8 Iconic Maine Places for Out-of-State Guests

Deepen your appreciation for the Pine Tree State by playing tourist for a day at these picture-perfect spots.

A lighthouse visit should always be on the docket—and there are many to choose from along Maine’s rugged coastline—but Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth (just a few miles from downtown Portland) is the most photographed in the world.

Do you have friends or family coming to town and you want to show off the best that Maine has to offer, but you’re at a loss about where to begin? Take a deep breath—we’ve got your back. It can be overwhelming to decide what to do when playing tour guide, especially if you have a tight time frame. To help you out, we’ve broken it down into simple categories, depending on the type of guest you have coming to stay.


Of the numerous lighthouses in Maine, Portland Head Light is one of the most photogenic. You can’t go wrong if you take your guests to any lighthouse along the coast (the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse was a close second on our list!), but Portland Head Light comes out on top for several reasons, including its proximity to Portland, its location in Fort Williams Park, and the rock formation around the light, which is prone to spectacular and dazzling displays of crashing waves. Give your guests a taste of the coast without straying too far from the city, and then head into Portland to keep the tour going.


If your guests are more comfortable in a city environment but still want to lean in to some Maine traditions, the L.L.Bean campus in Freeport is your one-stop shop. A small town with a population of roughly 9,000 in the last census, Freeport is not considered a city by any means. However, the outdoor gear store’s sprawling campus alone—complete with a green where live concerts and yoga classes take place in the summer—is enough to make an urbanite want to pitch a tent in the woods and cook over an open fire. Open 24 hours a day, the L.L.Bean Flagship store is fun to visit whether you’re on a shopping mission or just browsing. Plus, getting a picture with the enormous Bean boot by the entrance is something of a rite of passage.


Do you have friends who love to run, hike, and bike? Exploring the extensive network of carriage roads at Acadia National Park might just be the multitasking adventure that you’re looking for. With over 45 miles of beautifully maintained trails originally built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. to be used for horseback riding, today the carriage trails are trafficked only by hikers, bikers, and, yes, horse-drawn carriages. While this trip will require more planning than others (such as reserving bike rentals, if necessary, in addition to navigating the traffic of Bar Harbor and the park itself), it will pay off big time. Your guests will no doubt be plotting a trip back as soon as possible.


If your visitors are the types who frequently seek out galleries and museums, you can’t go wrong with a day trip to Rockland to visit the Farnsworth Art Museum and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA). Home to the nation’s largest collection of works by sculptor Louise Nevelson as well as an entire center dedicated to the Wyeth family and their extensive legacy of art in Maine, the Farnsworth is the ideal spot to introduce viewers to Maine’s rich artistic history. Housed in a building designed by internationally renowned architect Toshiko Mori, the CMCA continues the dialogue started by the Farnsworth Museum, showing how contemporary art in Maine is thriving—and evolving.


Are your visitors ready to venture out into the great outdoors to see the flora and fauna of the Pine Tree State? Plan a trip to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, a 295-acre garden in Boothbay that specializes in plants native to Maine. With numerous trails to explore that wind through features including everything from fountains to intricately carved sculptures to a meditation garden, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, in early 2021 Danish artist Thomas Dambo installed five giant troll statues made from recycled and reclaimed wood throughout the forested sections of the gardens as a part of a permanent installation called Guardians of the Seeds, which serves as a commentary on conservation. When your visitors happen upon one, it will make them feel like they’ve wandered into a fairy tale.


Did your guests come to Maine with the beer scene in mind? Of the 165 breweries (and counting) in the state, Oxbow Brewing Company in Newcastle and the Oxbow Beer Garden in Oxford are perfect if you want both good beer and an adventure. The brewery’s original location in Newcastle is home to a cozy tasting room filled with board games, an expansive deck overlooking a pond, and a series of trails through the woods, complete with custom-made drink rests on trees throughout. If you’re looking for both dinner and beers, the beer garden in Oxford is the place for you. With a menu of wood-fired pizza, plenty of outdoor seating, and numerous firepits to gather around, we can’t think of a better way to enjoy a summer evening in Vacationland.


If your visitors want to get their adrenaline pumping and you’ve got time to invest, why not give them a quintessential Maine experience by booking a moose tour with Northeast Whitewater in Greenville? Maine’s best known (and most dangerous) mammal, moose are easy to see if you know where to go—and what precautions to take. The Northeast Whitewater team will take you out into the wilderness (via canoe or van) to find these elusive creatures and admire them from afar.


Are you short on time and want to give your guest the Maine experience in the most efficient way possible? The Lobster Shack at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth is the answer to your prayers. Taking a trip to the Lobster Shack, perched along the coast directly next to the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, guarantees you will get your fill of both lobster (whether in a roll or whole—your choice!) and coastal views. Plus, if you happen to go on a foggy day, you’ll experience the power of the station’s foghorn firsthand.

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