When we have guests visiting from away, we want to show them the best our wonderful state has to offer. But “best” doesn’t always mean “most popular.” There are plenty of underrated gems all through the state – you just have to know where to look. Today, we’re revealing some insider spots where your out-of-town visitors might just be the only tourists around.
1. Belgrade Lakes
While leafpeepahs head out to Acadia in droves, we prefer to head for the hills to the Belgrade Lakes Region. During fall, the scenery explodes with color, and the quaint little Main Street is alive with local flavor. Don't miss the picture-perfect Harvest Festival in early October - your friends will feel like they're stuck in a Norman Rockwell painting.
Did you know there are other cities in Maine besides Portland? Of course you did, but folks from away, well, that's a different story. The Queen City is bursting at the seams with great restaurants, a burgeoning cultural scene and the best summer concert venue in the state. Plus, it's a great home base for outdoor adventures in Baxter and Acadia.
3. Bagaduce Lunch, Brooksville
While tourists line up for hours at Red's Eats, we prefer to introduce our guests to the iconic Maine lobster roll at Bagaduce Lunch, who have been serving the same impossibly fresh menu since 1946.
4. Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Lubec
The Portland Head Light gets all the glory, but we think the candy-striped Quoddy Head is just as - if not more - photogenic. It's way-out-there location right on the Canadian border makes it a less-popular stop on the tourist trail, but we think it's worth the trip.
5. The Great North Woods
With so much accessible wilderness in Maine, it's easy to forget about THE wilderness. The vast North Woods is a natural playground, offering immeasurable beauty and amazing wildlife with a fraction of the crowds you'll find elsewhere.
6. Blueberry Mountain, Evans Notch
There are bigger mountains with better views, but Blueberry Mountain in Evans Notch has something the others don't... lots and lots of blueberries! Bring a couple of containers to collect the juicy berries you don't immediately pop into your mouth. There's truly no better way to introduce your out-of-towners to Maine's sweetest export.
7. Owls Head General Store
Sure, you can get a $17 gourmet burger in Portland, but head out to this Midcoast general store to chow down on the big, sloppy 7 Napkin Burger. Voted the best burger in Maine by the Food Network, it's more under-the-radar than it is underrated. But at just $8.75, it's definitely worth the journey.
8. Chain of Ponds
Take your out-of-towners for a trip up Route 27 - one of the most beautiful drives in Maine. The stunning Chain of Ponds are a natural wonder, but they also have historical significance. They're part of the path taken by Benedict Arnold on his ill-fated expedition to Quebec during the American Revolution. Stay for a stunning sunset at the Natanis Point Campground, named after Arnold's Abenaki Indian guide.
9. The Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville
Thanks to a substantial endowment and a recent expansion, this museum on the Colby campus has emerged as Maine's most diverse collection of American art. With over 8,000 influential works in a stunning glass-and-steel space, it's the perfect way to introduce outsiders to Maine's legendary art scene.
For the authentic coastal experience, catch the ferry from Rockland out to Vinalhaven. There's not much to do, but that's kind of the point. Swim in the granite quarries, hike the craggy coastline and mingle with lobstermen at the Sand Bar - the island's one year-round drinking hole.
11. Aroostook County...like all of it
For most of Maine's population, a drive to The County is a commitment. But if you want to show your out-of-towners what many consider to be the "real" Maine, this is the place. Just pick a spot, stare into the night sky and be amazed.
Do you have any favorite places you’d like to share? Don’t worry…your secrets are safe with us!