-called Gardens Aglow, with the annual holiday lights display throughout the park.

    Location: 132 Botanical Gardens Dr, Boothbay, ME 04537, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 207-633-8000

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    Elisha Donkin | Contributing Writer

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