10 reasons to Visit Maine for the Holidays!

Here are our Top 10 Reasons to Visit Maine before Christmas:

#1 Maine is home to the Top Christmas Towns in the US. Ogunquit and Kennebunkport Maine are both heralded as the best holiday fests. Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude  Dec 3 – Dec 13 is a fantastic festival of tree lighting, caroling at the Monastery, craft fairs and cookie crawls, Historic Inns tour by Candlelight, Blueberry pancake breakfasts and Lobster chowder luncheons, Santa arrives by Lobster boats, Fire & Ice events at Nonantum Resort by the River, a Pooch Parade and Hat Parade to cap it off.

Christmas tree in Dock Square Kennebunkport, Maine
#2 Ogunquit celebrates Christmas by the Sea the 2nd weekend in December with holiday shopping, wine tastings, a parade, parties and fireworks at the beach, plus concerts and the grand finale Polar Plunge into the Ocean… brrrr – illiant.

#3 Wells host the Annual SOUTHERN MAINE CHRISTMAS PARADE is the 2nd Sunday in December at 2pm up Route 1, with Santa, holiday floats and fun!

Maine Skiing#4 SKI! Sunday River and Sugarloaf are open for skiing. Get out your skis, make tracks on these beautiful Maine ski resorts before the Christmas and New Year’s crowds arrive. Santa Sunday at Sunday River is the first Sunday in December. Sunday River’s Winterfest is the 2nd weekend in December with fireworks and a visit from Santa on the snow.

Christmas lights at Maine store during the holidays

#5 Fresh Maine Christmas Trees and wreaths are yours too bring home. You will save money versus the pricey pruned trees that were pre-cut in November (read: dry by mid-December). Your home will smell like the Maine pine forest, and you will long remember the joy of cutting your own tree in the Pine Tree state.

Christmas horse sleigh in Maine Christmas parade

#6 Santa Con in Portland is a holiday pub crawl dressed in red. Wear your best Santa, Mrs Claus or Elf outfit and jingle while you mingle from pub to pub in the Old Port, 1st Saturday in December.

Santa in Maine#7 Portland Merry Madness is early December, the annual event starts with drinks at Portland House of Music from 4 to 6:30 p.m. where you get your official Merry Madness shopping tote and wine mug to take with you for free wine tastings as you shop your way around town, stores stay open till 10 pm. Tickets are $20 for your tote, treats, glass, one pour, plus more at participating stores.

Christmas tree in Kennebunk Maine

#8 Portland Harbor Boat Parade is great – this Boat Parade of Holiday Lights is the 2nd weekend of December, Saturday evening, watch from Maine State Pier or aboard a Casco Bay Ferry as decorated boats parade through the harbor starting at 4:45pm.

Lobster Christmas tree topper in Maine#9 Shop Freeport and enjoy LL Bean’s classic Christmas decorations. Get your holiday to do list done, and enjoy the fun of Freeport, tree lighting and Sparkle Weekend takes place the first weekend of December with a Christmas Parade of Lights show.

Christmas at LL Bean in Freeport

#10 Hit the Kittery Outlets on you way home for the last on your list.

Christmas Shopping in Maine

Be sure to reserve your Maine lodging during your visit to Maine with our Maine lodging guide.

Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net, 2020

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Christmas Tree in Kennebunkport Maine

The best Southern Maine Christmas Parade

prelude-horse-carriageWe all love a parade… and a Maine Christmas Parade is perhaps the most festive of all. While not quite the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, the Southern Maine Christmas Parade is fun, family oriented, free and lodging in Wells Maine is a far better deal than New York City for the Macy’s Holiday Parade.

The Southern Maine Coast Christmas Parade is celebrating over three decades. The 34th annual Christmas Parade is Sunday December 15 at 2pm. The theme each year changes, past year’s parade include Superheroes, nature, and   “A Storybook Christmas.”  The parade follows its traditional Route 1 path,  beginning at the Wells Plaza parking lot and continuing north on U.S. Route 1 to the Wells Junior High School. Floats, fire trucks, costume characters, mascots and more are feature in this fun holiday parade.

