Visitors often believe they’ve seen all there is to see in Maine as long as they’ve been to the beach, climbed a lighthouse and dug into some lobster. But the truth is that we are much more than what’s seen on the fronts of postcards. A true visit to Maine should include a mom and pop restaurant, a cold dive into a lake, a locally owned shop and a visit to local woods. In short, a visit to Maine should include the less-visited places. Here are a few examples to start you off!
1. The Maine Solar System Model, Houlton
What Mainers have long known, turns out to be true: The entire universe resides in Maine. At least literally. Head to The County to find a scaled model of our solar system. Created by the University of Maine in Presque Isle, this model begins with the sun in Presque Isle and goes all the way to Houlton where you'll find the (now defunct as a planet) Pluto.
2. Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary, Guilford
The Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary offers an incredible variety of natural wonders, and a forest that's been uncut since the 19th century, three crystalline alpine ponds, exposed granite crags and an awe-inspiring view of the area. The Sanctuary is open year-round and has lodges available for overnight stays. Visitors to Borestone Mountain can try the moderately strenuous, hike that ends with 360-degree views from two different peaks at nearly 2,000 feet.
3. The Rooftop Elephant, Belfast
This guy is hiding up on the roof of the Colonial Theater in town. He was sold in 1997 and subsequent attempts to buy him back to return him to his former home at Perry's Nut House have failed. So, you'll have to visit him here on this roof. For now.
4. Deer Isle, Stonington
While perhaps not actually an "attraction" this town is a must-see part of Maine. This small lobster village near Acadia is just off the beaten path enough to keep it feeling like it did generations ago. This is what the Maine coast is all about. You can reach it via a bridge, but it feels perfectly removed from the hustle and bustle of the mainland. We won't tell you exactly how to get there - some things need to remain a mystery. But, if you can find your way, you'll be rewarded with the feeling that time travel is real.
5. The Wiggly Bridge, York
Located in York, The Wiggly Bridge is a lovely hidden way to explore the area. It connects York Harbor to the wonderful Steedman Woods. As suspension bridges go, the wooden portion spans a teensy 75 feet and when you walk, the entire thing bounces and...you guessed it...wiggles!
6. The Cutler Bold Coast Preserve, Cutler
The Cutler Bold Coast Preserve in Cutler is a gorgeous place to visit with very few tourists. This 12,334-acre area has a variety of ecosystems including 4.5 miles of headlands overlooking the Bay of Fundy.
7. Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport
This fun, out of the way museum teaches visitors all about the maritime culture of the Penobscot Bay region. The collections, education, lessons and workshops, as well as local community engagement make it a special part of the town.
8. Maine Blueberry Barrens, Cherryfield
Maine is the world's largest producer of Wild Blueberries. And, Cherryfield (which may have gotten its name from wild cherries that once grew here,) is known as the blueberry capital of the world. This is where half of the state's 85 million pounds of commercial wild blueberries grow. Near the end of the summer, the blueberries are harvested, packaged and sent to become the delicious ingredients in baked goods and other things that we love. Only about half the fields are harvested and those that are not become an intense and impressive red color.
9. Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville
Thanks to a substantial endowment and a recent expansion, the Colby College Museum of Art 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.
10. Piazza Rock, Sandy River
It's not clear why more people don't visit this crazy-looking rock. It sits right near the Appalachian Trail near Rangeley. The teetering rock appears to have been placed against a tree by a very strong giant. Check it out while hiking about four miles, round trip on this section of the AT. While the area is demanding, the hike to and from the rock is actually pretty family friendly.
11. Hannibal Hamlin's Death Couch, Bangor Public Library
The library is worth a trip on its own, but one of the weirdest things inside is the couch that Abraham Lincoln's first vice president died on. On July 4, 1891 he collapsed during a card game in his home state of Maine, while at the Tarratine Club in Bangor. He died that night on this very couch that can now be seen at the main branch of the Bangor Public Library.