I had barely passed the “Live Free or Die” sign of New Hampshire before I started missing Maine. I’d made this drive before, mostly to reap the benefits of a state with no sales tax. This time was different. As a lifelong “Mainer,” I was moving to a new location for personal reasons. Suddenly, the decision felt more personal than ever.
As I move forward in life, I can’t help but look back on all the reasons I love Maine so much. Before I turn this car around, let me share the best things about living in Maine.
1. Fresh Seafood
There’s a bit of a disconnect when a server in a landlocked state restaurant boasts about fresh seafood. To Mainers, fresh seafood was living its best life 30 minutes ago and is now on the plate.
Sure, there’s lobster, as flatlanders call it. However, “lobstah” is just one in a potpourri of seafood options, and we know the best seafood seasons as well as we know the alphabet. We certainly know the peak season to eat oysters is in months that end in “r,” which makes me miss Maine even more because we don’t actually use the letter except for that very occasion.
We won’t tell Kansas City how to make barbecue. Don’t claim to know what fresh seafood is until you’ve bought a lobster at the dock.
2. Fall Foliage
“The leaves are so pretty this year.”
The nice lady at the coffee shop in Flatland, USA, wasn’t looking for an argument. She was right. The leaves are pretty as the seasonal shift from summer to fall unfolds. What she likely didn’t know was that fall foliage could be an emotional experience akin to seeing heaven itself unfolding before you.
Mainers know that fall foliage is a delicate balance of altitude, latitude, and daylight. In Maine, there are regions of fall foliage that unravel the seasonal explosion of colors, starting from Aroostook (aka “The County”) and working its way to the coast.
More to Explore: ULTIMATE Maine Fall Foliage Map & Peak Prediction Guide
3. Moose Sightings
For all the white-knuckled trips I’ve taken down Moose Alley in Maine’s mountains and the North Woods, I can’t even believe this is nostalgic. Then I remember the time a moose and her calf were munching on the side of the road with their rear ends in the roadway, and I smile with a twinge of homesickness.
The majestic essence the animals offer while still being gentle giants reminds me that people come to Maine and pay money to see something that was a roadside attraction for my daily commute.
I fondly share with my coffeehouse friend how well moose can swim, recalling the time one soaked in the town beach dock waters for a good half hour before wandering back into the woods.
More to Explore: Experiencing a Moose Safari in Maine
4. Wild Blueberries
Mainers bow down for wild blueberries. Not in a demigod sense of bowing—you literally have to get on the ground to pick or rake them. We don’t plant low-brush blueberries because we don’t have to. They’ve woven a runner of stems underground. One bushel of wild blueberries could be part of a football-sized field of stems.
The blueberries are more rugged than you’d think, not just defying the brutal weather but thriving in spite of it. This creates a deeper-hued skin that is packed with exponentially more antioxidants and health benefits than the cultivated blueberries you’ll find in your flatland grocery store from high brush stems.
The “blueberriest blueberries” are smaller, packed with more flavor, and range between sweet and tangy.
More to Explore: Maine is famous for its food- more than just lobster!
5. Moxie Drink
Long before you could have a Coke and a smile or take the Pepsi Challenge, Moxie was the first carbonated beverage in America. It was invented by a Mainer, and don’t let those “Massholes” (a real word!) convince you otherwise.
Masshole: n. A term of contempt for: a native or inhabitant of the state of Massachusetts.– As added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2015.
Originally sold as a cure-all medicinal drink, the drink is synonymous with New England. Even super slugger Ted Williams joined an ad campaign for the sweet and bitter bottled concoction.
6. Whoopie Pie
I probably should’ve had lunch before I wrote all this down because my mind keeps going to Maine food. Whoopie Pies are the official Maine State Treat, not be confused with the Maine State Dessert, which is wild blueberry pie.
Two devil’s food cakes about the size of your palm have buttercream frosting at the center. Don’t let those Pennsylvanians tell you it’s a “Gob.” At least, don’t call it that in Maine.
