Maine is the most easterly State in the United States, with New Hampshire on its western border, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick to it northern sides.
The State is big, bigger in size than the other 5 New England states combined and it has a long coastline on the Atlantic Ocean – some 3478 miles in length, with around 60 lighthouses and if you take the coastlines of the islands into account, the coastline is over 5000 miles in length.
There are 3166 small islands just off the jagged coastline that is full of harbors, bays, inlets, while on-shore there are around 6000 lakes and ponds – so water plays a big part in life in Maine.
People come to Maine for many reasons – the scenery, Fall colors, ski fields, beaches, whale watching, to hike and bike in the National Park and trails – but top of the list must be to eat Maine Lobster.
Maine Lobster –
Maine Lobsters are a North American Lobster that only lives in the colder rocky bottom waters of the North Atlantic, and they have big claws that also contain the lobster meat. The Lobsters are harvested all year round, but the main season is between June and late December. They are quite different to the rock lobsters that come from tropical waters.
Here in Maine you will see many places selling lobster and restaurants and ‘Lobster Shacks’ that sell the cooked lobster or make up a bisque using Lobster for the flavour. It is a fabulous meat and has to be the king of all seafood to eat.
Maine Lobster is sold to restaurants and seafood sellers across America and what you would be buying is a ‘hard shell lobster’, whereas here in Maine between mid-June and August you will also be able to sample ‘soft shell lobsters’ too – which have an even sweeter taste.
There are of course many other seafood treats that await you here in Maine and if you love seafood, this is the State to head to.
Skiing in Maine –
There are a number of ski fields and ski resorts in Maine, and it is a great place for skiers, snowboarders, with downhill and cross country skiing, and some places also where there is snow tubing, night skiing and ice skating. These are just some of the Ski fields to look for and check out –
- Sunday River – see sundayriver.com
- Sugarloaf – see sugarloaf.com
- Snowbowl – see camdensnowbowl.com
- Shawnee Peak – see shawneepeak.com
- Saddleback – see saddlebackmaine.com
- Big Rock Mountain – see bigrockmaine.com
- Black Mountain – see skiblackmountain.com
- Mt Abram – see mtabram.com
- Lost Valley Auburn – see lostvalleyski.com
- Lonesome Pines – see lonesomepines.org
- Hermon Mountain – see skihermonmountain.com
- Mount Jefferson – see skimtjefferson.com
- Quoggy Jo – see skiquoggyjo.org
- Big Squaw Mountain – see skibigsquaw.com
- The Maine Island Trail – 375 miles long from New Hampshire to Machias Bay in the Eastern side of Maine.
- The Appalachian Trail – 2178 miles long from Georgia to Maine, with the Maine section being 281 miles long.
- The Northern Forest Canoe Trail – 740 miles long from Old Forge in the Adirondack Mountains to Fort Kent in Maine, with about 370 miles of it being in Maine. See northernforestcanoetrail.org
Getting onto the water and off the land is also a great experience too, and Maine is the home of the ‘Windjammer’ – schooner sailing boats. These long wooden boats with their twin masts and 3 big sails are a really special way to feel the thrill of the ocean and see the coastline, seabirds, seals and hopefully a whale or two.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK – Open from May to October. Bring your walking shoes and also your camera!
This is ‘The Outdoors’ at its very best! The Acadia National Park covers 40,000 acres with 120 miles of trails, 51 miles of ‘carriage roads’ for Mountain Biking with the 1532 feet high mountain in its center, Cadillac Mountain, the highest mountain on the East Coast of the USA.
There are trails that lead you past high coastal sea cliffs, valleys and lakes with offshore islands all being part of this National Park, which covers most of Mt Desert Island and a large part of the Schoodic Peninsula. You can either drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain or hike there. Bikes can be hired from Acadia Bikes (see www.acadiabike.com ). It is definitely best to get a map to see all the trails, some long and some shorter ones, and take water with you. Cell phones will work in most of the Park, but not all places, so let other people know when and where you’re heading. The roads, carriage roads and hiking trails cross over each other at different points, and climbing up some of the mountain areas can be quite hard. In the winter the Park can be blanketed by snow, and this also changes the whole look and feel of the Park, with most parts closed.
Camping in the National Park is at Blackwoods, Seawall Campgrounds, or Schoonic Campgrounds, and you need to book by calling 877 444 6777. The beauty of the area was created by glacial action 11,000 years ago, and the first European explorers visited here in the 1600’s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that artists from Boston came to paint here, followed by a few wealthy businessmen who saw the paintings and also came to recognize the beauty of the area. Between 1913 and 1940, one such businessman, John D. Rockefeller Jr built ‘carriage roads’ for horses and carriages, including 17 granite bridges along the road. The Granite was quarried from Hall Quarry on Mount Desert Island, and the bridges form part of the ‘Carriage Road’ now used by horse riders, bikers and hikers, but not cars. Each of the bridges is uniquely designed, and if you have the time, they are worth seeing from both the roadway and from the sides.
