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Best Time to Visit Maine [MONTH-BY-MONTH GUIDE]

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Naomi Liz grew up in Maine and has explored many corners of the state–from its iconic places to lesser-known gems. With her breadth of experience and a deep understanding of Maine culture and places, Naomi is a trusted source for insider Maine travel advice . She offers firsthand insights from a lifetime of loving and exploring Maine to help you plan memorable adventures in the Pine Tree State.

Note: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you. More details are  here .

When you’re planning a trip to Vacationland –dreaming of overflowing lobster rolls, lighthouses dotting a rocky coastline, countryside covered bridges, and going moose spotting in the woods– you want to be sure you’re picking the best time of year to visit . I grew up with Maine as my backyard, and I can tell you that your visions of how spectacular it can be are entirely accurate.

Now that I no longer live in Maine, I have limited time that I get to spend there each year. So like you, I try to plan my trips around the absolute best time to visit Maine. Each season has its merits, of course, but there are some months that are typically not very pleasant and others that can usually be counted on.

In this post, I’m going to share highlights of each of the four seasons in Maine, downsides of visiting during that season, as well as additional details for each month. It’s important to note that Maine is a big state with varied elevation, so temperatures and weather can be quite different throughout the state. That’s why I’ve included average temperatures and snowfall* for each month for six locations around the state (head to the bottom of the post to see these towns on a map).

Got a trip to Maine on your bucket list?  Pin this post to your travel board  on Pinterest to keep it bookmarked!

What is the best time of year to visit maine, visiting maine in the winter.

With a strong possibility of snow during a third of the year, Mainers know how to have fun in the winter. (Or…they at least know how to survive it without going crazy. The viral Facebook post from the Bangor Police Department even shows that they can laugh about it, although maybe they’re laughing because winter has finally pushed them over the edge.)

BEST FOR:   Winter can be a great time to visit for travelers who love cold weather sports or those who want to skip the summer crowds. There are two large ski resorts in western Maine, plus plenty of opportunities for snowmobiling (with 14,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails), snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and even dog sledding.

Head west and north for winter sports, stay in Portland for a little city life, or go to Acadia National Park or elsewhere on the coast for a serene winter getaway (read below for a note of caution).

>> Check out Maine Huts & Trails for sustainable, off-the-grid huts that you can snowshoe or ski to in western Maine. <<

WATCH OUT FOR:   One thing to keep in mind when visiting Maine in the winter is that many small businesses in touristy areas (like Acadia National Park and the southern beaches) are seasonal , so you won’t find as many dining or lodging options between November and May. I recommend a little extra research and checking directly with businesses you’d like to visit.

What about driving in the snow? Unless you’re driving  during a snowstorm, you don’t have much to worry about with road conditions, though a vehicle with snow tires and AWD or 4WD is useful. The roads are kept well-plowed, and they do so quickly during and after a storm. If you’re concerned, you can find out about current road conditions here . It’s always a good idea to have plenty of gas, blankets, flashlights, and other emergency supplies in case you break down. I also recommend keeping your windshield washer fluid full because the roads are treated with sand, not just salt, and your windshield will get dirty  fast . Also, watch out for orange flags or signs on the sides of back roads that indicate frost heaves–you might otherwise be taken by surprise at what seems like a randomly placed speed bump!

December can be hit or miss with snow, so a white Christmas isn’t a guarantee. However, skiing opens at Sugarloaf and Sunday River in November, so you should be able to catch some snow on the mountain if you’re planning a ski vacation.

December Events in Maine

  • Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport
  • Gardens Aglow light show at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Average Temperature High / Low

  • Bangor, Maine:  34 / 15° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 37 / 21° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 27 / 10° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 29 / 11° F
  • Portland, Maine: 37 / 20° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 28 / 9° F

Average Snowfall (Inches)

  • Bangor, Maine: 14″
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 15″
  • Jackman, Maine: 25″
  • Portland, Maine: 13″
  • Rangeley, Maine: 30″

January and February are the “dead of winter” months that bring a lot of snow and, often, bitter cold. Winter festivals abound, and there are a lot of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the winter stillness. Come prepared for cold (or plan to stop at L.L. Bean), and you should have a great time.

January Events in Maine

  • Tri-State Reciprocal Snowmobile Weekend is a weekend in January that allows snowmobilers to cross borders between Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont to explore the trails across those New England states.
  • Snodeo in Rangeley
  • Bangor, Maine:  27 / 7° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 31 / 14° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 22 / 0° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 23 / 2° F
  • Portland, Maine: 31 / 13° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 22 / -1° F
  • Bangor, Maine: 19″
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 17″
  • Jackman, Maine: 23″
  • Portland, Maine: 19″
  • Rangeley, Maine: 25″

>> Related: 101 Unforgettable Things to Do in Maine  <<

February is “snow month” in Maine, but like January, it can still bring bitter cold. One thing to note is that school vacations fall during mid-February, so you may see more locals out and about depending on what you’re doing.

February Events in Maine

  • Great Maine Outdoor Weekend hosts outdoor activities across the state twice per year (and they’ve recently extended it to be longer than a weekend!)
  • Moosehead Lake Snofest
  • U.S. National Toboggan Championships in Camden
  • Longfellow Days in Brunswick
  • Bangor, Maine:  31 / 10° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 35 / 17° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 26 / 2° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 27 / 4° F
  • Portland, Maine: 35 /16° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 27 / 0° F
  • Bangor, Maine: 15″
  • Jackman, Maine: 22″
  • Portland, Maine: 12″
  • Rangeley, Maine: 23″

Oy, March in Maine can be a bear. I remember loathing March when I was a teenager, and I’ve confirmed with friends who still live in Maine that my memories of it being awful are accurate. Descriptions used by some of my friends for this awkward in-between month: blah, cold, wet, dead, icky, windy, and lasts forever. March and November are consistently voted as the worst months in Maine by Mainers.

Part of my disdain for March probably had to do with  living in Maine and the fact that I had been shivering for 4+ months by the time it rolled around and I JUST WANTED TO SEE SOMETHING GREEN ALREADY .

Visiting Maine in March may not be so bad, but it largely depends on when in March you go, what part of the state you visit (western and northern Maine are more likely to have snow than the coast), and the particular temperament of that year’s winter. Snow sports lovers enjoy the warmer temps (read: less extreme cold) combined with a decent chance of still having snow on the ground. It’s a lot more enjoyable to spend the day snowboarding if it’s not -20° F.

The end of March starts to get into mud season (read on in April for more). It’s also usually the month for maple tree tapping, although this can start as early as February and spill over into April.

So, in a nutshell: March in Maine is complicated and highly unpredictable.

March Events in Maine

  • Maine Restaurant Week is a great time to explore the culinary scene in Portland and southern Maine.
  • Maine Maple Sunday takes place on the fourth Sunday of March every year, and sugarhouses all over the state open their doors to offer samples, tours, demonstrations, and other activities to the public.
  • Bangor, Maine:  40 / 20° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 42 / 25° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 35 / 11° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 37 / 16° F
  • Portland, Maine: 42 / 25° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 36 / 9° F
  • Bangor, Maine: 12″
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 16″
  • Jackman, Maine: 19″

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Visiting maine in the spring.

There’s nothing like the feeling of starting to see green emerge after a long winter. And watching the mercury rise above the  50° Fahrenheit  mark is cause for breaking out the T-shirts from winter storage and driving around town with the windows rolled down.

That’s how Mainers feel about the spring months…but what about visiting Maine in the springtime?

BEST FOR:   While it’s not what I would consider the best time to go to Maine, the spring off-season brings the benefit of less crowds, bearable (albeit still cool) temperatures, and not as many bugs. It’s also a nice time to start seeing wildlife, such as whales, puffins, bald eagles, and moose, as well as the start of the fishing season.

WATCH OUT FOR:   Many small businesses in touristy areas (like Acadia National Park and the southern beaches) will still be closed in early spring, though they start to open up throughout April and May. By Memorial Day, things should be up and running for the summer season.

Spring and early summer is also known by locals as “construction season,” so be aware that this may make some travel more challenging or detract from your enjoyment.

Also, excessive amounts of mud.

Affectionately dubbed  “mud season” due to the ground (finally!) thawing and the snow melting, April in Maine is a slog to get through. River banks overflow and everything is brown (including the still-melting, 20-foot snow banks in grocery store parking lots).

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend visiting in April. However, one notable event that draws outdoor adventure lovers from all over the country to inland Maine is the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race. It’s the largest paddling event in New England and has been running for more than 50 years.

Coastal Maine will still be chilly but may be nicer than inland Maine at this time of year, especially late April, thanks to the tempering effect of the ocean. Some locals love late April through mid-May in Acadia National Park because spring is in the air, and there aren’t many visitors on the island yet.

April Events in Maine

  • Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race (Bangor area)
  • Bangor, Maine:  53 / 32° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 53 / 35° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 48 / 26° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 49 / 30° F
  • Portland, Maine: 53 / 35° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 49 / 25° F
  • Bangor, Maine: 4″
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 5″
  • Jackman, Maine: 8″
  • Portland, Maine: 3″
  • Rangeley, Maine: 9″

May in Maine is the month that feels decidedly “spring” to me. Maybe it’s because I loved having flowering trees  twice  each year during college–starting in April in Pennsylvania, and then again in mid-May when I went home for the summer.

If you enjoy spring weather and want to beat the summer crowds, May can be a nice time to go to Maine. Keep in mind that black flies–which are like little gnats that bite–start to emerge during May.

May is also fiddlehead season! Fiddleheads are the still-rolled-up fronds of a baby fern that are harvested and cooked as a vegetable dish. They grow everywhere in the spring, and it’s a very  Maine   thing to pull over to the side of the road to pick some when you spot a good patch. Whether you go foraging for them yourself , or try a local chef’s take on this rustic delicacy, fiddleheads are a must for your spring trip to Maine!

May Events in Maine

  • Fiddlehead Foodie Fest (Portland area)
  • Bangor, Maine:  65 / 42° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 65 / 44° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 62 / 38° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 64 / 41° F
  • Portland, Maine: 64 / 44° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 62 / 37° F

Visiting Maine in the Summer

Ahhh….summer. This is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year in Maine. The months of July and August are particularly wonderful–from strawberry shortcake on July 4th to wild blueberry season to gorgeous camping and hiking weather. Throw in a lobster bake while watching the sunset over a lake, listening to the call of loons floating across the water, and it’s all pretty spectacular.

BEST FOR:   Summers are typically warm and mild, though they do see some humidity as well as random cool spells. This makes a summer vacation in Maine perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, swimming, water skiing, biking, rafting, kayaking, or sailing.

All areas of Maine have pleasant weather in mid- to late summer, so if you don’t want to be holed up in the air conditioning all day, the Pine Tree State is a perfect summer getaway.

WATCH OUT FOR:   Popular coastal areas will inevitably be more crowded during the summer, and this is the time of year that you’ll come the closest to anything resembling a traffic jam in Maine.

Bugs are also a nuisance, but given that Maine doesn’t have terrifying sea or lake creatures, nor any poisonous critters, I don’t mind swatting away some mosquitoes and black flies. They’re less of a problem on the coast than inland, but it’s important to keep your tolerance level in mind.

Booking.com

>> Here are some of my all-time favorite spots in Maine that are perfect for a summer visit! <<

June can be hit-or-miss with temperatures. You may get blessed with summery weather, but it can still be chilly at times and isn’t usually hot. Late June is the start of strawberry season, and there are some amazing growers throughout the state. And mid-June brings lupine season–a gorgeous display of pink and purple wildflowers across the state.

This month also welcomes two of the most loathed bugs: black flies and June bugs. In case you’re not acquainted with a June bug, it’s some kind of clumsy beetle (that’s the scientific classification, anyway). Their clumsiness puts them on par with moths—annoying critters that love to dive bomb you.

This writer puts it best: “Surely the serenity of the first month of summer merits a harbinger of refinement and delicacy. Instead, it is proclaimed by June bugs — boisterous, rowdy blunderers that bang on the screens, thump at the doors, and whirl around porch lights as though intoxicated by the import of their message.” (Vincent G. Dethier from  New England Today Living )

Despite the June bugs and black flies, June can still be a nice time to visit Maine before the heavy vacation season hits in July and August. However, it’s not my top pick weather-wise.

June Events in Maine

  • Old Port Festival  kicks off the summer in Portland
  • Acadia Birding Festival
  • Bangor, Maine:  74 / 52° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 74 / 54° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 71 / 49° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 73 / 52° F
  • Portland, Maine: 73 / 54° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 71 / 47° F

July is a popular month for travel in Maine, and it’s a great time to head to the beach or do anything outside. It’s usually warm, sometimes hot and humid, and sometimes chilly. Even during the hottest months in Maine, I recommend packing a sweatshirt and being prepared for temperature changes.

Strawberry season usually lasts into the beginning of July, which means delicious, in-season strawberry shortcake on July 4th. (Seriously, try it. You will not regret your decision.) July is also the start of raspberry and blackberry season, both of which you might find growing wild.

July Events in Maine

  • Clam Festival in Yarmouth
  • Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail Festival in Greenville
  • Bangor, Maine:  79 / 58° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 79 / 59° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 76 / 53° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 78 / 57° F
  • Portland, Maine: 79 / 59° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 76 / 52° F

August brings generally warm weather in Maine, but it tends to not be quite as humid or rainy as July. It’s also the most popular month for tourism on the coast, which means expensive rates and booked out accommodations. This is the conundrum of traveling to Maine in the summer. It’s amazing, and everyone knows it –so it’s crowded.

Early August is wild blueberry season, and please believe me when I tell you that you haven’t had a blueberry until you’ve had a wild blueberry. I recommend eating them with abandon. (Note that some places, for some strange reason, serve high-bush blueberries, so be sure that what you’re getting are  wild Maine blueberries .)

>> Wondering what to pack for Maine in August? Head here for my Maine summer packing guide ! <<

August Events in Maine

  • Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland
  • Wild Blueberry Festival in Machias
  • Bangor, Maine:  78 / 56° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 78 / 59° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 75 / 51° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 77 / 55° F
  • Portland, Maine: 78 / 58° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 74 / 50° F

Visiting Maine in the Fall

Experiencing a New England fall is a bucket list item for many people–for good reason. Whether taking a leisurely drive along a scenic byway, enjoying sweeping views of Maine’s wilderness from a mountain summit, or leaf peeping from a plane, fall is an amazing time to visit Maine.

BEST FOR:   Of course, leaf peepers love the gorgeous display of colors in late September and October across the state. But fall colors aren’t the only reason to visit Maine in autumn. Even as the air starts to get cooler, it’s still a lovely time to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, biking, or whitewater rafting.

Fall is a great time to visit if you enjoy the outdoors. All areas of Maine are lovely at this time of year, but keep in mind that foliage peaks at very different times around the state. This site has some some general guidelines for the best fall colors based on region, as well as a helpful fall foliage map .

WATCH OUT FOR:   Later in the fall season, seasonal businesses in tourist-heavy locations will begin to close for the winter. October and November can bring a bit more rainfall than the summer months as well.

For many locals, the weeks after Labor Day but before fall foliage are prime–kids have gone back to school, the warm weather often lingers, and most of the summer’s humidity has dissipated. Later in the month, the air starts to get crisp and chilly. It also brings apple season, and there’s simply nothing like fresh, cold apple cider on a fall day!

Some Mainers say September is the perfect month to visit Maine. But remember that if you’re looking for fall foliage, you probably won’t catch it just yet unless you head far north.

September Events in Maine

  • Seaplane Fly-In on Moosehead Lake
  • Acadia Night Sky Festival in Bar Harbor
  • Common Ground Country Fair in Unity
  • Bangor, Maine:  70 / 48° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 71 / 52° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 67 / 43° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 67 / 46° F
  • Portland, Maine: 70 / 50° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 67 / 43° F

October is the month for leaf peeping in Maine! Keep in mind that some areas and higher elevations may reach peak color in late September, but many parts of Maine are best in early to mid-October.

October Events in Maine

  • Harvest on the Harbor – Maine’s annual food and drink festival in Portland
  • Bangor, Maine:  58 / 37° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 59 / 42° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 53 / 32° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 54 / 34° F
  • Portland, Maine: 59 / 39° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 53 / 32° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 2″
  • Rangeley, Maine: 2″

November is another oddball month (like April) that’s not  really fall but not quite winter. It’s definitely an awkward in-between month that tends to be brown and dreary because the leaves are generally gone and there isn’t typically snow because the deep winter cold hasn’t set in yet. While it’s not a top pick, you may consider early November in southern or coastal Maine if you’re not coming from far away and just looking for an inexpensive weekend getaway.

  • Bangor, Maine:  45 / 29° F
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 48 / 33° F
  • Jackman, Maine: 40 / 24° F
  • Millinocket, Maine (Baxter State Park): 42 / 26° F
  • Portland, Maine: 48 / 31° F
  • Rangeley, Maine: 40 / 23° F
  • Bangor, Maine: 2″
  • Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park): 3″
  • Jackman, Maine: 9″
  • Portland, Maine: 2″
  • Rangeley, Maine: 10″

So, When Should I Go to Maine For…

As you can see, the best time to visit Maine really  depends on what you want to do and what part of the state you visit. I’m going to sum things up with a few ideas of when (and where) to visit based on activity. 

