Maine

2022 Best of New England | Maine

With an eye on what’s new for 2022, Yankee’s editors round up the best attractions, eateries, and hotels in top Maine travel destinations, including Portland and Acadia National Park.

By Yankee Editors

May 05 2022

BONE-Maine

Puffins on Matinicus Rock, Maine

Photo Credit : Sean Beckett, Green Mountain Exposure/Istock (puffins on Matinicus Rock)
With an eye on what’s new for 2022, Yankee’s editors round up the best attractions, eateries, and hotels in top Maine travel destinations, including Portland and Acadia National Park.

PORTLAND

Best Bower Portland

Get a rare chance to bunk down beside history at this year-old Munjoy Hill guesthouse in the shadow of the c. 1807 Portland Observatory. Three of the six rooms boast skylight views of the 86-foot-tall National Historic Landmark, and all share a tranquil terraced courtyard with it. The all-new decor is modern but warm, with local artwork and craftsmanship (reclaimed wood, handmade tile showers), and optional add-ons like an array of nibbles from the Cheese Shop of Portland testify to the hosts’ mission to cater to guests while providing them the privacy to enjoy life in the catbird seat. bestbower.me

Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine Portland

Enter an enthralling world where learning is carefully and colorfully disguised as play. Since relocating to a new three-story, 30,000-square-foot home on Thompson’s Point in 2021, this hands-on museum and its children’s theater have wowed infants to teens with distinctly Maine attractions (yes, kids still love captaining a lobster boat) and all-new arts and STEM exhibits that encourage them to dress up, create, get wet, touch water creatures, and even become animated characters in Mainer Ashley Bryan’s Beautiful Blackbird storybook. kitetails.org

Eastern Prom Food Trucks Portland

Sunday brunch or any sunny summer day, for that matter, brings out the crowds for some of the city’s best food trucks, including Falafel Mafia, Mr. Tuna (yes, sushi from a truck can be delicious), and the melt-in-your-mouth mini doughnuts of the Eighty 8 Donut Café. The setting is also something you’ll eat up: Picnic on the sprawling lawn, chase the kiddos around the playground, or gaze at the harbor and Fort Gorges. easternpromenade.org

The Highroller Lobster Co. Portland

The Highroller has caused a stir in downtown Portland with its lobster roll riffs: griddled brioche filled with meat and zigzagged with lime and jalapeno aioli, for instance, or with charred pineapple mayo and lobster ghee. Launched as a food cart in 2015, it debuted as a restaurant three years later, and now it has an expanded outdoor patio and gift shop. Get your claws on the lobster grilled cheese and lobster cheese crisp tacos to experience even more crustacean innovation. highrollerlobster.com

Leeward Portland

Opened in March 2020, Leeward lived up to its name by offering shelter amid chaotic times in the form of soul-warming handmade pasta dishes and superb Italian wines over which to linger. The married team who run Leeward, chef Jake Stevens and wine/service pro Raquel Stevens, are alums of award-winning local restaurants (Eventide and the late, lamented Drifters Wife). But here, they’ve found the limelight on their own, notching James Beard nominations for best new restaurant and outstanding pastry chef (for Kate Fisher Hamm). leewardmaine.com

Lucky Catch Cruises Portland

You’ll be the entertaining one at every clambake once you’ve pitched in on a working lobster boat. Don a rubber apron and gloves; bait and haul traps; learn how to tell males from females and keepers from throwbacks. Depending on the tour, Captain Tom Martin or a crewmate will also show you Casco Bay’s lighthouses or a colony of harbor seals. Purchase “bugs” off the boat, and Portland Lobster Company will steam them when you return to the pier. luckycatch.com

Scales Portland

Tops for seafood in a city blessed with fine options, this singularly focused restaurant overlooking the working waterfront serves more than the usual suspects. Sure, raw oysters are briny-delicious, and pan-roasted whole lobster is the pièce de résistance. But this is also your place to sample other yummy gifts from Maine’s waters: Bangs Island mussels, Jonah crab, haddock, halibut when it’s in season, on the cusp of summer. Fresh-baked corn, anadama, or brown bread is a must for mopping your plate clean. scalesrestaurant.com

Sea Bags Portland

Adorned with a full-size sailboat and brightly colored buoys salvaged from all over the state, Sea Bags’ brand-new 2,500-square-foot flagship store on Commercial Street is a must-visit for fans of its nautical wares. Sewn from recycled sailcloth that once flapped in the sun and sea spray, and running the gamut from dopp kits to duffels, these graphic totes perfectly capture the essence of the Maine coast. seabags.com

