One of my favorite things about Maine is its constant ability to surprise me. Just when I think I love coastal Maine the most, I spend a weekend near Norway and swear I’ll set up camp in Western Maine. Or, I spend a weekend skiing and decide I love Maine winters, only to be reminded that summer is why we live here year-round. Maine is truly marvelous and here are a few places to visit that will remind you of that.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Mount Katahdin, Baxter State Park
Located in Baxter State Park, Katahdin's name was given by the Penobscot Indians and means “The Greatest Mountain." It serves at the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, but can be hiked on its own in about 10 hours. It's not for the faint of heart, but it's an incredible wonder we can call our own.
2. USS Zumwalt, Bath
This guided missile destroyer won't be in Maine forever, but while she's here she's worth recognizing! The destroyer was built by Bath Iron Works beginning in 2009. In early 2014, Zumwalt began heavy weather trials to see her reaction to high winds, stormy seas, and adverse weather conditions. I'm not a geologlist, but seems like the coast of Maine in January is a good time for that sort of thing. Testing has continued and once the decision has been made to allow her to join the naval fleet, the Zumwalt will make its way to San Diego.
3. Hussey's General Store, Windsor
Shotgun wedding anyone? Many a driver has stopped to snap a picture of Hussey's unusual sign touting guns, wedding gowns and cold beer. Head inside and you can actually purchase all those things, plus anything else you could ever need.
4. The Androscoggin Swinging Bridge, Brunswick / Topsham
This strange swinging bridge was originally built to allow workers at the Cabot Mill to cross the Adnroscoggin. This pedestrian suspension bridge is over 330 feet long and very narrow. Though the bridge has been repaired a few times over the years, and many parts have been replaced, the cables are original to the 19th-century structure. We recently highlighted this wonder in its own dedicated article.
5. Bubble Rock, Acadia National Park
Bubble Rock is one of the most unbelievable natural wonders we have in Maine. This isn't your run-of-the-mill rock. It's actually a "glacial erratic" left by ice age activity a very, very long time ago. By analyzing the type of granite within the rock, geologists have been able to discern that glaciers carried Bubble Rock to its precarious perch all the way from Lucerne, Maine — 30 miles (48 km) away!
6. Wild Blueberry Land, Columbia Falls
Built in 2001, this giant blueberry is actually a gift and coffee shop, as well as an outlet for the owners' homemade blueberry jams, sauces and baked good. Sounds delicious enough to warrant a stop! They are primarily open only in the summer, so now's your chance!
7. Piazza Rock, near Sandy Rive
Located along the Appalachian Trail near Rangeley, this teetering rock appears to have been placed against a tree by a very strong giant. Check it out while hiking about 4 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.
8. Old Sow Whirlpool, Eastport Area
Tidal currents meet between Eastport and Deer Island forming the "Old Sow" whirlpool, which is one of the largest and most dangerous on the planet. The whirling power of this natural phenomenon will remind you that nature is always the one in charge.
9. Battery Steele, Peaks Island
Battery Steele is a military fort located on the oceanside area of Peaks Island in Casco Bay. The Fort was built in 1942 as part of efforts to support World War II. The military site is a mix of two worlds. From the outside, the area appears to be completely left to nature. Overgrown trees and branches crowd what appears to be a crumbling facade. However, the real magic of Battery Steele lies underground. The bulk of the fort is made up of an underground area. These tunnels have been overtaken by artists and the mark of local Maine residents and friends covers the walls.
10. The Shoe Tree, Houlton
This is a shoe tree in the most literal sense - as in a tree strung up with hundreds of shoes. What are they doing there? Nobody knows. Look for it along US 1, about 7 miles south of where it intersects with US 2 in Houlton.
11. Reversing Falls, Pembroke
The Reversing Falls (also called "Cobscook Falls") are formed as a result of a large rock ledge that makes it impossible for the water to move smoothly. During the incoming tide, this underwater activity creates a crazy waterfall, along with whirlpools and surprisingly high swells. But, the real phenomenon is during the outgoing tide. When the tide heads in the opposite direction, the movement of the water goes over the treacherous area in the reverse direction, creating what appears to be a waterfall that moves opposite of the current.
12. The Desert of Maine, Freeport
Wait a second. A desert? In Maine? Well, in actuality, it's 40 acres of exposed glacial silt, the result of soil erosion from mismanaged farmland. Look past the silly camel sculptures and it's still an interesting oddity.
13. The Sunday River Bridge / Artist’s Bridge, Newry
Built in 1872, the Sunday River Bridge is also known as "Artist's Bridge" due to its common use in photographs and art. It's easy to see why! In 1958 it was closed to traffic when another bridge was built nearby, but it's still worth a sightseeing visit.
14. The Downed B-52C, Elephant Mountain
On January 24, 1963, a United States Air Force Boeing B-52C Stratofortress went down over Maine while flying a training mission. Of the nine crew members, only the pilot and navigator survived. Elephant Mountain, near Moosehead Lake about six miles from Greenville, is the final resting place of its shredded fuselage. A half-mile hike will get you to the wreckage, where a stone memorial commemorates the seven fallen soldiers.
15. Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park
We could certainly call the entirety of Acadia National Park a marvel of Maine, but a few places within this magnificent park stood out as special. Among them is Thunder Hole. The attraction gets its name from the booming noise made when air escapes from a sea cave after being trapped by the incoming tide. Check it out, but watch out for rogue waves!
16. The World Traveler Sign, Lynchville
Wait, where are we again? This sign will have you spinning in circles trying to find your place on the map. But don't worry, they're just towns in Maine. Even so, a photo op here will make you look really well traveled.
17. Palace Playland and The Pier, Old Orchard Beach
A Southern Maine institution, OOB has been delighting children (okay, mostly Canadian children) for decades. Take a stroll along the pier for a mix of adult beverages, games and the famous pier fries or take in the thrills on the rollercoasters. Whatever you do, make sure you play a few games of Skeeball. It's our favorite!
If these wonderful attractions in Maine have brought out a bit of your adventurous side, you might want to explore these
easy hikes that are under 5 miles.