The Ocean Path walking trail is the most popular walking trail in the Park, as it runs between Sand Beach and Otter Cliff, with the Thunder Hole (Blowhole) about half way between them creating the sound of thunder. Sand Beach is a popular beach for swimming. Park Loop Road is used by cars and is a scenic road to drive along, with stops at scenic locations, and you can also swim at Echo Freshwater Lake. Depending on the weather on the day you are here and time of day, you should be able to get some great photos of the coastline, bridges, mountains, lakes and valleys. In the summer months there is a shuttle bus service from Bar Harbor to the Park – See www.explorearcadia.com
Bar Harbor –on Mt Desert Island is surrounded on three sides by the Acadia National Park, and the harbor on the other so a good place to head to for accommodation and a great little town to explore too in summer as well as in other seasons too when there are less crowds.
Bar Harbor is a very popular tourist destination – and it has the history, town pier, Village Green, big hotels, B and B’s, old mansions, small cabins and lodges to rent, places to camp, great shops, restaurants, fishing boats, Oceanarium, harbor side events, small museums, art galleries, walking, biking trails and even cruise ships anchoring off-shore. Bangor International Airport is about 50 miles away, and there is a Free Island Explorer bus that will take you to see other parts of the island. There is even an open carriage ride, with the carriage pulled along by Shire Horses. (It starts from 55 West Street). Shire Horses are the gentle giants of horses, so just seeing the horse and carriage adds to the enjoyment of being here in Bar Harbor.
From Bar Harbor you can
- Go Whale Watching – see barharborwhales.com located at 1 West Street. Tel: (207) 288 2386. You will also see lots of birds too.
- Other cruises – see downeastwindjammer.com on a real windjammer sailing boat, 27 Main Street Tel: (207) 288 2984; The 4 mast ‘Margaret Todd’ is 151 feet long, and has 4800 square feet of sails – a beautiful way to see the Harbor. Also www.acadianaturecruises.com 1 West Street. Tel: (207) 288 2386. Also www.acadianboattours.com Tel: (207) 801 2300.
- Bar Harbor Ferry – runs (mid-June to mid-September) from Bar Harbor Pier to Schoodic Point and Winter Harbor passing by lighthouses, old mansions, small fishing villages and the boats on the Harbor. Winter Harbor itself is a small fishing village that is also worth heading to for the day.
- Lobster Sloop Boats, deep sea fishing – are all here too, and if you ask at the Town Pier you will no doubt find a boat that will take you.
- Islands – just off Bar Harbor in Frenchman Bay are a number of islands including Sheep Porcupine Island, Bald Porcupine Island and Egg Island.
- George B. Dorr Natural History Museum – is located on the College of the Atlantic campus at 105 Eden Street. Tel: (207) 288 5395.
- Sea Kayak – see acadiakayak.com 39 Cottage Street (next to Criterion Movie Theater) Tel: (207) 288 0342. Also www.aquaterra-adventures.com 1 West Street. Tel: (207) 288 0007. Also www.coastalkayak.com 48 Cottage Street. Tel: (207) 288 9605.
- Paddle Board – see acadiasub.com 55 West Street. Tel: (207) 610 2970.
- Oceanarium – See theoceanarium.com Tel: (207) 288 5005. Located at 1351 State Route. Here you will also be able to see the Lobster Hatchery.
- Shore Path – and Agamont Park, Main Street, West Street, Town Pier and Village Green – these are all close together and you will no doubt wander along or find activities here that will make your time in Bar Harbor a memorable one.
Love the Coast of Maine -
They say that with all the harbors, inlets, bays and peninsulas that create Maine’s really dramatic coastline, that you could fit all of the world’s Navies into the harbors and still have room!
The coast is almost the home of boats – both big and small, with small fishing villages scattered all along the coastline and rivers. They all are quaint, some big, some small – so just driving along and coming across a new village is what makes travelling so much fun. The bigger the village, the more likely you are to find shops and people, and the opposite is true if the village is small.
The whole mix of water views, hillsides, church steeples, old homes dotted around a harbor, a mix of yachts, small pleasure boats and working fishing boats, all create this picture perfect scene. These are just a few of the great little villages that you might look for or stumble upon – Castine, Belfast, Freeport, Wiscasset, Stonington, Lubec, Camden, Bath, Cutler, Permaquid Point, Damariscotta, Boothbay Harbor and Cundy’s Harbor – but this list is by no means all of the great little villages that you will find. Happy Exploring!
