We like to think that every article we write should include things that end up on your bucket list. But, after all these food, activity and state pride lists it made sense for us to put them all together in a full, exciting bucket list. So, here is the ultimate and definitive list of things we recommend you do in Maine.
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. Nubble Light, Cape Neddick
Nubble Light was built in 1879 and is the southernmost of our lighthouses. The name refers to the rocky island on which it sits, just off shore. It flashes red every six seconds, and is visible for 13 miles. For the best view, head to the end of Nubble Road in York. There is a park with a clear view of the Nubble just off shore.
2. The Shed BBQ, Rangeley
It's no secret that we love this place. Hidden away in the Rangeley Lakes region AND open during the off-season, if you love BBQ this is just about the best place to get it. It's simple, casual and won't make you feel like you're under-dressed. If you go there now, you can get yourself a cajun pork loin sandwich. Go! Now! Visit them at: 2647 Main Street, Rangeley / 207-864-2219
3. Moxie Falls, Moxie Gore
These falls are the highest in Maine and, arguably, the most well-known. Visit these as part of an easy 30 minute hike (longer and more difficult if you want to see the base) and feel free to swim if it's warm enough.
4. International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland
The world's only museum exploring the study of hidden or unknown animals such as Yetis, Bigfoot, Lake Monsters, and Sea Serpents, as well as hundreds of other yet-to-be-found animals (cryptids) is located right here in Maine. Makes sense considering all the Sasquatch sightings reported here. Until February 2016, the museum hosted the Minnesota Iceman. As an exhibit, not a guest. Visit them at: 4 Thompsons Point #106, Portland
5. 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. Visit them at: 95 Desert Rd, Freeport / (207) 865-6962
6. Eastport, Washington County
Not only is Eastport unique for being the easternmost city in the US (not to be confused with Lubec, which is the easternmost municipality), but it is also a city comprised solely of islands. Come in July for the annual July 4th Codfish Relay (which is actually part of a larger celebration of both the US and Canada) and stay for the Salmon Festival in September. If you leave and crave more, come back for the New Year's Eve sardine drop at midnight.
7. Bubble Rock, Acadia National Park
Left behind by a massive glacier, this 100-ton rock is perched precariously on the South Bubble. Hikes up to the rock are moderately difficult, but the view and the bizarre rock are worth it.
8. Vinalhaven, Knox County
Vinalhaven is a town on the Fox Islands accessible by ferry from Rockland. Oftentimes used to refer to the entire island, Vinalhaven is one of the smallest towns on this list and offers visitors a handful of locally owned bars and restaurants, many of which shutter for the winter. Come for lovely walks in the Lane's Island Preserve, a look at the Robert Indiana pieces scattered throughout, and for at least one night at the beautiful Tidewater Motel.
9. The World Traveler Sign, Lynchville
If you'd love to see the world, but aren't sure where to start, Maine can help you out. Your starting point should definitely be the World Traveler Sign. Providing directional cues and mileage to any foreign place (in Maine) you could possibly want to see, this funny sign has been providing great photo ops for years. See it for yourself on Valley Road in Lynchville.
10. Rattlesnake Flume and Pool, Evans Notch
Plan for a hot day of hiking Blueberry Mountain in Evans Notch and make sure you stop off at Rattlesnake Flume and Pond near the end. The crystal clear pool is located just off Stone House Trail. You'll see a marker showing you the way via a small detour.
11. The Moxie Museum, Union
It's actually the Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage, but there is a nice little corner dedicated to the official soft drink of Maine. Come here for any Moxie souvenirs you need. From shirts to hats, this place has it all. But, if you're shopping for the holidays you should plan ahead - they're only open for the summer! The museum is located in the Union Fairgrounds on Common Road in Union. Visit them at: 1 Fairgrounds Ln, Union / (207) 542-2379
12. 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.
13. Quoddy Head State Park, Lubec
Located on the easternmost point of land in the United States, Quoddy Head is a must see. On its 532 acres, purchased by the state in 1962, the park features 4.5 miles of hiking trails, extensive forests, two bogs, diverse habitat for rare plants, and the striking, red-and-white striped lighthouse tower of West Quoddy Head Light. With its diverse landscape, breathtaking views, scenic picnic sites, and opportunities for hiking and whale watching, Quoddy Head is a great place to spend the day.
14. Cutler Bold Coast Preserve, Cutler
In Downeast Maine, Cutler Coast Public Lands 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.
15. Owls Head General Store, Owls Head
Well-known in Maine and beyond, Owls Head is so much more than your typical general store. Pop in for one of their incredible burgers or lobster rolls and pick a seat outside when the weather's good. They also serve up daily specials, including an incredible Pumpkin Pecan Streusel French Toast. Visit them at: 2 South Shore Drive, Owls Head / (207) 596-6038
16. Baxter State Park, Millinocket
Home to Katadhdin, we probably don't even need to tell you about Baxter. However, something you may not know is that it's not actually part of Maine's state park system. Sole governance is provided by the Baxter State Park Authority, consisting of the Maine Attorney General, the Maine Commissioner of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Director of the Maine Forest Service.
17. Hussey's General Store, Windsor
If you're in need of just about anything, there's a good chance Hussey's will have it. In fact, make this your one-stop-shop for wedding planning. From food to dresses, they've got you covered! Visit them at: 510 Ridge Road, Windsor Maine / (207) 445-2511
18. Hemlock Bridge, Fryeburg
The Hemlock Bridge was built in 1857 and spans the Saco River. There have been a number of improvements since then, making this one of the most beautiful (and sturdy!) in Maine.
