Maine is just a short drive away from Canada and has the farthest east and farthest north point of the United States. Most people know the Pine Tree State or Vacationland for its scenic natural beauty, with rocky coastlines, heavy forests, and rolling mountains.
Visitors enjoy going out onto the water, hiking through mountains, or going skiing at a world-class resort. You can also find all of the cultural activities you want with museums, symphonies, and theater.
Visiting Maine gives you the chance to explore the history, seeing the inspiration for Thoreau's journals "The Maine Woods" or make your own memories at the following top 20 attractions in Maine.
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Ogunquit is one of Maine's favorite coastal towns that attract visitors to experience its beauty. Marginal Way and Ogunquit Beach are top attractions in Maine to enjoy the tranquil seaside atmosphere.
Ogunquit Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area – it’s a large beach extending for miles along the coast. It’s great for visitors with a maintained clean environment and soft, white sand. You’ll have views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and a backdrop of sloping dunes.
The leisure beach is ideal for swimming, lounging, and a favorite spot to watch the sunset.
After spending some time enjoying the beach views, take the nearby pathway referred to as Marginal Way. Marginal Way is a 1.5-mile cliff walk for scenic views of the seaside. It takes you away from the beach scenery along the rocky shoreline for iconic Maine views.
The paved path winds past coastal homes and unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean. Read some of the information plaques about the area or sit on the benches to take in the sights.
Address: Marginal Way, Ogunquit, ME 03907
Also Read: 30 Best Beaches in the USA
While you may not have known its name, you’ve surely seen the magnificence of Acadia National Park. Its picturesque landscapes have made for some incredibly popular adventure and lifestyle magazine specials.
Picture a pristine boat rolling adrift in the calming harbor waters with towering, lush mountains framing the scene. That’s just one of many of the perfect shots available in Acadia.
Delve deep into the heart of nature and look skywards to the canopy of trees, or find your little oasis on the Atlantic coast. Acadia is the perfect place for every form of beauty to flourish!
Acadia National Park is easily accessible by the neighboring city of Bar Harbor, Maine. While the whole park is not open year-round, there are two trails in the Park Loop Road that are available regardless of the season.
The Blackwoods Campground is open year-round, although starting in December and ending in March it is walk-in camping only. Otherwise, from late May to September/mid-October the Seawall and Duck Harbor Campground is open to permit camping. For the most part, the park opens at 8 a.m. and closes within 4:30-6 p.m. depending on the season.
Address: Acadia National Park, Maine
Bigger is better in Mount Desert Island, Maine! As the largest island off the coast of Maine, this location is corner to corner non-stop fun! It is often referred to as the “gem of New England” and other high praises for its lush natural preservation.
It includes the famous Acadia National Park, and stretches for miles of well-maintained beauty. In fact, Acadia takes up the largest portion of the island. That means there is no shortage of woodland paths to venture through, and charming, quaint little beaches at the end of it all.
As such a maritime pearl, it should come as no surprise that seafood is a dinner you just can’t miss. Every restaurant does it a little different but they are all similar in the affinity for fresh and fantastic deep sea dishes. There are mussels, scallops, lobster, clams, and so much more to taste that you’re going to want to come with a hearty appetite.
Since it is an island, it is a little bit more difficult than your average city to arrive to. However, book with Cape Air or rent a car and you should be there in no time! Mount Desert Island is well worth the journey!
Address: Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island, ME 04609
Kennebunkport is a small coastal town predominantly used for shipbuilding. Today, it’s one of Maine’s favorite resort destinations for fun and leisure. It was made famous as the site of the summer home of former President Bush.
Kennebunkport is the perfect place to spend a few days on a summer holiday in Maine. When the weather is warm, the beaches are filled with locals and tourists looking to soak up the sun. You will find many fun water activities, including swimming, sailing, and even whale watching. Rent a boat (or bring your own) and enjoy time out in the ocean.
One of the most popular areas in Kennebunkport is Docksquare. It’s surrounded by galleries, restaurants, boutique shops, souvenir stores, and more. It’s one of the favorite places to hang out in the town. You can also take a ride on the scenic drives of Walker’s Point or Ocean Drive.
If you’re planning to stay overnight, you’ll have plenty of seaside resorts and bed & breakfast inns to give you an authentic small-town stay.
Address: Kennebunkport, ME
Hike, camp and explore at Baxter State Park. The self-funded park is a large wilderness area featuring over 40 peaks and ridges, including Maine’s highest peak Katahdin. The park was named in honor of Percival P. Baxter after he dedicated millions to protect Maine’s precious terrain.