7. L.L. Bean
Now I’m in the mood for Beans, but it has nothing to do with food. The L.L. Bean Boot (aka Beans or Duck Boots) is and has always been “made in Maine since 1912.” The Freeport flagship store and surrounding campus welcome more than three million visitors each year. Beyond New England, it’s hard to find an L.L. Bean store, and the company doesn’t franchise out to big box stores.
While Mainers are proud of Maine-Made products, we also know that L.L. Bean is more than a brand. It’s a lifestyle. It caters to the average American outdoor lover in all seasons. The L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Programs should be part of your Maine itinerary.
8. Land Trusts
Every coastal and mountain state has faced a fork in the road—develop land or preserve it. Maine Land Trust Network expands across more than 80 preserved spaces (and growing). If you think these trusts don’t come with the same great sites you’ll find at resorts and state parks, you’re wrong.
Better yet, it’s one great way to avoid the crowds in Maine. Land Trusts are more likely to be dog-friendly with off-leash access at the majority of trusts.
The part I love most is seeing land gifted by local families to protect the ecosystems. While developers would pay big bucks for these locations, some families sell the land to trusts for a small fee or keep the private property but allow public access.
9. The Sea Sounds
I’ve always been a fan of an angry sea, whether watching storms come in from Marginal Way in Ogunquit or sneaking away from the crowds of Kennebunkport for a trip to Blowing Cave. I was taught to read the tide schedule at the same time I learned to tie my shoes.
The sounds of Jasper Beach in Machiasport singing as the waves sweep over is a sweet symphony. The Long Island of Maine that gets lost in search engine results for the New York variety has a “South Beach” (aka Andrews Beach, Sandy Beach) where the sand sings to you when conditions are just right.
While the southern Maine beaches get the most attention, the Bold Coast is where you can find me when I return home.
10. The People
Mainers are a special breed of the human spirit. You can’t just move to Maine and be a Mainer, as much as you can’t just move to the South and call yourself a Southerner. Many arguments have ensued at my favorite local brewery about “What is a Mainer really?” Most will say it’s a generational requirement that requires kinship connection going back decades.
What I can’t emphasize enough is that Mainers are more than happy to help tourists out. Want to avoid the Maine crowds? The local ice cream vendors know just the place. Planning a trip up to the mountains? The cashier can tell you which logging roads to avoid.
The spirit of Maine is in its people who protect the land and keep it worthy of a being place to visit.
11. Dog Lovers
Nearly 62% of people who live in Maine own at least one dog. Maine’s laws are liberal about dog access, requiring dogs to be “under control at all times,” which means voice control or a leash. That spirit spreads through many counties, with dog-friendly boats, parks, and decks.
We also have responsible dog owners who respect the protected Piping Plover habit along the beaches from April through August. As it turns out, the dog days of summer at the beach are for the birds!
America loves dogs, but Maine treats them like family. It’s worth considering taking a dog-friendly Maine trip. Portland has East End Beach with dog-friendly access and a dog park!
More to Explore: The Best Pet Friendly Hotels, Resorts, Inns, and Lodging in Maine
12. Seasonal Change
It’s hard to have a favorite season as a Mainer. Sure, winter can be brutal, but no more so than walking through a salt marsh in August when the biting flies are feasting. Maine embraces and welcomes each seasonal shift, with more festivals than you can count and a special nod to winter with Winterfests in towns across the state.
Something is always “in season” when you live in Maine.
13. The Night Sky
Every state can see the sky, but Maine’s celestial show feels like you’re walking in Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. With minimal light pollution across a large chunk of the state, mountaintops and shorelines sparkle above you. My grandmother always took us outside on Christmas Eve to see the North Star. It wasn’t until I left Maine that I realized what a true treasure hangs overhead and how rare it is to see it in all its glory.
Space storms can also trigger those mystifying Northern Lights, and Aroostook County gets the best screenings of those.
Tell us your favorite Maine memories in the comments below.