If you can’t choose between mountains and ocean views, head to Acadia National Park from July through October for great coastal hikes. Prefer a more mountainous landscape? Central and western Maine have you covered: try Mount Katahdin (Maine’s highest peak), the Bigelow Range, or the Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit. The best hiking weather is from July through October.

Whitewater Rafting

When it comes to rafting in Maine, thrill seekers won’t be disappointed. There are several rivers to choose from: Dead River, Kennebec River, and Penobscot River. They are all dam-controlled, which means you’ll have guaranteed water flow throughout the rafting season. The Kennebec has Class 2-4 rapids and daily releases from May-October. Four of those are high water releases of 8,000 CFS. The Dead River has eight releases each season during May-October and Class 3-5 rapids. The Penobscot also has daily releases from late May-September and Class 3-5 rapids.

For the most exciting rapids, go in May and June to catch the spring runoff. For warmer weather, July and August are usually great (go during the week if you want to miss the party crowd). And for fall foliage and fewer crowds, September and October are ideal.

Leaf Peeping

Maine puts on a pretty spectacular display of color in the fall. So when do the leaves change in Maine? The northern part of the state sees peak fall color in late September and early October. In central and western Maine, leaves are changing during the second and third weeks of October. And on the coast, peak fall color is generally the third week of October.  This site has some some general guidelines for the best fall colors based on region, and you can find a Maine fall foliage map here .

Whale Watching

Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about whale watching in Maine…mostly because my experience as a kid involved an underwhelming amount of marine life and enough motion sickness to warrant my grandfather’s teasing about feeding the fish. (Thankfully, I didn’t get that sick–and it’s probably about time that I give whale watching another chance.)

For many visitors to coastal Maine, whale watching is as much a part of a summer vacation as a fresh lobster roll on the docks. Maine has a lot of coastline and its ocean waters are host to many types of whales–Humpbacks, Finbacks, Minkes, and more. While the whale watching season runs from mid-April/May – October, the best time for whale watching in Maine is during June, July, and August . You might also spot some North Atlantic Puffins in mid-June through August.

>> Want to enjoy the coast without all the crowds? Check out these 12 under-the-radar spots in Acadia and Down East Maine ! <<

Of course, the question on many people’s mind is: What’s the best time to go to Maine for lobster?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between soft shell and hard shell lobster . Hard shell lobster are firm and have lots of meat per lobster. As the weather warms, they shed this shell as they outgrow it, and their new shell is soft and spacious–meaning these soft shell lobsters have less meat per lobster. Soft shell are considered a delicacy and the meat itself is sweeter and more tender than hard shell. As the lobster continues to grow, its shell hardens over time and the molting process continues.

Another difference between soft shell and hard shell lobsters: when cracking open a whole lobster, you’ll  definitely need nutcrackers for hard shell, while soft shell can often be given a little crack and split open with your hands.

So is there a lobster season in Maine?

While lobster can be harvested year round off Maine’s coast , harsh weather and migration farther off shore make the winter months of late December through March difficult–limiting the supply and increasing the price. Late spring is a bit better, with “lobster season” starting to kick off. During May, the demand isn’t very high since summer tourists haven’t arrived, so you’ll find good prices on hard shell lobster.

In the summer, the lobster move closer to shore and begin to shed their shells. This is when most of us (myself included) think of indulging in a perfectly sweet lobster roll or having a lobster bake. Starting in July through early fall, soft shell lobster are plentiful, while hard shell are more expensive.

By late September through late November or early December, the hard shell supply is excellent and there’s less demand from tourists, so prices are still pretty good before winter really sets in.

With all this in mind, the best time to visit Maine for lobster is July – September , as you’ll be able to get plenty of delicate soft shell lobster, and you can still get hard shell if that’s what you prefer.

*Source for average temperature and snowfall: USclimatedata.com

What’s top on your list of things you’d like to see in Maine? When would you most like to visit? Let me know in the comments!

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Travel Photographer | FAA Certified Drone Pilot

Naomi is the coffee-loving, crazy-about-Latin-America writer and photographer behind everything here. She's guided by curiosity and a belief that every place has a story to tell–whether it’s through the intricate details of nature, history that has shaped a culture, or the people who call a place home. Learn More

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Best Time to Visit Maine | Activities & Travel Tips

Want to plan a getaway in the Pine Tree State? Find out the best time to visit Maine along with suggested activities for each season!

Maine’s moniker as Vacationland doesn’t just apply to idyllic summer days on a rocky coastline with a lighthouse in view while lobster boats pull into port. Each region boasts four seasons of endless opportunities to prove that nickname is well-earned.

In fact, tourism is a several billion dollar industry in the Pine Tree State — and that goes beyond those warm summer nights with lobster bakes and sunset boat cruises. At some point, Maine might have to get rid of terms like “shoulder season” or “offseason” because more people are choosing Maine as a year-round destination.

The real question here is, “What is the best time to visit Maine for you?” There’s no easy answer with so many creative and exclusive options. That’s probably why more than 90% of Maine’s 2022 visitors said they will return to the state again.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Understanding Maine’s Seasons & Schedules

While there are astronomical seasons and meteorological seasons, there are also seasons defined by Maine’s unique climate and busiest tourism months. Snow can still fall in late May across Maine.

Also, seasonal activities are at the mercy of the weather. While ATV riding is popular, the wheels can’t hit the trail until the mud from the snowmelt dries up. The famed end of the Appalachian Trail up Mount Katahdin closes down from the first snowfall through late May or early June, depending on the weather.

Even the National Weather Service in Portland had to create a graphic helping explain when Spring starts!

Painting with a broad brush, here are Maine’s seasons.

A Morning in Maine-Rockland

Summer in Maine

When is it? Late June through August, as defined by the number of tourists. The high season kicks off on the 4th of July.

Across Maine, temperatures peak in July, August, and June (in that order). Then there’s a sub-season to know about in Maine — bug season. That peaks in Northern Maine in May and June, with biting black flies and horseflies pairing up with mosquitoes. (Have no fear, there’s a festival for that in June !)

The beaches see a surge of greenhead flies in late July and early August. July is the muggiest month in Maine.

Acadia National Park-Fall

Fall in Maine

When is it? Labor Day is a good benchmark for the start. While astronomically, winter doesn’t start until December, many Mainers consider “when it gets cold” as the start of winter. That could be late September through November.

Fall is wonderful in Maine, as is evident by the 7% increase in tourism for 2022. However, if you want to visit during peak fall foliage , you’ll need to plan a trip at the end of September or early October.

Moose Point State Park-Searsport

Winter in Maine

When is it? You’re likely guaranteed cold weather and snow in November, especially in Northern Maine.

When it comes to winter, December is the snowiest month. Just about every Maine town has some kind of winter festiva l or big attraction, including dogsled and toboggan racing. And, ice fishing kicks off on January 1 of each year.

Mud Season in Maine

When is it? Most of March through mid-April brings snowmelt and mud.

Planning a trip during Mud Season is challenging since it depends on the winter snowfall and “spring temperatures” to determine when trails can re-open.

Maine visitors heading to the mountains, North Maine Woods, or Aroostook County (aka “The County”) should know about the vast expanse of logging roads that should be avoided during this season.

Maine Maple Sunday

“Spring” in Maine

When is it? Sometime between the end of Mud Season and mid to late June is when the short-lived spring arrives.

Even Portland Maine doesn’t hold Springfest until late May . At the same time, some consider Maple Syrup Sunday — one of the biggest Maine traditions — to be the kickoff to spring, and that’s the last weekend in March. Meanwhile, June is the rainiest month in Maine.

Other Maine Seasons

You know those scenes you dream of with epic waves crashing against the craggy coastline? Those generally come with two other seasons.

  • Hurricane Season: This runs from the eastern seaboard down to Florida. Hurricanes and tropical storms are fueled by the warm ocean waters near the equator. The season starts in June and runs through November.
  • Nor’easter Season: Nor’easters typically occur between September and April. These large cyclonic storms typically form over the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast. They get their name from the strong northeast winds that blow in ahead of them.

Why Every Season Is the Best Time to Visit Maine

I feel like a spoiled kid the day after Christmas, and someone has just asked me, “What did Santa bring you?” To me, the best time to visit Maine is the day you move here. Let’s go through each season’s spectacular offerings.

Echo Lake-Acadia National Park

Best Time to Visit Maine: Summer

Number of Visitors (2022): 9.1 million

Most Popular Regions to Visit: Mid Coast , Maine Beaches , Downeast/Acadia , Portland/Casco Bay

Everything is open, and the weather is beautiful. Tours are operating full steam ahead to distant reaches like Matinicus, and Kennebunkport’s long lines at Dock Square aren’t even that bothersome with the stunning scenery and waterfront activity.

Hiking and visiting state or national parks rank among the top things to do, while going to the beach is a close second. July and August are the most popular times to visit Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island .

Maine’s town beaches are usually staffed with lifeguards during the day from Memorial Day through Labor Day only.

The Maine Lobster Festival is the first week of August, which is conveniently the same month that Maine’s famous wild blueberries peak. So, head to Machias for the Wild Blueberry Festival .

Get your hands dirty with the clamming season underway — just check if the town requires a permit first. And, maritime fans shouldn’t miss the summer tradition of Windjammer Days in Boothbay Harbor .

Head to Aroostook County for summer celebrations of the New Sweden’s Midsommar Festival in June or the Acadian culture in August .

Acadia National Park-Jordan Pond-Canoe

Best Time to Visit Maine: Fall

Number of Visitors (2022): 2.8 million

Most Popular Regions to Visit: Mid Coast, Beaches, Portland/Casco Bay, Downeast/Acadia

The best time to visit Maine if you want to avoid the crowds but still get great weather is in the fall.

Lighthouse lovers, listen up! Early September brings Maine Open Lighthouse Day . Select lighthouses that are usually not open to the public are open for tours. The Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland and Maine Maritime Museum in Bath are also free on this day.

Can I tour Portland Head Lighthouse? Just 300 tickets are available to tour this immensely popular lighthouse. Tickets are handed out in order of arrival, so get there early.

Fall is the best time in Maine to explore the many scenic byways of the mountains, lakes, and The County. The Bold Coast National Scenic Byway hugs the most rugged section of the coastline Downeast.

Acadia National Park is becoming a showstopper in the fall, with more people visiting in September and October than in May and June. Additionally, the park has a scenic drive on Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula .

TIP: Maine state park campgrounds that don’t offer year-round camping will close about mid-October.

If L.L. Bean is putting on a show in Maine, you know it’s a big deal. That’s why the October Freeport Fall Festival is one of the best times to visit Maine.

Moose, Fall

In addition to the many farms open for apple picking and pumpkin selections , Maine Maple Fall Fest includes some locations you could otherwise only see in spring. Other fantastic fall choices include:

  • Farmington Fright Fest : “Maine’s Largest Professional Haunted Attraction”
  • Haunted Grandview Manor : The haunting heads to the woods.
  • Kennebunk Trick or Treating : Summer Street — the one lined with historical sea captains’ houses — is known for going all out on Halloween and closing down the street for safety.

Stephen King’s former hometown of Bangor Maine is another “It” place to be in the fall — or “Derry” as he called it in many of his writings. Take a photo at the gates of what is now HQ for the Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation . Fall is also the best time to see a Maine moose with full antlers.

Snowmobiling Long Lake--St. Agatha

Best Time to Visit Maine: Winter

Number of Visitors (2022): Almost 3.5 million

Most Popular Regions to Visit: Lakes & Mountains , Kennebec & Moose River Valley , Aroostook County

Winter tourism in Maine saw 650,000 more people than in the fall of 2022. It seems that the secret of endless snowmobile routes , epic skiing, and cross-country trails is out.

It’s not just the wide variety of ski slopes that make winter the best time to visit Maine. The Camden Snow Bowl hosts the U.S. National Toboggan Championships each February. Heading to The County, the Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races are a 250-mile jaunt of excitement, no matter how cold it gets.

You don’t need to worry about roads being closed because of snow because more than 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails cover the state. Restaurants even have snowmobile parking and a place to store your gear while you chow down.

“United We Trail”: No worries if you aren’t familiar with snowmobiling. Most communities have snowmobile clubs that maintain the trails and help you along the way.

Wildlife-Winter-Acadia National Park-ramaditya_ilham26

The largest ice fishing derby in the state takes you up north to Long Lake in St. Agatha.

Winter festivals reign, and Kennebunkport is (literally) lit for the Fire & Ice Festival and Christmas Prelude . That’s just a sample of the best Christmas towns in Maine. Ogunquit was recently ranked as one of the Top 5 Christmas Towns in the nation by the NECN television network.

Stopping in Bangor for winter? You can wish the Paul Bunyan statue turned Stephen King icon a happy birthday on February 12.

Portland truly shines in March when the Carnaval ME Winter Festival is held with the goal of showing that Maine is a “State for All Seasons.”

Acadia National Park’s carriage roads turn into cross-country ski lanes, offering a chance to ski through this winter wonderland. You can still drive the scenic routes too.

A closeup of the Moxie Falls in West Forks, Maine

Best Time to Visit Maine: Spring

Number of Visitors (2022): Unknown; spring tourism stats are usually lumped in with winter numbers.

Most Popular Regions to Visit: Any place that isn’t inaccessible by a muddy road!

Mud Season and the subsequent Maine version of spring can get a lot of flack, but there’s so much to explore during this low-tourism period.

There could’ve been a blizzard outside, and my grandfather would still have insisted that Maine’s famed Maple Syrup Sunday was the first day of spring. The maple makers give you a rare treat to help tap the trees for syrup.

On the other hand, my brother insists that the “Ice Out” date means that spring is here. That’s the phrase used when a body of water is cleared of ice enough that you can boat from one end to the other.

Speaking of thaws, spring is waterfall season . From gold panning at Coos Canyon to the dreamy emerald green swimming hole at Rattlesnake Flume to the tallest waterfall in Baxter State Park at Katahdin Falls, hundreds of waterfalls in the state are at their peak in spring.

Late spring is the best time to visit Maine for lobster lovers , especially in May when lobsters are about to come into season but the tourist crowds and high season prices haven’t kicked in.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told about this next spring activity that has made them want to book a flight to Maine immediately. Spring is the best time to find moose antlers that were shed in the late fall or early winter.

WATCH: A moose shedding its antlers caught on drone video

“Shed Hunting” is a popular activity once the snow has (mostly) melted and a great reason to go into the Maine wilderness. Why do moose shed antlers?

  • They only need them for breeding since female moose are drawn to large antlers. Once fall breeding season is over, the antlers can go.
  • Antlers can weigh up to 60 pounds, so shedding them helps a moose be more mobile in the winter, thus leading to more food.
  • The shedding of antlers doesn’t hurt, and the next set will start to grow after a few months, at times up to 1 pound of growth a day.

Maine Tourism Is Growing

You now have a better look at how Maine’s best season is every season. The average length of stay in Maine is four to five nights — with 33% of all visitors in 2022 staying for longer. You truly cannot run out of things to do no matter when you think it’s the best time to visit Maine.

The VisitMaine.Net team is the small team of authors and editors that research and write our in-depth guides throughout the site and update past articles to make sure they're still super valuable to you. We have one goal: to help you fall more in love with the state of Maine!

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Copyright VisitMaine.Net 2023 Images Courtesy Greg and Heather Burke unless otherwise noted.

The best time to visit Maine for every kind of vacation

Katelyn Michaud

May 9, 2023 • 3 min read

Teenage boy and girl walking on the beach barefoot in Acadia National Park.

The crowds die down in Acadia National Park as the summer weather gives way to fall © Jerry Monkman / Getty Images

With a dramatic rocky coastline broken by scenic beaches, a rich seafood tradition, lots of history and ski resorts and state parks rising into the hills, Maine is known as Vacationland for good reason.

Summer and early fall are great times of year to enjoy the state's natural beauty, but if you can handle the cold, winter offers a whole different view and set of activities. This guide will help you choose the best time for your visit to Maine. 

Person taking a lobster from a plate in Camden, Maine

For fresh seafood and outdoor adventures, come from June to September

Maine comes alive in the summer months, as holidaymakers gather across the state. From the sandy beaches of southern Maine to the forested hiking trails in the north and the seafood shacks all along the coast, there’s plenty to enjoy – and plenty of people will be enjoying the experience alongside you. 

The crowds bring high prices , so you'll need to book well in advance at hotels and campgrounds. Summer is fairly short and sweet in Maine: the weather is generally hot and humid from late June through August. Make sure to bring an appetite, because the summertime seafood bonanza makes for delicious mealtimes.

October and May are the best months for seasonal color and avoiding crowds

Maine's shoulder season is one of the best times to visit Maine if you prefer a quieter experience and lower prices. Early October  brings colorful foliage , apple picking and cooler weather, while May is a great time to enjoy Maine without the summer crowds .

Keep in mind that many seasonal businesses open their doors for the season around Memorial Day. Bring a warm coat, though, and layers, as some parts of the state can still see snow in spring or fall, especially in the north and at higher elevations.

A skiier in a bright orange jacket heads down the snowy slopes

November to April is chilly in Maine, but great for snow sports

Winter is the low season for coastal and southern Maine, but the high season in western and northern areas, where outdoor recreation in the snow is the main draw. Maine is home to some of the best ski resorts on the East Coast, and northern Maine is popular for snowmobiling. Many hiking trails are groomed for the snow season and can be traversed using snowshoes or cross-country skis.

