Marshall Point Lighthouse
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26+ BEST Things to Do During Summer in Maine

Summering in Maine isn’t new, but this summer in Maine, there are a lot of activities built into the time-honored tradition of visiting Vacationland.

The quintessential attractions might be lobsters and lighthouses among charming New England small towns on rocky coastlines, but the list of things to do in Maine seems longer than the coastline itself.

Maine’s summer tourism goes into full swing after the 4th of July through early September. More than 75% of Maine’s summer tourists in 2022 were repeat visitors, so don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. We want to help you plan your trip with options to maximize your Maine summer getaway.

Marshall Point Lighthouse-Port Clyde
Marshall Point Lighthouse | photo via sharoncatalano_photos

Visit Iconic Maine Spots

If you want to check off some of the most popular spots in Maine, we can point you in the right direction. Fort Williams Park surrounds the Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, and you’ll find several vantage points for the perfect photo.

Among the many other Maine lighthouses, Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde made movie history in “Forrest Gump.”

Kennebunkport — pronounced “ken-KNEE-bunk-port,” not “ken-uh-bunk-port” — is another staple, especially Dock Square. Just a few miles from here, you’ll find stunning views of the Presidential Bush family home at Walker’s Point.

In Portland Maine, a stop at Old Port is iconic to immerse yourself in the Maine working coastline lifestyle. Meanwhile, Rockland might bring some emotions rushing back for those who read the story or watched the movie about Andre the Seal.

Use Your National Park Pass

Travelers with an America the Beautiful Pass that covers the entrance fees to national parks and federal recreation lands have nearly two dozen locations to visit in the state.

That includes the insanely popular Acadia National Park and five other National Park Service. Plus, the pass covers the fees for nearly a dozen lands managed by the Fish & Wildlife Service and the White Mountain National Forest.

TRAVEL TRIP: On Aug. 4, all national parks are free for a day as part of the Great American Outdoors Act.

Scoop Up a State Park Pass

Maine has dozens of state parks, public lands, and historic sites that easily compete with the national park options. You can purchase individual or vehicle passes that cover almost every location in the state.

While there are nine exclusions, it’s a minor issue compared to the unique and dynamic places included. Also, this pass is great if your chosen park is crowded or at capacity on any given day.

Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park | photo via tophtophtopher

Choose a Land Trust

Maine is adamant about protecting public lands, and the Maine Land Trust Network has hundreds of free options from the Highlands to the outer islands. The list keeps growing, but the crowds don’t, and these are some of the most dog-friendly locations you can find in the state.

Tour Amusement Parks

On a 2-mile stretch of road in Saco Maine (“sock-oh,” not “say-ko”), you can find two awesome amusement parks — Funtown Splashtown and Aquaboggan Water Park. Plus, you’ll find Palace Playland in nearby Old Orchard Beach.

Funtown Splashtown

My hands are shaking with excitement as I write this. The Haunted Mansion adjacent to Funtown in 1986 had a good decade run of scaring the bejeezus out of people. It was closed because, quite frankly, it was too scary (or too expensive, depending on who you ask). Then it was burned to the ground.

“Oh, man… this was the house of my childhood nightmares. The bridge over the dungeon… I still can’t dangle my feet over the edge of my bed to this day because of that bridge. Have no idea what was said as you approached. My anxiety was too high to register the words.”

One of many memories shared on Funtown Splashtown’s Facebook page.

The creative marketing folks at the theme park have toyed with emotions for months, but we can now confirm that a dark ride called Haunted Hotel is opening at the park. The interactive adventure requires guests to work together to break the curse before the ride ends.

Aside from that, Funtown Splashtown offers amusement rides for all ages — from kiddie rides to thrilling rollercoasters — as well as a water park with pools, splash pads, and water slides to cool off from the summer heat.

Aquaboggan Park

This water park has welcomed guests for more than 40 years, offering kid-friendly slides and splashy attractions of all kinds. But there’s more to this park than the water.

After more than 80 years, The Saco Drive-In closed in a heartbreaking move for the community. Now, it has moved across the street from Aquaboggan Park, bringing excitement to the day and night.

Palace Playland

This iconic Old Orchard Beach provides summer after summer of fun with arcade games and a carousel full of lights. We recommend that you sign up for the Fun Club to get exclusive discounts and promotions.

