Finding the hidden gems tucked away in Maine’s small towns is one of the joys of traveling there. You will find towns that welcome tourists whether you are taking in the scenery of the expansive coast or traveling through the densely forested mountains.
Many artists reside in or spend time in small coastal towns because of their rich maritime history and natural beauty, which draw tourists to the area. There are many art galleries and craft shops.
Inland, there are countless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Families with young children should consider some of the smaller ski towns, and there are even more locations where cross-country ski trails and snowshoeing are available. The Appalachian Trail and other top hiking trails are accessible from small towns as well.
See our ranking of the top small towns in Maine for suggestions on where to go in this picturesque state.
1- Ellsworth, Maine – Towns in Maine
Most people are familiar with Ellsworth as a stopover on the way to Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. But for a few reasons, you ought to do more than just cross your legs at this location. First off, you can pay with honor for cheesecake. In order to meet the demand, Momo’s Cheesecakes operates out of a garage that has been renovated.
“A classy, punk-rock burrito shop,” as 86 This! describes itself, is located on the opposite end of Main Street. Your picnic basket will look great with a wide variety of inventive wraps. Yoga enthusiasts will enjoy Steamy Buddha’s offerings in the interim. And just past the Ellsworth border is Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show, a uniquely Maine experience. Watch the performance or give log rolling a shot.
2- Portland, Maine – Towns in Maine
The epitome of a traditional New England city is Portland. The Old Port neighborhood of Portland is a quaint, old harbor town with historic buildings, cobblestone streets, and a ton of fantastic restaurants, distinctive boutiques, shops, and art galleries.
Portland Headlight, Maine’s oldest lighthouse, which George Washington ordered in 1791, is a must-see during any trip to Portland.
The Old Port, Portland’s waterfront, has been transformed from an old warehouse district into a trendy shopping, dining, entertainment, and nightlife destination. Ferry or charter boat tours that take guests to nearby scenic islands in Casco Bay can be easily accessed from Portland Harbor.
3- Camden, Maine
It takes about two hours to drive from Boston to Camden, a picturesque coastal town on Penobscot Bay. The Maine Windjammer Fleet, whose gorgeous sailing ships dock here when they are not at sea or in port at nearby Rockland, contributes to the town’s picturesque harbor’s beauty.
The upscale downtown area of Camden is teeming with eateries, galleries, and shops, making it the perfect location for an afternoon of sightseeing and shopping. There are numerous cultural events and performances throughout the summer.
Camden has a lovely beach, but Camden Hills State Park is its most well-known natural landmark. More than 30 miles of hiking trails can be found in the park, including the Maiden’s Cliff trail, which offers breathtaking views of Megunticook Lake below. There is also an auto road that ascends Mount Battie, providing access to the summit with views of Penobscot Bay and the neighboring mountains.
At Barrett’s Cove on Megunticook Lake, the park also offers a family-friendly campground, picnic areas, and a lovely freshwater beach.
4- Rangeley, Maine – Towns in Maine
This inland community near Maine and New Hampshire border is a natural wonder. Rangeley was founded on a foundation of hard-working farms and sawmills, and by the late 19th century, tourism had arrived. People flocked there from emerging US cities to unwind in the serene setting and go fishing in its magnificent lakes.
Today not much has changed; Rangeley remains the center of the Rangeley Lakes Region, where tourists swarm all year long for activities that depend on the season. Its lakes are the most well-known, drawing sports-fishing enthusiasts in with their allure. Rangeley itself is as quaintly convenient as it is quaintly rustic, with a wide variety of stores and eateries.
5- Monhegan, Maine
The tiny town of Monhegan is situated on an island off the coast of Lincoln County. Since the island is 12 nautical miles from the mainland, the Algonquian name Monhegan, which means “out-to-sea island,” is appropriate. Prior to the founding of the Plymouth Colony in 1620, Monhegan was an English fishing settlement. Since then, it has experienced pirates, trade, wars, and its primary industry, fishing.
You might be able to see why this incredibly charming town developed into a thriving artist community given its remote location, the bleak sea views from Monhegan, and the island itself, which is craggy and green. The dramatic cliffs and pine forests, which had already become well-known by the turn of the 20th century, are still drawing artists today.
6- Rockport, Maine – Towns in Maine
Prior to the towns’ separation in 1891 and subsequent independent development, Rockport was formerly a part of nearby Camden. Rockport has both a stunning, serene harbor and a view of mountains. As you travel inland from Rockport, Bald Mountain and Ragged Mountain are located to the northwest, and the harbor offers views of North Haven Island across the bay.
7- Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, a popular tourist destination in Maine, is known for its vibrant arts scene, first-rate dining options, and nearby Mount Desert Island. This is a great location to find sightseeing cruises, as is the case in most coastal towns, and there are a ton of tour companies in town that also provide land-based activities like ghost tours and foodie tours.
There are many guides available for those interested in learning more about the area, but for nature lovers, Bar Harbor is most famous for the nearby Acadia National Park.
The Abbe Museum, which is proud to be the only Smithsonian affiliate museum in Maine, is the most significant cultural attraction in Bar Harbor. The Abbe started as a trailside museum in Acadia National Park, a location that is still in use, and it expanded to take up the area in the center of Bar Harbor. Visitors can discover more about the Wabanaki peoples, known as the People of the First Light, who lived in this region long before European settlers did. Through artifacts and multimedia presentations, exhibits explore culture.
Visit the Bar Harbor Historical Society, which is housed in a former convent that is a historic structure in and of itself, to learn more about more recent local history. The tiny museum is home to a diverse collection of regional artifacts, ranging from remnants of long-gone grand hotels to an extensive collection of milk bottles from the area.
8- Blue Hill, Maine – Towns in Maine
At the head of the same-named bay, the pristine and charming Blue Hill offers a view of the Mount Desert Narrows islands. The town, which was founded in 1762, was formerly a shipbuilding and granite quarrying hub. Small boathouses and boatyards can still be found on the bay and tucked away in the smaller coves that flank the town.
9- Kennebunkport, Maine
The charming small businesses, sumptuous ship captains’ mansions, and fishing ports of this thriving Southern Maine town of 3,474 are further enhanced by the Kennebunk River. We believe it to be one of the most deserving Maine vacation destinations available, especially when taking into account a trip to The Clam Shack. Stay at one of the many inns in Kennebunkport, Maine, or experience luxury “glamping” at Sandy Pines Campground. Learn more: on Rugosa Lobster Tours, from the harbor and river.
10- Castine, Maine
Castine is about an hour south of Bangor on a peninsula in Penobscot Bay. It was one of the first towns in the state to be settled, is rich in history, and has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Three military forts, including the 18th-century Fort George, which was the last British fort to surrender in the Revolutionary War, and the 19th-century Fort Knox, which is well-preserved and open for tours in the summer, are among its most significant historic sites.
The Wilson Museum, run by the Castine Scientific Society, houses a startling assortment of artifacts from various historical periods and cultural backgrounds. Prehistoric tools from the Americas, Europe, and Africa are on display, along with six intricate dioramas of early human civilization and other cultural artifacts from around the world. Additionally, there are collections of regional artifacts, such as early agricultural implements, weapons, and nautical artifacts.
Visitors can tour the John Perkins House and observe demonstrations in the museum’s blacksmith shop during the months of July and August.
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