There is more to Maine than camping – roughing it in the great outdoors in a remote campsite. And while we’re on the subject, let’s do away with the stereotype; most of us are not missing teeth. Maine is a large state with diverse lodging choices, rustic to luxury hotels and resorts. Browse luxury lodges in Maine, or continue reading to learn more about luxury lodges you’ll find here. Continue reading
The fall season is at its peak at Halloween. For visitors coming to Maine in autumn, here is an a-maze-ing activity, aside from leaf peeping and harvest festivals. Corn mazes! Too corny for you?
Take your family to a corn maze in Maine. Every year, corn maze designs are different, and every farmers corn maze is unique. Most mazers can spend close to an hour navigating through the stalks! No worries though, mazes are designed in two phases for an early exit halfway. And in all honesty, if you think you’re going to freak out, then just walk straight through the stalks until you find the end. No one has ever been lost in a corn maze in Maine.
2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service, which includes Acadia National Park. What better birthday present than an expansion, and a new landmark in Maine?! U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis supported President Obama’s designation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, the first national monument to preserve the landscape and honor the history and culture of Maine’s North Woods. President Obama used the Antiquities Act to establish 87,500 acres of lands donated to the National Park Service by the Elliottsville Plantation, Inc., (EPI), including the East Branch of the Penobscot River and its tributaries, one of the most pristine watersheds in the Northeast, according to the National Park Service.
US Secretary Jewell visited the national monument lands in Penobscot County, Maine, in August to celebrate the designation with state and local officials and members of the public. National Park Service staff will be on site to assist with the first steps to open the park.
“As the National Park Service begins a second century of conservation this week, the President’s designation of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument serves as an inspiration to reflect on America’s iconic landscapes and historical and cultural treasures,” said Secretary Jewell. “Through this incredibly generous private gift for conservation, these lands will remain accessible to current and future generations of Americans, ensuring the rich history of Mainers’ hunting, fishing and recreation heritage will forever be preserved.”
EPI is the nonprofit foundation established by Roxanne Quimby and run by her son Lucas St. Clair. Their gift of land is accompanied by anendowment of $20 million to supplement federal funds for initial park operational needs and infrastructure development at the new monument, and a pledge of another $20 million in future philanthropic support.
Maine’s new national monument will be managed by the National Park Service as the 413th park unit in the National Park System. The monument parcel is east of the 209,644-acre Baxter State Park and Mt. Katahdin -Maine’s highest peak at 5,267′ and the end of the Appalachian Trail.
The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument designation is the result of a extensive effort by Quimby and her son St Clair. Quimby purchased the lands with her wealth from Burt’s Bees.
The new national monument includes the East Branch of the Penobscot River and some of Maine’s North Woods known for its world-class recreational opportunities to hike, canoe, hunt, fish, snowmobile, snowshoe and cross-country ski. These and other traditional activities will continue to be available in the new national monument.
In addition to protecting spectacular geology, biodiversity, wildlife and recreational opportunities, the new monument will help support climate resiliency in the region. The protected area – together with the neighboring Baxter State Park to the west – will ensure that this large landscape remains intact, bolstering the forest’s resilience against the impacts of climate change. – Thank to the National Park Service for this new release.
For Maine lodging in the Katahdin region, in Baxter, Millinocket, and Greenville & Moosehead, see our Highland Maine Lodging Guide.
Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net, 2017
Top 10 Reasons to Love Old Orchard Beach
1. The Pier
Hosting celebrities including Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra, the famous Old Orchard Beach Pier extending 500 feet into the Atlantic is lined by boutique shops, restaurants and even a night club.
2. The Beach
Boasting 7 miles of beach, its little wonder why Old Orchard Beach along with its vacation amenities hug the sandy shoreline. Both the northern (known as Scarborough Beach) and southern (known as Ferry Beach in Saco) ends of Old Orchard Beach away from the Pier epicenter, are quieter areas for vacationers offering peace and solitude despite the hub bub of the vibrant seaside town.
3. Palace Playland
Palace Playland makes Old Orchard Beach even more perfect for family vacations. You have the beach, nearby restaurants, ice cream shacks, arcade games, park rides so you won’t have to hear the kids exclaim that they’re hungry, or hot, or bored. And after you’re screaming in a combination of terror and delight on the tilt-a-whirl, you can also take pause in the scenic landscape of the coast.
4. Outdoor recreation
Yup, in Old Orchard Beach, you can also revel in the great outdoors from coastal boat excursions or fishing along the beach. Just minutes away from town at the Scarborough Marsh, you can rent a kayak or canoe and leave behind the sights and sounds of town and hear nothing but the wind and the see nothing but wilderness.
