By Katy Kelleher
We are lucky to live in Maine. This is a place where beauty runs free and wild, where the breathless awe of something larger, something grander, can be found on beaches and mountain tops, city churches and weathered temples. Of course, one man’s picnic spot may be another’s place of prayer. Here are just a few places that have inspired and enriched our lives.
01 Spring Point Lighthouse
Located at the end of a 900-foot breakwater made from roughly hewn blocks of granite, a visit to the lighthouse provides a sweeping view of the Portland skyline. At night, when the city lights reflect upon the dark water, you can see it all from a watery distance and immerse yourself in contemplative quiet.
02 Ogunquit Museum of Art
Places that house art often feel sacred, and the Ogunquit Museum of Art is no exception. However, one of the most breathless moments comes as you descend the staircase and look out the large glass window to the Atlantic. Behind the museum, artworks rise almost organically from the ground, creating an awe-inspiring scene of earthly grandeur.
03 St. Peter’s Church
Between the stores and restaurants of the city’s “Italian district,” sits this hidden gem—
gorgeous on the inside, with dark wood beams and intricate stained glass windows. But what makes it truly special is the community that has formed around this space. From family-friendly festivals to weekly services, St. Peter’s is a place where many Portlanders feel perfectly at home.
04 Rockland Breakwater
This stunning attraction is perhaps even more beautiful when the summer folk are gone and the wind brutally whips the tar-dark sea. On Sundays, many locals make the journey to the historic lighthouse, a ritual as calming and communal as morning Mass.
05 St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery
Within the sculpted grounds of the riverside property stand several stately buildings, including an outdoor place of worship, a Tudor-style guesthouse open for retreats, and an old stone cathedral, complete with many-hued panes of stained glass and an altar fit for royalty. In the spring, the 60-acre property blossoms into a rapture of color as roses creep slowly up statues of saints and lilies turn their fragrant faces to the sky.
06 Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel
Children’s Chapel is a truly welcoming place, offering solace and a place for prayer for people of all faiths. Located on a scenic hill outside Camden, entry into the open-air chapel requires ascending stone stairs, and passing through a rocky little garden. Once inside, those seeking nature’s beauty will be rewarded by the oceanic views.
07 Chimney Pond
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park, with its wild trails and deep green pines that stretch cathedral-like toward the sky, harbors an incredible wealth of beauty—and quiet spaces. Yet there are few views more majestic, and few hikes that afford such a payoff, as Chimney Pond. Its popularity among hikers may cause an imposition on your alone time, but there is something wonderful about those mid-woods meetings.
08 Paradise Hill
Bethel is often thought of as a bustling ski town, but if you look a little closer, you’ll find plenty of places for solemn, quiet contemplation. One of the most beautiful places to take a breather is located at the top of the descriptively named Paradise Hill Road, where you suddenly find yourself bowled over by 360-degree views of distant mountains and their snowy, formidable peaks.
09 Maiden’s Cliff
Heights can be terrifying. They can be exhilarating. And they can also be, in the old, poetic sense of the word, truly romantic, much like the Maiden’s Cliff trail. While the view of Megunticook Lake and the distant harbor is stunning, the most striking aspect of this spot is the white cross that stands, weathered by the elements, in memory of 11-year-old Elenora French, who fell to her death in 1864. The memorial reminds visitors to hold their own loved ones close.
10 Cadillac Mountain
Acadia National Park is packed with epic views and lovely scenery, yet nothing can quite compare to the experience of watching the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain. At 1,530 feet, it’s the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard, and thus one of the first places you can see the sun peep over the horizon. Take an early morning trek and watch as the first pink rays of a new day color the water.
11 Smalls Falls
American painters have been immortalizing cataracts on canvas for centuries, and Smalls Falls is no exception. With a delightfully paradoxical name, this waterfall is located just south of the town of Rangeley, where the Sandy River rushes downward over multiple varicolored ledges. Ages of sediment and settling earth have resulted in a rainbow of bronzes, tans, browns, and slate blues, making the rocks around the picturesque falls almost as gorgeous as the cacophony of water itself.
12 Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
With such a rich and varied landscape, it’s easy to forget that Maine is also home to many man-made splendors. In the small city of Lewiston stands one of these structures, a Gothic-style cathedral, complete with sharp gray spires and an intricate rose window. Inside, stained glass turns the pews a multitude of jewel tones, making even a quick mid-day visit feel like something of a holiday.