B-52 Crash Site Memorial - Elephant Mountain, Maine
B-52 Crash Site Memorial | photo via Visions of Maine / New England

Search for Wilderness Relics

While you might not have too much luck looking for Bigfoot in the woods (but if you do, let us know), you can find some rarities that just don’t seem to belong in the wilderness.

Along the Allagash Waterway are two “ghost locomotives” left behind from a bygone era. Or, head to Elephant Mountain in Northwest Piscataquis to find the remains of a B52 crash site in Maine — a memorial of debris spread throughout the woods from the 1963 crash.

Start Shellfishing

Shellfishing is no more complex than your hands, a bucket, a clam rake, and knowing low tide timing in the right location. First, identify the shellfish you wish to harvest. Then, check the water quality and safety steps for a specific location.

Some towns require a license to go shellfishing, so check with the town hall. And before, after, or in lieu of, you can time your trip around the summer staple Yarmouth Clam Festival.

MORE: Annual Festivals & Events in Maine

Desert of Maine - Freeport, Maine
Desert of Maine | photo via @bojmaietta

Explore the Desert of Maine

Tourists have been flocking to the Desert of Maine for more than 100 years. The glacial sand-covered spaces are quirky and curious. The campsites and cabins have been redesigned and expanded here, while a new venue is ready for summer performances.

An electric train takes guests around to places like the unearthed wishing well, the fossil dig sandpit, and a replica of the first home on this property. Two tours guide adults and children through how a “desert” ended up in Maine.

Celebrate Christmas

Christmas in Maine is a treasure, but many people don’t get to experience it because of busy holiday schedules at home. Maine makes up for it with several “Christmas in July” celebrations, which are some of the best things to do in Maine in July.

The Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce hosts the Christmas in July Boat Parade. The Nubble Lighthouse in York is lit up for 10 days starting in late July, kicking off York Days.

Campers at Lebanon KOA on Salmon Falls River can attend its annual Christmas event, complete with snowball fights.

If you really want to keep the holiday spirit going, see if any popular Christmas Tree farms are open for business with seasonal produce.

Wild Blueberry Weekend-Dresden
Wild Blueberry Weekend | photo via fermentory

Rake & Take Wild Blueberries

Maine’s famous wild blueberries peak from July through September, and many will tell you that one taste of this type of blueberry will make you forget the store-bought variety. Wild Blueberry Weekend is one of the best things to do in Maine in August.

You can also pick blueberries at more than a dozen locations throughout the state — from Fields Fields in Dresden Mills to Smithereen Farms in Pembroke. There’s also Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls.

Follow L.L. Bean

The Maine-original L.L. Bean is about so much more than Bean Boots and Boat & Totes. The annual Summer Across Maine events hosted by the outdoor company share the same company values to “Be An Outsider” with free events.

There’s a lineup of concerts in the Discovery Park outside the flagship store in Freeport. And, look for free outings with L.L. Bean expert guides as part of the Outdoor Discovery Program.

Additionally, L.L. Bean offers free “Beach Boxes” loans at Reid State Park, Crescent Beach State Park, and Popham Beach State Park. The items include beach chairs, umbrellas, and beach games on loan with no strings attached.

Stalk Stephen King

The timing to tour all the Stephen King hot spots is perfect after watching the documentary “King on Screen.” Take a tour of King’s Bangor Maine, the inspiration for his fictional town of Derry.

We’re not spilling any secrets to tell you his former home is at 47 Broadway, where the Steve & Tabitha King Foundation is now headquartered.

Mount Hope Cemetery — from the King classic “Pet Sematary,” was the location where he made a cameo in the movie. At 519 Main Street, see a much less terrifying Paul Bunyan statue that came to life in “It.” Plus, Oriental Jade is the inspiration for the fortune cookie scene in “It.”

For those visiting Acadia National Park this summer, a stop at Southwest Harbor will show you the scene setter for the miniseries adaption of “Storm of the Century.”

