Maine Travel Guide
Maine is the easternmost state in New England. Its rugged, indented coastline and glacier-carved, forested interior give this state its unique character and have shaped the character of its people.
Some of Maine's major cities are:
- Augusta - the state capital
- Auburn - one of Maine's "Twin Cities"
- Bangor - the Queen City, home of Stephen King
- Bar Harbor - adjacent to Acadia National Park
- Brunswick - home of Bowdoin College
- Ellsworth - Downeast Gateway
- Lewiston - a large industrial town in central Maine, home of Bates College, the other of Maine's "Twin Cities"
- Portland - largest city
- Acadia National Park
- Baxter State Park
- Mackworth Island
- Rangeley Lakes
- Rockland - Home of the Lobster Festival
- Sebago Lake
Maine is a northeastern state, but one of the most sparsely populated states in the USA. Its northern reaches, known as The Great North Woods, are largely pristine wilderness. The coastal regions, supported over the years by fishing, lobstering and tourism, are more heavily populated, particularly in the southern, more temperate part of the state. Although the water is decidedly cool, Maine's mostly rocky coastline and more than 60 lighthouses make for some beautiful scenery. That, a comfortable place to stay, and a Maine lobster may be all you need.
Maine's unique accent and dialect lend to its one-of-a-kind charm. Many natives will jokingly say a few words or expressions in "yankee" as it's sometimes called. Several humorists and story tellers have built a reputation telling jokes and stories using the classic "yankee" dialect combined with a well known regional dry wit. These are not to be missed for the real Maine experience.
There are native French speakers in the St. John Valley of far northern Maine, and a strong Québécois tradition in central Maine, especially Lewiston-Auburn, brought by immigrants. Eastern Maine is referred to as "Down East" because the area is down wind from the rest of the east coast on the prevailing westerly breezes.
Maine shares land borders with New Brunswick, Québec, and New Hampshire.
Boston is the major gateway to Maine for visitors from overseas or the rest of the United States.
There is bus service from Boston to Maine's major cities, and the Amtrak Downeaster offers train service from Boston's North Station to Portland. Bus service also links New Brunswick with Bangor.
A car is required for travel around the state. Many visitors rent a car in Boston and take Interstate 95 northward to Maine. It takes about two hours to drive from Boston to Portland, and another two hours to drive from Portland to Bangor.
Several airlines provide direct flights to Portland and Bangor from most major cities in the northeastern U.S. Bay Ferries used to offer high speed ferry service from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Portland and Bar Harbor but shut down these routes at the end of 2009.
A car is necessary for getting around in Maine. Public roads are rare in the area north and west of Bangor. Private land owners maintain the few roads available in these north woods, and permits are required for access through each of ten checkpoints. Hours vary.
- Vermont Transit Lines operates a line between Boston South Station and Bangor that stops in Portland, Brunswick, Lewiston, Augusta, and Waterville. Tickets can be purchased upon boarding or online from Greyhound . Tel: +1 800 451-3292. Fax: +1 802 862-7812.
- Concord Trailways has both an express between Boston South Station or Logan Airport and Bangor that stops in Portland and a local coastal service whose stops include Portland, Brunswick, Bath, Wiscasset, Waldoboro, Rockland, Camden, and Belfast. Tel: +1 800 639-3317.
- Cyr Bus Lines connects Bangor with Aroostook, stopping in Old Town, Orono, Houlton, Mars Hill, Presque Isle, Caribou, and Limestone. Tel: +1 207 827-2335, Toll-free: +1 800 244-2335, Fax: +1 207 827-6763.
- Maine Campers rents Volkswagen Westfalia campers for travel in New England, Quebec, News Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Tel: +1 207 240-6146.
- See the "Indian Summer", the colorful foliage of the New England autumn, known locally as Fall.
- Acadia National Park exemplifies the beautiful Maine coastal landscape.
- The North Maine Woods is a remote, thinly settled expanse of lonely boreal forest. There is much in the area for those seeking solitude and natural beauty of the northern kind: Chesuncook Lake, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, and Baxter State Park with 5200 foot (1585 m) Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
- Maine Lobster Festival (usually in late July going into early August) .
- Western Maine Lakes and Mountains. Bordering the state line with New Hampshire and the White Mountain National Forest, this is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Less rural than the North Maine Woods, high mountains and crystal clear lakes abound with plenty of hiking trails, waterfalls and off-the-beaten track driving available. Grafton Notch State Park (3,000 acres) covers most of the area on Route 26 between Newry and Upton. Sunday River, close to Bethel, is one of the largest ski resorts in Maine.
- Midcoast Maine artisanal touring - Travel the roads of midcoast Maine and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the depth and quality of the goods created by local craftspeople.
- Lake and ocean swimming - ocean temperature hovers around 60°F in the Summer months.