March in Maine still feels very much like winter across most of the state . You’ll start to see a peek of spring in the south, but skiing and snowmobiling are still popular activities in northern parts of Maine. Portland and surrounding towns celebrate Maine Restaurant Week in early March, and many of the state's best restaurants have special menus and deals. The fourth weekend of the month is reserved for another Maine tradition – Maine Maple Sunday , where sugar shacks open across the state selling sweet treats.

April is Maine’s unofficial fifth season – mud season

The snow is melting in the mountains, and ski resorts throw massive parties to celebrate the end of the season. The weather is unpredictable – one day it might snow, and the next it’ll be 70°F (21°C). Whatever the weather is doing, April is when Mainers come out of hibernation and enjoy the early signs of spring, putting on their shorts as soon as the mercury hits 50°F (10°C).

This article was first published Sep 2, 2021 and updated May 9, 2023.

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The Best Time to Visit Maine

when is maine tourist season

 TripSavvy /  Julie Bang

Mainers, with their wry sense of humor, often joke that New England's northernmost state has only two seasons: winter and the Fourth of July. The best time to visit Maine is in the summer when all of the recreational possibilities of seacoast and mountains combine to help Maine live up to its "Vacationland" nickname. August is the ultimate month for a Maine vacation. September's a close second, particularly if you're unencumbered by school-aged children.

There's more to consider, though, as you choose a time for your Maine adventure. Each season repaints Maine in a fresh palette that is strikingly beautiful, and with nature's color shifts come diverse ways for travelers to explore and appreciate this wild and scenic state.

The Weather in Maine

Maine has four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Each has pluses, minuses, and a degree of unpredictability. While winter offers up starry nights, it also can be downright frigid. The first snowfall can happen in November, sometimes in October, and spring starts any time between mid-March and mid-May.

Precipitation is something you can count on year-round, and spring's cold rain makes Mainers miss the snow. Hurricanes are rare and the benefit of Maine's cooler climate is a summer season that sparkles with moderately warm temperatures perfect for outdoor pursuits, from hiking and biking to chowing down lobsters.

Be mindful of the fact that weather conditions in Maine can change on a dime. If you're hiking in the mountains or setting out on a boat, you'll want to monitor the weather forecast and be prepared for falling temperatures and pop-up storms.

Heavy spring rains create a lot of mud in March and April, making for a mucky early spring. Back roads can be treacherous when the ground is oversaturated with melted snow, so travel with caution. If you're hoping to enjoy the outdoors, avoid visiting during black fly season (mid-May through mid-June) at all costs. The biting insects congregate in the woods and will cover you in incredibly itchy bumps.

Peak Season in Maine

Maine's best beach hotels come at a premium in the summer months and ski resort prices skyrocket in winter, particularly during holiday and school vacation weeks. Throughout the year, lodgings will nearly always cost you more on weekends than on midweek nights.

September is something of a best-kept secret in Maine. Lodging prices, particularly on the coast, fall from their summer highs, and they'll stay on the low side until late in the month when leaf peepers begin to arrive. Ocean waters are still at their warmest, but beach crowds have disappeared, and you'll face less traffic on interstates if you're headed to Maine on a Friday after work.

Lobster prices tend to deflate, too, after summer crowds depart, and it's another little-known bonus that lobsters caught in the fall tend to be of the meatier hard-shell variety. That said, many of the state's most famous lobster shacks close after Labor Day or Indigenous Peoples Day. Some seaside hotels and motels are seasonal, too, so if you're planning an off-season ocean escape, look to towns like Kennebunkport and Freeport that have worked hard to stay on tourists' radar year-round.

With pleasantly warm temperatures, summertime vacationers love lazing on Maine's lake and ocean beaches , visiting charming seaside towns , exploring Acadia National Park , driving along the coast to see some of New England's prettiest lighthouses , and feasting on lobster in the rough (outdoors with few frills).

Events to check out:

  • Yarmouth Clam Festival : Starting the third Friday in July, this three-day festival in Yarmouth, Maine is your chance to eat clams every which way and to enjoy a packed schedule of old-fashioned entertainment.
  • Maine Lobster Festival : Held in Rockland, Maine, for five days in August, this long-standing celebration of the state's signature crustacean features top musical acts, competitions, a parade, and 20,000 pounds of fresh lobster.

Fans of autumn in Maine scoop up reservations at scenic inns and hotels months before the leaves start to change. Bethel is the state's best foliage-viewing home base, and there are gorgeous drives to follow and day trips to take that showcase fall's finest experiences, from antiquing to apple tasting.

  • Fryeburg Fair : Regarded as Maine's best agricultural fair, this annual tradition in Fryeburg is eight days of guaranteed fall fun.
  • Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta : Always during the long weekend of Indigenous Peoples Day, this photo-op-filled celebration of gigantic pumpkins in Damariscotta, Maine, features a parade, pumpkin-boat regatta, giant pumpkin drop, and more zany events.

With premier ski resorts like Sunday River and Sugarloaf , plus smaller mountains that make the list of New England's cheapest places to ski , Maine offers downhilling for all budgets throughout the snowy winter months. Maine is a great place to snowmobile and a fine place to ice skate, and—when it's really too bitter to be outdoors—a great destination for beer.

  • Boothbay Lights : The centerpiece of this six-week holiday happening, which lights up all of Maine's Boothbay peninsula, is Gardens Aglow: a display of 500,000 LEDs at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens .
  • Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude : For 11 December days and nights, Kennebunkport is a festive destination for events, like the lighting of the lobster trap tree, that will put you in the holiday spirit.

Spring in Maine

Spring may be Maine's least popular season, but it's the peak time to visit if you want to see waterfalls at their most dramatic and taste the year's new crop of maple syrup.

  • Maine Maple Sunday : On the fourth Sunday in March, sugarhouses statewide open their doors for tours, demonstrations, and, most importantly, tastings.
  • Maine Flower Show : Just when it seems as if spring will never arrive, this annual indoor celebration of all things floral in Portland the last weekend in March revives the winter-weary.

The best time to visit Maine is between June and September. During this time of the year, the weather is warm and you can take advantage of the recreational opportunities offered by both the seacoast and the mountains.

Lobster season in Maine lasts from late June through December, but fall is the best time to eat them. After Labor Day, lobster harvests are at their peak and prices are reasonable.

January is the coldest month in Maine, with daytime high temperatures of 31 degrees F (-0.6 degrees C) and nightly lows of 13 degrees F (-10.6 degrees C).

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Vacation planner, maine’s rich seasons make the state a year-round destination, whether you're a leaf-peeper or a sun-seeker, there's something for everyone.

In the fall, visitors enjoy the vibrant hues of the changing leaves along with the many  harvest festivals  around the state. Take in the crisp fall air at one of our local agricultural fairs.  Pick apples  at a family orchard. Enjoy lobster during its peak season. Visit one of Maine’s several art museums. Pitch a tent under the autumn sky and wake up to go on a “Moose Safari.”

Maine’s white winters mean  skiing ,  snow-shoeing  and  sledding . Bundle up and explore the thousands of miles of snowmobile trails. Check out the world’s biggest snowmen and women at the Bethel Winterfest or icefish at a lake. If cold weather isn’t your thing, take in a Portland Pirate’s hockey game or a Maine Red Claw’s basketball game. Grab a cup of hot chocolate while you shop for deals in Freeport or Kittery’s famous outlet stores.

Spring and Summer

Things heat up here in the spring and summer. Hit the  beach , take a  hike , or  cruise a bay . Go  white-water rafting . Take in some summer Shakespeare. Bring your sweet to Maine Maple Sunday, where sugarhouses offer samples of fresh maple syrup. Catch the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival or take a whale-watching cruise.

There’s so much to see and do in Maine.  Plan your trip  today.

Spring & Summer

Fall foliage, you may also like..., more things to do in maine, scenic drives, lighthouses, farms & agriculture.

when is maine tourist season

Best Time To Visit Maine (Fall Colors & Delicious Seafood)

Explore the best times for fall colors and seafood in Maine, from summer whale watching to autumn's budget-friendly travel. Ideal for potential travelers.

when is maine tourist season

Maine is known for lobster, harbors, whales, and small towns full of personality. Home to over 20 million tourists per year, Maine is hospitable and full of unique destinations. So, what is the best time to visit Maine?

The best time to visit Maine is between June and August if you want to enjoy fresh lobster and watch whales. September and October are the cheapest times to visit Maine because it is right after prime tourism season dies down. Winter is skiing season in Maine but it’s the worst time to visit unless you hit the slopes.

You will find beautiful sights all over Maine whether you visit Bar Harbor or the Acadia National Park. Maine is home to mild temperatures year-round, and it’s one of the most unique states to visit. Follow along as we explore the best time to visit Maine and highlight the key events throughout the year.

When Should You Not go to Maine?

when is maine tourist season

Credit:  Paul VanDerWerf / Flickr

The worst time to visit Maine is between December and February . This only applies to tourists that don’t visit Maine to ski, but it is the best time for skiers. Late winter in Maine brings freezing and uncomfortable temperatures.

This can put a damper on your fun trip if you aren’t expecting brisk winter conditions. There are fewer festivities and outdoor events during this time which can make your trip less exciting.

The main downside of visiting Maine during the winter is that you won’t get to enjoy the harbor life and beautiful water that Maine is known for.

Cheapest Time to Travel to Maine

when is maine tourist season

Credit: ingimage

The fall is the cheapest time to travel to Maine, especially if you visit in September. September and October are among the least popular months to visit Maine, and that helps with hotel rates. Maine is known to be expensive for tourists, but you can book a room for  $90 a night or less  between September and October.

You can currently book a round-trip flight to Maine in September for roughly $200. However, you can get the best deal on a flight to Maine in Autumn if you purchase your tickets early. Book your fall trip to Maine  3-4 months in advance  to get the most savings.

Tourism is less popular during autumn in Maine because it falls between two important travel seasons. Summer is crowded in Maine because of the weather, seafood, and special events which increases the price of everything. Winter is also expensive because of the influx of tourism for the skiing season which is a big deal in Maine.

Related Read:   20 Romantic Getaways in Maine

Best Weather in Maine: Monthly Breakdown

January: best time to visit for skiing.

when is maine tourist season

January is somewhat of a downtime when it comes to tourism in Maine. The cold temperatures can dissuade some tourists from visiting, but the snow also attracts many people. Skiing is popular throughout January in Maine and the weather is perfect for it.

Temperatures range between 12 and 30 degrees during January in Maine and snow is common . It can snow  up to 24 inches  or more throughout January which creates the perfect conditions for winter sports. Events like Snodeo and Snowfest celebrate the winter weather and snow with competitive and fun outdoor events.

January is known as the snowiest time in Maine followed by December and February. You won’t find high-quality seafood during January like you would during the spring and summer in Maine. With that said, January is still a great time to visit Maine as long as you don’t mind the cold.

  • New Year’s Polar Plunge

February: Best Time to Visit in the Winter

when is maine tourist season

The winter sports continue throughout February in Maine with the Camden Snow Bowl. Locals and travelers alike come together to celebrate the  US National Toboggan Championships in Maine . Snowing and sledding are quite popular throughout February before it gets too warm.

February is the last hoorah for winter sports in Maine before temperatures begin to rise in March. The Biddeford WinterFest is a great way to soak in the winter sights and traditions in Maine before spring comes around. This well-rounded event has everything from food vendors and sledding to comedy performances.

Events like  Flavors of Freeport  let you relax, enjoy a drink, and taste some of the best local food. You can expect temperatures between 15 and 34 degrees when you visit Maine in February. February is the best time to visit in the winter because it is slightly warmer but you can still enjoy winter sports.

  • US National Toboggan Championships
  • Camden Snow Bowl
  • Biddeford WinterFest
  • Flavors of Freeport

March: Best Time for Local Events

when is maine tourist season

The weather becomes less conducive to winter sports and more ideal for spring leisure in March. March is a great time to visit Maine as it comes out of the harsh winter and things begin to warm up. Temperatures typically fluctuate  between 25 and 42 degrees  during March in Maine.

Maine Restaurant Week  may be the highlight of March because of the great deals you can get. It’s also an opportunity to support local businesses and try food that the state is known for. March may not quite be summer yet, but the Summer Sailing Across Maine event in March is a great time.

Events like Maine Maple Sunday on the fourth Sunday of the month each year are a fun local tradition. Maple syrup is a big deal in Maine and helps support the local economy.

  • Maine Maple Sunday
  • Maine Restaurant Week
  • Maine Science Festival
  • Summer Sailing Across Maine

Related Read:   11 Best Family Beaches in Maine

April: Best Time to Visit Maine in Spring

when is maine tourist season

April offers great food, comfortable temperatures, and many fun events and festivals. Hockey fans can catch a Maine Mariners game in April. The Maine Comics & Toy Con in April attracts fans of popular culture from throughout the state.

Warmer weather returns during April in Maine and temperatures stay  between 34 and 53 degrees  throughout the month. However, April isn’t the best time of the year to visit Maine if you want to eat lobster and see whales.

  • Maine Comics & Toy Con
  • Maine Mariners Games
  • Portland Youth Film Festival
  • BrickUniverse Maine

Related Read:   40 Best Things To Do Portland Maine

May: Best Time for Whale Watching

when is maine tourist season

Maine is among the best places to see whales in the United States, and May is the best time for whale watching . May marks the beginning of whale watching season in Maine and it’s your best chance to get the first peek. Visit Bar Harbor, Maine for some of the best whale-watching views that you can find throughout the state.

Some whale tours last  up to 4 hours  and offer a value that is unbeatable with memories you won’t ever forget. You can even embark on a puffin tour in May and see some of the most loveable animals you’ll find in the United States. May is also a great time to hike on one of the countless hiking trails in Maine that offer gorgeous views.

Acadia National Park is colorful, lively, and full of beautiful flowers and animals during May. May is the gateway from the spring to the summer chock-full of green foliage, unique wildlife, and excellent seafood. It can still get chilly throughout May in Maine, and temperatures fluctuate  between 44 and 63 degrees .

  • Whale Watching
  • Acadia National Park
  • Northern Threads

June: Best Time for Lobster

when is maine tourist season

Late June is the best time to visit Maine for lobster when it is at its most fresh and delicious. The lobster season continues until December, but nothing beats eating lobster right at the start of the season. June also marks the start of summer, and the  Summer Kickoff  event is the perfect way to ease your way into it.

The Kennebunk Festival is the perfect mixture of seafood, drinks, and art in Maine. Kennebunk is also home to LAUNCH: A Maritime Festival which is perfect for the whole family. Otherwise, you can simply head out into nature and enjoy the comfortable  52-72 degree temperature  span throughout the month.

  • Lobster Season
  • Summer Kickoff
  • Kennebunk Festival
  • LAUNCH: A Maritime Festival

July: Best Time to Visit Maine in Summer

when is maine tourist season

Maine can get crowded during July, but it’s still the best time to visit during the summer. The 4th of July celebrations are hard to miss, and there’s no sight like fireworks over the water. Moxie Festival has gone on  for over 40 years  and celebrates Maine’s iconic soda that is cherished by locals.

The Yarmouth Clam Festival  is right up your alley if you want to taste some authentic Maine cuisine and seafood. Yarmouth is one of the most relaxing destinations in Maine, and it’s never more crowded than during the festival. Competitive tourists will get a kick out of Paddle Battle where contestants race across the beautiful  Kennebunk River .

Summer is arguably the best time to visit Maine and July specifically hosts the most diverse list of events. The Wells Annual Chili Fest is a great way to unwind after a day of kayaking and swimming when you visit at the end of August. You can expect temperatures between 56 and 77 degrees throughout August in Maine.

  • Paddle Battle
  • Moxie Festival
  • Yarmouth Clam Festival
  • Wells Annual Chili Fest

Related Read:   20 Cabin & Treehouse Rentals in Maine

August: Best Time to Visit for Seafood

when is maine tourist season

Not only is August the best time to visit Maine for seafood, but it’s the best time to be on the water. Enjoy great seafood and gorgeous views of the water at the Belfast Harbor Fest. Music and seafood go hand in hand in Maine, and the  Biddeford River Jam Festival  is the best example.

The Blue Hill Maritime Heritage Festival is a great chance for tourists to celebrate local culture with Maine natives. Temperatures hover around 68 degrees on average throughout August, but it  can get up to 77 degrees . Lows rarely dip below 57 degrees which makes August one of the best times to be outside in Maine.

Families and single travelers alike can enjoy fun August events in Maine like the Winter Harbor Music Festival. Belfast Harbor Fest is another lively event that draws large crowds during August. Check out the Maine Antiques Fest in August for a calm change of pace.

  • Blue Hill Maritime Heritage Festival
  • Biddeford River Jam Festival
  • Winter Harbor Music Festival
  • Belfast Harbor Fest
  • Maine Antiques Festival

September: Best Time for Festivities

when is maine tourist season

Credit:  Maine Brew Fest / Facebook

September offers some of the most comfortable weather that you’ll experience throughout the year in Maine. The heat of the summer dies down to ease into Autumn in September without getting too cold. Temperatures fluctuate  between 48 and 68 degrees  throughout September in Maine.