Kids will love seeing Maine mascots like Oaky from Oakhurst, Slugger the Portland Sea Dog, Kenne Bear from Kennebunk Savings, Crusher the Maine Lobster from the Maine Red Claws, and Sprinkles the Cow from Sundaes at the Beach. Horse drawn sleighs, antique cars and tractors are a few of the fun additions. Like all holiday parades, there is an annual Grand Marshall, and Santa arrives at the end to the delight of kids watching on the side lines.
Kenne-bear
The parade is sponsored by Kennebunk Savings Bank, and the Wells Chamber, and floats right by Wells businesses and hotels, like Village by the Sea – which happens to be a great place to watch.

For those of you disappointed that last year’s Christmas Parade was cancelled, due to a snowstorm, this year should be great with the anticipation from a missed year. And the forecast looks clear after this week’s snowstorm – Sunday should be sunny with no snow falling.

This second weekend of December is great time to come to Maine, enjoy holiday shopping in Kittery and Freeport, Wells Ogunquit and Kennebunkport. Its also Ogunquit Christmas by the Sea and Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude – so there are lots of fun holiday events and festivities to enjoy. Suite lodging can be very affordable this time of year. If you are traveling with the family, you may want a suite or condo at Village by the Sea or Misty Harbor Resort. A  deluxe motel room can be a real deal, saving you money for dining out and shopping, for a couples or girls getaway at Ogunquit Resort Motel. See our Southern Maine lodging guide for your Christmas shopping getaway to Maine. Happy Holidays…

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Lobster boat in Riggs Cove Maine

How to spot a Maine tourist vs a local – Vacationers in Vacationland

Mainahs, natives, love to poke fun at “folks from away” that choose to vacation in Maine – land of “lobstah in summah.” Perhaps it makes wintahs in Maine more bearable knowing soon the weathah will get bettah (see our guide to Maine accents)– but then we have to share our beautiful state with othahs from down south… south being anywhere below Kittery and the big bridge over the Piscataqua (say that three times).

Here are our 7 summer tips on how to spot a Maine tourist versus a local… like you actually needed a clue – ayuh!

  1. The outfits: Tourists typically wear flashy, not so matchy clothes – as if they packed in a rush, eager to hit the road and start their trip to Maine. bright beachy colored T-shirts with anything Maine placarded on themselves are a super sleuth clue. Socks with sandals, cruise ship sea pass lanyards around their necks, and swimsuits in town and restaurants are also notable get-noticed tourist getups.
  2. Moody BeachThe walking red – sunburns are a “shore” sign of those from away. The cooked lobster look is like nature’s tattoo of a happy summer day at the beach or our on a boat, without proper SPF precautions. Nothing like a bright red sunburn to bring back to the office on Monday to show you were at the beach… but didn’t apply sunscreen cause you thought Maine was too far north for UVA UVB rays. Rookie move – but way to rock your Maine beach day without a care in the world.
  3. Fresh lobster dinner served with steamersIn Maine restaurants, anyone wearing a white plastic bib is likely a tourist about to crush into a crustacean. Locals don’t do the goofy lobster bibs, and don’t wear anything so fancy that it’s not going to survive a dribble of butter. See our guide – how to eat a Maine lobster.
  4. Cameras and Ipad photo taking is another certain tourist telltale. Mainers use their cell phones nowadays, yes technology has arrived at the north eastern most state even if it seems off the grid. We even have Wi-Fi and the world wide web, how bout them apples…
  5. Maine Lobster ShackWaiting in line for clams, lobster rolls, or ice cream…. that’s a tourist move. Mainers wait for no one and just don’t do the queue … after all you can walk right into those same businesses in spring, winter or fall without delay. And ice cream is still refreshing on below zero days. So if you see a line, that’s a sign that it’s a popular tourist spot – Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, great food, just gonna take a bit.
  6. Camden Maine, Mt BattieThe slow driver gawker stalkers…. If you drive out to The Nubble Light in York, Route 1, or Ocean Ave past Walkers Point in Kennebunkport – home to President George H W Bush in summer – you will likely encounter erratic slow swerving (ok- bad) driving. That’s a tourist taking pics, deciding whether it’s worth pulling over or debating his destination with the family like a scene from National Lampoon Vacation. Conversely, if you see an old pickup truck going wicked slow, that’s a local with no particular place to go or no rush in doing so.
  7. One exception to tourist spotting versus locals is shopping at the Beaner or the Trading Post – here you will see an equal blend of locals and vacationers. Yes, Mainers really do shop at LL Bean (its wicked good quality – guaranteed don’t you know), Kittery Trading Post (nice huntin’ stuff), also discount Maine outlets like Mardens and Reny’s… for wicked bahgains on everything from tarps to canned tomatoes, tools to tiki torches for summah pool pahties. You should definitely stop and shop these funny affordable entertaining unexpected stores. Don’t get caught sayin’  “ I should bought it when I say it at Mahden’s.”
    Enjoy your vacation in Maine, see our favorite tour of the Maine coast, and our guide to Maine slang if you want to try and fit in with the local folks. 

    Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net

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Stand Up for Maine Lobstermen

Maine Lobstermen Need Your Help – you can help save the Lobster Industry in Maine, where the world’s best lobster is found and harvested…and served fresh daily…

NOAA is pushing ahead with misguided regulations to protect whales. These regulations threaten the Maine Lobster Industry.

Everyone cares about the Right Whales but we need policy that is based on reliable science and data. For centuries, Maine lobstermen have been responsible stewards of marine resources. Their livelihood depends upon it. NOAA needs to work to develop scientifically-proven effective regulations that will actually reduce the risk of harm to whales while limiting the negative impact on fishermen.

There is no worse government regulation than one that both fails to produce results, saving the whales, and places severe hardships on an entire industry, lobstering! An industry by the way, that is VERY important to the Maine Hospitality Industry.

Fresh lobster dinner served with steamersThank you Representatives Congressman Jared Golden, and Congresswoman Chellie PingreeU.S. Senator Susan Collins and Angus King for supporting the Maine Lobster Industry.

President Donald J. Trump, please repeal this burdensome misguided regulation and SAVE THE LOBSTER INDUSTRY.
 #StandUpForLobstermen #Maine #Trump

To learn more about how Maine Lobstermen and women fish, and the process of lobstering on a lobster boat, take a Lobster Boat tour when in Maine, like the Rugosa which departs from the docks at Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport daily in summer season!

See a few fun facts about Maine Lobster, and How to cook a Maine Lobster, and where to order fresh Maine lobster to be shipped to your home.

Visit Maine to eat lobster, see the Coast, tour the scenic seaside towns and savor vacation in #Vacationland… The way life should be…see our Guide to Visiting Maine!

Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net
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Maine Humah…conversations with locals

bass-harbor-maine (25)Mainers are funny people, not always funny like LOL – more like odd, peculiar, even perplexing. They aren’t typically wicked chatty, but they have their hilarious expressions, colorful colloquialisms, and their favorite topics – mostly the weathah, their lobstah boats, and their mothahs. See our Guide to Maine accents, slang and vernacular…

Boothbay Harbor viewYa mothah is usually your woman, your wife, your significant othah… not your actual mom. Mainers don’t share much, but when they do its typically laced with sarcasm – it’s wicked pissah – leaving you wondering if you got the straight scoop. It’s a mad Maine skill and treasured talent to confuse the folks from away.

Cape Porpoise Lighthouse MaineBitchin’ about the Maine weathah or their mothah is just an example of hot topics, that’s “hot” not Haut pronounced “ho” like in Isle au Haut upta Penobscot.

