Maine is truly a four-season state, with each one offering new treasures and surprises. In summer, enjoy the coastline at Popham Beach, Higgins Beach, and Morse Mountain. The leaves put on a show in the fall around the Bigelow Mountains and Acadia National Park. Winter offers snow-covered ski trails at Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and Shawnee Peak. And spring brings new life blooming along the Appalachian Trail. From Portland’s culinary sophistication to the rustic beauty of the Appalachian Trail’s “100 Mile Wilderness,” you can find what you’re looking for in Maine, at any time of year.
Best of Summer
With its cool, clean lakes, untouched beaches, and beautiful weather, summer in Maine is paradise—whether you enjoy freshly caught lobster or whitewater rafting. The state boasts some of the east coast’s best beaches for surfing, and summer is a great time to get in the water and learn. Golfers will find beautiful courses across the state, many of which take advantage of Maine’s natural beauty by sending golfers up and down mountainsides, along the coast, and far enough into the woods that the only sound is your own swing. The lakes region in central Maine is the perfect spot for a week-long family vacation: Rent a private cabin and motorboat to fully enjoy what the lakes have to offer.
Best of Winter
Don’t let the winter bite keep you inside: Maine offers some of the Northeast’s premier ski slopes, including Sugarloaf, Sunday River, and Shawnee Peak. There are trails for skiers at all levels, and even non-skiers can find activities like ice-skating, snowshoeing, and hiking to keep them busy. For those who prefer to move by motor, the Pine Tree State has hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails—try the majestic networks of Rangeley and Jackman. If more leisurely activities are the goal, ice-fishing is growing in popularity and offers visitors a unique experience.
Food and drink to try in Maine
With such an emphasis on outdoor fun, tourists sometimes assume Maine will lack a certain level of sophistication, but this is very far from the truth; visitors are often surprised at the quality and diversity of the state’s cuisine. Microbreweries like Gritty’s, Allagash Brewing Company, and Sebago Brewing call Maine home, and Portland boasts a wonderful pub scene. But beer isn’t the only thing on Maine’s menu. Lobsters, mussels, bass, clams—if it comes from the sea you’ll find it in Maine. Portland is a great place to go for a variety of local cuisine, including some more unusual menu items like seaweed-fed lamb, fresh venison, peanut butter and pretzel milkshakes, or mashed potato and bacon pizza.
Culture in Maine
Known for their rugged individualism and independent thinking, Mainers tend to be proud of their state and to love sharing it with anyone who has a genuine interest. From the small cottages and “island only” vehicles of Peaks Island, to the Down East neighborhood look of retail shops in Freeport, to the beach community at Higgins Beach—each of these locations exudes its own local flavor and makes you feel as though you are somewhere different and special. Wherever you go in Maine, you’ll likely find a Mainer who is proud of that place and happy to help you get comfortable there as well.
July and August are Maine’s warmest months, and February and March have the most snow. Public transportation is virtually nonexistent, so you’ll need to rent a car and make sure you have a good map—especially if you head up north where things get pretty rural. Most people will be more than happy to give you directions, although Mainers are notorious for giving inaccurate directions. And, the further north you go, the thicker the Mainer accent gets. The biggest commercial airport in the state is in Portland but private airstrips do exist elsewhere for charter planes.
Sam Barns Maine Local Expert