ULTIMATE Guide to Experiencing Fall in Maine | Fall Colors, Places, & Tips
When you want to see fall colors and participate in fall activities, Maine is one of the best states to visit. In general, fall foliage in New England is spectacular, and fall in Maine arguably provides the best foliage.
People come from all over the world to see the leaves change bright orange, yellow, and red on maples, oaks, elms, and birches. It’s a dramatic contrast to the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and freshwater lakes and rivers.
But, strolling through the fall colors isn’t the only activity to do during fall in Maine. For instance, golfing and kayaking are two fantastic fall activities as your surroundings lend themselves well to vibrant pastels of fall foliage against the deep blue of the sea.
Our guide will help you plan your autumn trip to the Pine Tree State!
Guide to the Best Fall Foliage in Maine
It’s sweatah weathah to quote my friend in her salty Maine accent. Mainahs just love fall, except for raking the wicked mess a’ leaves that fall in your dooryahd.
Maine is world famous for its fall foliage. Nowhere is it more beautiful, stunningly scenic, and has a kaleidoscope of colors with perfect daytime temps and crisp cool evenings. There’s a myriad of reasons to come to Maine in the fall.
The brilliant display of colored leaves — from bright red maples to orange oaks and golden birches — generally peaks in late September to mid-October. Traditionally, the weekend of Indigenous Peoples Day is the peak fall foliage period (and a holiday weekend — hint, hint).
But the kaleidoscope of colors starts in September and continues through the month of October. Visiting anytime in fall, you will surely fall for autumn in Maine — Vacationland!
There are certain must-see places in Maine during fall foliage season. In particular, the autumn foliage is worth beholding in the Moosehead/Highlands Region.
And, throughout September and October, the weather is usually perfect for touring the Maine coast or heading into the Maine lakes region and mountains to see the spectacular birches, oaks, maples, and other deciduous trees whose leaves turn gorgeous fall colors.
You may want to consider touring the coast with stops at several coastal towns while staying at a different bed and breakfast or Maine inn each night. Then, you could head inland to see more beautiful foliage in the Mountains & Lakes Region.
Featured Fall Destinations
10 Tips for Enjoying the Fall Foliage
When you visit Maine to see the fall colors, you want to get the best experience possible. Here are 10 tips for making your trip an awesome one!
1. Bring Your Camera
A burst of brilliant foliage colors paints the already pretty Maine landscape. The Pine Tree state is decorated with bright red maples, yellow elms, awesome orange oaks, and gorgeous gold birch leaves. On the coast, the waters provide a stark contrast with a deep dark blue.
In Maine’s lakes and mountains, hillsides glow with autumnal fiery colors amid the evergreens. Often, a glorious foliage reflection occurs in the still blue waters. You’ll want to capture the colors for Facebook and Instagram posts, for your friends back home, or to frame as a keepsake for yourself!
2. Bike an Old Dirt Road
Discover the simple pleasure of a bike ride down an old dirt road with the crisp autumn leaves crunching under your bicycle tires. It’s refreshing and fun!
3. Get Out on the Water
From a Maine charter boat, sailboat cruise, or lobster boat tour, you can really see the contrast of the brilliant blue water with the autumn leaves.
A schooner or sailboat charter is splendid in fall — seeing the dramatic leaves on the shore from aboard a boat powered by the wind is magical. The wind tends to pick up in fall too, so you should have a mighty nice haul or reach (naughty terms for ye sailors).
Also, fall is an ideal time to board a whale watch tour. Whales can be reliably spotted on Maine tour boats into late October when these magnificent mammals begin to migrate south. Dress warmly for your boat ride, and pack a thermos of hot drinks and snacks because it’s typically a four-hour tour.
4. Enjoy a Nature Walk
Fall offers the perfect dry cool weather for a hike. While spring is often still damp on the trailheads, fall brings beautiful arid air and well-maintained trails in Maine’s mountains.
Do a small day hike like Morse Mountain to Sewall Beach, Pleasant Mountain fire tower, or Mt. Battie. Or, go big in Moosehead, Mount Desert’s plethora of Acadia National Park hiking paths, or the king of hikes … Mount Katahdin. Dress in layers — the summit is often much cooler and breezier, and you’ll want to stay for a bit as your reward for the climb!
Maine is resplendent with more state parks, reserves, and conservation trust lands that are open to the public for the perfect fall foliage walk. Remember to take only pictures and to leave only your footprints!
5. Enjoy the Last Maine Lobster of the Season
Maine’s cuisine, with delicious fresh farm vegetables, fruit, and seafood, is the perfect accompaniment to a fall foliage trip. What could possibly taste better than clam chowder or a fresh steamed lobster and blueberry pie after a fall hike in Maine?
See our favorite Maine waterfront restaurants for seafood, clams, and fresh Maine lobster!
