Best Places to Visit in Maine, the Pine Tree State

Maine has the distinction of being both the northernmost and easternmost state in America. This idyllic state was actually a part of Massachusetts throughout the early years of the American republic. It wasn’t until the Missouri Compromise of 1820 that the territory we now know of as Maine was founded as an independent entity.

Maine, which is officially nicknamed the “Pine Tree State,” is a truly rugged state that invites hikers, bikers, and kayakers to enjoy the splendors of untouched New England natural scenery. But you don’t have to be a nature freak to enjoy a trip to Maine. Indeed, there are plenty of well-preserved cities that offer exceptional cultural and culinary experiences.

In this article, we’ll list five of the best places to visit in Maine. Whether you’re looking to explore a city, beach, or national park, you’re sure to find the perfect Maine destination for your tastes on this list.

The 5 Best Places To Visit In Maine

1. Portland

ships anchored in the Portland harbor

Portland is both the largest and most popular tourist city in the state of Maine. Located on Casco Bay in the southern portion of the state, Portland has been charming visitors for decades with its cobblestone streets, antique shops, and iconic lighthouses. A few top attractions in Portland include the pre-Civil War Victoria Mansion, the scenic Portland Head Light and Museum, and the majestic Portland Observatory.

Perhaps the best thing about visiting Portland is the food. Of course, you’ll find some of the best seafood restaurants in the nation right here offering fresh Maine haddock, scallops, and lobster. However, you might be surprised how “multicultural” the Portland palate is. Whether you’re into Polish, Greek, Japanese, Thai, or African food, you’re certain to find at least one highly reviewed restaurant in this enchanting city.

Any list of the best places to visit in Maine simply wouldn’t be complete without including the popular city of Portland.

2. Bar Harbor

Bar Harbor, one of the best places to visit in Maine

Located on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor used to be exclusively for New England elites. Unfortunately, the great Mt. Desert Island Fire of 1947 destroyed many fine 19th century hotels and mansions built here. Today, guests to Bar Harbor can still take in some of the majesty of this beach town’s glory days in the designated historic district. Once you arrive here, it’s easy to see why the upper crust of New England society chose this location for their palatial residences.

There are numerous well-maintained nature trails around Bar Harbor and in nearby Acadia National Park for hikers to enjoy. Many visitors also enjoy kayaking, local boat tours, and, for the more adventurous, a climb up the stunning Cadillac Mountain. There’s a good reason Bar Harbor has such a reputation around the nation as one of the best places to visit in Maine, but you’ll only understand why once you get here.

3. Bangor

Bangor main street

The eastern city of Bangor has a spooky reputation around the world. If you’ve read a few of horror writer Stephen King’s novels, then you know why that’s so. Not only are a number of King’s novels set in Bangor, but the writer actually lives here. His home, which is located at 47 W Broadway, really isn’t all that hard to spot. With its cobwebbed front gate, this home is one of the most popular photo ops in the whole of Bangor (well, perhaps besides the 31-foot Paul Bunyan Statue that’s also in this fair city).

Bangor isn’t just well known for its association with Stephen King. Bangor has a ton to offer visitors interested in live theatre, symphonic music, and the visual arts. If you’re into festivals, then Bangor is your place to be. Just a few annual festivals that take place in this city include Maine Harvest Festival in November and the Cool Sounds Music Series in June.

For those who want some outdoor adventure on their trip, the 209,000-acre Baxter State Park is a 3-hour drive north of central Bangor, and Arcadia National Park is only a 1-hour drive south. Whether you choose to daytrip in Bangor or stay here for a few days, you’ll certainly enjoy a trip into the ghoulishly glorious “Queen City.”

4. Brunswick

Brunswick, Maine

The town of Brunswick is best known for one thing: Bowdoin College. Established in 1794, Bowdoin is officially the oldest university in Maine. History buffs will enjoy taking a walk around Bowdoin’s pristine campus and taking a peek at some of the college’s intriguing museums like the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum.

Literature students probably know that the First Parish Church on Bowdoin’s campus is where author Harriet Beecher Stowe had her “vision” of the death of a slave in 1851. This vision became a central part of the Antebellum literary sensation Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

For those not into history, there are numerous hiking and biking trails in Brunswick to try out like the Androscoggin River Bicycle Path and the Bowdoin Pines Trail. While this city might not be as bustling as Portland, it’s a wonderfully tranquil area full of history, a youthful college atmosphere, and splendid dining options.

Brunswick is certainly one of the best places to visit in Maine if you have anyone in your family anxiously getting ready to apply for college.

5. Rockland

Rockland lighthouse

The city of Rockland serves as the county seat of Knox County. In recent decades, Rockland has made itself into one of the most popular tourist destinations mainly due to the world-renowned festivals it hosts. Without a doubt, the most famous festival that happens here every summer is the Maine Lobster Festival. Lobster lovers from around the world descend on Rockland during the summer months to taste the finest lobster rolls in the world.

Blues fans head to Rockland every July to check out some great live performances in the North Atlantic Blues Festival. Thanks to the notoriety these and other festivals have brought to Rockland in recent years, the city has built itself up into a superb beach town with various artisan shops and art museums. Rockland is one of the best places to visit in Maine if all you want from your trip is a mouthful of the finest lobster in the United States.

These great cities offer the discerning traveler some of the most amazing experiences in the “Pine Tree State.” Whether you’re into outdoors activities, history, cuisine, or shopping, you should find at least one city on this list of the five best places to visit in Maine that’ll delight your senses. These best places to visit in Maine were carefully chosen to appeal to every kind of traveler. So, go ahead. Pick one. Now all you have to do is pack your gear and head up north. Oh, and if you’re traveling in winter, be sure to pack some extra jackets. Trust us, you’re going to need them.

IMAGE SOURCE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5