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Weekend Getaways Ideas: 8 Places You Should Visit in Maine

Maine is the perfect place to get away from it all. Towns are small, the coast is vast, and the people are quiet. But there's also a lot you can do.

On most Maine license plates, you’ll see the word “Vacationland.” It’s been that way since 1936. But vacationing in Maine is a refined experience. You don’t come here for throbbing dance parties. You come here for lighthouses, rocky beaches, and wood-shingled villages. For fishing boats emerging from the fog. For lobster rolls and fresh chowder. For endless expanses of forest.

You come to Maine to really, truly get away from it all.

Maine is a quiet state. It has the lowest population density on the Eastern Seaboard. Mainers are famously even-tempered, and they’re not known for small talk. Instead of crowds and banter, you get 35,000 square miles of coves, rivers, cliffs, and wetlands, with more fishing and sailing than you can shake a fly rod at. And while Vacationland is most popular in the summer, it really is a four-season state with spectacular colors in autumn and limitless winter sports.

Want to find hospitality without all the tourist trappings? Head up to the wild northeast; here are eight destinations for peace, quiet, and good eating.

1. Portland: A Shipping Town Recast as a Cultural Capital

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Lobstah and bee-ah! With its cosmopolitan dining and hip cultural scene, Portland is a New England hotspot. Portland feels like a city, with dense streets huddled up against the harbor, but it’s also walkable – you can easily wander the Old Port, visit the Portland Art Museum, and browse a dozen maritime gift shops before dinner. When night falls, you can hop from gastropub to brewery to clam shack – and you’re never far from your hotel.

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2. Bar Harbor: A Beloved Seaside Village on The Edge of Arcadia National Park

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For such a world-famous town, it’s hard to believe Bar Harbor has a population of only 5,500 people. But far-north travelers love this place: Bar Harbor has clapboard houses, rows of shops, and yes, the eponymous harbor busy with sailboats. The village is also a gateway to Arcadia National Park, a wonderland of sea, cliffs, and evergreens.

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3. Augusta: Small Capital, Lots to Do

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Augusta is the capital of Maine, and it’s also the state’s civic hub. The small town straddles the Kennebec River and is lined with industrial brick buildings. The State House is here, of course, along with the Maine State Museum, the Children’s Discovery Museum, and historic Fort Western.

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4. Little Deer Isle: Island Living, With a Dash of Art

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You could argue that Little Deer Isle is the Nantucket of Maine. If you love to photograph wild birds, kayak quiet waters, or shop for homemade jewelry, this is the place. The villages of Deer Isle and Stonington occupy the same island and you can easily access them by crossing a robust suspension bridge. The area feels remote, but it has a number of art galleries and is home to the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

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5. Camden: Come For The Views, Stay For The Outdoor Activities

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Camden is a pastoral New England town, and most of its life revolves around a picturesque harbor. Rising above the town is Camden Hills State Park. From Maiden’s Cliff, you can gaze on the thick woodland and twisting seashore that make this spot such a popular destination. You can also book a boat tour in Camden and survey some of the nearby lighthouses. In winter, you can go ice skating or ski some trails at the Camden Snow Bowl.

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6. Rockland: Seafood and Antiques Galore

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Rockland is small, but there’s a lot to do. There’s the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Maine Lighthouse Museum, a range of boat tours, and all the fresh seafood you can eat. Rockland is packed with galleries and antique shops, along with one of the most spectacular breakwaters in the state.

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7. Bangor: A Former Mill Town on The Edge of The Wilderness

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In its heyday, a blanket of logs floated down the Penobscot River, and Bangor was a powerhouse for the lumber industry. Today, Bangor is home to the Maine Discovery Museum, the Bangor Opera House, and the Collins Center for the Arts, where the Bangor Symphony Orchestra regularly performs.

Bangor is also considered a gateway to Maine’s interior, where vast wilderness and hunting grounds await avid outdoorspeople.

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8. York: A Resort Town With Centuries of History

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Maine is an old state, and York is its second oldest colonial settlement. There’s a lot of history here, too: Nubble Light was a lighthouse built in 1879. The Goldenrod candy store was established in 1896. More recent additions include the Fun-O-Rama beachside arcade and York’s Wild Kingdom – which is a zoo as well as amusement park with animal- themed rides.

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Hero image credit: Visit Maine