The coast of Maine offers truly spectacular views and experiences. It’s no wonder it’s such a highly popular destination! The coastal towns in Maine are part of the unique and charming draw to visiting this state. They provide their own unique role in attracting visitors to this beautiful East Coast state.
It provides a captivating year-round destination for all travelers. Maine features rugged beauty, pristine landscapes and a wide range of activities. The coastal towns in Maine offer charm and timeless appeal. They are full of historic architecture and are renowned for an incredible seafood culture.
There are dozens of charming towns to visit, and we’re here to highlight some of the very best coastal towns that Maine has to offer.
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Boothbay Harbor is located along the mid coast north of Portland, and is a quaint coastal town in Maine. It’s location makes ita great addition to a coastal road trip in Maine, but very much worth visiting for it’s own unique charm. It’s charm lies in the picturesque coastal setting where fishing boats moor alongside elegant yachts. It has a vibrant arts scene with galleries to visit and explore. The seafood is fresh and exceptional, with plenty of options year round.
The footbridge that connects to two sides of Boothbay Harbor is a great focus point in this charming town. During the day it’s a convenient way to cut across town. And during the evening and night they light it us as a focus and beacon for the harbor.
Although there is some seasonality to visiting Boothbay Harbor it really is a year round destination. Summer’s popularity stems from the bustling harbor front with boat trips and fresh seafood. Autumn brings the town to life with the beautiful foliage and crisp air. Spring is exciting as the sleepy town begins to awaken from it’s long winter. But winter should not be discounted, and I have thoroughly enjoyed Boothbay Harbor in November. Winter brings a quieter and more peaceful atmosphere to the small coastal town.
Footbridge Brewery offers fantastic beers brewed on site and incredible smoked BBQ, it’s one of the best restaurants in town and is open all year.
Tip: Parking can be tough in this small town during high season, but getting to Boothbay Harbor early means you can snag one of the coveted spots in the small lots or along the street. The way in and out of the heart of Boothbay Harbor is one way, so be mindful as you’re driving in!
Submitted by Disha from Disha Discovers
Camden, Maine, known as the “Jewel of the Maine Coast,” truly encapsulates the quintessential New England charm.
With its stunning natural beauty and an array of outdoor activities, it’s no wonder that Camden is considered one of the best coastal towns in Maine and one of the best places to visit in Maine overall.
What makes Camden unique is its beautiful harbor filled with sailboats, nestled against the backdrop of the Camden Hills State Park. The picturesque downtown area is lined with quaint shops, art galleries, and eateries, making it a great place to explore.
Camden is a haven for nature lovers, and one of the best things to do is take in the sights from the top of Mount Battie. You can hike to the top or drive, but either way, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views. Other fun activities include kayaking, whale watching, sailing in Penobscot Bay, biking, hiking in Camden Hills State Park, and meandering around Camden Harbor.
The best time to visit Camden is during the summer when the weather is warmer and during fall for beautiful leaf-peeping.
For an excellent culinary experience paired with stunning views, The Waterfront Restaurant and Bar is a must-visit spot. The clam chowder and lobster stew are delicious.
Don’t miss grabbing a sweet treat at River Ducks Ice Cream. The ice cream is amazing, and you can also catch gorgeous views of the Megunticook River behind the shop.
Submitted by Candice from Exploring The Gulf
Bar Harbor, Maine, is located on Mount Desert Island and is famously known as the gateway to Acadia National Park. Though the park attracts many visitors to Bar Harbor, be sure to check park conditions often, as trail conditions and closures can occur without much notice.
Summer visitors should definitely check out Sand Beach. It’s a lovely spot in Acadia National Park where visitors can swim and lounge on the beach. Be sure to pack along a backpack beach chair for optimal comfort on your beach day!
If you’d rather enjoy a guided experience around the island, consider jumping aboard a Whale Watch and Lighthouse Cruise. An experience like this offers visitors a convenient all-in-one tour of Bar Harbor’s highlights, along with first-hand insight from a local guide. You’ll get to see the best of the area’s scenery and maybe even a special appearance by a whale or two!
Summer through early fall is the best time of year to visit Bar Harbor. The landscape and outdoor adventures, like hiking and kayaking, are what make Bar Harbor so special. The weather during these months offers the best opportunity to truly enjoy it all.
Don’t miss the culinary opportunity of a lifetime and pass up a Maine Lobster dinner. The Travelin’ Lobster is a fisherman-owned and operated lobster shack in Bar Harbor. It may be a no-frills eatery, but the seafood is the freshest and tastiest around!
Enjoy your time in the coastal town of Bar Harbor!
Submitted by Amanda from Life Has Its Perks
Kittery, Maine is a unique place for visitors to the Vacation Land. Although it is a small town (population: <10,000) there are lots of different reasons to visit.
It is home to many outlet malls. This includes lots of shopping favorites like Nike, Colombia, and American Eagle. However, a town favorite is the Kittery Trading Post. This is not just a typical outdoor sports store, there are lots of taxidermy animals scattered throughout the store that gives visitors a real Maine experience.