Mainahs are not, howevah, good at giving directions… “can’t get theya from heah” for example. We have all heard that joke. All humor is based in some reality. I have heard Mainers give directions such as, “go down the road a piece”…or “if you see Jake’s barn – you’ve gone too far and you bettah turn your cah ‘round.”

bucks-harbor-dog-ride4Ayuh, on a recent trip to Bucks Harbor, Bucks Hahbah… I was out for a stroll in the small (understatement) community just up the hill from the marina. I paused at the one intersection in town, no traffic light, to let the oncoming car go. He stopped, rolled own his window and asked “where you headin’?” I said “I’m just out exploring Bucks Harbor.” He said, “can I help you find something?” So I inquired, “what else is there to see here?” He replied, “well, this is pretty much it.”

bucks-jhjarobrmaine5My next local encounter was down on the waterfront. I told this Mainer my funny conversation from moments before. He said “yeah, not much happens here. Sometimes there’s a farmers market on Tuesday.” I replied that I’d seen the sign on the bulletin board at the general store in town. He replied “actually the market is every Tuesday, but I only go sometimes.” Guess that makes it a sometimes fahmahs mahket.

Enjoy your timMaine signse upta Maine. If you have to ask for directions, be ready for anything. Maine, the way life ought to be.

See our tips on Maine slang, vernacular and vocabulary, and more fun and funny facts about Maine.

For Maine lodging recommendations, see our Maine’s top hotels and Maine’s best resorts. For great places to eat in Maine, see our Top Maine restaurants page.

By Heather Burke  – Copyright by VisitMaine.net

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The Legend of Boon Island, Maine Mutiny, Mystery, Cannibalism

Boon Island

Boon Island off the York, ME coast

Maine maritime history is as deep and filled with fish tales and folklore as any of the colonial states, just as sensational as Salem’s witches. Maine is home to horror story author Steven King, haunted houses on Summer Street in Kennebunk AND cannibalism!? Creepy stuff.

Boon Island may be the most fascinating and graphic of our State’s seafaring scariness because it’s not just hearsay–it’s true! Dun dun DUN! Here’s the story that continues to invite intrigue and inspired the Travel Channel to visit the remote Boon Island to film the freaky things that happened there back in 1710. Continue reading

Maine Lighthouse Boat Tours

Lighthouses are an iconic symbol of Maine, part of the seafaring history and culture. Today, lighthouses are the more popular attractions for Maine visitors touring the coast. Few lighthouses in Maine are stationed with lighthouse keepers, many are now automated, but they continue to serve as beacons to guide boaters, sailors, fishermen and pleasure yachts safely back to their Maine harbors. Read on for coastal boat tours offering lighthouse sightseeing. Continue reading

Maine’s Annual Restaurant Week March 1-12, 2020

Maine has become a hot foodie destination in recent years. In fact, Bon Appetit recognized Portland as a top culiary destination. Portland, Camden and Kennebunkport have attracted top chefs and top dining reviews. Maine has also become a place for food fests, like Harvest to the Harbor each fall, the Kennebunkport Festival each June, and the annual Maine Restaurant Week in March which started in 2008. Here’s your invitation to see and taste the best plates of the Pine Tree State with special multi-course price-fixed menus at Maine’s best dining spots and Maine top chefs who are passionate about creating Maine cuisine!

In additon to special prix fixe menus at particpating Maine restaurant, a few signture foodie events include an Incredible Breakfast Cook  Off in Portland – where one chef is award Champion of the Crave, and Spirit Quest – a progressive cocktail crawl with paired bites tour with a map of participating bars and dining spots in Portland. Prices for Maine Restaurant Week are typically $25, $35 and up to $45 for three courses, not including beverages, tax or gratuity. What’s fun about Restaurant Week, besides the delicious cuisine at Maine’s best restaurants, is meeting fellow foodies in your travels. You can dine out nightly and meet new people who share your passion for fine food and wine, also to try new venues like Cliff House Nubb’s and Tiller, and the usually too-pricey White Barn Inn.