6. Paddle a Canoe or Kayak
Fall in Maine is a great time to paddle on a calm cool Maine river. The state is full of fresh bodies of water, and a paddle trip is a fantastic way to experience the tranquility and beauty of autumn.
Kayak on a quiet river in Kennebunk or a river in Bethel. It’s peaceful and so scenic being on the water, watching the birds and the beautiful leaves surround you. A Maine lobster roll lunch never tasted so good after a workout on the water.
7. Shop for Maine-made Products & Crafts
Many of the Maine fairs and festivals in fall are great places to find Maine-made items of all kinds — maple goods, apple and blueberry desserts, pumpkin doughnuts, artisan arts and crafts, antiques, and more.
Of course shopping in Maine’s Freeport, Portland, and Kennebunkport are great fall pastimes as you prepare for the upcoming holidays. Fall brings post-summer sales to Kittery Outlets and The Boothbay Harbor boutiques. Maine’s art galleries are especially vibrant, welcoming, and loaded with unique local talent this time of year.
What could be better than poking around the shops, then lunching on Maine clam chowder or a lobster roll?
8. Book Your Lodging in Advance
Maine is especially wide-open and far less busy during the fall. But, fall foliage season is a peak time to stay, particularly on weekends.
Fall foliage tours bring visitors to see the spectrum of colors, and Maine is host to many fall festivals. So, you’re well advised to book your lodging in Maine for a fall getaway in advance.
Reserve a room at a romantic bed and breakfast or waterfront inn in Maine. “Fall” is for “falling in love in Maine!” You’ll love the scenery and serene B&Bs in Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Camden, and Boothbay Harbor for starters.
9. Pick the Perfect Maine Produce
Since fall is harvest season, you have the chance to pick apples and pumpkins at the state’s dozens of orchards and farms. You can take them home as a delicious treat or a reminder of your time in Maine. Mums are up for grabs too!
10. Enjoy the Subtle, Serene Surroundings
All in all, your goal during fall in Maine is to take in the serenity that the season creates, especially in the numerous state parks and national parks and sites.
Foods Harvested During Fall in Maine
Fall is harvest time in Maine and brings a bounty of Maine food to chef’s tables and top restaurants. Lobster is still plentiful on the menu, along with fresh swordfish, tuna, salmon, and scallops.
The autumn culinary scene is as colorful as it is close to the source and delicious. Savory squash, crisp kale, Maine potatoes and broccoli, melons, and fruits all come to ripeness, and local Maine chefs create delicious dishes with these garden goodies.
Orchards are ripe with fresh apples, and farm pastures are loaded with pumpkins and squash that brightly dot the fields, awaiting picking for someone’s table or jack-o’-lantern carving. You’re sure to find that perfect pumpkin for carving before Halloween.
And, farmer’s markets throughout the state offer vegetables at their peak of freshness. At the Fryeburg Fair, farmers show off their summer’s worth of work and their pride in produce, meat, and cheese. Yes, please! Let’s check out some of the items that you can find or even pick yourself.
Maine’s apples are best picked from late August through early October. The state is home to 84 apple orchards and farms that are responsible for producing about 1 million bushels of apples each year on 2,000 acres.
The most common varieties of Maine apples grown are McIntosh, Cortland, Macoun, and Honeycrisp. Two lesser-known varieties are Black Oxford and Brock.
Maine has an “apple day” too. Great Maine Apple Day is a festival in mid-October in Unity Maine that celebrates the apple harvest with cider making and apple pie contests that showcase the many tasty apple varieties grown in Maine’s orchards.
Maine’s best apple recipes include Apple Crisp, Apple Pie, Apple Chutney, Apple Cider, and Apple Sauce.
Broccoli is abundant in Maine. Despite Kennebunkport’s favorite former president’s disdain for the bright green veggie (President George H.W. Bush said he hates broccoli), Maine is a top producer of this cruciferous green vegetable in “The County” — with 6,500 acres in Aroostook County.
This powerful antioxidant has numerous health benefits. It’s a big source of vitamins K and C, folate (folic acid), potassium, and fiber. Besides, it’s fun to dip broccoli in ranch or cheese dip while pretending that they’re little trees and you’re the Jolly Green Giant.
Aroostook County has potatoes aplenty as well. In fact, Maine is a top producer of spuds. Not as much as Idaho, but over 70,000 acres of land in Northern Maine is proliferated with potato farms.
About 25% of the potato production supplies the East Coast, 45% is used for frozen French fries, 20% for (our personal favorite) potato chips, and 10% for Maine’s best restaurants and local consumption.
The Maine Potato Blossom Festival in Fort Fairfield in July is a 70+ year tradition to celebrate the spud! The Maine Potato Board (yes, that’s a thing) has pages of potato recipes from mashed to home fries to Shepard’s pie! Oh, and Cold River Vodka is made from Maine potatoes, so it’s gluten free!