- Sea Kayaking. Paddle the entire coast along the Maine Island Trail .
- River Kayaking / Canoeing. Paddle the entire Allagash Wilderness Waterway
- Whitewater canoeing
- Historical site seeing
- Fishing (a fishing license is required for fishing in fresh water)
- Black Mountain , in Rumford
- Eaton Mountain, Skowhegan, +1 207 474-2666,
- Lost Valley , in Auburn
- Mt. Abram, Locke Mills, +1 207 875-5000 email@example.com
- Sugarloaf, 5092 Access Rd, Carrabassett Valley, +1 207 237-2000 firstname.lastname@example.org . And golf in the summer.
- Sunday River , in Bethel
- Saddleback, Rangely, +1 207 864-5671 email@example.com
- Squaw Mountain Resort, Greenville, +1 207 695-1000 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shawnee Peak, Bridgton.
- Kittery and Freeport have high concentrations of factory outlet stores.
- Portland's Old Port has lots of high-end boutiques and artisan shops, while the Congress Street corridor is a great place to shop for funkier wares and to browse consignment shops. Angela Adams' designer showroom, featuring unique handbags and rugs, is on Congress Street in the city's East End, which has seen its share of new shops spring up over the past few years.
- Camden, Maine . This quintessential Maine village located along Penobscot Bay offers an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, and galleries. Windsor Chairmakers on Route 1, six miles north of Camden offers custom made chairs, beds, dining tables, buffets, highboys, and more. Tour the workshop, feed the Scottish Highland cows, and see the showroom.
- Maine lobster. Lobsters are ubiquitous in Maine and are served a variety of ways. The basic preparation (served nearly everywhere from basic lobster pound restaurants that serve nothing else to high-end restaurants) is steamed with drawn butter. Bibs and claw crackers are provided. The more traditional clam bake layers steamer clams, mussels, lobsters, potatoes, onions and corn over seaweed all are steamed together with saltwater. Uniquely Maine preparations include lobster stew, lobster casserole, and lobster pie. A few ice cream companies even make lobster ice cream!
- Fresh seafood of all kinds, crab, scallops, shrimp, clams. Small but flavorful boreal red shrimp (more commonly known as Maine shrimp) are available from November to March. Like New England's only shrimp variety, New England's most extensive type of crab (rock crab) goes by the name Maine crab and although not as celebrated as lobster, is excellent steamed or served any other way. Local oyster varieties include Pemaquids and Sheepscots. Fishermen catch North Atlantic fish of all kinds.
- The best blueberries in the country... pancakes, muffins, bagels...
See the regional and city articles for specific restaurants and venues.
Maine produces some of the highest quality beers in the country. When in the Pine Tree State, go for a tour or look for titles by these fine breweries:
- Allagash Brewing Co., Casco Bay Brewing Co., DL Geary Brewing Co., Gritty McDuff's Brewing Co. and Shipyard in Portland.
- Atlantic Brewing Co., Bar Harbor Brewing Co., Maine Coast Brewing Co., in Bar Harbor.
- Sheepscot Valley Brewing in Whitefield.
- Sea Dog Brewing Co., in Bangor.
- StoneCoast Brewing Co., in Portland and Bethel.
Maine's telephone area code is 207.
As far as cell phone use goes, Maine is geographically one of the least-covered states in the country. Coverage is good along the Southern Coast, in the Portland area, and along US Interstate 95 from the New Hampshire border to Bangor -- as well as some other areas such as Camden and Rockland.
- Hikers should carry and know how to use a map and compass and dress in layers for changeable weather. Maine has one of the lowest crime rates in the United States -- in fact, in some parts of the state, "Mainers" leave their houses and cars unlocked even when gone for long periods of time. Violent crime is rare, but visitors to Maine or anywhere should safeguard their possessions. Avoid leaving valuables in plain view in an unattended vehicle. Risk of death from animals is usually remote, but black flies and mosquitoes may drive one mad. Automobile collisions with moose can be deadly for both the moose and the occupants of the vehicle. It is best not to drive too fast in areas frequented by moose. Many, but not all, areas with high risk of moose-auto collisions are marked with signs. Drivers from warmer climates visiting between December and April should avoid driving on snow or ice covered roads.
- It is unsafe to venture out onto Maine's coastal waters without having the necessary equipment and experience. This is true of kayaking, canoeing, sailing or any other kind of boating. The water is cold and hypothermia can set in in a short amount of time. Dense fog often rolls in very quickly as well as the occasional storm. If you are determined to go out on your own to do so without every single passenger wearing a PFD and/or without having a compass and knowing how to use it and/or without understanding how to navigate safely around other boats and water hazards is not only foolish but could result in serious fines from the Coast Guard or a Marine Patrol officer. There are numerous companies that offer guided sea kayak, sailing, and power boat tours.
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