Consider adding Maine to your travel bucket list. Yes, it may be a bit “out of the way,” as it is in the far northeastern corner of the country. And travel to Maine in the winter also may be a bit unpredictable – especially if a “nor-easter” is expected. However, Maine has a rugged beauty that is unlike any other state.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Maine Bucket List Ideas for the Spring and Summer
- Maine Bucket List Activities to Do in the Fall and Winter
- Activities for Kids and Families to Add to Your Maine Bucket List
- Things to Do in Portland to Add to Your Maine Bucket List
We want to give you a few ideas of activities to do when you travel to Maine. We will share must-dos depending on the season in which you are traveling and will also spend time concentrating on the features of Portland.
Are you ready to check Maine off your bucket list? If so, we are excited for you! It’s a great place to visit!
Maine Bucket List Ideas for the Spring and Summer
Will you be traveling to Maine during (hopefully) moderate weather? Most would say that the best time to visit Maine is from June to August. Even though these months are the peak of tourist season, it is the time when the outdoor temperatures are typically pleasant.
Outdoor activities top our list. The scenery is fantastic. However, some regions have a lot of mosquitoes, so we advise you to take the necessary precautions during your journey.
Here are some of the most popular activities and places to visit in Maine during the spring and summer.
1. Watch the sunrise at the top of Cadillac Mountain
While we certainly could have listed “visit Acadia National Park” as our first recommendation, we decided to break up the National Park activities into separate items on our list.
Cadillac Mountain is part of Acadia National Park, and it is the highest peak within 25 miles of the Atlantic Shoreline (from Nova Scotia and Mexico). Even though its elevation of 1,530 feet doesn’t sound particularly impressive, visitors flock there because it is the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise.
While you might envision this activity as a peaceful moment to share with your family (or to experience in solitude), you might have a difficult time finding a parking place at sunrise. The peak of Cadillac Mountain is drivable, and many vacationers to Maine get up early to enjoy this experience. So, plan to arrive early and dress warmly.
2. Visit a lighthouse
Some say the most photographed lighthouse in Maine is the Portland Head Light, located in Cape Elizabeth near Portland. Not only is it the oldest lighthouse in Maine (as it was completed in 1791), but it also has the distinction of appearing on a postcard in the opening credits of National Lampoon’s Vacation.
It doesn’t seem as if you can climb the lighthouse when visiting. However, there is a lighthouse museum and food trucks available on site.
3. View Mount Katahdin
While Cadillac Mountain has the distinction of being the highest mountain in North America next to the Atlantic coast, Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine. It measures 5,269 feet, and the name comes from the Penobscot Native Americans and means “the greatest mountain.”
Mount Katahdin is not in Acadia National Park. Instead, it is in Baxter State Park. It is the northern point of the Appalachian Trail and has been designated as a National Natural Landmark.
Please note that we suggest that you “view” Mount Katahdin instead of “climb.” This is not a hike for amateurs and is usually considered the most challenging part of the Appalachian Trail.
4. Eat popovers near Jordan Pond
While in Acadia, take the time to visit Jordan Pond. This scenic area is the home of Jordan Pond House, a restaurant and shop that overlooks the beautiful lawn along the Jordan Pond.
Jordan Pond House is known for its famous popovers, served at the site since 1893. The restaurant is popular, and the website says that reservations aren’t available.
5. Visit Thunder Hole
If you are visiting Maine, you certainly want to get a view of the spectacular waves hitting the rocky coast. One of the best places to see such dramatic scenery is Thunder Hole, located in Acadia National Park.
Thunder Hole earned its name from the thunderous noise that occurs when the waves crash against the rock and water. It is at its loudest one to two hours before high tide or after a storm.
If you visit the area, take caution – especially when traveling with children. People have been swept away by the waves, so make sure you follow the posted signs and common sense.
Maine Bucket List Activities to Do in the Fall and Winter
While the bulk of the tourists visit Maine in June, July, or August, some come to the region to enjoy winter activities. Here are some ideas of what to do in the fall and winter in Maine.
6. Peep at leaves
Some head to Maine and other northeastern states during leaf season. The area is known for its brilliant fall foliage from September to October, which brings thousands of leaf peepers to the region.
If you would rather sit back and enjoy the views instead of navigating through traffic, consider a fall foliage train tour or another type of guided tour group. If you decide to go on your own, research leaf-peeping websites to find out the best times to visit which regions.
