Best Attractions in Maine | 2016 Editors’ Choice Awards
Looking for the best things to do in Maine? You won’t have to look far! Read our picks for the best attractions in Maine for 2016. Best Tourist Hot Spot: Acadia National Park Even though Acadia, celebrating its 100th anniversary, is one of America’s most popular national parks, it’s easy to find a private patch of heaven […]
Looking for the best things to do in Maine? You won’t have to look far! Read our picks for the best attractions in Maine for 2016.
Best Tourist Hot Spot:
Acadia National Park
Even though Acadia, celebrating its 100th anniversary, is one of America’s most popular national parks, it’s easy to find a private patch of heaven for hiking, biking, paddling, or simply enjoying the mountain-and-ocean views. Hike or pedal the 5.3-mile Amphitheatre Loop, which passes over two of the 17 unique rough-stone bridges in the 57-mile carriage-trail system.
Best Harbor Paddle:
Curtis Island Light, Camden
Experience beautiful Camden Harbor from a new perspective as you paddle your kayak or canoe among schooners and yachts on your way out toward Curtis Island. The island’s iconic lighthouse and red-roofed keeper’s house aren’t open to the public, but the grounds are a town park with walking trails. On the return trip, take in an unforgettable view of the Camden Hills. Guided group paddling tours are also available.
Best Small Museum:
Monhegan Museum of Art & History, Monhegan Island
It takes a bit of effort to hoof up to Monhegan’s hilltop lighthouse, but it’s well worth it for the historical displays interspersed with original artworks by masters such as Andrew Wyeth, James Fitzgerald, George Bellows, Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, Alice Stoddard, and Rockwell Kent, plus art exhibits in the keeper’s and assistant keeper’s houses, as well as the panoramic views.
1 Lighthouse Hill. 207-596-7003; monheganmuseum.org
Best Museum Event:
Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head
During the August 6–7 “Wings and Wheels Spectacular,” pilots in antique planes perform airborne aerobatics; antique, classic, and vintage vehicles are displayed and demonstrated; and free Model T rides are offered at this museum, where nearly every aircraft, vehicle, bicycle, and engine works. Even on nonevent days, thanks to its location on an airfield, it’s possible to see a Stanley Steamer motoring the grounds while a 1917 Curtiss Jenny biplane soars overhead.
117 Museum St. 207-594-4418; ohtm.org
Fort Knox & Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observatory, Prospect
Not only does this sprawling granite harbor-front fort have two complete Rodman cannons, but it’s also home to a glass-walled observatory tower delivering clear-weather views from Katahdin to Cadillac.
Route 174. 207-469-6553; fortknox.maineguide.com
Best Coastal Footpath:
Marginal Way, Ogunquit
Frequent benches make it easy to rest and enjoy the views on this mile-long, gently rolling, paved footpath hugging Ogunquit’s shoreline from Perkins Cove to Shore Road. Free.
Best Iconic State Attraction:
Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth
Portland Head Light, at Fort Williams, has illuminated Cape Elizabeth’s rock-girdled shores since commissioned by George Washington and first illuminated in 1791. Inside the restored keeper’s house are lighthouse memorabilia and displays highlighting local history. Pair it with another icon, a lobster roll from the Bite Into Maine food truck.
1000 Shore Road. 207-799-2661; portlandheadlight.com
Best Craft Coop:
Pemaquid Craft Co-op, New Harbor
Mosey through 15 rooms over two floors filled with works created by more than 50 juried Maine artists and artisans. Inside are pottery, quilts, specialty foods, carved birds, kitchen textiles, glass and leather works, furniture, jewelry, baskets, children’s clothing and toys, lamps, and more.
2565 Bristol Road. 207-677-2077; pemaquidcraftcoop.com
Best International Excursion:
Roosevelt Campobello International Park,
Welshpool, Campobello Island, New Brunswick
Cross the International Bridge into Canada from Lubec, Maine, and visit the 2,800-acre parkland commemorating U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who summered here. Tour the Roosevelt Cottage, hike the trails, and don’t miss “Tea with Eleanor,” a program in which park docents share local stories about First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt while serving tea and cookies.