With all eyes on pie and Halloween jack-o’-lanterns, Maine’s pumpkin patches are prolific. A fun family activity is to go to a pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkin.
Pumpkins are a fun, feel-good, do-good squash plant, most popular from Halloween to Thanksgiving. Traditions aside, they have high nutritional value. High in fiber and low in calories, pumpkin packs an abundance of disease-fighting nutrients — potassium, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and vitamins C and E.
Even pumpkin seeds carry nutrition — protein, potassium, magnesium, and fiber. So, pick your own Maine pumpkin, carve your trick-or-treat face, keep the inside for pie, and roast the seeds with Maine sea salt for a powerful tasty treat.
Go pick apples in an orchard, then enjoy a hot apple cider toddy or warm dish of apple crisp! Visit a Farmers’ Market for the freshest veggies, squash, and root vegetables. Pick your own pumpkin from a patch, ready to carve come Halloween. Don’t forget to roast the seeds with sea salt and pepper!
Activities to Do During Fall in Maine
What’s the most beautiful time of year in Maine? We love fall on the Southern Maine coast and in the Lakes & Mountains. The best part is that there’s plenty to do no matter where you choose to go!
You can still walk the beaches along the Southern Maine coast, as well as kayak, bike and hike, golf, and explore. The summer beach crowds have diminished and the temperatures are ideal. Fall brings cool crisp evenings, while you still have warm, sunny, summer-like days.
The temperatures during fall in Maine are splendid — in the 70s by day and 50s at night — perfect for sitting by a fireplace and sleeping under a down duvet at a cozy bed and breakfast. It’s the best of both worlds — warm sunshine and the smell of a campfire.
Fall Events in Maine
Fall in Maine brings a bounty of festivals and events, and of course, a harvest of delicious fresh Maine foods. Apple picking is a Maine tradition not to be missed. Farmer’s markets are abundant with squash, kale, pumpkins, and cornstalks for your Halloween decor.
Maine fairs are among the best in the world with the big daddy being the Fryeburg Fair. This agricultural, carnival, farm, food, craft, and music festival is held in early October during peak foliage. Don’t miss the hilarious Pig Scramble, Harness Racing, Tractor Pulls, and the Skillet Throw.
Fall Festival at Sunday River
Indigenous Peoples Day weekend typically occurs during the height of fall colors in Maine. It’s also when the Fall Festival at Sunday River is held. This event is a great time to peep leaves as you ride the chairlift.
This weekend at Sunday River also marks the annual Wife Carrying Championships. Watch couples compete as husbands carry their wives over obstacles, under logs, and through the mud to win their wife’s weight in beer! Yup, the Wife Carrying Championships is a down-and-dirty event and a sure road to divorce or a full fridge of Budweiser.
Sunday of the weekend is Sunday River’s annual New England Corn Hole Championship and a Blue Mountain Craft Fair, plus Chondola Rides.
Oktoberfest in Acadia
Acadia’s Oktoberfest includes annual Wine Tasting and Brewfest events. These are part of a 10-day celebration in Southwest Harbor — the quiet side of Acadia National Park.
Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival
Camp Sunshine’s Pumpkin Festival is in mid-October. This tradition started in 2003 and is held at LL Bean in Freeport. Over 10,000 jack-o’-lanterns are illuminated for this important charity, which provides sick children and their families a respite and vacation in Maine at Point Sebago Resort.
Harvest on the Harbor
Portland’s best food and wine fest is Harvest on the Harbor in late October. Maine’s best chefs compete for the top title, while Maine wineries and breweries tap their best vintages for foodies at a venue that overlooks Portland Harbor.
More Festivals in Fall in Maine
- Boothbay Harbor celebrates its Fall Foliage Festival in early October.
- Sugarloaf hosts its Homecoming Weekend in early October. Skiers can get their season passes, see their ski buddies, buy ski gear at the CVA Used Ski Equipment Sale, and compete in the Infamous Uphill Climb race.
- York hosts Harvestfest at York Beach in mid-October with games, crafts, music, and prime foliage near Nubble Light.
- OgunquitFest is held in mid-October with the funny high-heel race, pumpkin decorating, craft shows, wagon rides, culinary and wine tastings, and a classic car display.
In addition to attending Maine fall festivals, the season is a good time to visit some of Maine’s haunted or spirited inns and lighthouses. The Kennebunks, York, Boothbay Harbor, Poland, and Fryeburg are just a few towns where you can find spooky things to do in fall in Maine.
Explore All That Fall in Maine Has to Offer
When you plan your fall visit to Maine, you’re sure to fall in love with this Vacationland and the beautiful foliage that blesses this beautiful state each season. You may even find your new favorite vacation destination!
We arrive in Vermont on Sept. 24th and will be sightseeing the upper New England states for a week before we move down to Mass. and visit the lower three New England states for a week. We want to take in the best places while there. We esp. want to see a fully functioning light house that we are able to go inside,