Exploring Maine’s great outdoors can be as easy or as adventurous as you’d like it to be. From the North Woods to the beaches of southern Maine, there’s something for everyone in Vacationland. But, if you’ve been here for a while you might feel as though you’ve seen it all. Good news! No matter who you are or what you’ve done, we can guarantee that you’ve not yet seen it all! Before you think your list is complete, check out this list of lesser known things to see in Maine. It includes some unexpected spots hidden in plain sight for those who typically explore further afield and some spots off-the-beaten path for those who tend to roam close to home. Whatever your style, you’ll love finding these hidden gems!
1. The Hidden Bridge (a decidedly un-official name!), New Portland
The small town of New Portland has a wonderful secret. Nestled between Bangor and the Canadian border, this is older than even the town financial records, but it was likely built before 1866 along with three others of its kind. Visit in the fall to experience the coloful leaves begin to change all around the wooden structure.
2. Dunn Falls, Andover
If you've always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, but aren't looking to spend 5 months traipsing around the woods this shorter hike is for you! To reach Dunn Falls, you'll start in Andover and follow the AT for a bit. It counts! The path is a bit narrow and runs through the forest following a stream. You get two waterfalls on this trip. First up is Lower Dunn Falls and then you'll make your way to Upper Dunn Falls.
3. The Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamental Trials Garden, Orono
One of the best things about this gorgeous garden is that it's quite easy to access. You'll find it on the University of Maine campus in Orono. It was founded in the 1960s by horticulture professor, Lyle Littlefield, with the original purpose of testing various plants for us in local gardens. Today, it's free to walk around and enjoy the area. Visit at 5762 Roger Clapp Greenhouses in Orono.
4. Moose Point State Park, Searsport
This state park is about 2 hours northwest of Portland and just 30 minutes north of Camden, making it a great place to visit while on vacation. In 1859 the land on which the park exists today was a dairy farm owned by the local Carver family. Today, it's got three easy hiking trails - Moose Trail, Big Spruce Trail, and Meadow Trail. The onsite playground, shady gazebo and lots of picnic tables with grills make it a great place to visit with kids.
5. The Debsconeag Ice Caves, Millinocket
You may have explored hidden caves in Maine before, but these caves are truly unique. Located within the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area, these caves were created during the ice age when glaciers pushed boulders together. The actual hike to find them is fairly straight forward, but the Debsconeag is definitely off-the-beaten-path. The coolest part? You'll find ice inside all year long!
6. Fort McClary State Park, Kittery Point
If you've been in Maine enough, you've surely heard of Fort McClary, but have you visited? There are a number of Maine beauties that simply go unexplored because there are other things to do. But, do yourself a favor and check it out! Fort McClary once protected the harbor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Today, the Fort and the structures around it are owned and operated by the State of Maine as Fort McClary State Historic Site. Think green lawns and historical structures!
7. The Great Wass Acrhipelago, Jonesport
Jonesport is already a bit off-the-beaten-path if you're from southern Maine, but there are some islands just off the coast that you may never have even heard of. This group of islands is known as the Great Wass Archipelago and, in addition being beautiful, they're home to wonderful hiking trails. The trails are often unused since many people simply don't know the area exists! To get there, take U.S. 1 to Route 187 towards Jonesport. At the Beals bridge, go through town to Great Wass Island. Once there, head right to take the road towards Black Duck Cove. Here you'll find the parking lot and all the trails!
8. The Kenneth E. Stoddard Shell Museum, Boothbay
While you won't find yourself immersed in the outdoors at this wonderful museum, it can certainly be considered beautiful.
The museum dedicated entirely to shells is the brainchild of Kenneth E. Stoddard. An avid traveler, Stoddard built his collection while traversing the globe, particularly in the South Pacific. The museum is run by his son, who promised his father he'd care for it after he'd passed away. Visit the museum at: 510 Wiscassett Rd., Boothbay / 207-633-4828.
9. The Bold Coast Scenic Byway, Millbridge to Eastport
While not entirely hidden, there's a good chance you haven't taken this drive. Let this be the year you change that! The 3-hour drive takes you from Millbridge, all the way up the coast to Eastport, passing by coastal scenery and inland wonders all in one great drive.
10. Limington Rapids Rest Area, Limington
You've been to rest areas before, but none were as beautiful as this spot in rural Maine! Found on Route 25 approaching Standish, the rest area is more of a park. It's right on the Saco River which makes it a great place to bring a picnic. Plan on swimming on warm days or kayaking on beautiful autumn ones!
11. Number Four Mountain, Greenville
We sometimes wonder where this beautiful mountain got its name. It certainly sounds like something out of a spy novel! To explore it, make your way to Greenville and enjoy the views from the top before heading down and taking a dip in Moosehead Lake. Other bonuses of the summit are the incredible views of Baker and Lily Bay mountains. The route is about 4-miles round-trip, making it fairly accessible as well.
12. Long Sands Beach, York
While the beach on a sunny day is always great, this one is particularly special. If you arrive just after a storm, or after high tide you just might find some sand dollars. This is the best beach in Maine to find them and while it's in a popular part of the state, you're likely to be all alone while searching in the early morning.