Mount Hope Cemetery
Mount Hope Cemetery | photo via elizabeth_explores_

Take the Scenic Route

The latest data from the Maine Office of Tourism shows that 85% of visitors travel by car. Fortunately, there are a bunch of scenic byways to choose from when you visit here. Maine has seven designated routes that are either National Scenic Byways or All-American Roads:

  1. Acadia All-American Road — This route goes 30 miles through the Mount Desert Island portion of Acadia National Park.
  2. Bold Coast Scenic Byway — This Downeast treasure takes you 147 miles through the most dynamic coastline that Maine offers, with the option to enter Canada (bring your passport!).
  3. Katahdin Woods & Waters Scenic Byway — Travel 90 miles through the Maine woods with an option to stop at Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument.
  4. Old Canada Road Scenic Byway — Once a rugged trip between Maine and Quebec, this trip back in time comes with smooth roads and Maine history like no other part of the state.
  5. Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway — Time seems to stand still on this stretch of road that only runs 35 miles, so you might want to drive it twice.
  6. Schoodic Scenic Byway — Drive 30 miles through the Quiet Side of Acadia with natural wonders you won’t find on the main island.
  7. St. John Valley Cultural Byway/Fish River Scenic Byway — Tackle the northern “Crown of Maine” on this 134-mile journey through French-American towns and moose country.

Explore an Ice Cave

Deep in the Debsconeag Lakes Wilderness Area of the North Woods is a year-round ice cave. It’s best suited for serious adventurers based on the trek to get there and the confined spaces to crawl through to get to the underground icicle cavern. While here, you’ll get to experience many aspects of the Ice Age.

Hike the Peaks

Stand on top of Vacationland at Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park. The peak is 5,267 feet above sea level. Please note that this is adjacent to Katahdin Woods & Waters, but the mountain is only accessible from the state park.

Acadia National Park has Cadillac Mountain and Dorr Mountain to drive or climb. Mt. Kineo gives sweeping views of Moosehead Lake. Another coastal jaw-dropper is at Mt. Battie in Camden Hills State Park, where a stone tower boosts an already dynamic view in Mid Coast Maine.

In the Maine Lakes & Mountains region, Sugarloaf Mountain is as tall as it is popular, topping 4,200 feet with a slew of summer activities. Or, saddle up for a summer trip to Saddleback Mountain.

Lucky Catch Cruises
Lucky Catch Cruises | photo via brilliantladiesrocktravel

Take a Lobster Tour

Come out of your shell to experience a hands-on lobster boat tour where you’ll learn how lobsters come out of their shells.

Lucky Catch Cruises departs from Portland Maine and brings a soup-to-nuts experience of how to bring in the best lobsters. The lesson is great, but the lobstermen’s stories really make these tours special because they have generations of experience and sea stories.

TRAVEL TIP: Buy a lobster from the boat during your tour for a fresh catch and the lowest prices.

Watch for Whales

You can book a whale-watching tour, but you’ll get so much more than that. Puffins, seals, and maybe a shark could be spotted on these excursions. Most tours, like Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., come with a whale-spotting guarantee.

If you want to book a lobster and whale tour, try to negotiate a lower price through a vendor that offers both options — like First Chance Whale Watch.

SAFETY TIP: If you want to see seals, booking a Cap’n Fish’s Cruises tour is the safest option. If you see seals on the beach, you should always assume that sharks are around and steer clear.

Be a Beach Bum

We’ve got you covered with the best beaches in the state. From popular sandy beaches with big crowds and lively atmospheres to secluded spots where it’s just you and the seabirds, there are hundreds of options throughout the lakes and shorelines of Maine and its islands.

SUMMER TRAVEL TIP: Avoid beaches near salt marshes because that’s where the biting flies and mosquitoes will be most prominent.

Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co
Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co | photo via lukefabrizio

Go Outlet Shopping

Maine is the perfect place to go shopping, and there are several outlet malls throughout the state.

Kittery Maine has a huge outlet mall and is known as the Gateway to Maine. One note is that there is a difference between Kittery Premium Outlets and the Outlets at Kittery, but they are right next to each other.

Freeport Village Station is adjacent to the L.L. Bean flagship location and includes an L.L. Bean, The North Face, and Patagonia outlet for all of your outdoor needs.

Those heading to Bar Harbor and Acadia can stop at the Maine Coast Mall in Ellsworth. And, the Maine Mall is in South Portland, offering deals throughout the year.

Shop “Maine Made”

Shopping locally helps the Maine economy and supports small businesses growing in the shadow of the tourism and residential surge. The Maine Made initiative covers every state region and almost every item you can think of! Look for the certified Maine Made Retailer icon at the entrance.

