Your First Trip to Maine: Everything You Need to Know

Maine is a must-see for anyone seeking natural beauty and tranquility. With a coastline measuring 3,478 miles, it could take you years to reach every nook and cranny. To make the most out of your trip to Maine, I’ve compiled a list of tips you should consider as a first-time visitor.

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Be Prepared

Bring Layers

Maine has very unpredictable weather. It could be 50 degrees in the summer and 50 degrees in the winter. The best way to prepare for Maine’s weather is to bring layers. This is especially important in the early mornings and late evenings when the temperatures drop significantly.

Don’t wait for nice weather to come, dress accordingly and get exploring!

The Ocean Will be Freezing

Speaking of the temperature, don’t think that Maine’s coastline will be anything like Florida’s. The water is frigid and has a bite. If you’re looking to do a polar plunge, Maine is the perfect place! If you’re traveling with children, they probably won’t mind, I spent many years as a kiddo in Maine’s oceans, but you might find yourself shying away from diving in.

Bring the Right Footwear

Maine is a wonderful place to get outdoors. Whether you’re hiking, kayaking, or walking the beach, you’ll want the right footwear to make your trip enjoyable.

I like to wear my hiking boots both on hikes (obviously), but also while walking the beach. I find it helps to keep my footing and puts less strain on my ankles. That makes me sound a lot older than I am – but it’s true.

I also love having water shoes for kayaking and/or exploring waterfalls or rivers. And if you have sensitive feet, you might even want them for the beach. Our coastline has a lot of rocky, seaweed filled beaches, making it challenging to walk at times.

If you’re looking for hiking boots, we love LL Bean’s and Oboz

Read More: How to Plan A Trip from Start to Finish

Insider Tips for Visiting Maine

Water

We have the best tasting water. I know this is a weird thing to claim, but it’s our humble opinion. Especially Poland Spring water. Just trust us.

We Love Our Seafood Fried

I know this isn’t just a Maine thing, but it’s especially true here. We love fried seafood as a platter, aka, a Fisherman’s Platter, which typically comes with fried haddock, clams, shrimp, and scallops. And don’t forget a side of tartar sauce.

Lobster

Yes, we love lobster too. We usually save lobster bakes for family gatherings or special occasions. And you’ll most likely see us eat it right from the shell, dipping it into loads of melted butter. We don’t often make lobster rolls at home, at least not in my family. And to tell you a secret….I don’t actually like lobster. I know! It’s a sin and I don’t often tell people. But my family LOVES it!

Bar Harbor, ME

Where to Go in Maine and How to Get There

Getting To Maine

You’ll most likely want to fly into Portland, ME. Portland has a small airport that’s super easy to navigate. A few cities have direct flights right into Portland as well. 

If you wanted to fly into Boston, MA or Manchester, NH those are also options that require a few hours of driving. 

Logan International Airport in Boston to Portland, ME is 1 hr and 44 minutes. 

Manchester Airport in New Hampshire to Portland, ME is 1 hr 33 minutes.

Getting Around Maine

If you’re coming to Maine, you will want a car. You can rent a car at the Portland, Boston, and Manchester airports. 

While the larger cities in Maine have Ubers and taxis I would recommend having a car so you can enjoy activities and sights a bit further from the city centers. 

Furthermore, one of the best ways to experience Maine is by going for a drive along the coast and you’ll want the freedom to stop along the route as you wish. 

Read More: 17 Photos to Make You Want to Visit

Where Should you Go While in Maine?

The typical tourist route is as follows:

  1. Southern Maine towns (Kennebunk, Ogunquit, etc)
  2. Portland
  3. Mid Coast towns (Camden, Rockland, Boothbay)
  4. Down East towns (Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park)

This route brings you to coastal cities, ocean front dining, luxury hotels, and beautiful views. 

It also brings crowds. Local Mainer’s try to avoid these areas during the summer because they can get so packed with people. 

If you’re willing to wake up early and eat at odd times you can still find enjoyment along this route. Or if you’re a person who doesn’t mind the crowds, again, you won’t have a problem. 