Kittery also has a lot of historical significance with its strategic location on the mouth of the Piscataqua River. With landmarks like Fort McClary State Historic and Fort Foster you will be transported to a different time when America was defending her borders.
Fort Foster is so much more than a historic site though. This is also a community park with playgrounds, beaches, and trails to walk through. It does cost money to go into the park during peak summer season, but if you park on the outside of the gate, you can also walk in.
The best time to visit Kittery is in the late summer or early fall. This way you can still enjoy the beautiful sunny warmth but without a lot of the crowds that flock to this town in the summer months.
Don’t miss one of the best things to do in Kittery Maine. Watch boats come in and out of the cove while eating the best brussels sprouts in the area at The Bistro at Pepperrell Cove.
Visitors are greeted with fresh seafood and an extensive craft beer tap list at The York River Landing, which offers indoor and outdoor seating.
Elizabeth Perkins House, John Hancock Wharf, and Old York Historical Society will give history fans something to enjoy, while those who appreciate pretty landscapes will get a kick out of York Harbor, reached by the Wiggly Bridge!
York Harbor Beach is a small, family-friendly space close to York Cliffs, 1637 Restaurant at York Harbor Inn, and Hartley Mason Reserve, which has some monuments and benches. There’s also street parking at the reserve.
As the name suggests, Long Sands Beach is a longer stretch of sand that borders York Street, where you’ll find a variety of holiday homes. Parking is tricky during the summer season. Short Sands Beach is a more compact area that has restaurants, gift stores, and an arcade on its doorstep.
Finally, you can’t miss Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick Nubble, which is best photographed from the rocks. Fox’s Lobster House is located next to the lighthouse and sells takeout meals with al fresco dining,
Spring through summer are the most popular seasons to visit York, so expect crowds. Parking is easier during fall and winter.
Submitted by Kelly from Girl With The Passport
Rockland is one of those perfect places to visit if you are looking for some great coastal towns in Maine. This cool town has a New England charm to it that makes it pretty iconic. The best part about it? Despite being such an iconic place, it is not overrun with shopping outlets, hasn’t become overly touristy and it has retained its original feel.
One of the best things to do in Rockland is to catch a hot cuppa joe at Rock City Coffee. Not only is the cafe super laid back, it has a mean collection of all baked goods that are bound to tempt your taste buds.
You cannot forget to visit the Puffins while you are here. Yes! I said puffins. You will find them at the Project Puffin Visitor center. If you would like a more peaceful day, head out for a walk to the Rockland Breakwater lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1902 and it sits at the end of a massive breakwater which makes it super scenic. There is also loads of parking and the breakwater is almost a mile long so it’s a pretty nice walk.
Another great place to walk is along the Rockland Harbor trail. This will give you some of the most scenic views of the coast of Maine. Sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it?
Submitted by Heather Kasvinsky of This Noshtalgic Life
Stonington is a charming off-the-beaten-path town located in DownEast, Maine, with a stunning archipelago and rocky coastline. What makes it extra special is the blend of its quaint locally-owned stores and galleries with the surrounding preserved land. You can truly enjoy the essence of quiet coastal Maine!
Stonington is the largest and most active lobstering cove in Maine, so don’t miss the chance to visit the Stonington Lobster Co-op, where you can pick out a fresh Maine lobster right off the dock for dinner. This working harbor is the lifeblood for many families in town, with lobstering being their bread and butter. Picking out your lobster means you get a unique chance to interact with the hardworking lobster-men.
For dining, the Harbor Cafe is a local favorite, known for its hearty breakfasts, homemade chowder, and fresh seafood dinners, including lobster. It’s an intimate and popular spot, so expect a wait for a table. Check their website for current hours.
One of the top things to do in Stonington, Maine, is to hike to Barred Island at low tide! It’s an extraordinary experience because you can walk over the rippled ocean floor to a gorgeous island. Please remember timing is crucial so check the tide schedule to ensure you can safely approach and return before the tide comes back in.
If you are traveling from Bangor, Stonington is a scenic 2-hour drive south through Deer Isle. The best time to visit is during July and August when the weather is more agreeable and all the local businesses and attractions are open.
Submitted by Ruma of New England Cities
Winter Harbor is a small coastal town located 25 miles east of Ellsworth in the Down East & Acadia region of Hancock County. The most important harbor is filled with local fishing boats. There’s a public dock too. The best way to reach the city is the Schoodic National Scenic Byway. Locals and tourists take the ferry from larger Bar Harbor towards the west to go hiking, cycling, or camping.
The small city is quite charming and offers a magnificent view of the west side of the range of Mount Desert Island. It is also the gateway to the Schoodic Peninsula Area of the famous Acadia National Park. The place is popular for hiking, camping, cycling, and beautiful ocean views. The Explorer buses offer free rides within the park during summer. Grindstone Neck is another famous spot to enjoy terrific views of the ocean.