19. Belfast, Waldo County
A lovely town about 100 miles from Portand, Belfast 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. Check out the Maine Fare website for next year's schedule of tastings, live concerts and farm tours.
20. The Majestic Height of Land, Near Rangeley
Overlooking the scenic Mooselookmeguntic Lake and just off beautiful Route 17, the Height of Land will give you one of the best views in Maine.
21. The Palace Diner, Biddeford
Maine's oldest diner car is open every day of the week, serving up breakfast and lunch to a crowd that wishes they could have every meal here. A Southern Maine stalwart, Palace is known far and wide. Visit them at: 18 Franklin St
Biddeford / (207) 284-0015
22. Sand Beach, Acadia National Park
In addition to being one of the best places to actually spend a beach day in Acadia, Sand Beach often turns up some nice sea glass. Take a look in the morning or evening for the best chance of something nice. Word on the street is that pale pink sea glass can sometimes be found here. It's rare, so look carefully!
23. The Summit of Mt. Battie, Camden
Head to Camden Hills State Park and drive up to the summit of Mount Battie. Your impressive view will include Penobscot Bay, the town of Camden and the Camden Hills further afield. In addition to the view, there's a stone observatory with an inscription by Maine poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay. She often came to the area and was inspired by its beauty. Once you're there, you'll understand why.
24. The Big Indian (or, the BFI, as it’s known locally), Freeport
Towering above US 1, the 40-foot-tall "BFI" watches over all those heading towards the outlets in Freeport. The indian was commissioned by Julian Leslie, owner of the nearby Casco Bay Trading Post, a moccasin-selling business. As much as we Mainers love it, the indian was actually created in Pennsylvania and transported via road to Maine. It drew so much attention along the way that police had to get involved asking the driver to stop and continue after dark to draw less attention. To see him for yourself, visit 117 US Hwy 1, Freeport.
25. Ferry Beach, Scarborough
Ferry beach, on Prouts Neck Point, features a protected stretch of sand directly on the Scarborough River. The river makes for calmer ocean waves, making this the perfect place for young children and those who want to try their hand at stand-up paddleboarding. Ferry Beach also has a Western exposure for great sunsets, along with a convenient boat launch.
26. The Reversing Falls, West Pembroke
In West Pembroke, a tidal flow alternately fills and drains both Whiting Bay and Dennys Bay. The salt water flows incredibly fast into the bays over rocks causing the appearance of "falls."
27. Screw Auger Falls, Oxford County
These Bear River-sourced falls are comprised of two impressive drops. The first is a 30' drop over a granite ledge into a gorge. The second is just below the first and features another 30' drop. These are heavily visited in the summer, but are beautiful any time of year. No swimming, so don't worry about bringing a towel.
28. Portland Observatory, Portland
Sitting as a beacon atop Munjoy Hill, Portland Observatory was built in 1807 and is the oldest maritime signal tower in America. You can visit the observatory between Memorial Day and Columbus Day, which we recommend for views as far as Mount Washington on a clear day.
29. Wild Blueberry Land, Columbia Falls
This is one berry, berry strange place. Built in 2001, this giant blueberry serves as a gift and coffee shop, as well as an outlet for the owners' homemade blueberry jams, sauces and baked goods. Sounds delicious enough to warrant a stop! Visit them at: US-1, Columbia Falls / (207) 483-2583
30. The Well, Jordan's Farm, Cape Elizabeth
This seasonal spot has people coming back for the amazingly fresh food (much of it sourced right from Jordan's Farm), beautiful pastoral setting and unique outdoor seating... perfect on a warm summer evening. The most unique part just might be the setting. You can choose to sit in small gazebo-type areas or right out in the open next to the flower garden. Visit them at: 21 Wells Road, Cape Elizabeth / 207-831-9350.
31. Old Speck Mountain, Oxford County
Old Speck is located within Grafton Notch State Park near the town of Newry. The trails leading to the summit are quite steep, but hikers will find stunning views of the surrounding Mahoosuc Range at the top. The Standard Route trail to the peak is part of the Appalachian Trail system and is considered challenging. The route is about four miles long.
32. Fat Boy Drive-In, Brunswick
Fat Boy is for all those who miss the old days. From seafood to fried accompaniments (awesome onion rings, for instance) there is plenty on offer. But, try the Whoperburger first. It's classic and messy, just as it should be at a place with "fat" in the name. Take advantage of the throwback drive-in feel and munch out in your car like the good ol' days! Visit them at: 111 Bath Road, Brunswick / (207) 729-9431
33. Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Portland
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's childhood home is the oldest (still standing) structure on the Portland peninsula. It was built by Longfellow's grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth, in 1786. The last family member lived in the house until 1901 and, upon her death, ensured that the home be given to the Maine Historical Society. You can visit the home from May to October. The weekend preceding Halloween includes a ghost tour. Visit them it: 489 Congress St, Portland / (207) 774-1822
34. Red's Eats, Wiscasset
While the hype always has us nervous for the output, Red's won't disappoint. There's oftentimes a long wait for a good reason. The lobster rolls here aren't covered in mayo and pieces are large enough to dip directly into the melted butter provided on the side. Visit them at 41 Water Street in Wiscasset / 207-882-6128.
35. Bass Harbor Light, Southwest Harbor
Bass Harbor Light is a personal favorite! It's located within Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island and has a distinctive fourth-order red lens, dating back to 1858. Bass Harbor Head Light guards the entrance to Blue Hill Bay.