The Springfield Fair is a long-running tradition in Springfield, Maine that is worth your time. Visit the Farmington Fair to sample food and drinks from many vendors and enjoy the great weather. Fairs and festivals are abundant throughout September, and the Cumberland County Fair is among the best.

Adults that visit Maine will enjoy the Maine Lakes Brew Fest. The Clinton Lions Agricultural Fair offers a nice change of pace and is great for adults and children alike.

  • Springfield Fair
  • Clinton Lions Agricultural Fair
  • Farmington Fair
  • Maine Lakes Brew Fest
  • Cumberland County Fair

October: Best Time for Fall Foliage

when is maine tourist season

Few places in the United States look as beautiful during the fall as Maine does during October. Maine in autumn is a wash of  gold, yellow, and orange leaves  all around you. October is the best time for fall foliage in Maine and it’s easy to get into the Halloween spirit.

Temperatures stay  between 37 and 57 degrees  throughout the month. This is the perfect weather to visit a pumpkin patch, take an autumn stroll, or visit a haunted house in Maine. The Haunted Walk Maine and Haunted Grandview Manor are perfect October destinations to celebrate Halloween.

Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta  is a chance to take in the beauty of autumn in Maine. Visit York Harvest Fest to enjoy carnival rides and taste delicious local food. Oktoberfest is also big in Maine and it’s a perfect event for adults.

  • York Harvest Fest
  • Haunted Walk Maine
  • Haunted Grandview Manor
  • Farmington Fright Fest
  • Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta
  • Freeport Fall Festival

November: Best Time to Celebrate Local Culture

when is maine tourist season

Credit:  Belfast Harborfest / Facebook

November marks the beginning of cold temperatures in Maine that will continue to drop through February. You can expect temperatures  between 24 and 48 degrees  throughout November in Maine. Temperatures fluctuate based on your location, and Jackman is generally the coldest during November.

The cold temperatures don’t put a stop to the festivities in Maine, however. Harvest on the Harbor and Maine Harvest Festival are great opportunities to mingle with locals. The Sidewalk Art Show is a unique event in Maine worth attending as long as you dress warm enough.

Christmas festivities even begin towards the end of November in Maine. The Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit before December.

  • Maine Harvest Festival
  • Harvest on the Harbor
  • Sidewalk Art Show
  • Christmas Prelude

December: Best Time to Celebrate the Holidays

when is maine tourist season

Credit:  Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

It isn’t very difficult to get into the holiday spirit when you visit Maine. There is no shortage of Christmas celebrations across the state throughout December. Events such as Magic of Christmas and North Pole Express offer fun for the whole family.

The Holiday Variety Show  is another example of Maine sparing no expense when it comes to Christmas celebrations. See some of the most unique holiday lights in the country at Gardens Aglow in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Even simply driving around Maine during December is a great opportunity to see elaborate Christmas lights.

It gets quite cold during December in Maine and there is always a chance of snow. You can expect temperatures  between 18 and 37 degrees  throughout the month. It snows for an average of 6 days throughout December in Maine which only makes it easier to enjoy the holidays.

  • Magic of Christmas
  • Gardens Aglow
  • Holiday Variety Show
  • Sparkle Celebration
  • North Pole Express

Best Time to Visit Maine With Family

when is maine tourist season

The best time to visit Maine with family is from June through August. You can experience all of the Maine staples during the summer such as whale-watching, hiking, and eating lobster. There are endless festivals and events  from the Summer Kickoff to Moxie Festival .

Summer temperatures are mild in Maine making it easy for a family to stay outside no matter what age the children are. Temperatures can get as low as 52 degrees at night and in the morning during the summer in Maine. You won’t have to worry about blistering high temperatures, and it  rarely exceeds 80 degrees in the summer .

Best Time to Visit Maine Without Crowds

when is maine tourist season

Credit:  mmdurango / Flickr

Visit Maine anytime from September through November to avoid crowds . This is the shoulder season in Maine which makes it much easier to get into restaurants, bars, and hotels. You won’t have to navigate massive crowds during the fall in Maine which allows you to enjoy local destinations.

The most crowded time in Maine is from May to August when the warm weather attracts crowds. Sure, you will miss the peak of the lobster season when you visit Maine in autumn, but it’s worth it. You will still be able to get lobster anytime between September and December though and it’s your last chance for whale-watching.

Best Places to Visit in Maine

when is maine tourist season

Portland is among the best places to visit in Maine as it is an iconic city . There are countless tourist destinations in the city between the Portland Head Light and Peaks Island. Portland is also home to Maine’s most unique Arts District, restaurants, and culture.

Acadia National Park is a must-stop destination whether you’re a tourist or a Maine local. There are countless ways to appreciate Acadia between the trails, plants, views, and wildlife. You can experience the views whether you hike the trails or drive the paths at Acadia National Park.

Bar Harbor and Camden  round out the best places to visit in Maine and take in the culture. Camden provides beautiful harbor views and restaurants to get a true Maine experience. Maine is known for many iconic small towns, but Bar Harbor takes the cake as the best example of seaside hospitality.

What is the Tourist Season in Maine?

when is maine tourist season

Credit:  Brianna Soukop / The Portland Press Herald

The tourist season in Maine lasts  from June to September  when it sharply declines towards the end of the month. Summer to early fall is so popular in Maine because of the great weather and abundant seafood. Most of the appealing draws for tourism occur during this period, and travelers all get the same idea.

Temperatures stay  between 52 and 78 degrees  in June-September and it’s the perfect time to travel there. You will have a hard time avoiding crowds during this time, however. Whale-watching, festivals, and lobster are in high demand during the summer and early fall in Maine which draws thousands of tourists.

Maine gets up to 22 million tourists per year , and they’ve gotten as many as 37 million in 2018. The ski season in the winter is nearly as big of a tourism boom in Maine. December through February and June through September are peak tourism months.

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Is Sun Country Airlines Safe? Discover How They Prioritize Your Safety

Is Sun Country Airlines Safe? Discover How They Prioritize Your Safety

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Is Delta Air Lines Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Nervous Flyers

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Is American Airlines Safe? Uncovering the Truth for Nervous Flyers

Is American Airlines Safe? Uncovering the Truth for Nervous Flyers

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Is Biman Bangladesh Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Anxious Flyers

Is Biman Bangladesh Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Anxious Flyers

When you're planning a trip, especially one that takes you across borders, the safety of your chosen airline is a top priority. You've probably come across Biman Bangladesh Airlines in your search for flights, and it's natural to wonder about its safety record. After all, you're entrusting them with your most precious cargo: you and your loved ones.

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Is Arkia Israeli Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth That Every Traveler Must Know

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Is Air Albania Safe? Unveiling the Truth About Your Next Flight's Security

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Is Jeju Air Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight Fears

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Is Air Tahiti Nui Safe? Unveiling What Every Traveler Needs to Know

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Is Avelo Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Anxious Flyers

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Is PenAir Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Nervous and Aspiring Travelers

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Is Ravn Alaska Safe? Unveiling Truths Behind Your Flight's Reliability

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Is Breeze Airways Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Anxious & Aspiring Travelers

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Is Cape Air Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Pilot Training and Fleet Safety

Is Cape Air Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Pilot Training and Fleet Safety

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Is Silver Airways Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Anxious Flyers

Is Silver Airways Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Anxious Flyers

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Is GoJet Airlines Safe? The Truth Behind Passenger Reviews and Safety Concerns

Is GoJet Airlines Safe? The Truth Behind Passenger Reviews and Safety Concerns

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Is Endeavor Air Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Secure Journey

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Is Trans States Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Pilot Training & Safety

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Is Air Wisconsin Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight's Safety

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Is Envoy Air Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Next Flight

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Is Mesa Airlines Safe? Discover What Passengers Aren't Telling You

Is Mesa Airlines Safe? Discover What Passengers Aren't Telling You

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Is Compass Airlines Safe? Uncovering What Every Traveler Must Know

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Is Republic Airways Safe? Insights That Every Nervous Flyer Must Read

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Is SkyWest Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth That Every Traveler Must Know

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Is Icelandair Safe? Discover Why Flyers Trust Their Journey With Us

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Is Luxair Safe? Unveiling What Really Matters to Nervous Flyers

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Is SpiceJet Safe? Uncovering the Truth Behind Passenger Reviews

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Is El Al Safe? Debunking Myths & Unveiling the Truth for Nervous Flyers

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Is China Eastern Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight Fears

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Is China Southern Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight Concerns

Is China Southern Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight Concerns

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Is Malaysia Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Anxious Travelers

Is Malaysia Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Anxious Travelers

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Is Japan Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth for Anxious Flyers

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Is ANA Safe? Discover How They Ensure Your Peace of Mind in the Skies

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Is Singapore Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Secrets Behind Their Flawless Safety Record

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Is Emirates Safe? Unveiling What Happy Travelers Really Think

Is Emirates Safe? Unveiling What Happy Travelers Really Think

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Is LOT Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight's Safety

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Is Aeromexico Safe? Unveiling What Every Traveler Needs to Know

Is Aeromexico Safe? Unveiling What Every Traveler Needs to Know

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Is Norwegian Safe? Discover Why Travelers Trust Its Skies

Is Norwegian Safe? Discover Why Travelers Trust Its Skies

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Is Allegiant Air Safe? Unveiling the Truth About Your Flight's Safety

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Is Hawaiian Airlines Safe? Discover Why Flyers Trust This Paradise Airline

Is Hawaiian Airlines Safe? Discover Why Flyers Trust This Paradise Airline

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Is Frontier Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight Fears

Is Frontier Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight Fears

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Is Spirit Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight Fears

Is Spirit Airlines Safe? Unveiling the Truth Behind Your Flight Fears

When you're planning a trip and looking for budget-friendly options, Spirit Airlines often pops up as a tempting choice. But amidst the excitement of snagging a great deal, you might pause and wonder, "Is Spirit Airlines safe?" It's a valid question, especially when you're about to trust them with your most precious cargo—yourself!

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Is JetBlue Safe? Uncovering the Truth Behind Their Safety Measures

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Is Alaska Airlines Safe? Discover Why Flyers Trust Their Journey With Them

Is Alaska Airlines Safe? Discover Why Flyers Trust Their Journey With Them

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Is Southwest Airlines Safe? Uncovering What Every Traveler Needs to Know

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Is United Airlines Safe? Real Passengers Share Their Experiences

Is United Airlines Safe? Real Passengers Share Their Experiences

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Ultimate Guide: Top Places in North Carolina for Retirees & More

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Wyoming for Everyone

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Ultimate Guide: Top Spots in South Carolina for Young Adults - Live, Work & Play

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Washington State for Everyone

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Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in Montana for Everyone – From Retirees to Families

Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in Montana for Everyone – From Retirees to Families

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Virginia for Every Lifestyle

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Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in North Carolina for Happiness, Weather & More

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Ultimate Guide: The Best Places to Live in Georgia for Everyone—from Retirees to Families

Ultimate Guide: The Best Places to Live in Georgia for Everyone—from Retirees to Families

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Florida for Every Lifestyle

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Indianapolis for Everyone

Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Indianapolis for Everyone

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Orlando for Families & More

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Ultimate Guide: Top Places in Oregon for Young Adults - Live, Play, Thrive

Ultimate Guide: Top Places in Oregon for Young Adults - Live, Play, Thrive

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Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in Columbus Ohio for Every Lifestyle

Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in Columbus Ohio for Every Lifestyle

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Ultimate Guide: Top Affordable Places in North Carolina for Everyone

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Ultimate Guide: Top East Coast Havens for Everyone - From Retirees to Partygoers

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Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in Brooklyn for Every Demographic

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in San Antonio for All Lifestyles

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Kentucky for Everyone

Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Kentucky for Everyone

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Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in Maryland for Everyone's Wish List

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Portland for Every Lifestyle

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Ultimate Guide: Top Austin Neighborhoods for Every Lifestyle & Budget

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live on East Coast for Everyone – From Retirees to Families

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Ultimate Guide: Top Places to Live in Washington DC for Every Lifestyle

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Ultimate Guide: Best Affordable Places to Live in North Carolina for Every Lifestyle

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Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Live in Georgia for Every Lifestyle

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when is maine tourist season

The Best Time To Visit Maine: Full Guide | Marchay

The saying goes, “if you don’t like the weather in Maine, just wait a minute.” Maine is one of the best places in the US to experience the four seasons, and its distinctive seasons each showcase Maine in new ways that travelers love to explore all year round.

But there’s always the question of when is the best time to visit Maine. If you’re considering a trip to Maine, the best time to visit is during the summer—but there are plenty of people who will debate that the winter is just as good a time to be in Maine. Our professional travel agents provide our members with the best things to do in Maine and consult on the best times to do them.

Our complete travel guide gives the best times to visit Maine and the different attractions you can see to make the most of each season!

Table of Contents

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Maine?

The best time of year to visit Maine is during the summer. Summer is the peak travel season in Maine when the weather is the nicest for enjoying attractions like Acadia National Park, coastal beaches, and islands just off the shore. Even though it’s the busiest season for travel in Maine, each season has its charm that makes it worthwhile to visit.

Fall is an excellent time to witness the iconic New England fall foliage. Although cold, winter sports like skiing and snowboarding attract many travelers to the state during the season. As for the spring, it’s a time when seasonal businesses begin to open and welcome travelers back in preparation for the upcoming warm weather.

Maine is located in the north, so it experiences drastic changes for each season. It’s known to have warm, sunny summers and cold, snowy winters. There are days when you will have a jacket on in the morning but warm enough to swim at the beach by the afternoon.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes each season unique and what kind of weather you can expect when you visit Maine.

Visiting Maine In The Spring

when is maine tourist season

The shoulder season of Spring in Maine is considered the transitional months between the cold and warm weather. It’s when the sleepy towns start to wake up, and the lush vegetation begins to bloom in preparation for warm, sunny days ahead.

Spring in Maine runs between March to May. Temperatures vary drastically from the start of the season (right after the winter) and the end of the season (right before the summer). The average high temperatures range from low-40s to high-60s during the day and high-20s to high-40s at night.

One of the defining characteristics of spring in Maine is precipitation. These are the rainiest months of the year, with an average of 9-10 days with rain each month. But this rainfall helps the trees and flowers bloom to give the state a colorful welcome to the warm weather.

Since early spring is still cold, most people don’t start visiting Maine until the latter half of the season when the weather warms up. But keep in mind that since the weather is transitioning, it can be highly unpredictable, and the warm and cold air mix can cause frequent storms and rapidly changing temperatures from morning to night.

Visiting Maine In The Summer

when is maine tourist season

Summertime in Maine is when the warm weather finally comes to stay. Mainers take advantage of these few months to experience outdoor recreation in the coastal areas or visit a nearby state park. And travelers from around the world treat it as a perfect New England summertime getaway.

Maine summers last from June to August. These are the warmest months, with average high temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the low-80s during the day and high-50s to low-60s at night. There are a handful of rainy days each month, but the summer is typically dry and sunny.

The best time to visit Maine is during the summer, and it’s the most popular time when tourists come to the state. All of Maine’s seasonal attractions are open during these months to support the tourism industry. 

Summer in Maine is the perfect time of year to enjoy the beaches on the coast. The waters of the Gulf of Maine are the warmest towards the end of the season. It’s also an excellent time to take the boat out for a day cruise and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, running, kayaking, and rock climbing.

Although the summer is short, it’s plenty of time to experience Maine’s favorite season.

Visiting Maine In The Fall

when is maine tourist season

New England is famous for its colorful fall foliage. Maine is one of the best places to experience Fall in New England, an opportunity to see the beautiful colors and last bit of moderate weather before the colder seasons.

Fall in Maine is from September to November. In the first half of the season, September to early October, Maine still has many characteristics from the summer before the weather transitions. It’s a popular alternative time to visit with fewer crowds, yet still, have the ideal weather to do many of the same activities. Starting in late September, however, the weather begins to cool down. But there are plenty of events happening like the annual Harvest on the Harbor festival, one of the largest food and drink festivals in Portland, which occurs in November.

The average temperature in Maine during the Fall ranges from the low-50s to the low-70s during the day and 30s to low-50s at night. The colder temperatures typically reflect the temperatures in late October to November as the weather cools down.

Visiting Maine in the Fall is a favorite time of year. Drive between the quaint towns where the local highways cross through tree-covered regions boasting colorful reds, browns, yellows, and other vibrant colors. 

Fall is the best off-season time to visit Maine.

Visiting Maine In The Winter

when is maine tourist season

Winters in Maine are frigid, with lots of snowfall and very short days. You’re lucky to see the sun, even if just for a few hours during this season. But with all the cold weather, there are still ways to find the beauty of Maine during the winter.

In Maine, the winter months are December to February, although many would say it starts much earlier and ends much later because of the cold weather. Average temperatures during the winter stay consistent around the freezing level in the 30s during the day. However, the nights can drop to the mid-teens.

Heavy snowfall is always expected during Maine’s winter season. Depending on where you are in the state, you might experience an average of 50-70ft of snow annually. Or upwards of over 100-feet of snow in the state’s northern regions. Also, the further inland you go from the coast, the colder the temperatures get.

The best way to survive winter in Maine is to embrace the weather. The Winter season is a favorite time for winter sports like skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. It’s also a beautiful time of year when the snow-covered trees give it a unique appearance.

