19 Best Places to Visit in Maine for Food, Foliage and Fun

Kimberly Miles Avatar

casco bay ferry ship at dusk in portland maine one of the fun things to do
Take a ferry ride in early evening to catch a sunset on Casco Bay in Portland. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

When it comes to finding a place that is great to visit no matter what time of year, Maine fits the bill. Its white-sand beaches and beautiful coastline make it an ideal place to spend the summer and spring. Its stunning and colorful fall foliage make it a must-visit place to visit in the fall. And with some of the best cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the state, it is one of the best places to spend the winter.

But that’s not all! When you take into account the fact that Maine is home to some of the best lobster that you’ll ever sink your teeth into, it’s also a foodie paradise! So whether you’re looking for fun, relaxation or simply to experience some of the best lobster chowder in New England, Maine is where you need to be. Here are 19 of the best cities and attractions to explore during your next visit:

Best Cities to Visit in Maine

The Portland harbor
The Portland harbor is still one of the busiest in the U.S. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf


Located along Casco Bay, Portland is the coastal jewel of southern Maine. Not only is it the largest city in the state, but it is an epic destination and one of the best places to visit in Maine for couples, friends or families.

Portland has tons of fun things to do. You can take a seaside ramble, get out on the Atlantic, step back in history, check out the arts or do some shopping. Visitors will find that Portland is a very walkable city with historic 19th century brick buildings, cobblestone streets, funky boutiques and tempting aromas drifting out of the city’s famous restaurants.

A sightseeing cruise is a fun way to get out and see and learn about the city’s offerings and history from a different perspective.

Rockland Harbor on Maine’s Central Coast
Rockland Harbor on Maine’s Central Coast. Photo credit: Terri Marshall


Located on Maine’s Central Coast alongside Penobscot Bay, Rockland is another classic coastal town in Maine. Known to be one of the largest shipping centers in the world for lobster, it is one of the best places to visit in Maine for those looking to sink their teeth into a mouthwatering lobster roll.

In addition to being a top notch destination for foodies, Rockland has also received praise as a fun and exciting small town to visit. In addition to the beautiful architecture, Rockland’s protected harbor is dotted with hundreds of inlets and coves. Art lovers will find an impressive collection of local pieces in the Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center. Rockland is also home to the most windjammers in the US and windjammer tours and activities aren’t uncommon to see on the Penobscot Bay.


Located near the southern tip of Maine, York is one of the nation’s oldest cities and a great place to visit for a New England getaway. Home to four sandy beaches and three golf courses, it is one of the best places to visit in Maine for visitors looking for a mix of beaches, fun and history.

Because of its location beside the Atlantic Ocean, York is a popular and well-known summer resort town. In addition to its sandy beaches and 18-hole golf courses, it is also an excellent place to shop and indulge at delicious restaurants. It is also home to the Nubble Lighthouse as well as Mount Agamenticus, a great place for hiking, biking and observing wildlife.

Atlantic Ocean view from the Ocean Path in Acadia National Park, one of the top east coast national parks
The Ocean Path is an easy hike with fab Atlantic Ocean views in Acadia National Park. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Mount Desert Island

Home to the popular Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island is one of the best places to visit in Maine for summer vacationers and those looking for a relaxing yet fun-filled getaway.

In addition to Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island is also home to several small towns, including the thriving summer vacation town of Bar Harbor. Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor are popular for fine dining, art galleries and boutique shopping. Early risers can trek up Cadillac Mountain to catch the sunrise or visit later to catch a stunning sunset. If driving, enjoy a scenic drive around the historic 27-mile Mount Desert Island park loop road for access to the shoreline and interior forests.

Giant duckboot outside LL Bean store in Freeport Maine, one of the things to do when staying the Inn at Diamond Cove
Don’t miss the opportunity to pose with the famous L.L. Bean boot in Freeport. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf


Surrounded by Casco Bay, Freeport is one of the best places to visit in Maine for those looking to do some good bargain shopping. Home to the original L.L. Bean store and numerous other outlet stores, it is known as a shopper’s paradise.

In addition to its shopping reputation, Freeport is also known as “the birthplace of the state of Maine.” It has an active historical society dedicated to the preservation of original schools, homes and churches. There you can spend some time outside the shops, walking around and absorbing the historic character.

Wolfe’s Neck Farm, open daily, has more than 3 miles of hiking trails that are open to the public year-round. Meanwhile, Winslow Memorial Park has wooded trails and a tidal beach, picnic tables and a boat launch where you can use your own kayak or canoe.


Known as the “Queen City of Maine”, Bangor is the retail, cultural and service center for central, eastern and northern Maine. Located on the western bank of the Penobscot River, Bangor was once also known as the “lumber capital of the world.” A huge, towering structure of the folkloric lumberjack Paul Bunyan can be found on Main Street.

