Mainers have the privilege of witnessing the sense of community that oceanside towns possess—a type of community that can seldom be found anywhere else. Within these seaside enclaves, the town landing provides a meeting ground for locals and visitors, a place to tie up boats, say hello to your neighbor, and head out for a day on the ocean. From bustling town harbors to quiet, tucked-away nooks, here are our favorite spots to hang with the locals, grab a sandwich, and hit the water.
01 Falmouth Town Landing
Situated off Route 88 just down the hill from the Falmouth Town Landing Market, this spot is beloved by the Greater Portland population. If you’re traveling by water, the town landing is conveniently close to Handy Boat and Portland Yacht Club. Frequented by many serious sailors and boaters, the spot is also popular with neighborhood children and families. Jutting from the land, the small peninsula creates an inlet for boat moorings and, during low tide, a small, sandy beach.
02 Cape Porpoise Town Landing
Only minutes from the bustling downtown of the Kennebunks, this small harbor feels like a world away. Check out the views of the red-and-white painted Goat Island Light in the distance or walk by the local fisherman’s bait shop while you’re there. When hungry, try the casual Cape Pier Chowder House restaurant or the Ramp/Pier 77, the best place for local seafood and beer served up in a colorful, eclectic atmosphere.
03 Rockport Town Landing
Located off steep and curvy Central Street, this town landing can be easy to miss. Home to two outstanding restaurants, Salt Water Farm and Shepherd’s Pie, this picturesque inlet is a must-visit for foodies. Its entrance is guarded by a sculpture of Andre the seal. Quite possibly the first celebrity seal, Andre spent his winters in the New England Aquarium and his summers in Rockport harbor. He passed away in 1986, but the charming mammal remains one of the symbols of Maine summer.
04 Cliff Island Town Landing
“Quaint” is the word that comes to mind when describing the small community of Cliff Island. With no paved roads, most visitors and residents opt for traveling by foot or bicycle. During summer months the population grows from about 60 to only 200, which allows the island to retain a quiet, intimate atmosphere. Just hop off the ferry to find the town landing, and be sure to stop by the small general store nearby to stock up on essentials for your day by the water.
This easternmost town in the United States may be small, but its character and rich fishing history produce a welcoming, rugged charm. Way downeast with views of Canada, it’s not uncommon to hear a mix of French and English being spoken. The pier is only a few minutes from downtown, and the working harbor is always busy with lobstermen and fishermen hauling traps and occasionally stopping for conversation.
06 Port Clyde
Whether you’re looking to visit a traditional working harbor or to simply see an idyllic waterfront community, Port Clyde presents the perfect setting. Located at the tip of the St. George Peninsula, this pier is sandwiched between a bustling commercial lobster wharf and the Port Clyde General Store. From Route 1 follow the winding road along the St. George River into town and explore Tenants Harbor and the many shops and galleries near the town landing.
07 South Thomaston
This off-the-beaten-path seaside village sits on the Weskeag River, locally known as the “Keag,” which is home to reversing tidal falls, a naturally occurring phenomenon that creates temporary waterfalls as a result of the reversing currents. Fishermen are a common sight, particularly near Route 73, where shore fishing is excellent and striped bass are plentiful. Nearby, locals congregate on picnic tables to devour neighboring Keag General Store’s famous lobster and crab rolls while watching the continually changing view.
Known for the “Two Hour Birthing Limit” sign at the top of the town landing (which has recently been replaced), Stonington is also marked by weathered buildings that line the lively, working waterfront. Although it may be small, this harbor is home to many shops and galleries filled with local art and artisan goods. On your way to the landing, grab lunch at the popular Fisherman’s Friend Restaurant, located right on the water and just down the street from the pier.
09 Bass Harbor
Often referred to as the “quiet side” of Mount Desert Island, this harbor contains two town landings, one on the eastern side and a larger dock on the western end. Its proximity to Acadia National Park makes it a perfect destination for day trips without the crowds. By the pier, the water is deep enough for boat mooring and dock jumping, so bring a towel and spend the day watching boats and fishermen pass by.