5. Great Place to Stay and Play
Old Orchard Beach truly has something for everyone. Vacationers can choose to find lodging in Old Orchard Beach at a hotel near the beach, gain some independence in a vacation rental cottage, or even bring the RV or pitch a tent in the many campgrounds right in town. The only sad part of vacationing in Old Orchard is leaving… ah, love is heartache.
See our Maine Lodging Guide
Copyright 2018 VisitMaine.net
Imagine vacationing on a house boat in Maine, your own private yacht – without the stress of boat ownership or even boating. If this sounds ideal you should rent a house boat in beautiful Robinhood Cove near Boothbay Harbor Maine. You can live aboard a custom designed Island 40′ yacht on the mid-coast Maine with no big boat responsibilities, the house boat doesn’t even have an engine – so it’s a peaceful floating oasis, secured to a mooring just a short paddle or skiff ride from the shores of Riggs Cove on Georgetown island.
You can rent a houseboat at Derecktor Robinhood Marina for a few nights or a relaxing week’s vacation. The marina crew greets you and takes you and your luggage out to your house boat. Choose from the Tessie Ann “floating island”, built by the marina in 2010, the Charles Andrew, or the Nancy Lou which is the newest with a spacious rooftop deck. All three house boats sleep 4, with a stateroom queen bed, a galley kitchen with fridge, DVD/TV, sound system, head with shower, and a dinette that transforms into a bed for sleeping. As part of your house boat rental, you get a 15′ 9.9 hp skiff to motor from the marina dock to your boat, and cruise around Riggs Cove. The dockhands orient you on the dinghy operation, and your house boat systems. Also on board your house boat are two kayaks for your enjoyment. Back at the Marina is a fully rigged Cape Dorey day sailboat for your use as well, but sailing experience is highly recommended for that endeavor.
We loved living on our house boat in beautiful Robinhood Cove. Mornings we went kayaking up the Sasanoa River, then went to shore to check email and read the complimentary newspaper in the cozy marina library and sail loft, then took the 18’ Typhoon sailboat for a delightful sail around the bay. Afternoons we relaxed aboard our yacht, enjoyed cocktails watching the Osprey nest, and swam off our houseboat swim platform – there’s a swim ladder provided. After a hot shower aboard, yes Maine’s swimming is chilly all summer long.
Taking our dinghy to shore, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the onsite Anchor bar & Grill at Osprey Nest – fresh seafood with a view of our boat and the seals bobbing about. Mind you, we could have bought lobsters locally and cooked them on the boat, there’s a rail-mounted propane barbecue grill and a full galley in the salon.
We loved our floating vacation, and the opportunity to kayak, sail and boat as well. Robinhood Cove is so peaceful and pristine, and sleeping aboard a yacht without the stress of actually navigating or moving the boat was magical. We recommend a Riggs Cove Rental at Derecktor Robinhood Marine for at least three nights… a week would be perfect.
But if bringing your luggage and coolers out to a house boat by dinghy sounds challenging to you, stay nearby at the gorgeous Grey Havens Inn on Georgetown Island. This spectacular 1904 inn perched high on a bluff overlooking Sheepscott River and the Ocean offers lovely rooms upstairs, we recommend the turret rooms or Sunrise Suite with its own private deck. Grey Haven’s living room features a grand stone fireplace, and the wrap around porch is perfect for morning coffee and evening cocktails. Dinner is served nightly at Blue – Grey Haven Inn’s chef is as exceptional as the view. Daily Continental breakfast is served here as well. The grounds are expansive, down to the waterfront. Grey Havens Inn is just two miles from Reid State Park – a must visit to see beautiful beaches, bold graniteshores and this gem of nature preserve. Five Island is another great stop a few miles away, a working fishing village with its own lobster coop where you can picnic on fresh-made lobster rolls.
Maine’s mid-coast is so dramatic – stunning scenery at every turn, yet its peaceful – time moves slower here… as evidenced by the turtle crossing signs everywhere.
Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net, 2016
Our Maine boat adventure began before we left the dock – with a crash. No, not another boat…that was the sound of our friend tumbling down the ramp at low tide. I have to give her credit – she spilled not a single beer out of the overloaded cart into Portland Harbor, and she didn’t shed a single tear either.
Our boating friends had a beautiful new 48’ Sabre and invited us along as crew –and locals who know the Maine waters. We knew the first order was medical attention to a quickly swelling shoulder, despite our stoic friend assuring us she was ”fine.” Two hours and xrays later, we were all on board sipping drinks, with one broken humerus in a sling, but good humor and spirits. Our wounded one whom we dubbed One Wing insisted we stay on course boating up the Maine Coast.