459 Route 774. 877-851-6663; fdr.net
Best Experiential Art Tour:
Maine Art Museum Trail, Statewide
From Ogunquit to Bangor and out to Monhegan Island, weave a tour through eight cultural institutions mapped on the 200-mile Maine Art Museum Trail. Comprising more than 73,000 works of art, collections range from ancient to contemporary and include European, American, and Maine masters.
Best Lakeside State Park:
Peaks–Kenny State Park, Dover–Foxcroft
Begin with serene views across Sebec Lake to Borestone Mountain; now add a mile of shorefront with a lifeguard-patrolled sandy beach, a grassy picnic area, 56 campsites, and a 10-mile trail network.
401 State Park Road. 207-564-2003; parksandlands.com
Best Moose-Spotting Tour:
Northwoods Outfitters, Greenville
The Moosehead Lake region supports some of the country’s densest moose populations, and Northwoods is so confident of finding the gangly critters that it offers a money-back guarantee. Choose from water or land tours.
5 Lily Bay Road. 866-223-1380; maineoutfitter.com
Old Orchard Beach
The hub of the seven-mile-long white-sand strand stretching from Saco’s Camp Ellis to Scarborough’s Pine Point is Old Orchard, where Rose Fitzgerald met Joe Kennedy more than a century ago. Escape the Pier and amusement-park scene at nearby Ferry Beach State Park or in Ocean Park, established as a religious summer community in 1881 and still the site of Chautauqua-type public programs.
Best Family Swimming Hole:
Step Falls, Newry
The Step Falls trail rises a half-mile along Wright Brook and rewards hikers with waterfalls, swimming holes, natural waterslides, flat rocks for picnicking, and nice views of the Mahoosuc mountain range.
Find it off Route 26, a half-mile south of Grafton Notch State Park. mahoosuc.org; mainetrailfinder.com
Harvest Gold Gallery, Center Lovell
Hard to say which is more stunning: the views over mountain-backed Kezar Lake outside the gallery or the works displayed within, which include gold jewelry accented with Maine gemstones, among the fine crafts by a variety of artisans.
1082 South Main St. 207-925-6502; harvestgoldgallery.com
Best Easy Island Bike Excursion:
On Peaks Island, only a 20-minute ferry ride from Portland, it’s easy to dream of seaside cottages, endless blue seas, and crisp breezes. You can bike the circumference of this 1-by-2-mile knob of land in 40 minutes. But there’s no need to rush—beaches here are plentiful and accessible. Bring your own bike on the Casco Bay Lines ferry (home port: 56 Commercial St., Portland). Or, used (and inexpensive) bikes can be found just off the dock at Brad’s Bike Rental.
peaksislandmaine.net/Peaks.shtml. Ferry, 207-774-7871; cascobaylines.com. Brad’s, 115 Island Ave. 207-766-5631
Best Retro Beach Hangout:
Fun-o-Rama, York Beach
A stone’s throw from York’s Short Sands Beach is the Fun-O-Rama arcade. The building was once a 1940s bathhouse before converting to an arcade. Today it packs more than 250 rides and arcade games (including Skee-Ball) into its 10,000 square feet. There’s something endearingly boardwalk-retro about it—it makes you want to stroll through even if video games and old-fashioned photo booths aren’t your thing.
7 Beach St. 207-363-4421; funorama.us
Best Used-Book Store:
Merrill’s Bookshop, Hallowell
Upstairs at Merrill’s, John Merrill has been barricaded behind towering walls of used books for 25 years. It’s easy to pass several hours here, fingers rustling the pages of a Hardy Boys installment or a first-edition East of Eden. “I’m going to be the last old-fashioned bookstore,” Merrill declares. “No selling books on the Internet.
I refuse. It takes all the fun out of it.”
134 Water St. 207-623-2055; merrillsbookshop.com
Kennebec River Rafting, The Forks
Take a whitewater roller-coaster ride delivering guaranteed big thrills—without cold-water chills. The dam-controlled Kennebec drains from a shallow lake and flows through a steep-walled gorge in Maine’s timber country. Northern Outdoors founder Wayne Hockmeyer pioneered the route, which includes Big Mama and the Three Sisters as well as dropping over Magic Falls.
1771 Route 201. 800-765-7238, 207-663-4466; northernoutdoors.com