Lubec, Maine

Here’s an Alternate Route in Maine for a Quieter Vacation

  1. Consider a town just outside of Portland to serve as your home base. Towns like Scarborough, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Cumberland, and Bath, are still close enough to Portland to enjoy the area during a day trip, but it isn’t smack dab in the middle. 
  2. Definitely go to Acadia National Park but consider exploring the quieter side of the park. The west side of Acadia still has the rugged coastline and tranquil nature but with way less crowds. This includes towns like Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor, and Northeast Harbor. 
  3. Alternatively, there’s also a section of Acadia National Park that is a bit further north on Route 1 near the towns of Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor. Ben and I visited for a weekend during the winter and loved having the peaceful nature all to ourselves. 
  4. If you wanted to head even more north, I would head to the easternmost point of Maine to visit Lubec. This has to be my favorite town in Maine. We went on a trip last summer and I’m still dreaming of the views. 
  5. But don’t forget about the mountains and lakes of Maine. Areas like Rangeley, Bethel, Baxter State Park, and Moosehead Lake are beautiful and should also be on your bucket list!

Read More: 6 Stops on a Bar Harbor to Lubec Maine Road Trip

When Should You Plan Your Visit to Maine

February: Best for skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing. 

Late May/June: Best for sneaking in the summer weather before the crowds get too busy. Memorial day weekend is really the kick off of the summer in Maine and you may find a lot of places don’t open until this weekend. 

April: April doesn’t usually get recommended because most hikes can be muddy and not everything is open. But if you are on a tight budget, April may be a great time to find deals on accommodation and flights. 

Just be prepared with great footwear. Hands down my favorite our Muckboots. I wear mine all four seasons and they are perfect in snow, mud, and rain. 

September: I think this is a favorite month among locals because while it’s still warm, the crowds have waned, and the days are still long. You most likely won’t see the foliage unless you come late September, beginning of October. 

December: Maine loves Christmas, especially downtown communities like Freeport, Boothbay, Camden, and Bath. 

Cresent Beach State Park in February

How Many Days will I Need in Maine?

You will have a lovely time in Maine whether you stay for just a weekend or a month. 

If you only have a few days, I would recommend flying into Portland, ME and using one of the surrounding towns I listed above as your base. From there you can take day trips and explore. 

If you have a week in Maine, I would recommend splitting your time between a home base near Portland and then the rest of the week near the quiet side of Acadia National Park. 

If you have two weeks, and want to enjoy Maine with less crowds, I would spend 5 nights in southern Maine, 5 nights near Acadia National Park or Lubec, and 5 nights near the mountains and lakes. 

For example:

5 nights in Scarborough, ME

5 nights in Winter Harbor, ME

5 nights in Rangeley, ME

Whenever I make a two week itinerary for myself, I like to limit distances between destinations to around 3-5 hours of driving time. 

Wolfe’s Neck State Park in March

More Tips for Visiting Maine

Get up Early

I know you’ve heard this before but it deserves repeating. Whether you’re going for a hike at Mount Katahdin, catching the sunrise on Scarborough Beach, or riding your bike along the Carriage Road in Acadia National Park, waking up early always proves to be worth it. 

Ask a Local Where To Go

Whenever you are out at a local restaurant or visiting a state park, ask those around you for recommendations. Many Mainer’s have lived here their whole lives so we have a ton of knowledge of great places to go, amazing restaurants, and beautiful views.

Reconnect and Turn Off Your Phone

One of the great things about Maine is how quickly you can find yourself immersed in nature, with no need to look at your phone. But it’s even better if you purposefully disconnect. Leave your phone off and away at dinner, when you’re at the beach, and while you’re hiking. 

OR if you insist on having your phone available to take pictures (I can’t help myself either!), consider taking pictures for a maximum of 5 minutes, then put it back away. I promise you’ll feel better that you allowed yourself the time to breathe in the fresh air (Maine has great air quality by the way). 

Final Thoughts

I hope you’re excited for your first trip to Maine! We can’t wait to show you around! Even if you have only a few days, you’ll find a trip to Maine well worth your time.