7. Visit the blueberry capital of the world
We were somewhat disappointed to learn that the “wild blueberry capital of the world” is located in a town named Cherryfield. One website states that the name comes from the beautiful red color that the blueberry barrens turn in the fall. However, we would like to think that the town’s founders just had a great sense of humor.
Regardless of the town’s name, enjoy the Cherryfield scenery and blueberry-rich foods when you visit it in the autumn.
8. Go on a windjammer cruise
For those of you living in land-locked states like me, a windjammer is a ship that has multiple masts – or a sailing ship. These tall ships are used on day sails and offer a unique way to see the coast of Maine in the fall. Both Rockland and Camden, Maine, are known for their windjammer cruises.
9. Swoosh down the slopes
While some of you may avoid Maine in the winter like the plague, others might find this the perfect time for a visit. After all, Maine offers world-class skiing, and there are a lot of resorts and recreation areas available for those inclined.
Some resorts also offer tubing if you would rather slide down the mountain on your rear end instead of trying to balance on skis or a snowboard.
10. Cross country ski with a canine friend
While this recommendation sounds like cross country skiing while a dog trots nearby, instead, we are suggesting that you try skijoring. Skijoring describes cross country skiing with a dog assist. Think of it as a more active version of dog sledding (also available in Maine).
11. Go ice fishing
Some of you may have ice fishing on your bucket list. If so, you can cross it off your list while visiting Maine in the winter. However, whether you attempt this specialized type of fishing on your own or hire a guide to help, consider how you’ll get your catch back home.
Is fish caught from an ice hole on your food bucket list? Then, kill two birds with one stone (or maybe two fish with one hook) by completing this activity.
Activities for Kids and Families to Add to Your Maine Bucket List
Maine is a great place to visit with kids who enjoy the outdoors. Don’t forget to take advantage of the Junior Park Ranger program offered by the National Park system. Your kids may also enjoy collecting stamps in their U.S. National Parks travel passports.
Here are some other kid-friendly activities to do on your trip to Maine.
12. Go on a whale watching tour
Take your kids on an adventure while visiting Maine and go on a whale watching tour. According to the tour company websites, the best time for whale watching is a clear day from mid-April through October.
13. Build a sandcastle on the beach
Of course, you probably don’t associate Maine with beaches. However, there are a few sand beaches scattered along the coast. For example, consider visiting the aptly named Sand Beach when you are in Acadia National Park with the family. Be aware – the water is going to be cold. However, if your kids are like many, they’ll probably be able to stand the frigid temps better than you.
14. Hike the Bar Harbor shore path
You’ll get great views of the water, and your kids will enjoy getting their wiggles out when you walk along the Bar Harbor shore path. While some of the Maine coastline would be scary to see with little ones, walking along this path will allow you to relax.
15. Let the kids play at the Children’s Museum and Theater of Maine
We love that children’s theater is an essential part of the Portland community. Maddy’s Theatre at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine is the oldest continuously operating children’s theatre in the nation. In fact, the theatre will celebrate its centennial in 2023.
16. Visit the world’s only cryptozoology museum
Don’t feel bad if you aren’t familiar with the term “cryptozoology.” We had to look it up too.
Portland is the home to the International Cryptozoology Museum, which celebrates the study of hidden or unknown animals. To help you envision the type of exhibits you might find in this unique museum, one that opened in 2020 was titled “Sasquatch Revealed.”
Lovers of the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, and strange skeletons will enjoy this museum.
Things to Do in Portland to Add to Your Maine Bucket List
While you are in Portland visiting the International Cryptozoology Museum, here are some other activities you might want to consider. When researching destinations and activities for your trip to Portland, make sure you look at websites on Maine instead of Oregon.
17. Go on a brewery tour
The founder of the Allagash Brewing Company won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional in 2019, so this is undoubtedly a place you should try. However, there are dozens of breweries in Portland, where they take beer drinking seriously.
18. Enjoy the offerings of Commercial Street
Commercial Street has something for everyone. It’s a vibrant area near the working waterfront that has been named one of the 10 Great Streets in America. Visitors will enjoy boutique shopping and restaurants that feature great seafood (among other dishes).
Are You Ready to Create a Bucket List?
We hope you were inspired to add Maine to your travel bucket list.
There’s no perfect age to create one. So whether you are 16 or 66, learn how to create a bucket list and start crossing off activities and achievements when completed.