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Nubble Lighthouse picture.Welcome to Maine, affectionately known as "The Pine Tree State" and "Vacationland." At VisitingNewEngland, we just call it the "Wicked Awesome State" (pardon the Boston vernacular!)." So, are you an experienced Maine traveler or a future first-time visitor? Either way, we have many helpful suggestions and a boatload of detailed, local online storytelling for you starting right now...

Maine Vacation, Travel and Food Feature Stories

Maine Vacation, Travel and Food Blog Posts

More ideas on what to see, do and taste in this beautiful state

Visiting Maine Reveals The True Essence of New England Travel

A few personal thoughts of Maine from the publisher of VisitingNewEngland

Near Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine.
Near Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine

by Eric Hurwitz

A Maine vacation will have you returning year after year. The rocky coastline, colorful and wholesome coastal towns and Downeast flavor of lobster and blueberry pie have an undeniable charm that just is the beginning of a treasure trove of things to do in New England's seaside playground perfect for family vacations.

Of course, much of Maine is inland and with a superb vacation destinations and tourist attractions (Sebago Lake, and the Rangeley and Moosehead Lakes regions, to name a few), but the coast gets much of the press; it's easy to understand once you are there.

There's indeed a 200-miles of coastline, starting in charming Kittery Point and extending all the way to stunning Acadia National Park. There are fine beaches, outdoor seaside dining choices, cliff walks dotted with floral gardens (Marginal Way in Ogunquit is a great example) and places of solitude to bike, hike and forget about everyday stresses unlike any place you've ever visited.

Of course, the Maine coastline goes on a few hundred miles beyond Acadia. This is a different kind of coastal playground for those looking for less commercialism and more solitude.

Our top choice for a great Maine vacation destination is York, simply because there are things to do for everyone. York, Maine, is also living proof that you don't have to travel far up the Maine coast to get a true feel of the famed Downeast lifestyle. In the summer, York is an ideal place for family vacations with its most famous attractions: the beaches, arcades, amusement park, zoo and Nubble Lighthouse.

Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine.
Make sure to incude Nubble Lighthouse in York Beach as part of your Maine vacation!

Lobster dinners, rocky shoreline, expansive ocean beaches, ice cream stands, salt water taffy and refreshing salt air and countless other tourist attractions await you, just minutes north of the New Hampshire-Maine border. York has something fun for everyone: the quiet, antique-friendly York Harbor and York Village, the beaches, carousel, gift shops and arcades at York Beach, and the rugged, rocky, more secluded environs of Cape Neddick.

When visiting York, you can see the joy and relaxation in peoples' faces as more smiling and "hellos" take place here than you can initially handle. The key is to adapt. When you do, the health benefits are greater than any wellness doctor could ever recommend

Sunrise at Long Sands Beach, York Beach, MaineSunrise at Long Sands Beach, York Beach, Maine.

Portland, Maine's largest city at 64,000,stands as a Maine vacation destination that we highly recommend. It's an interesting, revitalized city set on beautiful Casco Bay with old Victorian Homes, tree-lined streets and the great Old Port Exchange, an area with terrific restaurants and stores. Some say it is like a mini San Francisco, with its hills, charm and now a growing eclecticism, with an art community, more diversity in its people, lots of culture, all residing by the sea. It is a great city for walking, having a big city feel in some neighborhoods, but ultimately a small-town personality in its people, architecture and retained history.

Old Port Exchange in Portland, Maine.
The Old Port possesses a charming, thriving vibe. Photo credit: Maine Office of Tourism.

Then there's Acadia National Park, truly one of the most spectacular parks in the United States, with its beyond scenic rocky coast, and forested valleys, lakes and mountains, carved by glacial force. It cannot be fully described, only joyfully visited. Truly a visual treat, this 40,000-acre wonderland offers endless natural delights. Take, for example, the dramatic sunsets at 1,500 foot Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. From Cadillac, one can see amazing views of Penobscot, Frenchman and Blue Hill Bays.

Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park, Maine.
Cadillac Mountain.