In addition to picturesque views, Baxter State Park is home to a huge collection of hiking trails. There are over 200 miles of trails frequented by backpackers, campers, and mountain climbers. A trip to Baxter is sure to bring splendor no matter your mode of transportation.
Address: 64 Balsam Drive, Millinocket, ME 04462
Also Read: 25 Best State Parks in the USA
Boothbay Harbor is a well-known harbor destination for sailors traveling up the Maine Coast. Its popularity leads it to grow into a bustling tourist destination for summer holidays. Locals consider it the “soul of the coast” that invites all who visit to immerse in the seaside atmosphere.
Boothbay Harbor is most famous for boating. Many people use the harbor seasonally, where you’ll always come across familiar faces if you frequent the area. Yachting, sailing, and kayaking are just a few of the favorite boating pastimes.
Visitors can also take various boat tours in Boothbay Harbor. It’s a place where you can go whale watching out in the ocean or venture to one of the coastal islands, like Cabbage Island.
After docking from the ocean, you'll have plenty of things to see and do in town. It's home to the Maine State Aquarium, and the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens ranked among the top public gardens in the US.
Address: Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Old and gold! The Old Orchard Beach in Maine is one of the most ethereal sites this side of the nation. During the summertime, tourists flocks to this location for all the sand between your toes, sun in the sky fun you can imagine.
It is incredibly popular for its easy breezy, welcoming community that embraces the rush of tourism while still making their city homey. Summertime brings about a lot of cold weather escapees, coming from Canada and all around the world! And with good reason too. The beaches here are truly something to dream about.
While winter, spring, and fall may night be high season, it is still well worth the visit year-round. The downtown area includes some of the best shops and eateries in the area. The Old Orchard Beach Pier is available for strolling any time of year, and there is even an Empire league baseball team named The Surge.
There is so much to explore in Old Orchard Beach that you’ll truly need a bucket list to see it all. Maybe think it over while you walk the beach, or sample a brew in one of the many bars.
Address: Old Orchard Beach, ME 04064
The pride and joy of the Arts District of Portland, the Museum of Art is a can’t miss attraction in Maine. It was founded by the Portland Society of Art and dates all the way back to 1882. It is currently the oldest and biggest public art institution in Maine.
Visitors are treated to a variety of art from local and international inspirations. The building and space in itself is a work of art and makes for a full-fledged experience in the hands of expression. There is also food and drinks found downstairs to make this the all-day affair it deserves to be.
Current and upcoming exhibits include the Expansion of Cubism (1911-1920), N.C. Werth’s New Perspectives, and Ragnar Kjartansson’s Scenes from Western Culture. These are some of the most unique and interesting explorations of age’s modern and past.
The PMA does an incredible job of captivating viewers to explore what artist’s intentions and muses were at the point of creation. Be prepared to be inspired!
The Portland Museum of Art is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. excluding holidays. And every Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. the PMA is free to the public!
Address: 7 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101
Lighthouses are among the must-see attractions in Maine, and the Portland Head Light is the most famous of them all. The iconic lighthouse is a historical attraction and the most photographed lighthouse in the US. It makes for the perfect postcard photo.
Portland Head Light was completed in 1791, commissioned by George Washington, making it Maine’s oldest lighthouse. It’s over 24-meters tall and now uses an upgraded automated light system. Its primary purpose is guiding ships into the Portland Harbor, although its functional prominence isn’t as essential thanks to other nearby lighthouses.
The lighthouse sits on the cliffside in Cape Elizabeth, close to Portland. It’s a favorite tourist destination to see the famous lighthouse. The site includes the lighthouse keepers’ house, which was converted into a maritime museum. Visitors can explore the history of the lighthouse and see old photos in the exhibits.
It’s a fun place to take lunch to enjoy at the nearby picnic tables – you’ll have views of the lighthouse and can watch boats cruising in the ocean.
Address: 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
Also Read: Top 10 Most Beautiful Lighthouses in the USA
New England is full of lavish homes built during the Gilded Age. If you're visiting Maine, stop by the Victoria Mansion, one of Maine's attractions that showcases the immense wealth of one of its former residents. The mansion is a National Historic Landmark recognized for its incredible architecture and interior design.
Victoria Mansion also called the Morse-Libby House, boasts brownstone architecture designed in an Italianate style. It was completed in 1860 and used as a summer residential home for a hotel magnate. It was since sold, abandoned, and acquired to open as a museum in 1941. Over the years, much of the original furnishing and decoration were preserved. It gives a great example of luxury during the 19th century.
