Get your s’mores ready for roasting and your tent pitched: it’s time to camp. Every year Mainers head up to camp in droves, all seeking their sliver of vacationland. If you don’t happen to own a lakehouse or coastal retreat—or if you just want to explore a new swath of wilderness—there’s no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than by sleeping under the stars. Or under the collapsible dome of a nylon tent. To help you plan your next adventure, we’ve rounded up nine great campgrounds that run the gamut from bare bones to all-inclusive.
01 Searsport Shores Ocean Campground | Searsport
Families will adore this bustling campground, which boasts every amenity from dog parks to kayak rentals to lobster bakes. The midcoast destination has scenic ocean views, acres of wooded area to explore, and services like valet parking and guided fishing trips. RVs are welcome and, if you must have a roof over your head, there are several cabins for rent. For even more exploring, the 900-acre wilderness on Sears Island is just five minutes away and open for day use.
02 Lily Bay State Park | Beaver Cove
Located on the shores of Moosehead Lake, this state park offers gorgeous water views, stunning mountains, and easy access to many great hikes, including Mount Kineo, which rises from the calm waters of Moosehead and offers spectacular, 360-degree views of the lake. The 924-acre park has beaches, a playground, two boat ramps, and a shoreline walking trail. The rustic campground has hot water showers and other basic facilities. Best for adults and older children.
03 Acadia National Park | Southwest Harbor and Bar Harbor
Acadia, New England’s only national park, is a very popular destination in the summer, so make your reservations early in the season (some spots book a year in advance). There are two campgrounds: Seawall Campground, which is open only in the summer, and Blackwoods Campground, which offers primitive camping during the off-season. The breathtaking natural beauty of this historic park makes up for the lack of fancy amenities. Explore the carriage trails, spend a day rock climbing, or watch for wild animals at the nearby refuge.
04 Lake St. George State Park | Liberty
Originally part of a farmstead, the Lake St. George campground is a lovely lakeside destination just 25 miles east of Augusta. Landlocked salmon and brook trout swim through the clear waters, making fishing a popular pastime year-round. With showers on site, a playground, group picnic areas, lifeguards on duty, and a trailered boat launch, this is a great place for families with small children. Unlike some lakes, motorboats are welcome on the water.
05 Hermit Island Campground | Phippsburg
For a truly oceanic experience, head to this small island—a mile and a half long and just half mile wide at the largest point—located at the southern tip of Phippsburg. Accessible by bridge, rocky cliffs and beaches abound on Hermit’s shores, and the interior of the island is crossed with easy walking trails that meander through woods and over marshes. Search through tidal pools for spikey urchins and sluggish starfish or spend an afternoon picking wild blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries from the snarls of untamed brush. Although there are some 200 campsites available, they fill up quickly, so reservations are recommended.
06 Rangeley Lake State Park | Rangeley
On the southern edge of this nine-mile-long lake sits the state-operated campground, where 50 well-spaced campsites allow privacy for summer visitors. The huge, clear lake has long been known for its abundance of brook trout, making it a mecca for fishermen (be sure to observe the catch-and-release rules). The park encompasses over 800 acres of wilderness in Maine’s mountains and lakes region—a fact you may be reminded of upon hearing the distinctive moose calls, or stumbling across a pile of bear droppings.
07 Vacationland Campground | Harrison
Many families choose to return to this full-service campground year after year, thanks to the proliferation of outdoor activities. Themed weekends throughout the year keep little ones interested in the great outdoors, and camp staffers offer kid-friendly fun seven days a week. With free hot showers, a game room, a floating dock, a Laundromat, and games like horseshoes, kickball, and volleyball, Vacationland is a little like going back to sleep-away camp (minus the mandatory talent show). Perfect for families with small children.
08 Jewell Island | Casco Bay
Accessible only by boat, Jewell Island is the largest landmass in the Maine Island Trail system, a 375-mile-long recreational waterway that stretches up the entire Maine coast. While there are many places to camp within the system of uninhabited islands, Jewell is conveniently located just eight miles from Portland harbor. Climb an abandoned observation tower to get a new view on the “Calendar Islands.” Walking trails link the harbor anchorage to the Punchbowl, a lovely secluded beach on the island’s eastern shore. Only 30 campsites are available, so if you can’t stake your tent on Jewell, Cliff Island is just a quick boat ride away.
09 Baxter State Park | Millinocket
Few places in America can compare to Katahdin when it comes to raw, untamed beauty. A rite of passage for many outdoorsmen, climbing the mountain, and conquering the terrifying section of trail known as Knife’s Edge, is reason enough to visit Baxter. But your visit need not be all adventure. Relax on the shores of Kidney Pond or book the four-person bunkhouse at Nesowadnehunk Campground for a quiet, remote weekend away. Dogs are not allowed in Baxter State Park, but with moose wandering the roads and beavers, raccoons, and deer frolicking in the woods, you won’t be lacking in animal companionship.