10 Things to Do in Maine

Fall in love with Maine. Most visitors do. 

By Sandra Scott

The Grace Bailey is an authentic 19th century sailing ship listed as national landmark.
The Grace Bailey is an authentic 19th century sailing ship listed as national landmark.

Maine offers something for everyone: beaches, mountains, nature, adventure, shopping, and more. 

Years ago it was a destination for those seeking a healthy location out of the city. Now it draws people looking for relaxation, adventure and fun. 

Members of The George Bush family still maintain their summer estate on Walker Point in Kennebunkport. The northeastern most state is an all-season destination but most prefer to visit from April to November. 

1. Lobster: Dining on lobster in Maine is a must-do — either a whole lobster in the shell or a lobster roll. First take one of the several lobster tours to learn about lobstering. Believe it or not: In Colonial Days lobsters were so plentiful that they were called the “cockroach of the sea.” They were considered a trash fish and fed to prisoners and used a fertilizer. It is no longer a “poor man’s meal.” By World War II it was considered a delicacy and prices soared. 

2. Beaches: Most people head to Maine during the summer because of the beaches. Old Orchard Beach is the longest sand beach in Maine, at seven miles long. For surfing and volleyball head to Long Sands Beach, which is a sweeping two miles long. Those looking for a quiet place to sunbathe should head to Short Sands Beach. Want to avoid other tourists? Check out York Harbor Beach directly across the street from the York Harbor Inn. Or, better yet, check out all seven of Maine’s beach communities. 

3. Adventure: Looking for excitement? Check out rafting on the Kennebec, Penobscot and Dead Rivers. Spring melt-off will provide the fastest moving water but if it is a family rafting trip the best time is July through August. Other adventures include rock climbing, sky diving, parasailing, jet skiing, surfboarding and even a unique moose tracking adventure.

4. Sailboating: There are a variety of sailing experiences offered by several companies. There are day sailing trips, sunset trips and coastal trips but the most all-inclusive adventure is a week of sailing on a windjammer like the Grace Bailey. The Grace Bailey is an authentic 19th century sailing ship listed as national landmark. Weeklong windjammer trips include unforgettable experiences such as raft-ups with other vessels and a lobster and corn cookout on a deserted beach. 

5. Historic: There are plenty of historic sites to visit including home of famous people like Henry W. Longfellow, Winslow Homers and Steven King House. Visit Fort Kent and Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village. Take a stroll in the past lane at Old York. Experience over 300 years of New England heritage with a visit to the eight historic museums of Old York including a colonial tavern, an old jail complete with dungeons and cells, a riverside estate filled with antiques, and a warehouse once belonging to patriot John Hancock. Also on site are a nature preserve, a museum shop, a contemporary art gallery, and restored gardens. Guided tours are available. 

Tall ships join up in the Atlantic Ocean. Nautically called a “gam.”
Tall ships join up in the Atlantic Ocean. Nautically called a “gam.”

6. Hiking: The Appalachian Trail, which begins 2,190 miles away in Georgia, ends on Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak. Acadia National Park, dubbed the “Crown Jewel of the Atlantic,” has 158 miles of hiking trails. There are many shorter trails the end in secluded spots to take refreshing dip in a cool pool or trek to the top of Cadillac Mountain to watch the sunrise. 

7. Lighthouses: Lighthouse aficionados will revel in the fact there are 65 lighthouses in Maine. The Portland Head Light is the most photographed lighthouse in America, and also the oldest in Maine. The Nubble Lighthouse is one of Maine’s many picturesque lighthouses. It is located on a “nubble” of land — a barren rocky island. In Rockland, adjacent to Fort Williams Park, is the Maine Lighthouse Museum, with exhibits of lighthouse lenses, foghorns, lightships and maritime life-saving equipment. Each year in September is Maine’s Open Lighthouse Day, a unique opportunity for the general public to explore more than 20 historic Maine lighthouses, some of which are only open on this day. 

8. Shopping: Shop ‘til you drop. There are several outlets offering everything from A to W (Areopostale to Wilson’s Leather Outlets). The L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Interested in shoes? Check the New Balance Shoes factory outlet in Norway, Maine, or the Quoddy shoe factory outlet in Lewiston. No Maine trip is complete without a stop at the Golden Rod to watch taffy being made and buying some to take home. 

9. Unique: Located on Old Mill Road in York Harbor is the Wiggly Bridge that connects the causeway to a pleasant hiking trail through the Steedman Woods. The bridge was built in the 1930s and wiggle it does. Make sure you wiggle as you walk across the bridge. Not to worry it is very well maintained. Stop by Len Libby Candies in Scarborough to see the world’s only life-sized chocolate moose. It is made of 1700 pounds of milk chocolate. 

10. And more: There is plenty to do all year. Summer brings beach lovers, fall the leaf-peekers, and winter the skiiers. Maine is home to uncrowded ski lifts and miles of ski trails. Wild Kingdom in York has exotic animals from around the world. There are plenty of amusement parks and golf courses. Fishermen will revel in catching wild landlocked salmon, native brook trout, and offshore fishing for bluefish and other big fish. And, of course, there are whale watching trips. 

Photo: The Nubble Lighthouse is one of Maine’s many picturesque lighthouses.