From the top of Gorham Mountain, you get an incredible view of the glacial blue Atlantic Ocean. Then there is Thunder Hole, with its waves creating a sonic boom. For those in touch with more isolated nature, miles and miles of trails and bicycle paths will bring you in touch with beautiful wildflowers, a wonderful variety of trees and some great fresh and saltwater swimming.

The 27-mile loop at Mt. Desert Island offers endless ocean and mountain scenery stands as one of the great attractions of the Northeast United States, unlike anything you've seen before. Many choose the commercial center of Bar Harbor to launch their Acadia vacation.

Bar Harbor is certainly pleasant enough with its tree-lined streets, fine captain's homes, harbor views, and refreshing breeze, but it can also be capable of traffic jams, unctuous souvenir shops, unkempt flower children and flavor-of-the-week restaurants, changing hands every few years. In a way, Bar Harbor is not compatible with the untouched scenic beauty of the region, and can often come across as a bit too hectic.

We prefer Northeast Harbor, a splendid little village boasting the prettiest harbor you will ever see. Sunny even when it's cloudy, Northeast Harbor is quietly confident, as it never panders to the tourist. In the little village, you will find some antique stores, an old-time market, a bakery and a few restaurants. One of them, The Docksider could be considered your classic Maine restaurant, with charming "Downeast" waitresses, lobster to die for, unbelievable clam chowder, and in the summer, salt air flavored outdoor dining on the doorstep of the Harbor.

The unexpected treasures are what make a Maine vacation so special. Everyone who has been to Maine has their own special discovery. There does, however, seem to be a pattern of people making special discoveries in small, unassuming picturesque seacoast communities like Camden (looks ready made for a postcard), Wiscassett (what people might envision a small Maine town to look like), Rockport (a great walking town) and more popular destinations like Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Old Orchard Beach (lively in the summer, beautifully isolated offseason) and Wells -- the latter two especially popular for oceanside family vacations with plenty of attractions, sand and waves.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine in March.
Old Orchard Beach, offseason, in March.

Eric Hurwitz, editor and publisher of VisitingNewEnglandWe encourage you to explore through our Maine Vacation, Travel and Food Feature Stories library for your future trip planning to Vacationland!

Happy travels,
Eric at VisitingNewEngland

List of Maine Vacation, Travel and Food Stories

Lobster bisque from DiMillo's On The Water in Portland, Maine.
Lobster Bisque from DiMillo's On the Water in Portland.

Find great destinations, attractions in The Pine Tree State at our Best of New England Travel Lists section

Think Vacationland's southern coast when the weather gets warmer

Portland no longer has a long way to go

Fall travel ideas for Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park

Visiting one of New England's best diners in Wells

The Whoopie Pie: an emerging state legend

Top family attractions visit in York Beach

Clay Hill Farm Offers a Wonderful Dining Experience in Cape Neddick

Visiting the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport

A classic lobster shack: the Docksider in Northeast Harbor

Summer fun at Old Orchard Beach and Palace Playland

Marveling at the fjords near Acadia National Park

Where and when to view nesting bald eagles

There's something so special about Joan's Beach and Gift Shop in York Beach

A lighthouse picnic is sure to please everyone

York Harbor Path Cliff lends commanding ocean views

The Pine Tree State meets Gettysburg 150 years later

Amazing views from Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Enjoying summer at Short Sands Beach

Sand Beach at Acadia National Park is a gem

Peace and quiet at Jordan Pond at Acadia National Park

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VisitingNewEngland's small business commitment to excellence: is a proud, small business based in New England. We love it when one of our articles helps you with your New England vacation and travel trip planning! That's what we are here for: to serve you in the most genuine, helpful way possible.

Old-fashioned New England work ethic: All articles, photos by Eric Hurwitz unless otherwise noted. Eric also manages the site's layout and design, social media, and public affairs.

All this, and blogs too! Also, please check out our authentic, informative and entertaining New England travel blogs with original content: The Thrifty New England Traveler (New England travel ideas on a budget), The New England Travel and Vacation Gazette (more original New England travel articles), and Old School Boston (warm memories of Boston and New England from back in the day).

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