Visitors can tour the inside of the home to see the elegant decorations – photos are more than welcome. The best time to go is during the winter holiday season when the entire house is decorated. The museum also includes a small gift shop.
Address: 109 Danforth St, Portland, ME 04101
Nubble Lighthouse is a historical lighthouse in Maine, inaccessible to the general public, but is very photogenic from the coast. It’s located on Nubble Island, just off the coast of Cape Neddick, one of Maine’s southernmost points along the coast.
Nubble Lighthouse was first used in 1879. It’s over 12-meters tall, although the elevated island location positions it 27-meters above sea level. The light, still in use today, reaches a distance of 13 nautical miles.
Visitors can only view the lighthouse from the shore since the island is closed to the public. The shore is close enough to get amazing views of the lighthouse and lighthouse keepers’ house. The picturesque setting makes it excellent for photos.
The viewpoint includes a visitor center and a gift shop. Visitors can check out the center to learn more about the lighthouse and purchase miniature versions of the landmark. There is also a viewing telescope to see it up close.
Nubble Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Address: Sohier Park Rd, York, ME 03909
If you look at the back of the Maine state quarter, you’ll find a lighthouse to represent one of the best places to visit in Maine. The lighthouse shown is the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, located in Bristol, Maine. It’s a well-known destination for its picturesque scenery and museum.
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was first built in 1827 and rebuilt in 1835. It remains in operation with upgraded lighting and technology. The site also includes the keeper’s house, built in 1857. The house now serves as a museum and art gallery.
The museum is an excellent place to check out to learn all about the history of the lighthouse. It has lots of maritime history, lighthouse artifacts, and a learning center. The venue frequently hoses events and shows.
Taking photos is the most popular thing to do at the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. The sounding land is designated as a lighthouse park for a well-kept natural setting.
Address: Bristol, ME 04558
Maine seems like an unlikely place where you’ll find a desert, but the landscape near Freeport seems otherwise. The Desert of Maine is one of the most peculiar of Maine’s attractions where you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the desert.
The Desert of Maine is not an actual desert but is a plot of 40-acres of land covered with sand. The sand was historically deposited by glacier movement and revealed due to ground erosion. The site was former farmland, later abandoned due to unfavorable conditions. It was later purchased to turn into a tourist attraction.
The Desert of Maine features dunes and pine forests lining the edges. The desert has several hiking trails to explore the area and encounter (fake) camels set up throughout it. There are information markers to learn more about the history of the site.
In addition, the attraction also includes a sand museum and a farm museum. It’s a place to learn about the formation of the desert and ecology.
Address: 95 Desert Rd, Freeport, ME 04032
Boothbay is home to one of Maine's top attractions – the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. The gardens are New England's largest garden and ranked as the nation's best.
Officially opening in 2007, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens extends for over one mile along the shore and covers approximately 295 acres. The gardens beautifully showcase regional nature in Maine and coastal plant life. It creates the perfect setting for discovering a lush landscape with a creative design ideal for navigating through it.
The garden features various themed sections, such as the Tranquility Garden and the Enchanted Forest. Trails are established through the woodlands to specially built landmarks like waterfalls, fountains, stonework, and scenic viewpoints.
It's a relaxing destination, but also great to view the incredible landscape. The season garden is only open from April to October. Visit the attraction earlier in the year when the plants are in full bloom.
Address: 132 Botanical Gardens Dr, Boothbay, ME 04537
Countless islands line Maine’s coast just off the mainland, but Monhegan Island is one of the most famous. Although a small island about a dozen miles from the coast, it’s considered one of the most beautiful and often the subject of photos and paintings.
Monhegan Island has been recognized as a National Natural Landmark thanks to the preservation of island life. The island is predominantly undeveloped with very few inhabitants. The undisturbed nature allows for natural island flora to flourish throughout it.
The island is accessible via a daily scheduled ferry service from multiple harbors on the mainland. Take an early ferry to spend an entire day there or plan a few days to stay in one of the island inns.
The island village’s intimate setting is where you’ll find stores, small eateries, and accommodations. One of the most famous spots is the Monhegan Island Light, a photogenic lighthouse with incredible views. The island also includes hiking trails to scenic cliffs overlooking the island and harbor.
Address: Monhegan Island, ME
The maritime lifestyle has shaped much of what Maine has become today. Visitors can learn all about Maine’s maritime culture – its history and impact on the state’s development – by visiting the Maine Maritime Museum.