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Attractions & Things To Do In Maine

Visitors can find fun things to do in Maine in any season. While the summer is the favorite time of year to visit the state, the winter also has plenty of exciting things to do—even outdoors! Here are just a few of the popular activities recommended by our travel agents to our members .

#1. Trek Through Acadia National Park

when is maine tourist season

Acadia National Park extends from the coastal beaches up to the peaks of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point in Maine. The diverse landscapes are popular for visitors to enjoy recreational activities from hiking the nature trails, visiting the beach, or boating in the lakes. It’s home to an abundance of wildlife like moose and bears. Whale-watching is common in April or October.

#2. Visit The Farnsworth Art Museum

when is maine tourist season

When the weather is cold outside, plan to check out a few indoor activities like the Farnsworth Art Museum. Located in Rockland, Maine, it holds a collection of more than 15,000 works of art from famous American artists. Its galleries exhibit works from the Wyeth family, Gilbert Stuart, Louise Nevelson, and others.

#3. Stroll Through The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

when is maine tourist season

The Coastal Main Botanical Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in Maine, with hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Located in Boothbay, it covers 323 acres extending for a mile along the coast. These botanical gardens feature 17 themed gardens showcasing plants native to Maine, the Northeastern region of the US, and other themes. Go for a walk through the gardens on the walking paths for views of the flora and coast. This seasonal attraction is open from May to October.

#4. Kick Back On Monhegan Island

when is maine tourist season

Take a ferry from the mainland visit one of the best islands off the Maine coast, Monhegan Island. This small island boasts some of the best island hikes along the coast, offering scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Trails lead to landmarks like the Monhegan Lighthouse perched atop a cliff. There are plenty of ways to relax in the small fishing village at charming inns or taste a delicious bowl of clam chowder at a harbor view Maine restaurant.

The Bottom Line

There isn’t one correct answer to the best time to visit Maine. Every traveler is different, and each season offers plenty of activities and attractions to fill up your itinerary. For example, beachgoers and boating enthusiasts will have the best time during the summer, while the winter is the best time to visit Maine if you’re looking for excellent places to ski in New England. And as for the days with lots of rain, there are several museums to learn about Maine’s history, see American Art, and more.

The best way to decide when to visit Maine is by first considering what kinds of activities you want to do during your trip. Our dedicated travel advisors are ready to assist members with their travel plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the tourist season in maine.

The tourist season in Maine is during the summer. The summer months of July and August are especially busy for tourism when Maine has the best weather and warm waters at the beaches.

Maine has year-round tourism welcoming over 35 million visitors in peak years. While most of these travelers arrive during the summer, there are still millions that come during every season for travelers looking to avoid summer crowds.

Keep in mind that there are many seasonal attractions and accommodations in Maine that can affect your travel plans. Be sure to check openings before making any reservations.

Should I visit Maine in the winter?

Yes, you should visit Maine in the winter! Winter is a charming season in the state where the blankets of white snow create a unique beauty only found in Maine. Maine is a famous destination for its ski season. Ski resorts at Sugarloaf, Camden Snow Bowl and Sunday River allow adventurous travelers to hit the slope of world-class ski runs or explore cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The Christmas holidays are full of snow, holiday lights, and cheer, while winter festivals like Maine Maple Sunday happen in March to give a taste of Maine.

Winter is the coldest season in Maine and gets lots of snowfall. Travelers can get prepared to visit Maine during the winter by packing heavy jackets, layered clothing, boots, outerwear accessories, and more.

What’s the best time to Visit Maine for lobster?

Maine is famous for its lobsters. It’s always had a thriving lobster industry and remains a key part of the economy and tourism. Lobster fishing happens any time of the year in Maine, but certain times of year are most popular for them.

The best time to visit Maine for lobster is from late June to December. This extensive lobster season is when lobsters are most abundant in the waters offshore Maine. Many of the restaurants serve freshly caught lobsters from the day. There are also lobster fishing tours available for visitors.

August is the best month to visit Maine for the Maine Lobster Festival, which happens every year in Rockland. This five-day festival is dedicated to the lobsters, showcasing the best Maine lobster dishes like lobster rolls, a lobster parade, cooking contests, and live entertainment.

Why is Maine so popular?

Maine is one of the top destinations to visit in New England. It’s just a short drive from major cities in New Hampshire and Vermont. There’s plenty of reasons to love Maine—home to some of the best beaches in New England, the picturesque lighthouses, the pristine islands near shore, charming coastal towns, the famous Maine lobsters, and much more.

Travelers enjoy visiting Maine all year long to take advantage of the unique attractions and activities across the entire state. Portland is the most popular travel destination in Maine, located less than two hours away from Boston. Other top destinations include Freeport, Ogunquit, Bangor, Bar Harbor, Kennebunk, and Kennebunkport.

In addition to the cities and towns, Maine is also known for its natural landscapes. Preserved lands in Acadia National Park or trekking the Appalachian National Scenic Trail are popular places to enjoy the outdoors.

How many days do you need in Maine to see the Northern Lights?

Maine is one of the top places in the US to see the Northern Lights. This colorful spectacle is best seen in clear skies away from city lights. Maine is perfectly located to have several ideal locations to see the lights.

The best places to see the Northern Lights in Maine are atop Sugarloaf Mountain and the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge. The best time to see the northern lights in Maine is during the winter season. This season also has less daylight for more chances to see the lights in the night.

Plan for at least 2-3 days in Maine to see the Northern Lights. Having a couple of days gives a better chance in case of cloudy weather.

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Maine Travel Guide

Packing for Maine is sort of like packing for an adventure: You'll want to bring your sturdiest boots and most weather-resistant jacket, and the kind of bag that has room for fresh blueberries. Scenic Maine is known for its relaxed New England lifestyle, not so much the mansions of Greenwich or Newport as the earthy, sea-dashed homes that look like they've got stories. Bring your flannel, your favorite Stephen King novel (for the full experience of Maine's most famous resident, of course), and a taste for lobster, and you'll be ready for anything.

Eastern Standard Time

Best Time to Go

Maine gets cold in the winter, so unless winter is your favorite season and you are a big fan of the cold (no judgment here), summer and fall are the best times to go. While summer is peak tourist season and allows visitors to enjoy all that Maine's beaches and seafood have to offer, fall might even win out — the weather is usually brisk and comfortable, and the New England fall foliage can't be beat. In fact, Maine has entire events planned around its famous foliage: Harvestfest in York, Fryeburg Fair, OgunquitFest, and more. Craft fairs are extremely popular during the fall throughout Maine, so if your favorite part of traveling is discovering unique treasures, you'd be hard-pressed to find a season to visit better than autumn. And, of course, there's Halloween. Though not as popular a New England destination as Salem, Massachusetts, or New England neighbor Sleepy Hollow , New York, Maine nonetheless does Halloween in style, and fans of the holiday will find themselves among like-minded people.

Things to Know

Maine is a largely laid-back, outdoorsy state. If you're too clipped when speaking to locals, you might come off as uptight — be friendly with your communication and you can't go wrong. Don't eat lobster with a bib, don't ask if the blueberries are local (they are), and get comfortable with small talk, because Maine locals love to talk about the weather. For a state where so much of what there is to do is outdoors, it makes sense.

For some local delicacies, try Moxie, a soft drink that can be an acquired taste. Amato's pickles are based in Portland, and have the market cornered in Maine. And, of course, whoopie pies. The very first ones were sold in Lewiston, Maine, and nowhere does them better.

There's also a huge antiquing scene in the state, and if you're at all interested in ferreting out some vintage finds, Maine is an excellent choice for you. Almost every town has its own antique shop that folks swear is the best around. Even if you're not an avid thrifter, it's worth checking out some of Maine's most famous antique shops, just for the experience.

How to Get Around

Depending on where in Maine you're spending your time, there are a variety of ways to get around.

Trains: Amtrak runs a local service known as the Downeaster, which runs from Boston, Massachusetts, to Brunswick, Maine. Hop on for easy transportation to major towns and cities throughout Maine.

Buses: There are several bus lines operating throughout Maine, depending on what counties you're in. Greyhound runs throughout, but there are several more localized services that might be better for your needs.

Taxis: Taxis are available throughout Maine, but as in most places, you must call a service directly if you're not in an urban area already. Ferries: Maine is serviced by two ferry lines specific to Casco and Penobscot Bays.

Best Hotels

Inn by the sea.

Address: 40 Bowery Beach Rd., Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107 Phone: (207) 799-3134 Book Now

A skip away from Portland lies the Inn by the Sea, a gorgeous beachfront resort with a full-service spa. Inn by the Sea's outdoor fire pits and fireplaces in every suite make it a prime choice for a winter stay. Have breakfast at Sea Glass, the property's restaurant, before taking a long walk on the pristine private beach, or heading into Portland for a day of fun.

Cliff House Maine

Address: 591 Shore Rd., Cape Neddick, ME 03902 Phone: (207) 361-1000 Book Now

Cliff House Maine sprawls along the oceanside cliffs of Cape Neddick, making a stay here feel like something out of classic literature. The ocean looks close enough to touch, and the sounds of it will lull you to sleep each night — almost every suite has a partial or complete coastal view. Cliff House Maine also features a full-service spa for the ultimate relaxation experience.

Black Friar Inn and Pub

Address: 10 Summer St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609 Phone: (207) 288-5091 Website

This charming establishment has an old European charm, created from salvaged wood from historical mansions that didn't make it to modern day. Breakfast is included at this cozy, comfortable inn, and each of the six rooms is in high demand during peak season – especially for those wanting to explore nearby Acadia National Park.

White Barn Inn

Address: 37 Beach Ave., Kennebunk, ME 04043 Phone: (207) 967-2321 Book Now

No list of top Maine getaways would be complete without the inclusion of White Barn Inn, whose luxurious suites and Forbes Five-star restaurant make it a must-stay for any discerning traveler. As a resort, White Barn Inn features several activities and experiences, from cooking alongside the hotel's chef to woodland dog sledding.

Lighthouse Suites at Pine Point

Address: 3 King St., Scarborough, ME 04074 Phone: (800) 780-3213 Book Now

What would Maine be without its lighthouses? Lighthouse Suites at Pine Point embraces all that is classic to Maine, starting with its charming New England decor. Pine Point's beaches are some of the most gorgeous on the East Coast, and Lighthouse Suites are a mere few steps away. Designed for extended stays, the luxurious suites are built for long-term comfort, and are ideal for those looking to get away for a season.

Hidden Pond

Address: 354 Goose Rocks Rd., Kennebunkport, ME 04046 Phone: (207) 967-9050 Book Now

A private woodland resort, Hidden Pond's most incredible amenity is its Treetop Lodges — tree houses from studios to two bedrooms, tucked among the birch trees. If you prefer more grounded lodging, Hidden Pond's bungalows and cottages are cozy, charming options. Enjoy a massage at the full-service spa, take a dip in one of the two pools, or harvest fresh berries for your own dessert at Hidden Pond's farm.

The Press Hotel

Address: 119 Exchange St., Portland, ME 04101 Phone: (207) 808-8800 Book Now

The Press Hotel is a Portland icon — a boutique stunner inspired by writers' offices of the 1920s. Each of the 110 rooms is uniquely decorated with pieces from local artists, making no two stays the same, should you be a repeat guest. Centrally located within easy visiting distance of many of the city's most beloved institutions, The Press Hotel is a perfect choice for those heading to Portland.

Nathaniel Lord Mansion

Address: 6 Pleasant St., Kennebunkport, ME 04046 Phone: (207) 967-3141 Book Now

Maine is dotted with historical mansions that have found new life as inns and bed-and-breakfasts, and the luxurious Nathaniel Lord Mansion is one of the most well-known. Formerly a shipbuilder's and sea merchant's mansion, the property has been carefully maintained, from the gorgeous original paneling to the stunningly restored furniture. The building overlooks the river and is a short walk to Dock Square for dining and shopping.

Best Restaurants

Central provisions.

Address: 414 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101 Phone: (207) 805-1085 Website

Portland's Central Provisions gets its name from its history — originally a storehouse for provisions, it has been renovated and updated with the help of local craftspeople and artisans into the eatery and market it is today. A focus on small plates with fresh ingredients allows you to sample everything Central Provisions has to offer, and on your way out, you can grab a few things — farm fresh eggs, aromatic coffee, and more.

Eventide Oyster Co.

Address: 86 Middle St., Portland, ME 04101 Phone: (207) 774-8538 Website

Eventide Oyster Co. has a location in Boston now, but the original is in Portland — and where else would a brown butter lobster roll spring into existence? Eventide Oyster Co.'s original takes on New England favorites include a fried oyster bun, a lobster stew, and house-made oatmeal cream pies. Reservations are recommended.

The Knotted Apron

Address: 496 Woodford St., Portland, ME 04103 Phone: (207) 805-1523 Website

This bistro's limited menu will have you ordering one of everything — and with its seasonal changes, you can go back and have a new, unique experience. Nestled in the bustling heart of Portland, The Knotted Apron is famous for its classic recipes with a refreshing, delicious twist.

Anju Noodle Bar

Address: 7 Wallingford Sq., Unit 102, Kittery, ME 03904 Phone: (207) 703-4298 Website

Satisfy your cravings for cozy ramen, delectable bao, and zippy kimchi at this incredible Kittery noodle bar. Anju is known for its individual takes on classic ramen recipes, with ingredients so fresh you'll wonder how you can eat noodles at home again. Don't miss the pork buns and spicy miso ramen.

Palace Diner

Address: 18 Franklin St., Biddeford, ME 04005 Phone: (207) 284-0015 Website

The Palace Diner is a railcar-style eatery serving up breakfast and lunch daily, with a down-home menu to die for. Fill up on classic buttermilk flapjacks or a juicy fried chicken sandwich, and don't forget to grab a slice of their famous brown butter banana bread, too.

The Clam Shack

Address: 2 Western Ave., Kennebunk, ME 04043 Phone: (207) 967-3321 Website

Serving fresh lobster, scallops, fish, and more since 1968, The Clam Shack is Maine's most famous seaside seafood spot. The lobster rolls here are simple and incredible, with butter and a hint of herbs, letting the fresh lobster really shine. Don't miss the fried clams, either — it's called The Clam Shack for a reason. Note: It's only open seasonally.

Address: 37 Beach Ave., Kennebunk, ME 04043 Phone: (207) 967-2321 Website

The White Barn Inn features a Forbes Five-star, AAA Five-diamond restaurant, and the food is as good as those accolades claim. The White Barn Inn has two dining options — its namesake restaurant for a more elegant and romantic meal, or the Little Barn, a relaxed, casual experience with the same acclaimed food. Reservations are recommended.

Earth at Hidden Pond

Address: 354 Goose Rocks Rd., Kennebunkport, ME 04046 Phone: (207) 967-6550 Website

Hidden Pond is one of Maine's top spots to stay, not in small part because of its incredible restaurant. With fresh ingredients from the on-site farm, it's hard not to be a little overblown in the description of Earth's dishes. Inspired by a little of everywhere, Earth offers three-course prix-fixe meals for $65 per person and four-course options for $80 per person. Reservations are recommended.

Things to Do

Acadia national park.

Maine's most stunning attraction takes up most of Mount Desert Island, and is replete with hiking for all levels, hidden natural beauty, and educational events for families. Whether you plan to hike, camp, swim, or kayak, Acadia National Park's legendary beauty is a can't-miss for any Maine visitor.

Farnsworth Art Museum

Address: 16 Museum St., Rockland, ME 04841 Phone: (207) 596-6457 Website

With a range of thoughtful, eclectic, and fascinating exhibits alongside its permanent collection, the Farnsworth Art Museum is a gem tucked away in Rockland. Featuring American artists with a focus on those with Maine connections, the museum frequently hosts lectures, workshops, and performances that make it a must-visit for any art lover.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Address: 132 Botanical Gardens Dr., Boothbay, ME 04537 Phone: (207) 633-8000 Website

Open seasonally from May through October, this botanical garden is known not only for its lush flowers, but also for its comprehensive herbarium, which draws botanical enthusiasts from all around. Enjoy a relaxing stroll through the blooming gardens or learn about conservation and horticulture through the venue's programming.

Portland Museum of Art

Address: 7 Congress St., Portland, ME 04101 Phone: (207) 775-6148 Website

This museum is as much a piece of art in and of itself as it is a collection. The stunning architecture of the PMA, as it's fondly known, draws as many design lovers as its exhibitions do art lovers. With a focus on fostering connections between the community and art, the PMA provides educational programming as well as rotating exhibitions. With pieces by Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, and many more, the museum frequently switches out what's on display, so check in advance to see if your favorite is out.

International Cryptozoology Museum

Address: 32 Resurgam Pl., Portland, Maine 04102 Website

This tiny museum has, according to one enthusiastic reviewer, a "real mystery shack vibe," which makes sense given its devotion to all things cryptid. Including, but certainly not limited to, exhibitions dedicated to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, the museum also focuses on those cryptids that were eventually proven real, like the coelacanth.

Wild Blueberry Land

Address: 1067 US-1, Columbia Falls, ME 04623 Phone: (207) 483-2583 Website

If you've ever wondered what happened to that one girl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, now you know — she's having a grand old time at Maine's most charming farm. Living peacefully somewhere between theme park and farmers' market, Wild Blueberry Land is a beloved landmark and home to arguably the best blueberry pie within the state's borders.

