As I rapidly discovered when planning 10 days in Maine, this part of America is enormous and trying to visit it all (or even more than a small corner) in 10 days isn’t possible.
Instead we picked the area we most wanted to visit – the coastline between Kennebunkport and Camden. Next time we can go further north or inland – there are many regional airports in Maine serviced from Boston Logan, blogs Anna Parker.
If you find yourself with 10 days in Maine (and I really recommend this), here are 10 things to do:
1. Eat lobster
This could easily account for items 1-10 as whilst lobster is a rare delicacy in many parts of the world, it is widely available in Maine and at good value too. We had a steamed lobster dinner one evening served with corn, potatoes and dipping butter and on other occasions lobster rolls from one of the many “crab-shacks”. Tasty whichever way, you will want more than one. Try it on its own, with butter, with aioli, with chips etc.
2. Visit Acadia National Park
A stunning mountain park area about 4 hours north of Boston and itself on an island. The park has many viewpoints, walks, climbs and carriage drives to follow as well as road routes past all the main sites, including to the top of Cadillac Mountain. We had terrible weather on our daytrip but we saw the park rough and rugged, although sadly there was no view from the highest point, just torrential rain. Other places to stop at are thunder hole (near high tide and in rough weather for the boom) and Jordan’s Pond for a popover and soup with a view of the bubble mountains. The rest of Mount Desert Island is also a beauty spot although not in the national park – there are a number of lighthouses and other view points, many of which will be less busy.
3. Visit a lighthouse
There is no shortage of lighthouses to visit – Maine has a jagged and rocky coastline that ships and fisherman need protecting from. There are stunning ones dotted along the coast – it isn’t necessary to go looking to find one. There are some converted into accommodation – we enjoyed three nights at The Inn at Cuckolds Light which has been converted into a private island for 4-6 people which was quite incredible – relaxing, private, luxury and stunning 360 degree views.
4. Drive by and photograph some of the most well-known houses in the area
In the Kennebunk area there are a number of buildings that most visitors stop to photograph as they pass. The wedding cake house is one of the most photographed homes in the USA and does indeed look like a wedding cake, nestled in between normal looking New England homes. The Bush family summer residence is also nearby, at Walkers Point, and compared to others properties is quite discreet and normal but worth a photo of course.
5. Eat well
It is easy in Maine to be a satisfied foodie (see point 1) but there are many other fine options too. Two favourites were Earth, at the Hidden Pond hotel, which is in unique surroundings and reassuringly expensive and a fantastic and relied Thai restaurant in Camden – Long Grain – that rightly receives rave reviews. It is also by looking off the tourist track – away from the waterfront in Kennebunkport – that we found the Old Vines Wine Bar with excellent choices and some tasty tasting plates. Then there is the local maple syrup, a fantastic addition to breakfast.
6. Enjoy the seascape from the comfort of a New England shaker-style deck chair, with some local wine
A very easy way to pass the time, you may well have a book to read but I warn you the view will make it challenging to read. Count the seals and eider ducks, watch schooners and lobster fishermen sail by, if you are lucky watch the sea fog sweep in and out, all whilst enjoying a local tipple. The state has a number of successful wineries – Cellardoor near Camden was a particular favourite.
7. Hit the beach
There aren’t many sandy beaches, so if you want to lie in the sun then choose carefully – Kennebunkport has a good selection of sandy beaches not far from the town with ample parking. Rocky beaches are more common – perfect for climbing and looking for creatures in the tidal pools.
8. Potter around gorgeous seaside towns
There are many quaint places to visit. We particularly liked Wiscasset, Boothbay, Camden, Kennebunkport and Ogunquit – all were picture postcard pretty with typical New England homes and buildings, many places to stop for food and a plethora of nautical themes gift, home and clothes shops. All towns seem to have hand drawn maps available making it easy to tour and also to find the quieter areas. In Ogunquit there is a waterfront footpath with stunning views and plenty of access to small rocky beaches.
9. Take in the view from Mount Battie
Camden Hills National Park is well worth a visit especially on a clear blue day as the views from the peaks (you can drive to the top of course) are quite magnificent. We could see across to Acadia as well as watch the schooners sailing in Penobscot Bay as well as look across pine forests to the coast further south.
10. Sail a schooner
In all seaside towns there are many choices of schooner yachts to take a 2 hour or a day sail and enjoy the coastline from the water. There are options all day, on many different sized boats, including sunset cruises.
This just scratches the surface and will leave you relaxed and planning your next trip to Maine.