Speckled Ax Portland

Serious coffee nerds have a friend in Speckled Ax founder Matt Bolinder, who meticulously fire-roasts his award-winning single-origin beans and blends over local hardwood. He opened his first café on Congress Street in 2012 and recently added two new outposts: a production facility with a retail counter in the Back Cove, and a sleek waterfront Thames Street shop with an expanded food menu, including fanciful scones and muffins, and crazy-good bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches, all made in-house. speckledax.com

MAINE SOUTHERN COAST

Biddeford

The restaurant kitchens in this former mill town are generating enough heat to justify giving Biddeford a dining award in its own right. Local nominees for the 2022 James Beard Awards are chef-owner Bowman Brown of Elda and chef Ben Jackson (formerly of Drifters Wife) of Magnus on Water, but Biddeford’s culinary bench runs deep. There’s next-level comfort food at Palace Diner; Scandinavian café fare at Jackrabbit (another Bowman Brown joint); nationally hailed loaves at Night Moves Bread; ultrafresh scoops at Sweetcream Dairy. Oh, and some of the best beer in Maine? Banded Brewing, check.

Congdon’s Doughnuts Wells

Patrons have lined up out the door of this mom-and-pop shop for Maine blueberry–dotted doughnuts and more since 1955. It’s located a quick drive from the beaches, and somehow these light and airy treats taste best with a backdrop of surf and sand. Congdon’s After Dark hosts community food truck nights in the parking lot from late May to early October, with a beer garden pouring brews from Maine breweries. congdons.com

Stonewall Kitchen Company Store York

Visitors “from away” love stocking up here on products that evoke carefree Maine days: Sea Salt Surf candles, Balsam Woods room spray, Maple Chipotle Grille Sauce, Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. This summer, discover a campus that’s been transformed by the addition of Stonewall Home: a decor-focused store in the space occupied for 13 years by the company’s cooking school. Consumers’ appetites may have changed, but the café remains your place to try foods prepared with Stonewall Kitchen’s most-loved condiments. stonewallkitchen.com/yorkstore.html

Walkers Maine Cape Neddick

Rising from the ashes of a 2020 fire that shuttered their beloved restaurant three weeks into a pandemic, Justin and Danielle Walker managed to build back better. Justin’s genius for wood-fired cooking is on glorious display (don’t miss the duck), with pastry chef Matt Jauk loading us up with carbs, from house-made sourdough to blueberry cheesecake with toffee crumble. Service has a polish that few labor-strapped restaurants can match. Even better: A hefty portion of the summertime produce comes from the Walkers’ own farm. walkersmaine.com

Water Street Inn Kittery

Self-check-in allows you to breeze in like you own this red-brick Victorian and its 1700s barn, now with eight sun-filled rooms and suites outfitted for your every comfort. Gaze out at the Piscataqua River and Portsmouth from a front-porch rocker, and plot your walk-to adventures: breakfast pastries at Lil’s, a drop-in class at Yoga East, quarter-pound lobster rolls at Warren’s. The cultural, historical, and culinary playground that is Portsmouth lies just a 15-minute walk or five-minute bike ride across Memorial Bridge. waterstinn.com

White Barn Inn Kennebunk

For nearly 50 years, the White Barn Inn Restaurant has been the standard-bearer for fine dining not only in Maine, but throughout New England. In 2021, a former barn annex got new restaurant life as Little Barn—same stellar chef, now more casual. The 27-room inn itself, an Auberge Resorts Collection property, also got spruced up, so that longtime guests still feel its timelessness while basking in a refreshing new brightness, like windows newly open to the sea. aubergeresorts.com/whitebarninn

MAINE MIDCOAST & ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

Aragosta at Goose Cove Deer Isle

If it’s been a while since you’ve experienced the unrivaled fine dining and dreamy accommodations at this 21-acre coastal escape, some quick highlights: expanded deck, tripling the outdoor seating and adding an alfresco kitchen/grilling area; additional lodging, bringing the total of cottages and suites to 13; a provisions shop stocked with such treats as house-made kimchi and sausage; and an enchanting greenhouse for private dining. Still unchanged: locally rooted, forward-looking cuisine by chef-owner Devin Finigan, who’s been dazzling the Maine dining scene for the past decade. aragostamaine.com

The Claremont Hotel Southwest Harbor

“Wowed” barely describes the sensation of taking in the Claremont’s water-mountains-sky view. You’ll be impressed, too, by the stylish, extensive, year-old makeover that’s reawakened this 1884 hotel. With reverence for the property’s history and its location, looking across Somes Sound at Acadia National Park, new owners have elevated guest experience throughout. The spa, pool, cabanas, and restaurant deck are new, and the decor, taking a cue from Mother Nature, stimulates and soothes. With an updated-classic cocktail in hand, all’s well in your world. theclaremonthotel.com