Merryspring Nature Center

Address: 30 Conway Rd., Camden, ME 04843 Phone: (207) 236-2239 Website

This 66-acre park is perfect for families, with programming specifically tailored to children of all ages. Enjoy trails, birding, a diversely populated arboretum, a vernal pool, and a wide variety of wildlife as you explore the park and its many habitats.

Nubble Lighthouse

Address: Sohier Park Rd., York, ME 03909 Website

Of Maine's 65 lighthouses, the most famous is the Nubble Lighthouse, whose classic silhouette is almost synonymous with New England itself. Visit to take in the beauty of the lighthouse, then explore the park surrounding it, where visitors can enjoy fishing, scuba diving, and more.

Best Shopping

Len libby candies.

Address: 419 US Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074 Phone: (207) 883-4897 Website

Google Len Libby Candies and you'll see they are the proud home of a life-size chocolate moose named Lenny, who has been around since 1997 and shows no signs of melting down. He alone is worth a visit, but while you're paying your respects to legendary Lenny, don't miss Len Libby's confections, which range from homemade peanut butter cups and truffles to lobster-shaped lollipops.

Abacus Gallery

Address: Multiple Locations Website

Maine's most popular curio and artisan crafts shop, Abacus Gallery has several locations throughout the state, each with unique offerings. They are best known for their iconic calendar and stock of jewelry, but they also sell home goods, art, and much more.

Freeport Outlets

Address: 1 Hummingbird Ln., Freeport, ME 04032 Website

The Freeport Outlets include over a dozen shops both small and large, including designer names like Dooney & Bourke and local comic shops like DotCom Comics and Collectibles. There's a little something for everyone here, making it a real family pleasure.

Bangor Mall

Address: 663 Stillwater Ave., Bangor, ME 04401 Phone: (207) 947-7334 Website

If you find yourself in need of some basics, itching to have a little shopping frenzy, or just missing that mall vibe, Bangor Mall is a great option. It's quite large, clocking in at about 40 shops and restaurants and spanning a wide variety of big-box stores and boutiques.

Nervous Nellie's Jams and Jellies

Address: 598 Sunshine Rd., Deer Isle, ME 04627 Phone: (800) 777-6845 Website

Located on a several-acre campus, Nervous Nellie's features the promised jams and jellies, as well as a tea room, sculpture workshop, and Nellieville, the town-in-progress built by the sculptor in residence. Worth a visit just to see what Nervous Nellie's really is, you'd be remiss not to leave with at least a few of their delectable canned jams.

Elmer's Barn

Address: 107 Rockland Rd., Coopers Mills, ME 04341 Phone: (207) 549-7671 Website

Elmer's Barn does not have a website, only a Facebook page — if you know, you know. A sprawling barn full of curios, antiques, oddities, and all kinds of little treasures, Elmer's is a local legend and a state-wide icon.

Treehouse Toys

Address: 47 Exchange St., Portland, ME 04101 Phone: (207) 775-6133 Website

This indie shop is a real joy for adults and children alike. With a welcoming, colorful aesthetic and a real devotion to play, Treehouse Toys carries brand names as well as more local and hard-to-find toys.

Longfellow Books

Address: 1 Monument Sq., Portland, ME 04101 Phone: (207) 772-4045 Website

Named for the famed Maine poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Longfellow Books is a gorgeous independent bookstore that's a must-visit for any Portland tourist with a love for the written word. It also hosts lectures, speakers, and author Q&As, so check the events calendar before heading over.

Portland Flea-for-All

Address: 585 Congress St., Portland, ME 04101 Phone: (207) 370-7570 Website

A gem in Portland's Arts District, Portland Flea-for-All is a curated vintage, antique, and artisan market that's easy to spend hours wandering through. The market's mission is to make itself as accessible and welcoming as possible, so go ahead and browse — it's for a great cause.

Spring : Summer temperatures range from 20°F to 65°F on average, with a bit of rain but generally lovely weather. If traveling during spring, be sure to bring an umbrella, just in case.

Summer : Summer is peak tourist season — no wonder, given Maine's stunning beaches and delicious lobster. Summer is also the best time for wild blueberries. Maine sees occasional summer thunderstorms, but overall, the weather is warm and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 51°F to 75°F, though they can sometimes reach 80°F and beyond.

Fall : Fall is a stunning time of year in Maine, thanks to the legendary foliage. It can be chilly, especially later in the season, and temperatures range from 25°F to 50°F on average. Fall in Maine tends to be a drier season — if you choose to visit at peak foliage time, you should enjoy beautiful weather.

Winter : Winter is very cold, and Maine sees a lot of snow. You should visit during winter if it's your favorite season, but otherwise, stick to milder seasons. Winter temperatures frequently get into the single digits – the average is 4°F — and below with wind chill. The average high for the season is 40°F; if you choose to visit, bring a warm coat.

Apps to Download

Google Maps : Google Maps has an integration with Maine's bus systems. iOs | Android

FarOut Guides : This premier trail guide app is ideal for Maine and beyond. iOs | Android

Friends of Acadia : Also known as Acadia Quest, this adventure-focused educational game app is for hikes through Acadia National Park. iOs | Android

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When Is the Best Time to Visit Maine?

By Diana Hubbell

Last updated: April 28th, 2023

Best time to visit Maine - Acadia National Park

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The best time to visit Maine is from late spring to early fall. During this time, these northern latitudes enjoy long, largely sunny days and pleasantly warm temperatures perfect for hiking, kayaking, and lounging on the beach. Even in peak summer, the average temperature highs tend to hover around 77℉ (25℃ ), meaning it rarely gets uncomfortably hot.

Even though the summer months of June, July, and August are by far the busiest time of the year, many would argue that this is still the best time to go to Maine. For those looking for fewer crowds, and nature at its finest, the fall shoulder season from September to October may be the best time to visit.

Visiting Maine by Season

Waterfront of Bar Harbor

Summers in Maine are glorious, with temperature highs ranging from around 73℉ (23℃ ) in June to 79℉ (26℃ ) in July. Humidity tends to stay relatively low around the coastal areas, meaning travelers can expect plenty of days perfect for strolling through the charming seaside towns that Maine is known for .

August tends to be the driest month, with an average rainfall of just three inches (76 mm). Wild blueberries are in season this time of year and the local farmers’ markets are overflowing with stellar produce.

The one drawback to summer is that  popular areas such as Portland or Bar Harbor may be more crowded than usual. This influx of visitors has its perks, however, including plenty of festivals, and concerts. Of particular note are Rockland’s North Atlantic Blues Festival in July and Lobster Festival in August.

September is a prime month to visit Maine. As soon as the school year starts, the number of visitors drops dramatically. Temperature highs are around 68℉ (20℃), with cooler evenings, and rainfall remains relatively low.

October is the time to visit to see Acadia National Park in its full autumnal glory, the trees decked out in dazzling crimson, ochre, burnt orange, and yellow.

By November, however, many businesses in towns like Bar Harbor close and temperature highs plummet to around 47℉ (8℃).

Acadia National Park in the fall

Acadia National Park

The winter months from December to February are fairly quiet in Maine, with temperature highs around 30℉ (-1℃). During this time, Maine sees a fair amount of rain, as well as considerable snowfall.

For those willing to brave the cold, there’s a certain icy beauty to Maine in the snow, and skiing and winter sports on higher ground, but options for dining and entertainment are rather limited.

April in Maine is still on the cooler side, but around May, temperatures begin picking up and many restaurants open for the coming summer season.

For those looking to escape the crowds in Acadia National Park or score a coveted restaurant reservation in Portland , May is an excellent time to visit. Flowers are in bloom across the state and the seasonal bars and restaurants are beginning to open.

Plate of Lobster roll

Lobster roll

When Is Rainy Season?

Maine sees fairly consistent rainfall throughout the year, with the exception of the summer months. August is the driest month, while November, with an average of four inches (101 mm) is the wettest.

For the most part, Maine sees a lot of mild drizzle and fog rather than full-on downpours.

When Is High Season?

High season in Maine runs roughly from June to August, when the days are relatively clear and mild.

Towns from Kennebunkport to Rockport come alive during this season, when the boardwalks and mainstreets fill up with New Englanders on holiday.

Aerial view of Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport

When Is Shoulder Season?

The state has two shoulder seasons: one in May and one from September to October, the best time to come for the fall colors in Maine .

Both are great times to visit, with comfortable daytime temperatures and fewer visitors. You’ll avoid the summer crowds and will be able to enjoy long strolls on empty beaches.

When Is Low Season?

November through March is the low season in Maine, unless you happen to be a skier. During this time, many local businesses are closed and some of the state’s smaller towns take on a particularly sleepy air.

While winter in Maine can be cozy, temperatures can be punishingly cold and the snowfall in the northernmost parts of the state is considerable.

Discover all of the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Maine on a luxury cruise. Browse our upcoming Maine cruises and book yours today.

Diana Hubbell

Diana Hubbell has been covering food and travel for publications including The Guardian, The Washington Post, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, VICE, Architectural Digest, The Independent, Eater, and Atlas Obscura for more than a decade. Although she is currently happy to call New York City home, she previously lived in Berlin and Bangkok.

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Best places to visit in maine.

Maine's unmatched landscape, enviable seafood scene and laid-back atmosphere have made the state a must-visit destination among New Englanders. But with one of the country's most-visited national parks and inarguably the best lobster in the United States, Maine is worth a trip for those farther afield, too. To help you find the state's most satisfying destinations, U.S. News evaluated Maine's top sights, adventurous pursuits and value, among other factors. From outdoor hot spots to cool coastal towns and culture-packed cities, these are the best places to visit in Maine. Vote for your favorites below to help us determine next year's list.

Baxter State Park

Acadia national park, portland, me, brunswick, me, belfast, me, sugarloaf mountain, kennebunkport.

when is maine tourist season

Bar Harbor is small-town Maine at its finest. This adorable town, widely known as the gateway to Acadia National Park, offers a village-like atmosphere and a picturesque waterfront setting worth writing home about. While here, take things slow and stroll the scenic Shore Path to check out luxurious yachts and seaside parks. You can also meander down charming Main Street, where you'll find a bevy of fresh seafood, specialty shops and small art galleries. To see Bar Harbor from a new perspective, opt for a trolley tour, a cruise around Mount Desert Island or a whale watching excursion .

when is maine tourist season

While Maine's coastline draws the biggest crowds, head inland to Baxter State Park in north-central Maine if you're looking for pure solitude. With narrow dirt roads, no cellphone reception and no amenities to speak of, aside from the occasional outhouse, Baxter State Park attracts explorers who don't mind roughing it. The park's lack of frills only enhances the beauty of its rugged wilderness, including more than 200,000 acres of scenic vistas, tranquil ponds and prime wildlife viewing opportunities (think: moose, black bears and white-tailed deer). If you're extra adventurous, take on Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, on a hike that can take up to 12 hours round trip. 

when is maine tourist season

For truly breathtaking marine terrain, complete with rocky coastlines and lush forests, travel to Acadia National Park. Acadia is home to plenty of stunning scenery, with trails that bring you to the highest point on the North Atlantic Seaboard: Cadillac Mountain. Climb the granite cliffs on the popular Precipice Trail, and for unforgettable views of the Atlantic Ocean, head to Schoodic Point. If you're not in the mood to hike, go for a drive on the 27-mile Park Loop Road, which offers scenic views and pull-off points. Since parking is limited at popular attractions like Jordan Pond, consider taking the free shuttle or biking if you're planning to make a lot of stops.

when is maine tourist season

Overlooking Penobscot Bay, Camden is small but full of charm (think: cozy bed-and-breakfast accommodations and picturesque shops). The harbor is always bustling with boats bringing fishermen to and from shore each day. To check out the area's best lighthouses and lobster habitats, sign up for a harbor cruise. Then, get a taste of Camden's fresh seafood at a waterfront restaurant. No visit would be complete without trekking the trails in nearby Camden Hills State Park. The park's paths bring you to overlooks with stunning vistas of the area's bay and islands.

when is maine tourist season

Maine's biggest city (by population) is the state's cultural hub, offering plenty in the way of art, history and food. Start your vacation with a lobster roll (don't ask us to choose our favorite) before exploring popular attractions like the historic Old Port neighborhood, the Portland Museum of Art and the city's ever-evolving brewery scene. If the weather's right, do as the locals do and travel to the nearby Casco Bay Islands for tucked away beaches and evergreen woodlands. If you visit Portland in winter, snowshoe on the surrounding trails or admire the area's famous lighthouses.

when is maine tourist season

Rockland is the sleepy, coastal town of your dreams. Located about 80 miles northeast of Portland, Rockland features lighthouses, beautiful boats swaying in the harbor and compact streets lined with traditional brick and shingled buildings. Visit the Farnsworth Art Museum and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art to add a dose of culture to your vacation. Or, if you're looking for something more active, hike through Beech Hill Preserve's blueberry fields to Beech Nut, a sod-roofed stone hut built in the early 1900s, for striking panoramas of Penobscot Bay. The view from Owls Head Lighthouse is also worth the short climb.

when is maine tourist season

Bowdoin College is the focal point of Brunswick, giving this town on Maine's MidCoast a unique bustle. In addition to the college, which was founded in 1794, sights like Skolfield-Whittier House, Pejepscot History Center and Harriet Beecher Stowe House allow visitors to glimpse into various stages of the past. Those looking to get outdoors can head to the Androscoggin River, which runs through town, for fishing, canoeing and biking opportunities. Meanwhile, Brunswick's Maine Street, with its bakeries, bookshops, antique shops, breweries and top-notch restaurants, has all the quaintness expected of small-town New England.

when is maine tourist season

Vibrant and inviting, Ogunquit on the southern coast is perfect for the casual traveler. Artists and beach bums alike flock to this tiny town (it takes up just 4 square miles) for its picturesque coastline. Head to Footbridge Beach for smaller crowds or Main Beach for gear rental and a shallow river ideal for kids. After a day of sun and sand, check out the restaurants on Main Street and Shore Road, which serve everything from lobster dishes to farm-to-table fare. Because of its accepting atmosphere and many gay-friendly bars, Ogunquit is a popular vacation destination for members of the LGBTQ community.

when is maine tourist season

If you're looking for a carefree vacation spot and a low-key agenda, consider Belfast, which sits about 60 miles west of Bar Harbor. Belfast emerged as a maritime hub in the 1800s, and today, you can stroll along the Belfast Harbor Walk to watch the ships come and go and catch a glimpse of a working shipyard. Beyond the port, support local farms and artisans at the United Farmers Market of Maine (open year-round), take in river views along the Belfast Rail Trail or hop on the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad, which offers train rides with varying themes, ranging from lobster rolls to fall foliage.

when is maine tourist season

No matter the season, Sugarloaf Mountain is the perfect backdrop for your next vacation. In winter, skiers will revel in Sugarloaf's many shred-worthy options , from traditional downhill skiing to more adventurous cat skiing on rugged terrain. Fat biking, dog sledding and ice skating are also popular winter activities. Meanwhile, summertime is ideal for zip lining, kayaking, hiking and scenic lift rides, among other adventures. The mountain is surrounded by a wide variety of restaurants and stores, so you can explore the great outdoors without leaving behind the conveniences of home.

when is maine tourist season

If you're looking for the perfect beach vacation in Maine, you'll find comfort in Kennebunkport. This southern coastal town offers long, flat shorelines atypical to the craggy coastal spots you'll find along Maine's other shores. Lay out or rent a boat on Gooch's Beach (a traveler favorite). Or, if you're looking to stay dry, take a nice long walk along leafy Walker's Point, preferably at sunset, for a glimpse of the Bush family compound. A popular haven for celebrities and politicians, Kennebunkport has its fair share of chic boutiques and art galleries to explore, especially in the charming Dock Square area.

when is maine tourist season

York offers something for every member of the family to enjoy. Parents can relax on the 1.5-mile stretch of Long Sands Beach while children play in the surf before grabbing lunch at a nearby restaurant. Souvenir shops, boutiques and a plethora of ice cream parlors are sprinkled around the downtown area. Arcades, bowling alleys, amusement park rides and mini-golf courses also abound here, so kids will never get bored. Plus, visitors will have their pick of lodging options, including budget hotels and quaint cottages.

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Augusta, ME

when is maine tourist season

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9 Reasons Why The Off-Season Is The Best Time To Visit Maine

If you only go in the summer, you're missing out.

2-snow-maine

There's no denying that summer in Maine is pretty idyllic. The average temperature in July and August hovers around 70 degrees, which is pretty much perfect weather for a lobster bake on the beach. But if you've never spent a weekend in Vacationland in the fall or winter, here are nine reasons you need to add it to your bucket list right now.

The Foliage

Camden, Maine

Maine is beautiful in the summer, but it gets even better in the fall when the entire state erupts in vivid shades of red, orange and yellow.

Maine in snow

If you prefer winter wonderlands to beach vacations, you'll love Maine. The state's coastal region gets 50-70 inches of snow on average every year. Imagine all the sledding, snowshoeing, and snow angel-making you can do with that!