Maine Restaurant Week March 1-12 features creative menus focused on Maine sourced, locally grown and farm raised food, fresh Maine lobster and seafood and artisan cheeses, and often local wine and beer pairings suggestions. Maine has lots more than just blueberries and potatoes as native food to rave about. So eat, drink and be merry during Restaurant Week in Maine at these great dining spots:

Cape Porpoise bouys used for nautical decorKennebunkport & Kennebunk Restaurants:
Stripers Waterfront at the Breakwater Inn & Spa – Kennebunkport, The Burleigh at Kennebunkport Inn, The Boathhouse Waterfront Restuarant & Bar, The White Barn Bistro at the White Barn Inn

Ogunquit and Cape Neddick Restaurants:
Nubb’s Lobster Shack & The Tiller – at the Cliff House – Cape Neddick– Ogunquit

Casco Bay FerryPortland & Cape Elizabeth Restaurants:
Back Bay Grill – Portland
Boone’s Fish & Oyster Room, and the Grill Room and Corner Room – Portland
Cumberland Club – Portland
Davids, Davids 388 and Davids Opus – Portland
El Rayo Cantina & El Rayo Taqueria Portland
Emilitsa – Portland
Eve’s at the Garden Portland
Evo Kitchen & bar – Portland
Five Fifty-Five – Portland
Gather – Yarmouth
Good Table Restaurant – Cape Elizabeth
Hartstone Inn – Camden
Hot Suppa – Portland
Hugos’ – Portland
Karafuto – Camden
Liquid Riot – Portland
Little Tap House – Portland
Local 188 – Portland
Natalie’s – Camden
North Point- Portland
Petite Jacqueline – Portland
Portland Meatball Co – Portland
Portland Pie Company – Portland
Ri Ra Irish Pub – Portland
Ribollita – Portland
Robert’s Maine Grill – Kittery
Sea Glass Restaurant – Inn by the Sea- Cape Elizabeth
Solo Italiano – Portland
Sur Lie Restaurant Portland
Timbers Steakhouse – Portland
Twenty Milk Street – Portland
Union at the Press Hotel – Portland
Vinland  – Portland
Vignola Cinque Terre – Portland
Waypoint – Portland
White Barn – Kennebunk Beach

Freeport, Falmouth & Yarmouth:
Bueno Loco -Falmouth
Gather – Yarmouth
Cuckholds LighthouseBrunswick, Lewiston & Camden Dining:
Brunswick Tavern – Brunswick
Natalies at Camden Harbour Inn – Camden
Hartstone Inn – Camden
Fish Bones American Grill – Lewiston
Lakes & Mountains:
Blaze- Bangor
Tarratine – Bangor
Timbers Bar- bangor

See our favorite happy hours in Portland,  Maine Lodging Guide for overnight hotels and Maine’s best BnB’s to stay at during your Foodies Tour of Maine

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Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net, 2020

Fresh Cut Maine Christmas Trees

lobster-trap-treeWhat could possible look and smell more beautiful than a fresh cut Maine Christmas Tree in your home for the holidays?! After all, Maine is the Pine Tree State. All over our big wooded state are Christmas tree farms and wild fields full of beautiful White or Blue Spruce, Balsam, Fraser or Douglas fir, Norfolk Pine, and many more species of evergreen trees.

Maine pine trees are gorgeous and would make a great addition to your holiday decor. Driving around Maine in late November and early December, you will find fresh cut Christmas trees for sale in every town, at school yard for kids’ fundraisers, at fire departments and even at garden centers and grocery stores. These are local trees, relatively freshly cut. Many Maine trees are shipped to New York City, Florida and elsewhere given Maine’s pine tree abundance.

Did you know LL Bean provides all the wreaths for Arlington National Cemetery at Christmas time? Made in Maine!  Maine is a proud contributor to Wreaths Across America each holiday season.

kennebunk treeIf you want to assure you get a very fresh Maine tree that well stay healthy in your home through January, you may want to tromp through the forest and cut you own to assure its freshness. The weekend after Thanksgiving and the first Saturday of December are very popular times to get Christmas trees. You may even happen upon holidays festivals in Maine like the Lighting of the Nubble in York and Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport.