Kids will love the Maine Discovery Museum packed with hands-on  nature, science and art exhibits. The University of Maine Museum of Art is home to many modern and contemporary works. Nature lovers will love the Bangor City Forest inhabited by beaver and deer.

Bangor is also an easy drive to some of Maine’s most popular attractions and regions where you can indulge in adventure, cultural experiences and scenery. Its nearby regions are great for whale-watching, fly fishing, hiking, kayaking, biking, festivals, fairs and shopping.


Located on the shores of Rangeley Lake, Rangeley is a charming town and one of the best places to visit in Maine for a tranquil year-round getaway. It is home to six large lakes renowned for fishing, including Mooselookmeguntic Lake, the fourth largest lake in Maine.

During the spring and summer, Rangeley is a popular place for hiking, swimming, fishing, boating and bird watching. The 900-acre Rangeley Lake State Park is a fun place to swim, hike and go camping. Fall in Rangeley is a great time to view Maine’s colorful and stunning foliage, especially from The Height of Land, one of Maine’s most breathtaking vistas. Rangeley is also named one of the best winter towns in New England, offering some of the best cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling in the state.

The Kennebunks

Sometimes referred to as “the Kennebunks,” Kennebunkport and its neighbor Kennebunk are two of Maine’s most popular summer destinations. They are both among the best places to visit in Maine if you want some beach time but also want to be among historic streets, charming inns, shopping and some of the state’s best dining.

Kayaking and paddleboarding in the rivers and sandy beaches as well as deep sea fishing, whale-watching and cruising are some of the popular ways to enjoy the Kennebunks. If you’re into antiques, you’ll find plenty to take home amongst the various boutiques, gift shops and galleries. A guided walking tour of Kennebunkport will take you to and through its quiet neighborhoods while teaching you all about its history as a shipbuilding town. And if you’re visiting in June, you may find fun and enjoyment at the Kennebunkport Festival, the state’s largest food and wine festival.

Kennebunk is also home to Walker’s Point, the summer home of President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. While it is not open to the public, you can briefly drive by for a pick photo op in the designated parking area.


Located in southern Maine, Ogunquit is a thriving fishing village with plenty of fun. Between its sandy beaches, lakes, scenic walks and incredible food, it is one of the best places to visit in Maine for all ages.

Ogunquit is mostly known for the white, sandy beaches of Ogunquit Beach. Although it’s a great way to splash around and cool off during the summer, thefall is also a great time to stroll the beach for miles during low tide. Another favorite among visitors to Ogunquit Beach is to walk along Marginal Way, a picturesque winding trail with incredible ocean views, rocks to climb, benches and a lighthouse.

For those who want more than the beach, a hike to Mount Agamenticus is a great way to take in Ogunquit’s beautiful fall foliage. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art is known for its works by Maine-related artists as well as its waterside sculptures. The Ogunquit Playhouse summer theater is a great place to catch a musical. Have a sweet tooth after gobbling down some delicious Maine lobster? Head no further than Main Street where you’ll find streets lined with candy stores, fudge stores and ice cream shops.

Boothbay Harbor

Famous for its connection to the sea, Boothbay Harbor is one of the best places to visit in Maine for water and boating activities. With its convenient location between most major cities in Maine, it is the ideal place to visit for those looking for a balance between charm and urban life.

Located on its namesake waterfront, Boothbay Harbor is popular for its lobster boat tours as well as activities such as kayaking, sailing and yachting. If you’re looking to catch some views of whales, puffins or seals, Boothbay Harbor is the place to be. The Harbor is also home to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Lincoln Arts Festival, Pythian Opera House and the Boothbay Region Historical Museum, as well as several breweries, bars and eateries serving up fresh seafood.

Best Attractions to Visit in Maine

 the summit of Cadillac Mountain
A must-do in Acadia National Park is to reach the summit of Cadillac Mountain by driving or hiking. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Acadia National Park

Located in Maine, Acadia National Park offers dramatic views of the highest rocky headlands on the Atlantic coast. It is one of the best National Parks in the northeast. Spend the day and enjoy outdoor adventures such as hiking, stargazing and simply taking in beautiful scenery no matter what the season.

While at Acadia, you’ll want to plan to get up early to head to Cadillac Mountain to catch the sunrise from the highest point in the USA. Acadia also has many options for hiking from easy trails like Wonderland and Ship’s Harbor to challenging mountain hikes with awesome views. When you’re done hiking, take a short drive to Bar Harbor for a bite to eat. A self-guided driving and walking tour of Acadia and Bar Harbor will ensure that you see it all!

Bar Harbor

Located on Mount Desert Island along Maine’s Frenchman Bay, Bar Harbor is the gateway to Acadia National Park. Pronounced “dessert,” the island pays homage to Samuel de Champlain, the French voyager who explored and named the island in 1604.