The Lobster

United States of America, USA, North East coast, Lobsters, Ipswich near Gloucester &amp; Rockport, Clam shack the Clam Box,  lobster roll,

The Seasonal Food

Natalie's at Camden Harbour Inn

Food in Maine isn't just about lobster, either. There are delicious culinary offerings year round in this state, but you haven't lived until you've had the pumpkin French toast, which is only available for a few months each year, for breakfast at Natalie's  in Camden.

The Seasonal Cocktails

The Jakarta Cocktail at Tempo Dulu

There's nothing cozier than coming in from a fall foliage sail on Casco Bay and warming up in front of the fire at Portland's  Tempo Dulu with a Jakarta, the rye whiskey cocktail smoked with Chinese five spice seen here. If you'd prefer something warm, try the Fourth Gentleman, a gin-based cocktail infused with an hot herbal mixture of chrysanthemum, pink peppercorn, coriander seeds, mint, lemon and bay leaf.

There Are Fewer Crowds

3-fewer crowds-portland-maine

Nearly 18 million people went on vacation to Maine in 2015—roughly half of them were there during the summer months. Which means if you come in the fall or winter you'll have a lot less competition for getting a table at any of Portland's hottest restaurants.

It's More Affordable

The Danforth Inn in Portland, Maine

Because there are fewer visitors, you can get the same luxe treatment for less in the off season at inns like The Danforth in Portland and Camden Harbour Inn in Camden, whose rates are around $230 less per night on average in fall and winter than during the summer high season.

The U.S. National Toboggan Championships

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer: Competitors race down the 400-foot ice covered chute during qualifying in the 2-person race during the 20th annual U.S. National Toboggan Championships at the Camden Snow Bowl in Camden on February 6, 2010. Many teams race down the chute in less than 20 seconds and can reach speeds up to 40 mph.&#xA;&#xA;

Every year since 1990, the town of Camden hosts the U.S. National Toboggan Championships where anyone can register to race down the 400-foot-long wooden chute that ends on a frozen pond. This year's competition takes place the weekend of February 10-12, 2017.

The Museums

Rockland, Maine

In warm weather you might feel guilty spending a day indoors exploring the art museums and galleries in Rockland—but a rainy day in October or a blustery day in January? That's perfect for wandering around the Farnsworth Art Museum and Center For Maine Contemporary Art and discussing it afterward over a flight of locally-made beer at Rock Harbor Pub and Brewery .

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24 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Maine

Written by Barbara Radcliffe Rogers Updated Mar 20, 2024

Few states can claim as many iconic images as Maine: fully rigged Windjammers, waves breaking against a rocky coast, lighthouses, pine woods, and fishing harbors filled with boats. The miles of backwoods inhabited by moose hold their own mystique and images: a lone canoe barely riffling the mirror-like surface of a forest-encircled lake, or rainbow trout jumping from crystal waters.

The remarkable thing about Maine is that it doesn't disappoint tourists who arrive with these romantic pictures in mind. Lighthouses do crown points from York to Quoddy Head, and between them lie dozens of snug little fishing harbors and mile after mile of rocky wave-beaten shore.

But Maine's attractions aren't all in iconic images, and between its museums, breathtaking gardens, art heritage, historic attractions, outdoor activities, and natural wonders, you're spoiled for choice of things to do on a Maine vacation.

I've seen Maine's attractions from many perspectives -- Moosehead Lake from a kayak and from a float plane, vast stretches of snow-covered wilderness from ski trails on Sugarloaf and Sunday River -- but my favorite view is of the islands and lighthouses from the deck of a Maine Windjammer as it sails through Casco Bay.

Let me help you discover your own favorite view, with this list of the best attractions and places to visit in Maine.

1. Acadia National Park & Mount Desert Island

2. the old port and portland head lighthouse, 3. marginal way and ogunquit beaches, 4. pemaquid point light, 5. old orchard beach, 6. coastal maine botanical gardens, 7. farnsworth art museum, 8. boothbay harbor, 9. rockland, 10. bar harbor, 12. nubble lighthouse (cape neddick light), 13. maine maritime museum, 14. west quoddy head & lighthouse, 15. portland museum of art & winslow homer studio, 16. cruising the maine coast, 17. kennebunkport, 18. monhegan island, 19. victoria mansion, portland, 20. desert of maine, 21. peaks island, 22. bowdoin college museum of art, 23. wiscasset, map of attractions & places to visit in maine, best time to visit maine.

Acadia National Park

The rugged and beautiful stretch of coastline that is set aside as Acadia National Park also surrounds a large inland region of lakes, streams, and forests. It provides a playground for locals and visitors who enjoy the outdoors. The scenic Park Loop Road winds its way through the park past the main attractions and is the best way to tour the park by car.

The handy Island Explorer buses also connect the various attractions, while cyclists and walkers can follow the network of unpaved carriage roads, part of the more than 100 miles of hiking trails for all levels of ability. These include trails to the summit of 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain , the park's highest point, from which there are views of the coast and islands.

Other highlights in the park are Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse and the dramatic chasm of Thunder Hole . A second and little-visited portion of Acadia National Park is farther north, on the Schoodic Peninsula , where there are more hiking trails, coastal views, and opportunities for kayaking. There are two large campgrounds in the park and several picnic areas.

Throughout Mount Desert Island are waterside villages overlooking small harbors. Of particular interest to garden lovers are Asticou Azalea Garden and neighboring Thuya Garden , both in Northeast Harbor. Asticou is a Japanese-inspired garden at its most spectacular in the spring, when the azaleas are in bloom around the pond. Thuya reaches its prime in June and July, when the perennial beds are at their showiest.

After strolling the paths through both these gardens, I cross the road to the historic Asticou Inn, where I sit on the verandah overlooking the gardens and harbor, and savor a pot of tea, with hot popovers slathered in wild blueberry jam. That's my idea of a perfect Maine afternoon.

  • Read More: Acadia National Park: Best Hikes & Things to Do

Portland Head Lighthouse

Tourists looking for things to do in Portland invariably head straight for its harbor district, the Old Port. There, along with fishing boats, busy docks, and seafood restaurants, they may find a cruise ship or see the tall masts of a sailing ship, for Portland is still an active port.

The narrow streets that climb from the dockside Commercial Street are lined by the brick and stone buildings that supported one of the East Coast's busiest ports from colonial times through the 19 th century.

Shop for maritime souvenirs in a ships' chandlery, eat seafood on the wharf, and if you're there early enough, watch the fishing boats unload and local chefs choose the menu at the city's restaurants. Fore Street , which parallels Commercial, is where you'll find several of these. At the docks, you can board a cruise of Casco Bay or a ferry to visit its islands.

Tip: The island ferries that ply Casco Bay are the best bargain in town. You can take them to visit the individual islands, or you can just ride along on the entire circuit for a scenic cruise of the bay. In high season, if there are enough passengers, a tour guide shares interesting information on the islands, several of which have historic fortifications.

A landmark of Casco Bay is Portland Head Lighthouse , which marks the entrance to the harbor. It is one of the most beautiful along the coast, and from its promontory, you can see the city and Old Port, as well as the passing ships and boats.

The museum in the former Keeper's Quarters features exhibits on the lighthouses and their keepers, showing how these bastions of maritime safety have changed over the years with advances in technology. Along with historic photos, artifacts on display include Fresnel lenses and exhibits on how they work.

Address: 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Boats in Perkins Cove

The paved walking path along the shore from the center of Ogunquit to Perkins Cove is a beautiful way to see the rocky coast and its crashing surf.

Among the rocky cliffs are a series of small sandy coves that offer a more intimate beach experience than Ogunquit Beach, which is one of the most popular beaches in Maine . The Marginal Way is for walkers only (no bikes, no dogs from April to October) and runs about a mile and a half from the end of the village to the scenic wharfs of Perkins Cove .

Here, a slender peninsula shelters a small bay, creating a safe haven for small craft. Originally a small fishing port, today the harbor is overlooked by restaurants and small shops, but you'll still see plenty of fishing boats.

All along Marginal Way, benches are conveniently placed, both on the path and on overlooks above the sea. You can return to town on the same path, walk back along the shady Shore Road, or take the trolley.

Ogunquit Beach has a gentle slope to the sea and comparatively warm water, which makes it popular with families. The town's shops and restaurants are busy in the summer, and the thriving arts scene brings more tourists to the nationally known Ogunquit Playhouse and the Ogunquit Museum of American Art .

Author's tip: Around the museum (whose collections and special exhibitions are well worth seeing) are its outdoor exhibits, in a sculpture garden that slopes to the rocky shore. You can stroll through the gardens for free. Kids will love the largest of these works of art, the whimsical animal sculptures of Maine artist Bernard Langlais. Built from rough boards and scrap wood, the giant lion, horse, and rhino always bring smiles.

Pemaquid Point Light

One of Maine's most iconic lighthouses stands at the end of the long Pemaquid Point in Mid-Coast Maine and is such a landmark that it was chosen as the image on the Maine quarter coin. It was built in 1835, and along with the light tower, the keeper's cottage and the brick sound signal house have been preserved. The setting is made even more dramatic by the unusual formations of striped metamorphic rock in the ledges below.

The keeper's cottage houses the Fisherman's Museum which preserves the region's strong fishing heritage, with captains' logs, models, dioramas, photos, and artifacts, including information on the shipwrecks off this point. The scenic point is a favorite site for picnics.

To the north, in New Harbor, Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site preserves the foundations of a colonial settlement and the reconstructed Fort William Henry . The museum and excellent sign boards explain the importance of this fort in the conflicts involving English and French settlers and the local Native Americans. The archaeological site has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Old Orchard Beach

An unabashed old-fashioned beach resort, Old Orchard Beach revels in the somewhat tacky honky-tonk atmosphere of its pier and thrill rides at New England's only remaining full-scale amusement park on a beach. So kick off your shoes, step back into mid-century summer fun, and indulge in a little nostalgia.

Palace Playland has all the expected rides: a Ferris wheel right over the waves, a roller coaster, an old-fashioned carousel, bumper cars, and a dozen or so other kid-pleasers. Pier stands and street-side windows sell fries, soft ice cream, saltwater taffy, and fried dough.

The highlight of all this is a full seven miles of golden sand beach with free public access. The sands are scoured each night by volunteers, so you won't find a cleaner beach anywhere, and separating most of the seven miles of beach from the line of low hotels and shops is a barrier of grassy dunes.

Old Orchard is also the only Maine beach where you can arrive directly by train, which is one reason this is such a popular weekend getaway destination from Boston ; the Amtrak station is opposite the pier and amusement park.

Author's Tip: I can't go to Old Orchard Beach without a stop at Pier French Fries , a traditional stop for locals and tourists since 1932. Do you need French fries? Of course you do — it's part of the Old Orchard Beach experience.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay

Strolling the paths through this 270-acre garden, it's almost impossible to believe that the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens opened as recently as 2007. The profusion of bloom and the size of the well-manicured and creatively designed gardens achieve the sense that they have been pampered by generations of devoted horticulturalists.

The paths wind among the various themed gardens, showing native and exotic plants that thrive in woodland, water, and other environments. There is a kitchen garden, and a garden for the five senses spotlights plants for their fragrances, flavors, and textures, in raised beds for wheelchair access. The large children's garden will charm any age, as will the woodland village of fairy houses.

Walking trails traverse the grounds, which slope down to the shore and include various shore environments. Daily tours point out highlights and follow themes such as rare and native plants. A large collection of original sculpture by regional artists highlights the gardens, and art exhibitions are held in the visitor center throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

Tip to parents: The Children's Garden here is a major part of the extensive campus. Like the rest of the gardens, it is scattered with sculptures — these inspired by children's books written by Maine authors. My kids' favorite is the lifelike bronze of Sal's Bear , by Nancy Schon, based on Robert McCloskey's Blueberries for Sal .

Highlights of the themed gardens are a cottage with a grass roof, an arbor tunnel to walk through, a maze lawn, a giant tree house, and a fanciful fairy house.

Address: 132 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay, Maine

Farnsworth Art Museum

In the heart of downtown Rockland, the Farnsworth Art Museum is one of New England's best, which is saying a lot in a region with such a rich art heritage. No other museum has such a complete collection of works by artists connected with Maine, and its Wyeth Center is one of only two in the country dedicated to the work of the three generations of Wyeths – N.C., Andrew, and James.

The Farnsworth Art Museum's collections include some of America's most prominent late 19th- and early 20th-century landscape painters. Along with the earliest known work by Thomas Cole, you can see paintings by George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, John La Farge, George Inness, Childe Hassam, and maritime artist Fitz Henry Lane.

A separate building, a former church on Union Street, exhibits works of James Wyeth and N.C. Wyeth. The Farnsworth also arranges tours of the Olson House, made famous in several works by Andrew Wyeth, the best-known of which is his 1948 painting Christina's World .

Author's Tip: Ask at the museum for directions to visit the Olson House, a farmhouse made famous by Andrew Wyeth in his 1948 painting Christina's World . You can see the exterior of the house, which stands on Hathorne Point Road in Cushing, Maine, or see the interior on a guided tour arranged through the museum.

Address: 6 Museum Street, Rockland, Maine

Aerial view of Boothbay Harbor

Once a busy shipping port, Boothbay Harbor today is primarily a popular summer resort, with the largest boating harbor north of Boston.

Schooner cruises, whale watches , lighthouse viewing trips, and island cruises begin here, sailing from a harbor so big that in the days of sail several hundred vessels could find safety here during a storm.

For the best view of the waterfront and all the boats, walk across the 1,000-foot-long Boothbay Harbor Footbridge, a wooden walkway across the harbor that's been a landmark since 1901. You can rent kayaks near the footbridge to explore the harbor and shore. In East Boothbay, Linekin Bay is popular for kayaking .

The downtown area is packed with waterfront seafood restaurants, antique shops, and art galleries, reflecting the more than 200 artists and craftspeople who live and summer in the area.

It has been a haven for the arts since the early 1800s, and along with studios and galleries, the little town has an Opera House and Carousel Music Theater , as well as a community band. Reflecting this love of the arts, the Boothbay Harbor Sculpture Trail leads past more than three dozen original sculptures decorating streets and public spaces.

You can learn more about marine wildlife at the Maine State Aquarium , and ride in a vintage coach behind a century-old steam locomotive at the Boothbay Railway Village .

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor, ME

Fishing Boat in Rockland Harbor

Circling a large harbor protected by Owl's Head and a long stone breakwater, Rockland's historic downtown, lined with nicely maintained 19th-century brick mercantile buildings, speaks of a prosperous past.

This was a thriving port for the limestone quarried in the surrounding hills. Until the 1950s, the harbor was lined with kilns that processed the stone for shipment to eastern cities for use as mortar and plaster.

This old seaport town is worth a stop for several attractions, including Owl's Head Light and the Owl's Head Transportation Museum ; Rockland is one of the home ports for the Maine Windjammer Fleet, whose historic sailing ships you can often see moored here.

The town and the nearby islands of Penobscot Bay have long attracted artists, whose works you can see in Rockland's numerous galleries and museums.

You can visit some of the islands that inspired them, on ferries from downtown Rockland. Regular ferry departures can take you to Islesboro, where you can hike through a rare cedar swamp, or get away from the mainland crowds at one of the island's beaches. On Vinalhaven, you can hike through nature reserves, rent kayaks to explore the shoreline, or swim in a former granite quarry.

Bar Harbor

More than just a base for exploring Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is a lively town with a long history as an oceanside resort. Its streets are still lined by impressive "summer cottages" built during the Gilded Age, when wealthy city families came here to escape soaring city temperatures. Today several of these are elegant inns and B&Bs.

Stroll along Frenchman Bay as they did, following the Shore Path from Agrimont Park, for views of the bay and islands. Or at low tide, walk across the bar to Bar Island – but be careful to return before the water covers the track.

Shop in the classy boutiques and artisans' galleries; dine on ocean-fresh seafood; take a whale-watching cruise; and relax to the music of the town band, which plays on The Green two evenings a week in the summer.

The excellent Abbe Museum has an exceptional collection of Native American arts, and across the street from it is St. Savior Episcopal Church, with stunning Tiffany stained-glass windows .

Expect Bar Harbor to be less crowded on cruise ship days from now on; a limit has been imposed on the number and size of ships allowed to make a port stop here.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Bar Harbor, ME

Camden Harbor

Just north of Rockland, Camden is Maine's other harbor for Windjammers , and you can often see these graceful tall ships in the large harbor. You can also take a two-hour schooner cruise from here.

The harbor sits just below Camden's busy Main Street (Route 1) and Bay View Street, where you'll find shops and galleries featuring everything from fashionable resort wear and fine art to dreamy knitting yarns and vintage garden ornaments.

For a harbor and island view unmatched anywhere south of Acadia National Park, climb or drive to the top of Mount Battie , in Camden Hills State Park, where hikers will find more than 30 miles of trails. For more trails, and beautiful flowers, stop at Merryspring Nature Center .

A block from the busy intersection of Elm and High streets, look for the colorful Riverhouse Footbridge , a garden of flower boxes and leafy arbors suspended over the short Megunticook River. After flowing under downtown buildings, the river ends in the dramatic little Megunticook Falls as it enters the harbor.