Maine Lobster Festival-Rockport
Maine Lobster Festival | photo via veronicathistlethwaite

Find a Summer Festival

Whether you’re looking for a 4th of July celebration or just want to immerse yourself in the local crowd, summer festivals are legendary across Maine.

The Maine Lobster Festival is the apex of event season, and it runs for five days in Rockland. Arts, entertainment, lobster bakes, and the famous Great Crate Race — where competitors run across lobster crates on the water — are just a sample of things to do during this time-honored tradition.

LOBSTER SWAG TIP: When buying lobster swag, Mainers are particular about the depiction of legs being correct. Even the famous Red Lobster brand gets it wrong. Lobsters have four walking legs on each side and two big front claws.

The Maine Whoopie Pie Festival is held in Dover-Foxcroft, known as the “Sweetest Day in Maine.” Boaters can’t miss Windjammer Days in Boothbay Harbor and the Maine Boat & Home Show in Rockland. If you prefer to get your fruits in wine form, Portland Wine Week in June is a “grape” time.

Take a Different Kind of Trail

Hiking doesn’t have to be up a mountain or through a forest in Maine. The Maine Oyster Trail takes you to the best-shucked samples of the state. Follow a Maine Ice Cream Trail or make up a trail of your own because you can’t go wrong with frozen treats in the Pine Tree State.

Looking for dog-friendly activities in Maine? Each summer, Kennebunkport hosts Doggy & Me walking tours to benefit a local animal shelter. You can spread your wings to explore the Maine Birding Trail too.

Pursue Puffins

These birds get a category of their own, and I can’t help but hear Buddy the Elf groaning, “Not now, Arctic Puffin!” as I write this. Puffin tours run in Maine from May through August.

It’s a great idea to stop by the Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland before booking a boat or land tour of puffin habitats. Some of the best puffin sighting spots are:

  • Eastern Egg Rock
  • Machias Seal Island
  • Matinicus Rock
  • Petit Manan Island
  • Seal Island
Sea Glass
Sea Glass | photo via l.k.hardwick

Become a Beachcomber

Beachgoers get so caught up in the views that they miss hidden treasures right under their beach chairs. Maine has some incredible beachcombing, from sensational shells to sea glass.

NOTE: Always ask about beachcombing rules at a particular park, and never take shells from private property. Any shell that has a living creature inside cannot be taken.

East End Beach in Portland is one of the low-hanging fruits of the sea options. Middle Beach in Kennebunk has plenty of sea treasures nestled between the rocks. Mowry Beach in Lubec is also a sea glass gold mine.

We recommend asking locals about the best spots. Also, keep in mind that tropical storms kick up a lot of new shells, and the day or two after a storm is when you’re most likely to find larger, intact shells.

Storm a Fort

Maine’s coastline and interior are filled with forts that helped defend the land from many wars dating back centuries. The Fort McClary State Historic Site in Kittery is the southernmost location.

Fort Gorges looks like the Alcatraz of Maine from Portland, but this unique fort location became obsolete before it was even used in battle. Or, check out the living museum of Old Fort Western in Augusta, with daily tours and six summer events.

Scenic Flights of Acadia-
Scenic Flights of Acadia | photo via ashnapolii

Fly Over Maine

Tours of Maine by plane are a great way to see more places in less time. You also get a unique perspective and easy access to some islands if you don’t want to deal with the ferry lines.

Scenic Flights of Acadia cover Downeast and beyond. That’s not to be confused with Acadian Seaplanes, which offers flights through Rangeley Lakes with a stop at a lakeside lodge for dinner.

Katahdin Air takes you to the most remote regions of Maine while departing from the easily accessible town of Millinocket. And, Penobscot Island Air offers air taxi services to 17 locations.

Summer in Maine Is One of the Best Times to Explore

Maine is known for its summers but is quickly becoming a well-known, four-season destination. If you plan a late summer trip, the crowds thin out a little after Labor Day.

However, the fall shoulder season is one of the fastest-growing tourism niches. Late summer and early fall bring the beauty of warmer weather mixed with pumpkin patches, fall foliage, and apple orchards. You simply can’t go wrong with a trip to Maine any time of year.

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