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Boothbay

Is it because of the recent get-outdoors trend, or the ginormous trolls? Either way, New England’s largest botanical garden is more popular than ever. These 300-plus acres of trailed woodlands and themed, cultivated spaces flourish in a harsh, salt-air-swept environment, beautifully demonstrating perseverance. Danish artist Thomas Dambo’s “Guardians of the Seeds”—recycled-wood trolls installed last year with help from 150 community volunteers—teach lessons, too, about how seemingly small efforts help sustain our planet. These giants will inspire for years … until they’re reclaimed by the earth from which they sprang. mainegardens.org

Farnsworth Art Museum Rockland

There may be no more fitting setting in which to view the works of three generations of Wyeths—N.C., Andrew, and Jamie—than this handsome and airy Midcoast museum. Since the 1920s, Maine has inspired their art, while they, in turn, have inspired art lovers around the world. A recent bequest of paintings and drawings following the death of matriarch Betsy Wyeth increases the museum’s cache of Wyeths to 100-plus, including some that have rarely been on public display. Though the museum’s entire 15,000-work collection is reason enough to visit, locals often call it “the Wyeth Museum” because of its close ties to the family. The name fits. farnsworthmuseum.org

Long Grain Camden

From the steamed mussels in coconut-lemongrass broth to the hearty drunken noodles, aka pad kemao, every option here is fresh, perfectly spiced, and masterfully prepared. After shifting to takeout-only for a year and a half, Paula Palakawong and Bas Nakjaroen’s intimate, down-to-earth pan-Asian restaurant reopened last fall for in-person dining; factor in its new sister eatery, the more eclectic and laid-back BOWA, and it looks like Camden is in for a tasty summer indeed. longgraincamden.com

Primo Rockland

Opened in 2020 as a casual, open-air venue on the grounds of chef-owner Melissa Kelly’s farmhouse restaurant, Primo, the seasonal 0KM Bungalow takes its name from “zero kilometer,” a concept that arose in Italy to describe food prepared and eaten close to its source. That locavore ethos underlies everything at Primo—whose Italian-leaning menu features many ingredients raised or grown just steps from the restaurant—and explains its enduring success, more than two decades on. primorestaurant.com

WESTERN MAINE

Bear Mountain Inn Waterford

After buying this 25-acre lakefront property in 2017, Brian and Julie Sullivan overhauled it from top to bottom to create a fairy-tale destination for weddings and a heavenly retreat for the rest of us. Top New England designer Joanne Palmisano turned formerly dated interiors into hip, minimalist, Instagram-worthy spaces; in the nine rooms and suites, cozy cottage, and four-bedroom post-and-beam guesthouse, perks range from water views to Jacuzzi tubs to fireplaces. bearmtninn.com

Currier’s Flying Service Greenville

In a region made famous by its bush pilot culture, the late Roger Currier was one of the legends. Today, his family continues the business Currier founded, now with his chief protégé, Roger Paradise, at the helm. You’ve never seen the Moosehead region like this before. The big lake, surrounding waters, and some of Maine’s popular peaks (that’s Katahdin in the distance) all come into focus as you ride the air in one of Currier’s rare and beautifully restored Cessnas. curriersflyingservice.com

Le Mu Eats Bethel

Word of mouth from hungry Sunday River skiers and foodies alike has propelled this Laotian-Southern hybrid from humble beginnings in 2018—as a little blue takeout shack next to Steam Mill Brewing—to a sit-down restaurant of its very own, opened late last year. The cult-favorite Angry Rooster sandwich (fried chicken with chili aioli) and superlative banh mi are still there, alongside elevated, dine-in-only new offerings like khao piek sen, a chicken soup swarming with thick and chewy hand-rolled tapioca-rice noodles. my-site-le-mu.square.site

Maine Mineral & Gem MuseumBethel

Despite a rocky start (it debuted a few months before the shutdown, then suffered a bout of flooding after reopening), this 15,000-square-foot museum has established itself as one of Maine’s most fascinating attractions. At the core of its assemblage of treasures dug out of the earth is the Perham Collection, accumulated by a century-old Maine rock shop. Here you will also discover a world-class display of extraterrestrial minerals, including a 32-pound rock from Mars; an array of meteorites, and the five largest pieces of the moon to be found this side of, well, the moon. mainemineralmuseum.org

See More: Best of New England 2022