Maine is the quintessential small-town state. While Portland and Bangor might be considered our cities, even those have their own small-town feel. Essentially, if you love knowing your neighbors, sharing Maine pride and supporting
mom and pop establishments, Maine is perfect. Here are a few examples of small-town Maine where the pace is slow, the community is strong and life is as simple as it possibly can be in our world today.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Norway, Oxford County
Norway is one of our favorite small towns. It has a population of about 2,700 people, but driving through downtown makes the slow pace palpable. While things are picking up, (the Norway Brewery just recently opened!) you'll still feel right at home in the community here. It's also located close to tons of recreation areas - from the crooked river in Waterford to the wonderful Lake Pennesseewassee right in town.
2. Castine, Hancock County
Home to the Maine Maritime Academy, Castine has a rich seafaring history. When you're there, check out the town's post office - the oldest continuously running one in the USA. The population of Castine is about 1,300. Not huge, not tiny - somewhere in the middle.
3. Calais, Washington County
While not the absolute smallest in Maine, Calais certainly comes with that small-town feel. Its population of about 3,000 has access to three border entry point to Canada over the St. Croix River. Residents here also have the privilege of being about to weed out those from away. If they pronounce it like they're somewhere in France, it's probably their first time in town!
4. Greenville, Piscataquis County
Located on the lower end of Moosehead Lake and with a population of about 1,600, Greenville is both beautiful and stress free. If that's not evident when you're there, try to make a trip to the Stress Free Moose Cafe, one of the best in the area. Fun Fact: Greenville High School was ranked third best in the state and in the top 1,000 in all of America. Guess those kids aren't exactly stress free.
5. Masardis, Aroostook County
What can we say about Masardis that hasn't already been said? Pretty much everything considering it's one of those blink-and-you-might-miss-it towns located in The County. It doesn't get any more slow paced than watching the sunrise on a dewy morning, though. If you love that sort of thing head to Masardis and their population of about 250 people.
6. Phippsburg, Sagadahoc County
Sitting on the west side of the mouth of the Kennebec River, Phippsburg is a lovable small town with a tight community. There's no shortage of outdoors to enjoy here. You'll find the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, Fort Popham State Historic Site; along with Fort Baldwin which overlooks Fort Popham. Head over to Popham Beach State Park and Pond Island National Wildlife Refuge for even more of that lovely slow pace. The population here is about 2,200.
7. Roxbury, Oxford
With a population of 362, Roxbury is truly a small town. But, it's not its size that earns it a place on this list. Roxbury has a slow-paced and relaxing vibe that makes it easy to enjoy. Spend some time at Ellis Pond and you'll understand why. Fun fact: Roxbury had a decade of population boom when it saw an increase in residents of almost 2,000%. It was recorded in 1840 when the population went from a paltry 11 to the whopping, bustling number of 227!
8. Belfast, Waldo County
We can't talk about Belfast without also including the many small towns that surround it. This entire area represents some of the best of small-town Maine. Belfast's population is about 6,600 (the 2nd largest on this list!) and it's quite close to Portland. It provides a great mix of art, local food and waterfront views. In June 2015, the first "Maine Fare" took place, celebrating and sharing local artisans, food and musicians. The event has, unfortunately, been canceled due to the sheer logistics that go into putting on the celebration, but we're hoping it comes back in some form in the future.
9. Trenton, Hancock County
Trenton has a population of almost 1,500. It's the last town on the mainland before heading into Mount Desert Island, making it truly the "Gateway to Acadia." Shipbuilding and shipping were a big part of life in the 1800s, which makes the salty air even more special. Stop by the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound for some of the freshest lobster you'll find in the area.
10. Fryeburg, Oxford County
There was no possible way we could leave lovely Fryeburg off this list! With a population of about 1,600, it's not one of our smallest, but its small-town Maine feel is one of the best! The inclusion of Fryeburg is a result of its pure beauty and things to do. In addition to conservation land and its close proximity to the outdoor wonderland that are the White Mountains, you'll also find cafes, restaurants and shops. A perfect place to make yourself at home.
11. Patten, Penobscot County
Patten is both historic and small, with about 1,000 residents. Its location near many major rivers and streams powered the small mills and workshops that called the town home in the 1800s. In the early 19th century, it became one of the most notable towns on the Penobscot River. The development of the lumber industry here made it the cultural hub of the area encompassing towns west of Houlton and North of Lincoln. Today it is the location of the Bradford Farm, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is occupied by a bed and breakfast.
12. Kittery Point, York County
With a population of about 1,000 people, Kittery Point is much smaller than the 4,000 people of Kittery. Its small community feel will have you feeling warm and fuzzy. While it sometimes gets confused for just being Kittery, you'll know the small town feel when you get there. It's also home to Fort McClary State Historic Site and Fort Foster Park.
13. Bath, Sagadahoc County
We were shocked when we realized that Bath's population is the largest on this list - about 8,800 call it home! It feels so small-town, that you'll be surprised too! It is renowned for its shipbuilding industry and has become known as the "city of ships." The famous "Bath Iron Works" can still be found here. Stop by the Maine Maritime Museum as well as the Chocolate Church Arts Center which often hosts incredible community events.
14. Sebec, Piscataquis County
Tiny Sebec has a population of about 650 people. We love it here, but going to any of the Three Rivers Communities will have you loving the pace of life. Incorporated in 1812, Sebec is the oldest town in Piscataquis County. Come for the country feel and to visit Sebec Lake on which it is located.
15. Port Clyde, Knox County
Port Clyde is actually a settlement within St. George, which has an overall population of about 2,500. We think it deserves its own place on this list in part because it is so picturesque. It's easy to spend hours here just enjoying the scenery. In the 19th century, Port Clyde became a busy port with granite quarries, tide mills for sawing timber, and shipbuilding and fish canning businesses. Today, the area's quiet location attracts artists and writers. One of its most notable attractions is the Marshall Point Lighthouse. You may remember it as one of the most beautiful scenes during Forrest Gump's cross-country run in the movie, "Forrest Gump."
If reading about these small towns filled you with a sense of Maine pride, check out
this article which will make that pride swell even bigger!