Be prepared when you go to cut your own tree down, usually you should bring your own saw, rope and strapping to tie it to your car roof securely, and gloves to handle the prickly boughs. Be sure to measure your ceiling height before you go chop down an 8 foot tree.
As a bonus, you can usually gain us some extra greens and boughs to use as swags after you have trimmed your tree to the right size. You can’t however just hack someone’s tree from their front year. You do need permission or to pay at a local cut your own tree farm.

prelude-horse-carriageSo we have compiled this list of Maine Christmas Tree Farms, all members of Maine Christmas Tree Association. Some of these Tree Farms are very festive around the holidays, like Holmes Tree Farm in Kennebunk, with horse drawn sleigh rides, serving candy canes and cocoa for the kids, and offering to wrap the tree in twine to make hauling it into your house easier for mom and dad.

Maine Christmas Tree Farms
Balsam Meadow Farm    Lincoln    207-794-2129
Balsam Ridge        Raymond    207-655-4474
Boiling Spring Tree Farm    Dayton    207-499-7919
Bond Mountain Acres    West Newfield    207-793-4658
Carpenter Tree Farm    Springvale    207-324-6869
Carpenter’s Tree Farm    Old Town Me    207-356-4862
Cheechako Farms    Buxton    207-929-3961
Christmas Tree Bazaar    Nobleboro    207-563-5700
Christmas Tree Ranch    Amherst    207-409-6488
Dalou Farms        St. Albans    207-938-2955
Davis Stream Tree Farm    Washington    207-845-2544
Evergreen Farms Choose And Cut    Waldoboro    207-832-5385
Fishers Christmas Tree Farm    Belfast    207-338-6098
Gooleys Christmas Tree Farm    Farmington    207-778-2368
Hanscome’s Tree Farm    North Yarmouth    207-831-2311
Heaven’s View Christmas Tree Farm    Brooks    207-548-2221
Holmes Tree Farm    Kennebunk    207-985-3778
Hummer Tree Farm    Bath    207-443-5944
Kings Mountain Christmas Trees        Orrington    207-852-6699
Mcclure’s Tree Nursery    Kingfield    207-265-4931
Merry Christmas Trees    Windham    207-318-2012
Mingo’s Evergreen Products Inc.    Calais    207-454-7411
Moose Hill Farm    Fayette    207-897-3093
Mystic Valley Farm    East Dixfield
North Parish Christmas Tree Farm    Turner    207-225-3382
Nutkin Knoll Farm    Newburgh    207-234-7268
Old Farm Christmas Place    Cape Elizabeth    207-799-0096
Oldfield Farm        Vassalboro    207-445-3023
Penobscot Evergreens    Bucksport    207-825-8729
Pinkham’s Tree Farm    Vassalboro    207-445-4827
Piper Mtn Christmas Trees    Newburgh    207-234-4300    Available
Pleasant View Tree Farm    Hodgdon    207-532-4769    Available
Rice Tree Farm        Durham    207-926-3622
Richards Christmas Tree Farm    Mapleton    207-764-6093    Available
Stadig’s Christmas Tree    Wallagrass    1-800-338-1587
Staples Christmas Trees    South Windham    207-892-7231
Trees To Please    Norridgewock    207-522-0545
Vining’s Christmas Trees    Cumberland    207-829-5723
Weir Tree Farms    Colebrook    603-237-5273

Consider making a fun weekend out of cutting your own Maine Christmas Tree. Stay in Kennebunk or Wells and enjoy the holiday decorations, before bringing your beautiful tree home. Some Maine lodging properties offer a free tree special with your night’s lodging –kennebunkport-christmas-tree  a certificate to cut your own tree at a local Christmas tree farm nearby. Remember that part of the joy is purveying the not-so-perfect pine tree then transforming into a your own personal thing of beauty with your family ornaments and traditions… just like Charlie Brown. Merry Christmas. Enjoy your Maine tree and may you and your family have a very joyful, pine-scented holiday! – VisitMaine.net

See our Maine Lodging Guide

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