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For most people, images of lighthouses and lobsters spring to mind when they think of Maine; that or Steven King novels, if you happen to have a penchant for horror stories. It is a beautiful place with great food, glorious scenery, and plenty of history. Here is a quick guide to some of the best bits of Maine you really shouldn’t miss if you are planning a vacation there.
Seafood is big business in Maine and there are seafood shacks everywhere, from the roadside to the seafront. Fresh lobster is one of Maine’s most iconic dishes. We are used to seeing lobster on the menu in upmarket restaurants, but in Maine, lobster served dripping with melted butter at picnic tables by the sea is wonderful.
If the weather is fine, pick a table outdoors and tuck in, or if you are feeling a bit more casual, sit on the hood of your car and feast on locally fresh lobster. You will be spoilt for choice if you want to try locally caught lobster, but some of the most popular (and highly rated) lobster shacks in Maine include Miller’s Lobster Co in Spruce Head, Shaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf in New Harbor and Five Islands Lobster Co. in Georgetown.
Hike in the Baxter State Park
There are around 200 miles of hiking trails in the Baxter State Park. Beginners can take a scenic walk from Togue Pond Gate to Katahdin Falls, or follow the nature trail around Daicey Pond, but anyone with a thirst for adventure should plan a day’s hiking up to the summit of Mt Katahdin. Maps of all the hiking trails in Baxter are available from the visitor center. Just be sure to check the weather forecast before you head up Mt Katahdin, as it is a full day’s hike.
Visit Monhegan Island
Monhegan is reached by boat from Boothbay Harbor, Port Clyde or New Harbor. It is a car-free island and in the summer months, a popular destination for tourists.
Explore the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor is one of Maine’s most popular attractions. The gardens cover 248 acres of seafront land. You can explore trails winding through cool forests and sunny meadows, admire an array of glorious flowers in the magnificent ornamental gardens, and get lost on the grass maze. Children will enjoy the water garden, which was inspired by children’s books.
Take Photos of the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
Lighthouses are a common site in Maine. Seen one, seen them all you might be thinking, but the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse offers some wonderful views of the town of Rockland if you are willing to stroll down the mile long granite breakwater. You can also explore the Owl’s Head lighthouse, which contains a gift shop and educational center.
Admire Victoria Mansion
Victoria Mansion is a beautiful Italian style villa dating back to the 19th century. A trip here will give you a glimpse into the lifestyle of some of the wealthiest residents of Portland during this period.
Learn More about Maine’s Maritime History
Maine’s maritime past is very important and the area has a long traditional of shipbuilding. The Maine Maritime History Museum on the western bank of the Kennebec River contains a wealth of information and historical artefacts relating to the 400 years of seafaring history in Maine.
The Percy & Small Shipyard dates back to the 19th century and is the only wooden-boat shipyard left in the U.S. The other main highlight is the impressive Snow Squall, a three-mast clipper ship dating back to 1851.
The best way to get a real feel for maritime life is to take a boat trip. If you visit the museum in the summer time, you can take various boat cruises and tours along the river. Alternatively, the Marine Windjammer Association offers sailing trips on windjammers. Trips start from Portland and last for 3-11 days. Meals don’t come much better than fresh lobster eaten on deck, at sunset.
Embrace Your Artistic Side in the Portland Museum of Art
The Portland Museum of Art was founded in 1882. It houses an outstanding collection of artwork from a host of well-known American painters. Edward Hopper is famous for his New England landscapes, but there are also many works by Louise Nevelson, Winslow Homer and Andrew Wyeth. You will also spot a few Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces by Picasso, Degas and Renoir.
New England is a great place to visit in the summer, so why not check out vacation rental properties in Maine and enjoy the freedom of being able to come and go as you please.