Portland – is Maine’s biggest city with a population of around 66,000 people. It is located on Casco Bay, with small islands just off its coastline, with a Ferry service that will take you from Portland to Peaks Island, Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Long Island, Chebeaugue and Cliff Island.
The City was first established by the British who arrived here in 1632 to establish the Fishing and trading settlement on the waterfront. In 1866 much of the then town was destroyed by fire, but was then rebuilt and today you can see many of the old mansions, warehouses, wharves and streets in the downtown around the Harbor from the 1800’s that give Portland much of its atmosphere.
It is still very much a working port city, with fishing boats lining the waterfront and other boats, ferries and yachts all here too. The Nova Star ferry that takes passengers to Nova Scotia is also located here too. Visit the Harbor Fish Market at 9 Custom House Wharf and you will see lobsters, but also mussels, crabs, and fish of all types here for sale, including Cod, Haddock, Sole, Flounder and many other fish types.
If you want to catch a Lobster yourself, check out www.luckycatch.com at 170 Commercial Street, Portland. Tel: (207) 761 0941.
These are some of the things to see in Portland –
- Portland Visitor Information Center – 14 Ocean Gateway Pier. Tel: (207) 772 5800.
- Down East Duck Tours – 94 Commercial Street. See downduckcruises.com Tel: (207) 774 3825. Travel on the land and water on this tour.
- Casco Bay Cruises – see cascobaylines.com 56 Commercial Street. Tel: (207) 774 7871.
- The Scenic Route Tour – 177 Commercial Street, see thescenicroutemaine.com Tel: (207) 518 3342. Travel in a group of 12 people in a van with commentary.
- HOUSES/MANSIONS – see Tate House (1755) 1270 Westbrook Street. See tatehouse.org Tel: (207) 774 6177; Victoria Mansion(1860) – 109 Danforth Street. See www.victoriamansion.org Tel: (207) 772 4841; Wadsworth-Longfellow House (1785-86) – 489 Congress Street. See www.hwlongfellow.org Tel: (207) 774 1822.
- Portland Museum of the Arts- 7 Congress Street. See portlandmuseum.org Tel: (207) 775 6148. There are other galleries close by here too.
- Portland Observatory – (1807) a wooden maritime signal tower at 138 Congress Street. Tel: (207) 774 5561.
- City Hall – (1909) is located at 389 Congress Street.
- Portland Head Light – (1791) the first lighthouse in the USA, it was commissioned by George Washington. It is located at 1000 Shore Rd. Cape Elizabeth, in Fort Williams See www.portheadlight.com Tel: (207) 799 2661. Also www.fortwilliamspark.org There is a beach here, and in winter you can sled, and sometimes skate too. The old ruins of the Goddard Mansion (1857) are here too.
- Fort Allen Park – is located on Eastern Promenade next to Casco Bay. The park was started in 1836 and occupies around 68 acres of grounds, with a 2.1 mile walkway along it. Eastern Promenade also has a number of big old historic homes here too overlooking the Bay.
- Kayak and Paddle Boards – see portlandpaddle.net Tel: (207) 370 9730. Located at Cutter Street and Eastern Promenade. Hire or take a lesson or tours. Also www.maineislandkayak.com 70 Luther Street. Tel: (207) 766 2373.
- Maine Narrow Guage Railroad – operates from May to October and is located at 58 Fore Street. See mainenarrowguage.org Tel: (207) 828 0814. It runs along a narrow 2 feet wide track.
- Spring Hill Ledge Lighthouse – (1897) is located at the end of the breakwater at 14 Fort Rd, South Portland.
- BEER TOURS – this can be a lot of fun to do, getting to learn about brewing and cart brewers. See mainebeertours.com 180 Commercial Street. Tel: 207 553 0898 and www.mainebrewbus.com at 181 State Street, Suite 301. Tel: (207) 200 9111. Also see www.shipyard.com Tel: (207) 370 9730.
- Food and restaurants – as you would expect, there is great food to enjoy here in Maine, from Lobster and seafood, to all other culinary delights. There is also a Foodie Tour too – see mainefoodietours.com at 227 Commercial Street. Tel: (207) 233 7485.
- SHOPPING – head downtown to the Arts area along Congress Street and for a big shopping Mall head to 364 Maine Mall Rd, South Portland. For Outlet stores head to Kittery Premium Outlets at Freeport (20 minutes north of Portland) located on Route 1, near the Southern Main Beach area. The massive 220,000 square foot outdoor clothing store LL Bean is here too at 95 Main Street, Freeport.