The state of Maine is both the easternmost and northernmost of the contiguous United States. It is characterized by vast forests, a large black bear population, wilderness, lakes, wild rivers, small coastal towns, and a downright spectacular coastline. The state is famous for two things, both of which are associated with the Maine coast: lobsters and lighthouses.
Last summer I spent some time with a car rental from Boston, hiking boots and a tent. I found 3 places to stay on the Coast of Maine that are quite different in character: a coastal city, an island in the Gulf of Maine and a national park.
3 Places to Stay on the Coast of Maine
Portland, Maine’s largest city, is located on a beautiful peninsula and offers great views of Casco Bay and the Calendar Islands. A former major port city on the North American east coast, Portland is now a friendly and laid-back coastal city. Downtown Portland consists of fine Victorian stone buildings – the result of no less than four fires –, a great promenade, a working waterfront, micro-breweries, seafood restaurants, and shops and boutiques. Particularly the Old Port area is worth exploring. There are several beaches a short distance from the city center and the city is home to a few lighthouses.
Monhegan Island is located about ten miles off the Maine Coast in Penobscot Bay. Visiting this tiny island – it is smaller than Central Park in New York City – feels like stepping back in time. The island has no cars, no paved roads, no stress and no rush. Until quite recently there wasn’t even electricity. Monhegan Island is a summer artists’ colony and is a popular place among birders, both because of its quietness. There are no bars either, but the island does have its very own brewery. And it is allowed to drink anywhere on the island. How great is that? Taking garbage with you is required though, obviously.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is one of the greatest national parks in the United States and also one of the most-visited. Located almost entirely on Mount Desert Island, this park is made up of rocky shores and inland mountains covered with forests. This is a spectacular place to go hiking, cycling, camping, kayaking and fishing. Of course, the area also has its share of lighthouses and small coastal villages. Highlights in Acadia National Park, by far my favorite destination on the Maine coast, are Jordan Pond, Sand Beach, Cadillac Mountain, the carriage roads and Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. The Park Loop Road connects almost all these attractions and is a fantastic 27-mile drive. Accommodation is available in the town of Bar Harbor, the tourist hub of the island and the best base to explore the area.