After a nice dockside dinner at Dimillos, and a night’s rest in the gracious staterooms – a bit restless for One Wing, we awoke to a perfectly calm sea and sun. We set out on our 98 nautical mile journey to MDI – Mount Desert Island, and Southwest Harbor.
It was a beautiful passage out Casco Bay by Halfway Rock, Seguin Island and Cuckolds Lighthouse, with a lunch anchorage in peaceful Merchants Harbor, south of Stonington and Deer Isle on Merchant Island.
Merchant Row is famous for its many islands, 40+, loaded with towering pines and sloping granite boulders that meet the brilliant blue sea. As we traveled further Downeast, the seals and porpoise became more plentiful, the pink and silver sparkling shores more splendid. This is true Maine, best seen by boat… ideally a brand new 48’ Maine-made Sabre yacht.
Passing Bass Harbor Headlight to our Port we circled past Cranberry Islands ~Big and Little, Bear Island Light, into Northeast Harbor with views up Somes Sound – North America’s only fjard (like a fjord). Our destination was Dysarts Great Harbor Marine in picturesque Southwest Harbor where we would dock for two nights.
In the fine company of Hinckleys and Morris Yachts, built right here, we enjoyed Dysarts’ peaceful but well-equipped marina. Showers, Wi-Fi, and Grumpy’s restaurant for a bountiful homemade breakfast are all in sailor’s reach. Jane and her crew at Dysarts are super helpful and friendly, suggesting walking paths, outings and places to dine.
Our crew poked around the shops of Southwest Harbor – favorites include Moody Mermaid and Sawyer’s Market. Strolling out the quiet island streets toward Clark’s Point where the US Coast Guard is stationed, and Beal’s Lobster Pound, was a great leg stretcher.
We did not ride the Island Explorer – the free bus system of Acadia National Park, sponsored by LL Bean, that would take us to Bar Harbor. We preferred staying on the “quieter side of MDI”. Next time we will hike Acadia Park (when no one has a broken arm). Perhaps we’ll play a civilized game of croquet too, and sip cocktails at the Claremont Hotel with a perfect vantage toward Somes Sound.
Boating westward the next morning brought spectacular views of the Blue Hills to our North. Entering the mile-wide Eggemoggin Reach, a boaters paradise and one of the prettiest channels anywhere, we glided along the 10-mile passage by the Wooden Boat headquarters, then idyllic Center Harbor on the mainland and Deer Isle to our Port. Cruising under the huge Eggemoggin suspension Bridge that soars to 85 feet at center is impressive on any vessel.
As we emerged from the Reach around 1854 Pumpkin Island Lighthouse off Little Deer, we cruised by Cape Rosier, a cliffy shore with magnificent homes clinging to the hillside offering the fortunate few amazing views of the Camden Hills in the distance of Penobscot Bay.
Our next overnight was Castine, the pretty peninsula village where Maine Maritime Academy is based. This historic town is as charming as it has been challenged by occupations since the 1600’s – from the Natives, to the Dutch, French, and British, and now college kids, 89% male – hence the nickname Maine Male-time academy, with studies of oceanography and marine engineering.
After docking, we lunched alfresco at Dennett’s Wharf – a wonderful waterfront gin joint in Castine. Clams, calamari, mussels and Maine seaweed salad never tasted so good – with a cold Maine microbrew and a view of the Bagaduce River. After lunch, we contributed to Dennett’s sailloft covered in dollar bills – a fun tradition that has benefited the families of 911, Hurricane Katrina and a local fireman. Dennett’s donates the haul of dollars off the ceiling (averaging $12K each time).
Castine is a gem to explore, from the ole fashioned ice cream and craft shops, to the elm tree shaded streets, battle bunkers and forts perched by the sea. Dyce Head Light is private so you can only pass by, but Witherle Woods is a wonderful 185-acre preserve of trails open to the public offering a bird’s eye view of Penobscot Bay on Lookout Loop.
Dinner in Castine at the Pentagoet Inn was extraordinary – this traditional 1894 inn serves local seafood lovingly-prepared. A gorgeous sunset on the boat concluded our perfect Castine day ~ heaven.
Next morning, crystal clear calm waters brought us to Pond Island – a postcard-perfect uninhabited island in the heart of Penobscot Bay – with a tidal pond centerpiece. We brought the dinghy to the beach that circles the 30-acre island – loaded with smooth skimming stones, driftwood, seashells and a few sand dollars found by One Wing in a sling – her eagle eye senses compensating.
