Maine’s southern coast is a popular vacation destination because it offers so many wonderful things to do and see. There’s white sand beaches, historic lighthouses, luxury resorts and cozy inns. If recreation is your thing, there’s swimming, surfing, sailing, kayaking, hiking, biking and golf, to name a few. It’s also a nature lover’s paradise with great birdwatching and nature trails and for the art lover, galleries, museums and artist’s colonies. Here are just a few of the highlights.
Portland is Maine’s largest city and boasts all of the cultural and entertainment opportunities of urban areas along with the lobsters, lighthouses and beaches you expect from the state. Frequently in the Top 10 best places to live, it also offers a lot of recreational opportunities.
Acadia National Park is the first national park established east of the Mississippi and is actually made up of a cluster of islands off the Maine coast. It welcomes about three million visitors a year to view the breathtaking scenery, hike the granite peaks, take a cruise,a bike or horse-carriage tour on historic roads or even whale-watch. Fall temperatures can range from the low 70’s during the day to freezing at night. Fall foliage is at its peak in mid-October.
For the history-lover, one superb destination is Bar Harbor. Once a playground for the rich and famous, it is still a big draw and now it’s a frequent stop for cruise ships. It was first settled in the 1760’s and became a popular vacation spot by the late 19th century. During a drought in 1947, a wildfire took out a good part of the town, including 67 mansions on Millionaire Row and over 10,000 acres of the Acadia National Park. But don’t worry, there is still plenty of historic architecture and great scenery to be viewed. Another notable area is the Kennebunks which first came to prominence as the summer residence of President George HW Bush. Originally colonized in the 1600’s it also features historic architecture and beautiful beachscapes.
If you’re an art-lover, a Maine vacation is perfect. Ogunquit has been a popular beachside town and art colony since the 1890’s. You’ll avoid the peak summer season crowds as you check out the elegant resort architecture, great restaurants, art galleries and museum. Be sure to take a walk on Marginal Way, the best way to see the area’s famous 3 1/2 mile white sand beach. Stop by Rockland and visit the William A. Farnsworth Art Museum to see their fantastic collecion of American impressionist art, along with Andrew and Betsy Wyeth’s personal art collection. You should also spend some time in Port Clyde, a picturesque lobstering village with scene’s that inspired Andrew Wyeth.
Nature-lovers will enjoy the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge in Wells, just north of Ogunquit. The refuge, named after the famed marine biologist and author, was established to preserve the salt-marsh ecosystem, a habitat for migratory birds. There are trails and areas for hunting, fishing and boating. Nearby is the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm, a 1600 acre research and education facility that includes a renovated historic salt marsh farm house that is a popular spot for weddings.
For more detailed information check out these items from the Travel Neighborhood:
Maine (a Compass American guide) by Charles Calhoun
Maine – a Discoveries–America DVD
Coastal Maine (a Moon Handbook) by Hilary Nangle
50 Hikes in Southern and Coastal Maine by John Gibson
Off the Beaten Path Maine by Tom Seymour
Discovering Old Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park by Ruth Ann Hill