Bar Harbor is mostly known for its colorful scenery and various outdoor activities including hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It is also a popular birding destination as well as a place to see a variety of sea-life including whales, dolphins, seals and the Atlantic puffin. However, its museums, historical structures and cultural landmarks also give a good reason to visit Bar Harbor.

One of the must-do activities in Bar Harbor is Lulu’s Lobster Boat. This downeast-style lobster boat provides visitors with a unique tour with demos of how lobster traps are hauled. As you cruise by the private islands along the way, you’ll likely spot all kinds of marine wildlife including seals.

Maine Windjammers docked at Boothbay Harbor
Maine Windjammers docked at Boothbay Harbor. Photo credit: Christine Tibbets

Camden Hills State Park

Just a few minutes north of the town of Camden, the Camden Hill State Park is one of best places to visit in Maine for hiking and picturesque views of the town, Penobscot Bay and the surrounding islands.

Home to Mt. Megunticook, the highest peak on the mainland, Camden Hills State Park is one of the most beautiful places to hike. Fall “leaf peepers” will find enjoyment in the drive to Mt. Battie Auto Road with sweeping views of the hillside and its colorful fall foliage. If you choose to camp out at the park, you’ll have comfort stations with hot showers for your use. In the quintessential New England town of Camden, you’ll find numerous shops as well as a harbor that offers daily harbor cruises, whale-watching and puffin watches.

Baxter State Park

If you’re an experienced hiker who is looking for something daring and adventurous to do while in New England, the Baxter State Park is one of the best places in Maine to get your fix. Located in northern-central Maine, it doesn’t just offer stunning views, but also numerous hiking trails to choose from for all difficulty levels.

Baxter State Park is home to 220+ miles of trail and 40+ mountain peaks. With nearly 210 acres of wilderness, you won’t run out of places to explore. Just make sure you plan well ahead, as some trails can take up to 12 hours round trip to hike! If you’re planning on staying at one of its campgrounds, be prepared to be fully immersed in the wilderness— there are no showers, only outhouses!

Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard Beach is a resort town where even visitors from Canada come to stay and play. With seven miles of beach, it is one of the best places to visit in Maine for sun and sand, as well as for some well-spent time with family and friends.

Walk along the sandy shores of the beach or take a stroll along the boardwalk lined with delicious local restaurants, small shops and hotels. Or, head to the Old Orchard Beach Pier for more choices of places to eat, drink and shop while watching the waves crash against the shore. Head to the Palace Playland amusement park for heart-pumping rides and arcade games, or visit Ocean Park for some peace and quiet time.

Cape Neddick Light (Nubble Lighthouse)

Also known as the Nubble Lighthouse, Cape Neddick Light is one of Maine’s most popular tourist attractions. As one of the most photographed lighthouses in the world, it is one of the best places in Maine to visit for that “perfect” keepsake snapshot of Maine and its beautiful scenery.

Not only does Cape Neddick Lighthouse offer stunning views of the lighthouse and its surrounding area, but it also has a rich history (part of which earned its name as “Nubble Lighthouse”). Additionally, there are plenty of activities to partake in while at the park, including picnics, fishing and scuba diving.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

With exquisite gardens and nearly a mile of tidewater shoreline, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is one of Maine’s top attractions. It is one of the best places to visit in Maine to learn about the area’s natural history and habitats, botany and horticulture.

The gardens provide more than 300 acres of waterfalls, woodlands, trails, sculptures and natural spaces, a nature lover’s dream. Younger visitors will love the Harold Alfond Children’s Garden with a rope bridge, treehouse and lawn maze. The Native Butterfly and Moth House as well as the Giles Rhododendron and Perennial Garden are also popular attractions. Summer camps and educational classes are also available for children from preschool through high school.

Find “LOVE” at the Farnsworth Art Museum.
Find “LOVE” at the Farnsworth Art Museum. Photo credit: Terri Marshall

Farnsworth Art Museum and Portland Museum of Art

With 20,000 square feet of gallery space and more than 15,000 works of art, the nationally recognized Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland is one of the best places to visit in Maine for art lovers.

The museum is home to an extensive collection of artwork by the Wyeth family, including works by N.C., Andrew and Jaime Wyeth. It is also home to one of the largest public collections of work by sculptor Louise Nevelson. The Art Museum complex is also home to the National Register-listed, Farnsworth Homestead, the Olson House (a National Historic Landmark) and the Gamble Center for Education.

The Portland Art Museum (also known as PMA) in downtown Portland is another must-visit place in Maine for art lovers. As the largest and oldest public art institution in the US, it features American, European and contemporary paintings and structures, including work from local Maine artists.