The 2 offshore Lighthouses here are Winter Harbor (Mark Island) Light and Egg Rock Light. People catch ferry rides from Bar Harbor to visit the spots. People can contact the Sea Schoodic Kayak Bike for bicycle rental. August is the best time to visit the city to enjoy the famous Winter Harbor Lobster Festival. The place has a rich cultural history, which is reflected in theatres and galleries like Schoodic Arts For All, Whopaints, U.S Bells, etc. To enjoy local delicacies like pickled snails, locals like to visit The Pickled Wrinkle in Birch Harbor. Restaurants like the Fisherman’s Gallery offer local seafood delicacies cooked with fresh catch of the day.
Submitted by Rebecca of Fab 5 Family Travel
Ogunquit is a must-see on everyone’s Maine bucket list. Nestled on the gorgeous Atlantic coast in Southern Maine, it’s a short drive from Boston and Portland. Ogunquit is a great mix of a beach community with fresh seafood restaurants, quaint shops, and art galleries.
In Ogunquit, visit Perkins Cove, which is on the southern tip of town and has shops and restaurants. Footbridge Lobster is a quick and easy lunch spot. Grab a lobster roll and enjoy a scenic lunch view of Perkins Cove.
A bit further north is the downtown portion of Ogunquit. Parking can be tricky, so that you can walk from Perkins, but it’s about 1.5 miles. I suggest grabbing a parking spot in one of the paid lots and using the Ogunquit Trolley to get around town or walk. The trolley runs from summer through fall.
Summer and Fall are the best times to visit, as many places shut down after Christmas. Beware of large crowds in July & August as families migrate to the coast. If you love a New England Christmas, Ogunquit hosts an amazing festival- Christmas by the sea.
Don’t miss out on walking the Marginal Way- a paved trail along the coast. Guests are treated to scenic views of the ocean and the beautiful homes dotted along the way. There are several entry and exit points, so you can walk as little or as much as you prefer. It is a great way to soak in an iconic New England community.
Submitted by Allison of Eternal Arrival
One of the most charming coastal towns in Maine is Damariscotta, which is blissfully off the radar of most Maine tourists.
This small but scenic town is a great shopping spot, with some great jewelry stores, boutiques, and plant stores to peruse.
One can’t-miss place in Damariscotta is Rexall Malts, an old-fashioned soda counter located inside an old pharmacy — their root beer floats are legendary, and the decor is a true blast from the past.
If you’re wondering where to eat in Damariscotta, there’s one right answer: Oysterhead Pizza, located right on the harbor, serving up delicious wood-fired pizzas and craft beers.
If you just want a small bite, the bakery at Barn Door Baking Co. is also a nice place to stop for a pastry while you peruse the next-door bookstore.
Other fun things to do in Damariscotta include walking around Damariscotta Town Harbor and admiring all the boats, maybe renting a stand-up paddle board to enjoy a little time out on the sheltered harbor area.
Another interesting thing is that Damariscotta is right near the Whaleback Shell Midden State Historical Site, home to an ancient shell midden of discarded oyster shells.
This giant mound of shell detritus was left by the Indigenous peoples of Maine what is believed to be over 2,500 years ago and stays preserved to this day, along with several other shell middens in Maine.
Between browsing, nibbling, and exploring Damariscotta’s historic sites, there’s a lot to do in this small charmer of a town!
Kennebunkport is a charming coastal town whose special allure comes from the idyllic New England atmosphere. It has pristine beaches and a charming downtown with cute shops and restaurants. It offers a blend of coastal elegance but quintessential Maine hospitality.
This coastal town is a favorite among U.S. Presidents, who have brought national attention to this small town.
Seafood is on the menu in every restaurant and fresh from the ocean. The dining in Kennebunkport is top notch and features all the New England staples. One of the most popular restaurants is Cape Pier Chowda House located on the seafront.
It’s home to a fantastic art and cultural environment, with many galleries to be explored. And it hosts the annual Kennebunkport Festival which features the local art scene.
Kennebunkport is beautiful in summer with it’s stunning beaches. But it also shines in winter with a fantastically cozy atmosphere and the Christmas Festival. Local farms often offer sleigh rides, and other great outdoor activities.
Submitted by Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler
The furthest Downeast town on the coast of Maine is the charming village of Lubec. It is located on the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tides in the world. Lubec is known for its remote coastal scenery and its iconic lighthouses.
There is much to do in the seaside town. Stroll the waterfront streets to experience the vibrant fishing community. Visit McCurdy Smokehouse Museum, a former herring processing plant now filled with local seafaring history. The restaurants in Lubec feature the freshest seafood. Enjoy a lobster dinner at the Wharf while sitting on a patio over the bay. The Wharf is also the place to rent a kayak to explore Cobscook bay. Be mindful of the tidal currents while sea kayaking the Bold Coast.
One can’t miss attraction while visiting Lubec is the West Quoddy Lighthouse. This candy striped lighthouse is a perfect place to see a sunrise or watch whales feeding in the ocean. Walk across the ocean floor at low tide to get to the lighthouse. Additionally, explore the miles of trails on the point. The lupine flowers are in abundance in the summer.
Since Lubec is on the Canadian border, take your passport to cross the international bridge to Campobello Island to visit the Roosevelt Campobello International Park. This park preserves Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s magnificent summer home and tells the history of their summers on the island.
Summer is the best time to visit and you will need a car to fully explore the area.
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