Bucks Harbor was our next mooring. This beautiful horseshoe cove is well protected and poetic. Brooksville and nearby Brooklin inspired the literary works of EB White, you know Charlotte’s Webb, and Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal, and Make Way for Ducklings, to name a few.
Bucks Harbor Marine provided us a big secure mooring ball, amid the clinking of sailboat masts by the calm shores dotted with a few cottages and the 3rd oldest yacht club in Maine. Bucks Harbor facilities include a large dinghy dock, showers, WiFi, provisions and a chance to walk on terra firma.
A short walk up a steep hill and we were on a quiet street heading toward town – which consists of one general store, one church and Bucks Harbor Restaurant. Watching the sun set from the boat, after cool drinks, great music and a bountiful meal on board, was a signature end to a sublime day at sea.
The next day, our destination was Stonington on the southern tip of Deer Isle for Fourth of July festivities with promise of an old home day parade, lobster bake and the crustiest crab contest (my crab curiosity was piqued), followed by fireworks. Bang, we hit something, a log perhaps, and lost one boat prop… big bummer. With twin screws we weren’t dead in the water, so we turned toward Belfast for repair. To say the adventure started and ended with a bang is bad, sad form. Boats can be repaired, bones mend, memories remain for a lifetime.
So Stonington remains on my Boating Bucket List – maybe the annual Lobster Boat races mid-July. So much more to explore by boat in this breathtaking part of Maine, Maine’s best harbors and marinas – Fox Island Thorofare, Pulpit Harbor and Camden, Whites Island, Winter Harbor and Tenants Harbor.
Meanwhile, be sure to read our Maine humah blog inspired by the natives I met along the way, best things to do in Castine and Southwest Harbor’s Top 10. See Maine’s best harbors, anchorages and moorings in Kennebunkport, Camden, Robinhood Cove and Boothbay Harbor as well.
See our Maine Lodging Guide
Copyright & Photos 2018 VisitMaine.net
Everyone visiting Maine craves a fresh Maine lobster. It’s a #1 attraction in vacationland – to enjoy a bright red cooked lobster – ideally served by the sea! But many folks from away don’t know much about lobster, how to eat it, what to eat it with, how it is best served according to Mainers. So here is your guide to eating Maine lobster.
First – be sure the lobster is alive and fresh before its cooked. The best way to assure you have a quality lobster is to go to a busy restaurant, lobster pound or fish market – preferably near the ocean, fresh off the dock is the best bet for a fresh bite.
Second – lobster needs to be steamed or boiled properly. There is some local debate about which is better: boiling or steaming your lobster. See our guide on Cooking Maine Lobster!
Third – Proper Lobster Accompaniments:
Lobster is traditionally served by Mainers with fresh corn on the cob, and a side of potato chips – or some old schoolers serve tater tots (yup, like you used to eat in grade-school)!
Steamers, native Maine clams – steamed, are often served beforehand or beside your lobster, with the broth in which they were steamed. The broth is used to give the clams a hot water bath before your eat them, after you remove the neck skin. Steamed clams are classic and delicious. Warning – don’t eat them if the shells don’t open after cooking. Them ain’t keepahs. See our guide to Maine slang.
If you want to get “real fancy” include a cup of New England clam chowder – the white cream base, not the modified Manhattan chowder in a tomato broth…that ain’t chowdah.
Fourth – Drinks with Lobster
The best beverage with a Maine lobster is a buttery Chardonnay. Or if you’re fancy and enjoy bubbly, Champagne, a sparkling wine or Rosé is lovely. For beer drinkers, nothing too hoppy – just cold and clean is best with the buttery rich taste of lobster. Red wine lovers can pair a light crisp Pinot Noir – not too heavy – you don’t want to overpower the delicate taste of the lobster meat.
Fifth – The best dessert after a good Down East Feast, also called a Clam Bake or Lobster Bake, if you have room in your tummy after all that seafood yummy – strawberry shortcake, homemade blueberry pie, or blueberry buckle are great choices – made from native Maine berries and topped with fresh whipped cream! Simple. Perfection!
Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net, 2018
Maine’s motto is “the way life should be.” Well, here are some great Maine events coming up this spring & summer that celebrate life, the sea, Maine’s best food, art and fun on the coast.
Maine Art Walks occur in the Kennebunks, Biddeford and Portland on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Fridays of the Month, an evening of fine art, with open houses at art galleries in these great towns.
Kennebunkport Festival June 5-10
The 14th annual Kennebunkport Festival celebrates the spectacular creativity and hospitality of Kennebunkport’s artists, galleries, top chefs and fine restaurants. Award-winning chefs from around Maine prepare extraordinary dinners paired with wine and art at private estates. Before and After parties, concerts and boat tours are part of this great waterfront festival. Special lodging packages are available at Kennebunkport historic bed and breakfasts, inns and oceanfront resorts.