Established in 1962, Maine Maritime Museum is a must-visit attraction in Maine to understand one of its most prominent industries. It exhibits over 20,000 artifacts, documents, and artwork. Many of the objects in the collection were relocated from the former Portland Harbor Museum.
The exhibitions are just the beginning of the museum. The museum is located on a complex that includes a research library and external buildings, including facilities for ship-making and the Percy and Small Shipyard. Admission to the museum provides access to the campus to explore. It hosts various lecture talks, guided tours, and live demonstrations.
One of the highlights is the sculpture of Wyoming, the largest sculpture in New England – a life-size remake of the largest wooden vessel built in the US.
To complete the learning experience. The museum provides cruise tours for visitors along the Kennebec River or the coast. It's a great way to see and learn about regional lighthouses.
Address: 243 Washington St, Bath, ME 04530
The Farnsworth Art Museum is one of the top museum attractions in Maine. Located in Rockland, it opened in 1948, dedicated to exhibiting American Art. The collection includes many famous national artists from the past and present, most notably the Wyeth Family – it holds the most extensive collection from the family exhibited in a separate museum.
The Wyeth paintings contribute to the over 15,000 paintings held in the art collection. The museum exhibits the paintings on a rotating basis, so you’ll always see something new in the museum every time that you visit. Other famous artists include Eastman Johnson (co-founded the MET in NYC), Gilbert Stuart, and Childe Hassam.
Many of the paintings highlight Maine’s beauty and talent from the state. It has four separate galleries specializing in contemporary art. Art ranges from paintings, sculptures, and other mediums.
The museum complex includes a library, a couple of homes from prominent local artists, and a gallery dedicated to young artists.
Address: 16 Museum St, Rockland, ME 04841
Also Read: 20 Best Art Museums in the USA
West Quoddy Head Lighthouse is a must-visit historic attraction in Maine – it’s one of the notable lighthouses listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Lighthouse played a role in aiding ships through the Quoddy Narrows with its strategic position on the Easternmost point in the US.
The original lighthouse was built in 1808. The current lighthouse replaced the original in 1858 – it’s a 15-meter tall circular brick structure with iconic red and white stripes. It’s still functional, with a light shining approximately 18 miles.
The site is monumental, with a plaque designating it as the countries easternmost point. Standing at the lighthouse provides views of an island owned by Canada, just a stone's throw away in the Passamaquoddy Bay.
The site includes a keeper’s house, which is now a visitor center and a museum. Visitors can learn more about the history of the lighthouse and see artifacts. There are also walking trails leading to other attractions within the Quoddy Head State Park.
Address: 973 S Lubec Rd, Lubec, ME 04652
The Asticou Azalea Garden is a manmade garden designed by Charles Kenneth Savage, a local village resident in Northeast Harbor. He took a lot of inspiration from Japanese gardens to create the now popular attraction showcasing the best of Maine flora.
The garden was created in the mid-1900s with over two acres, including a pond and sand garden. The main garden features one of the best collections of azaleas, including the Rhododendron Canadense, which is native to Maine. The colorful flowers create a beautiful setting. The sand garden creates illusions of flowing water and stones placed to represent islands. There are also Japanese sculptures around the garden.
Asticou Azalea Garden is a place for calm and tranquility in a serene garden setting. It’s a seasonal attraction open to the public from May to October. The best times to visit are during the spring to see the fresh bloom of flowers or in the fall to see the colorful foliage.
Address: ME-3, Mt Desert, ME 04660
Open since 1939; the Seashore Trolley Museum is the oldest museum dedicated to mass transit vehicles in the world. It also boasts the largest collection of mass transit vehicles, with more than 320 vehicles on display collected from around the world. It's a fun family destination to learn about the history of mass transit and experience live demonstrations.
Seashore Trolley Museum is located in Kennebunkport, founded by locals who wanted to preserve the railcar heritage. As technology increased and trolleys became obsolete, the founding groups purchased the cars and set them up for display.
Now decades later, the collection highlights trolley cars sourced from New England, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Other exhibits include trolley buses, motor buses, railcars, and rapid transit trains. Many of the vehicles are in working condition.
The museum experience includes a restoration shop providing a live glimpse at the process to get the cars ready for display or preservation. It also has a trolley line to showcase the vehicles in action. Some of the seasonal events include rides on the trolleys.
Address: 195 Log Cabin Rd, Kennebunkport, ME 04046