Camden's charms don't end when winter arrives. The Camden Snow Bowl claims two distinctions: it's the only ski mountain in the East with ocean views from its trails , and it's the home of a 400-foot toboggan chute . You can take a turn on the precipitous ice-covered track that hosts the annual U.S. National Toboggan Championships.

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Camden, ME

Nubble Lighthouse (Cape Neddick Light)

Perhaps New England's most photographed lighthouse, and certainly one of the easiest to get to, Nubble Light poses on its own islet just off the rocky point of Cape Neddick. Especially on a rising tide, the surf usually obliges photographers with a few waves breaking into froth against the rocks.

In late November, the lighthouse and keeper's cottage are outlined in lights for the holiday season, and the annual lighting is celebrated with music, hot chocolate, and a visit from Santa. You can take a cruise from Ogunquit to see the lighthouse from the water.

The point bounds one end of Long Sands, the largest of two popular beaches in York . The southern end of the beach is a favorite for surfers; York is known to those of us who grew up swimming there as the beach with the coldest water on the entire south coast.

In another of the four villages that make up the town, the Old York Historical Society museum complex includes Jefferds Tavern and the 1745 York Corner Schoolhouse , one of the oldest surviving in New England.

Historical pitch oven at the Maine Maritime Museum

On the site of a 19th-century shipyard where large wooden sailing vessels were built and launched, the Maine Maritime Museum preserves and interprets Maine's seafaring, shipbuilding, and lobstering heritage.

Along with the extensive collection of artifacts and materials that make up exhibits on everything from the clipper ships and lighthouses to maritime art, the 20-acre campus includes a blacksmith shop, and a working shop for the restoration of wooden boats.

A highlight is a 36-foot section of the bow of the American clipper Snow Squall , built in Portland in 1851. It was retrieved on archaeological expeditions to the Falkland Islands, where it had run aground in 1864.

The more than 140 Maine-built or Maine-related boats in the collections include an antique birchbark canoe. The Mary E , the oldest fishing schooner built in Maine, is part of the floating collections, one of three in the museum that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Address: 243 Washington Street, Bath, Maine

West Quoddy Head

The dramatic red-and-white stripes of its lighthouse, plus the thrill of standing at the easternmost point in the United States, make West Quoddy Head & Lighthouse one of the most popular places to visit on the northeast coast of Maine.

The brick lighthouse was opened in 1858, but there has been one here since 1808, when President Thomas Jefferson ordered it built to guide ships through the Quoddy Narrows. The current lighthouse is 49 feet tall, and the lantern rises 83 feet above the sea.

Learn more about the lighthouse and its history at the Quoddy Head State Park Visitor Center in the former Keeper's Cottage and take a tour of the light tower itself on Saturday afternoons in July and August. The lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places .

Five miles of hiking trails explore the point, which is a prime spot for viewing sea birds, especially during the spring and fall migrations. You might also spot humpback, minke, and finback whales in the narrows, which is bounded on the opposite side by the tall red cliffs of Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick.

An easy one-mile trail in the park leads to a coastal plateau bog, where you can see subarctic and arctic plants rarely seen this far south.

Address: South Lubec Road, Lubec, Maine

Portland Museum of Art

The superb collections of the Portland Museum of Art go far beyond the expected works of those artists who lived and painted here – artists such as Winslow Homer, Rockwell Kent, and the Wyeths.

Among the more than 18,000 pieces of fine and decorative art, dating from the 1700s onwards, are works by Monet, Degas, Picasso, Warhol, Sargent, Whistler, Mary Cassatt, Gilbert Stuart, Joshua Reynolds, Alexander Calder, George Bellows, and Edward Hopper.

The museum also features traveling and temporary exhibits throughout the year. Attached to the museum is a historic house, formerly home to a prominent Portland family, with outstanding examples of period furniture, art, and decorative details.

Separate from the Portland facility, and accessible only by tours that originate here, is the studio of artist Winslow Homer , overlooking the sea on Prouts Neck, a point of land in nearby Scarborough, Maine.

Address: 7 Congress Square, Portland, Maine

Victory Chimes, Windjammer Fleet

Don't miss the chance to see the craggy, irregular Maine coast and its rock-bound islands from the water. Not only will you get a new perspective on the lighthouses and granite cliffs, but you'll have a chance to be part of the busy harbor life of Maine's seaport towns.

The options are many. You can join a whale watching tour from Bar Harbor, go deep sea fishing from Eastport, take a Puffin Tour to Machias Seal Island from Jonesport or Stonington, join a lobster boat out of Portland to haul traps, or take a seal cruise from there to Eagle Island.

From Boothbay Harbor, you can go deep-sea fishing, take a day sailing cruise along the coast, go whale watching, or even join a local lobsterman hauling traps. From Ogunquit, you can take a breakfast sightseeing tour or cruise to see York's Nubble Lighthouse from the water.

Boat experiences can be as short as the 15-mile ferry ride from Rockland to Vinalhaven or a week-long cruise under sail on a Maine Windjammer out of Rockland or Camden. Windjammer cruises are informal, with the itinerary determined by winds and tides, and passengers can help with the lines and sails if they wish. Special theme cruises may feature lighthouses, music, star gazing or boat races.

Most of the windjammers are suitable for adults only, although those as young as 12 are welcome on some ships — a popular vacation option for grandparents traveling with teens. Couples looking for a romantic vacation should book one of the full moon cruises.

Kennebunkport

The little coastal town of Kennebunkport, 12.5 miles south of Portland, is very popular in summer. Stately homes of former ship captains and owners, some of which have been carefully restored as bed-and-breakfasts, line its quiet streets, and you can learn about these on a self-guided walking tour, or at the Historical Society's First Families Kennebunkport Museum , in an 1853 Greek Revival home.

Shopping and gallery-hopping are favorite pastimes in the small commercial area of restored dockside buildings around Dock Square, which is lined with shops, studios, boutiques, and restaurants. Parsons Way, a scenic path, begins from the square and leads along the shore to Walker's Point . At the other side of the Kennebunk River, a series of sandy beaches line the shore.

Two miles east of Dock Square is the still-active fishing village of Cape Porpoise , with more shops and galleries, along with working lobster boats. Also of interest is the Seashore Trolley Museum .

In nearby Kennebunk, look for the outstanding Brick Store Museum and drive past the fanciful Wedding Cake House on Summer Street. The entire street, designated as the Summer Street Historical District, is lined with elegant Victorian mansions.

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Kennebunkport, ME

Monhegan Island

Monhegan is a small island that lies 10 miles off the coast of Maine, and although it's one of many inhabited coastal islands, it has achieved iconic status over the years. This is in large part due to its long history as an artists' colony, coupled with the many tales of its hardy population and their lives on this storm-swept outpost.

There are no cars or paved roads on the island, and its 75 year-round residents are mainly engaged in fishing and lobstering. During the summer, visitors can take day trips to the island from Boothbay Harbor, New Harbor, and Port Clyde, but will have only three or four hours ashore.

Monhegan's combination of rugged granite cliffs (the highest ocean cliffs in Maine), crashing waves, and unique light, coupled with its air of an untouched fishing village, has made it a destination for artists since the middle of the 1800s. Because of this long-term art colony and the several dozen artists who currently work there, you'll find an abundance of studios and galleries.

Monhegan's art colony began in the mid-1800s, and by the turn of the 20 th century was a well-established summer colony. Artist Rockwell Kent built a home and studio there, later the studio of painter James Edward Fitzgerald.

Now a gallery of his work, the James Fitzgerald – Rockwell Kent Historic Artists' Home and Studio is managed by the Monhegan Museum of Art & History, whose collections include works by both of these artists and others who painted here.

Art isn't the only appeal of Monhegan, a favorite of birders for migra ting Merlins, American Kestrels, Peregrine Falcons , and others that touch down here.

Author's tip: To hike the island trails and see some of the artists' favorite viewpoints, get a trail map at Monhegan Associates, near the ferry landing. Wear good boots, as the trails are rough and often run along steep clifftops. Be very careful on the shoreline rocks anywhere along the southern or back side of the island, where rogue waves and a fierce undertow are constant dangers.

Victoria Mansion, Portland

The beautifully preserved Victoria Mansion is an extraordinary Italian-style villa built in the mid-19th century.

The architecture and the interior details are exquisite, and it's one of the most lavishly decorated mid-Victorian homes in the country, with painted walls and ceilings and ornately carved woodwork. Most of the furnishings are original, and along with the house itself, they provide a glimpse into how Portland's wealthy lived during the pre-civil war era.

While Maine has many historic homes you can visit, representing all eras and lifestyles from the colonial era forward, Victoria Mansion offers an example of Victorian art and culture that is unparalleled.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Portland, Maine

The Desert of Maine

While you'll find plenty of sand on Maine's beaches, you don't expect to find acres of it inland, surrounded by pine forests. A true desert, with its enormous shifting dunes that cover forests and entire buildings, the Desert of Maine is a geologic anomaly – and a Freeport success story.

When I was growing up and traveling the Maine coast with my parents, I was enthralled by the roadside signs showing camels, palm trees, and Arabian tents. But with the support of the town, this one-time hokey tourist trap is now a natural attraction, well-cared-for by locals Mela and Doug Heestand and highlighting its natural history, science, and local history.

Large signboards with photos of the farm that once stood here explain how old farming practices stripped the topsoil from this sandpit left by glaciers. They explain how, in this active environment, the dunes shift constantly, and you can see the former spring house now being dug out of the dune that swallowed it.

I was surprised to learn that little pine trees growing out of the top of a dune were actually the tops of full-grown pines hidden beneath the sand. It's not all serious science -- you'll want to stop for a photo-op with the colorful camel.

Tip for parents: I enjoy visiting as an adult, but kids are even more excited to explore the Desert of Maine. They can find ancient bones in the Fossil Dig, discover artifacts from early colonial settlers in the Secret Sandbox, and dig in the sand at Gemstone Village where they can keep three polished gems that they find. A Maine-themed playground is filled with clever slides and climbing towers.

Address: 95 Desert Road, Freeport, Maine

Peaks Island Ferry

Technically part of the city of Portland, Peaks Island seems a different world, separated by a ferry ride. The ride is part of the fun of visiting; the fare is inexpensive, and you get a nice mini-cruise in Portland Harbor, past Fort Gorges and other small islands.

Like many along the Maine coast, Peaks Island played a defensive role during World War II. Battery Steele is the largest of the island's military structures, occupying 14 acres facing the Atlantic. Walking trails connect its three sections (two gun batteries with command and munitions in the middle), and you can walk through the echoing abandoned passages — be sure to bring a powerful flashlight.

My favorite place to sit and contemplate the ocean is at Whaleback Ledge (named for its whale-shaped rocks), but Cairn Beach is a close second. Although not a swimming beach, it's a scenic spot where you won't be able to resist making your own little rock monument.

Several art galleries are worth perusing, as well as the quirky Umbrella Cover Museum , the world's largest (and only) collection of umbrella sheaths. For a full meal, several good options are close to the ferry with views of the water and surrounding islands. Get snacks and lighter fare at Milly's Skillet Food Truck and ice cream at Down Front .

Having a car here is more hindrance than help because there is simply nowhere to park on the island. You can realistically visit most of the island's attractions on foot in a full day. Getting around by bicycle (bring your own on the ferry or rent one at Brad's Island Bike Rentals & Repairs ) is a faster way, but I prefer renting a cart from Peaks Island Golf Carts . To see all the sights without rushing, give yourself at least four hours, although I always end up wishing I had booked the cart for longer.

Author's Tip : If you're renting a cart or bicycle, book well ahead. It's also important to remember that although the ferry runs year-round for residents, most restaurants and shops are closed or reduce their hours between Labor Day and Memorial Day, so an off-season visit might not offer as much to do.

Bowdoin College Museum of Art

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art , on the college campus in Brunswick, features a permanent collection of more than 20,000 pieces, ranging from ancient Greek ceramics and a 15th-century painting by Florentine artist Fra Angelico to 17th-century New England furniture and mid-century modern furniture by Charles Eames.

Multiple works by Winslow Homer, Rockwell Kent, Gilbert Stuart, John Singleton Copley, and Maurice Prendergast highlight the collections, along with those of Bierstadt, Inness, Eakins, and Corot. Rotating temporary exhibits, gallery talks, tours, and lectures throughout the year make this an active cultural center.

Address: 245 Maine Street, Brunswick, Maine

Castle Tucker in Wiscasset

If you are driving to the northern Maine Coast, you will go through the tidy center of Wiscasset. It is a renowned bottleneck on Route 1, and there's no workaround if you're heading for Boothbay Harbor and coastal points north. But Wiscasset is well worth a stop to explore its historic houses and browse in art galleries and antique shops.

Overlooking the main street, which is Route 1, is the Nickels-Sortwell House , one of the finest Federal homes in New England. It is beautifully restored, its rooms furnished in antiques, art, and period decorative features. The gardens are being restored to their original design and plantings.

Castle Tucker was built nearly a century later, in the late 19th century, as the home of a sea captain. Stroll some of the side streets to find more well-kept historic homes and churches.

The town wharf sits beside the long bridge that crosses the estuary of the Sheepscot River. You can order a full shore dinner or a seafood lunch at Sprague's and enjoy it at one of the picnic tables beside the water.

Boats on the Penobscot River in Bangor

Bangor is one of Maine's most underrated places to visit, but if you're willing to make the long drive, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that it has very little in common with Stephen King's "Derry." Fans of the King of Horror's books and films should take a tour with SK Tours of Maine , but if getting creeped out isn't your thing, don't worry — there's plenty more to do and see in Bangor.

Bangor's Main Street is a lively area full of energy, lined with shops and a dizzying array of restaurant choices, almost all of them locally owned. You'll find everything from small-batch roasted coffee with fresh baked pastries to traditional German dishes with a local touch. This is also where you'll find the colorful Maine Discovery Museum (formerly the Eastern Maine Children's Museum).

Downtown straddles the Kenduskeag Stream, which looks more like a canal, with more places to visit along Harlow Street. These include the University of Maine's Zillman Art Museum and the beautiful Bangor Public Library, now a great source of pride thanks to the philanthropy of the King family.

The area offers several museums that please kids (and kids-at-heart). My favorite is the Cole Land Transportation Museum , which will scratch the nostalgia itch for adults and entertain kids (under 18 always get in free). You'll find everything from early tricycles to classic cars and vintage freight trucks to train cars that you can explore.

If you're interested in aviation, head to the Maine Air Museum , located next to the airport, and if you didn't see enough fire engines at the Cole Museum, try the Hose 5 Fire Museum .

Bangor and its surroundings have plenty of places to go to enjoy nature, and the Orono Bog Walk is my favorite. This handicap-accessible nature trail is a one-mile boardwalk loop with signage and optional guided naturalist tours. It's adjacent to the Bangor City Forest, which has over nine miles of multi-use trails.

Author's tip: A great spot to enjoy both Maine history and the outdoors is the Maine Forest and Logging Museum at Leonard's Mills, in nearby Bradley. As you walk the grounds of this open-air living history museum, you'll find historic buildings and equipment that show how people lived in rural Maine in the 18 th and 19 th centuries.

The best time to travel to Maine depends on what you want to do while you're here. If you're hoping to ski, head to the mountains during the winter (obviously). Want to hike through Acadia National Park ? Choose spring, summer, or fall. In general, though, the best time to visit Maine is during the summer , especially if you're headed for the coast, planning on spending time at a resort, or simply visiting small towns .

Yes, you'll be faced with hordes of tourists and yes, prices will be higher on everything from souvenirs to lunch to lodging. But with these downsides comes a big payoff: spectacular weather. Highs hover in the comfortable high 70s with lows dipping into the upper 50s. You won't be sweltering during the day or shivering at night, which is perfect.

Plus, this is an ideal time to visit Maine's best beaches , take a sail around Frenchman Bay from Bar Harbor, or enjoy a weekend getaway to Portland.

Another summertime bonus: all restaurants and attractions (many of which tend to close in the off-season) will be open. If you're itching to enjoy a meal in one of the state's best restaurants or stay in one of the top resorts in Maine, book early to ensure your summer visit is a success.

July and August experience the least amount of rain , with only 3.3 to 3.5 inches recorded to fall throughout the month, which is another plus.

A close second to summer is a tie between fall and winter . High season for the inland section of the state, these two seasons are popular for widely different reasons. Fall, which sits comfortably in the high 40s to high 50s, presents artists with a dream palette. Nature's bright red, yellow, and orange hues highlight the beauty of this New England masterpiece. Trees burst into color, captivating visitors and begging cameras to immortalize their beauty.

Winter is cold (sitting in the 30s) and often pummeled by snow. These conditions create a fantastic upside: optimal weather for those who prefer to spend their days on the slopes. Plus, there are plenty of indoor attractions to enjoy in big cities like Portland, so you won't be at a loss for ways to stay warm and entertained.

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    January. January and February are the "dead of winter" months that bring a lot of snow and, often, bitter cold. Winter festivals abound, and there are a lot of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the winter stillness. Come prepared for cold (or plan to stop at L.L. Bean), and you should have a great time.

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    Take in the crisp fall air at one of our local agricultural fairs. Pick apples at a family orchard. Enjoy lobster during its peak season. Visit one of Maine's several art museums. Pitch a tent under the autumn sky and wake up to go on a "Moose Safari.". Maine's white winters mean skiing , snow-shoeing and sledding.

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