George H W Bush Celebrity Golf Classic, Kennebunkport June 20-21
Annual June golf tournament brings together past presidents, pros and celebrities for a golf game – followed by an evening gala at Kennebunkport’s Colony Hotel in a fundraiser for Gary’s House. The Celebrity Golf Classic is held at Cape Arundel Golf Club, River Road, Kennebunkport.
Tour de Cure, Wells Reserve June 10
Annual June fund-raising bicycle ride benefits the American Diabetes Association with five routes to meet varying participants, 5K, 25K, 50K, 100K, or 100 Mile. Routes follow the Maine’s scenic coastline, from sandy beaches to breath-taking rocky shores, along bicycle-friendly roads in the communities of Southern Maine with the start and finish at Wells Reserve in Wells.
Old Port Festival, Portland June 10
46th Annual Old Port Festival is on Sunday, June 10. This is Maine’s largest one-day event with several live rock, world, acoustic, blues and country bands, Maine crafts, activities and fun. Maine artists and craftspeople sell their fare and local food is on display in tents along Portland’s Old Port. Portland’s Shoestring Theater Puppet Company presents an amazing 11am parade of huge puppets down Exchange Street.
Trek Across Maine June 15-17
Annual bike ride fundraiser across Maine from Sunday River to Portland to benefit the American Lung Association.
Windjammer Days Boothbay Harbor
June 25- July 1
Fully rigged windjammers sail into Boothbay Harbor for the annual Windjammer Days. Events include pancake breakfast, craft fair, antique boat parade, shipyard tours, street parade, live musical entertainment and tours aboard the fleet of historic windjammers. Finale fireworks over Boothbay Harbor.
Annual Berwick’s Strawberry Festival, South Berwick June 30
A great Maine tradition in late June with musical performances, children’s games, crafts and of course Strawberry desserts, jams, pies and delights in Berwick Maine.
Launch – A Maritime Festival in Kennebunkport June 13-17
Visit the seaside towns of Kennebunkport, Kennebunk and cape porpoise for this weekend that celebrates boating, ship building and fishing. Highlights include a Clam Jam cook-off with local chefs, Sirens & Sailors 5k, Pirate Party, River Lights Boat Parade, VIP Rock The Boat Party, and a Blessing of the Fleet.
Tallships Parade in Portland July
Portland Harbor hosts 8 historic tallships on their final stop of the 2015 Tallships Challenge beginning June 13 in Cape Charles, Virginia, sailing to Philadelphia, Camden, New Jersey, and Greenport, New York, ending in Portland. This is the first tall ships festival in Portland since OpSail Maine 2000. Tallships will Parade into Portland Harbor at 1pm July 18 – you will see the Eagle, the Oliver Hazard Perry, Picton Castle, El Galeon of Seville, Spain and the Bowdoin from Castine’s Maine Maritime Academy. The Tall Ships America, Iberdrola USA Tall Ships Portland Festival 2015 takes place on the Maine State Pier to Ocean Gateway and Moon Tide Park with tours of ships from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.
July 29- Aug 2 Maine Lobster Festival Rockland
Celebrate all things lobster in this great Maine lobster fishing village. Parades, parties, crafts, and of course lobster in Rockland Maine.
Maine Highland Games and Scottish Festival August 18-19
Topsham Fairground becomes St Andrews of Maine with bagpipes, costumes, Scottish food like haggies and Scottish games.
Great Falls Balloon Fest August 18
Lewiston Auburn skies fill with hot air balloons. Fair and free hot air balloon rides, music and Maine food.
Paddle Battle at Nonantum Resort Kennebunkport August – September
Annual race of canoes, paddleboards and kayaks on the Kennebunk River starting and ending at the beautiful Nonantum Resort with bbq and music on Father’s Day.
Camden Windjammer Fest August 31 – September 9
Beautiful schooners and windjammers fill Camden harbor and parade.
That’s just a sample of the great boating, biking, food and art events in Maine this summer. See our entire list of Maine events and see our Top Maine Towns for planning your next visit to Maine, and our suggestions on Touring the Coast of Maine.
Copyright and photography – VisitMaine.net, 2018
What’s up with the Vacationland idiom you see on Maine license plates? Maine is a place to stay and play, “the way life should be”. There’s a reason why Maine has received so much acclaim from the West Coast and internationally. Here are Maine destination you must visit in this lifetime, or before you die… your choice! Continue reading