22 Things Maine is Known and Famous For

Each state has its own claims to fame, and Maine is no exception. Does its isolated location farther north and east than all other states have you wondering, what is Maine known and famous for? Let’s find out!

Maine is known for lobster, picturesque harbors and for horror and suspense author Stephen King. But there’s so much more that will astound you. Did you know that “The Pine Tree State” still has huge swaths of unclaimed land? Thick forests cover 75-percent of the state.

Ready to learn more? Scroll down for 22 reasons why Mainers wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

1. Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

The only National Park in Maine, Acadia is a spectacular national gem that shouldn’t be missed. With more than 3.5 million visitors annually, it is among the 10 most popular national parks in America.

With more than 158 miles of hiking trails, you’ll quickly be off-the-grid and enjoying nature at its finest. Other activities Acadia is known for include birdwatching, canoeing and kayaking, camping, boating, fishing and biking.

2. The Stunning Atlantic Coast

The atlantic coast

Maine’s coast is famous for a multitude of bays and inlets, jagged rock formations and incredible cliffs, boat-filled harbors, pristine beaches, abundant wildlife, picturesque villages, and thousands of islands just offshore.

The crashing waves during powerful storms and the sounds of gulls swooping along the beach make for long-term memories.

3. Lobsters and clams, oh my!

Lobster and clams dinner in Maine

The first time you pull off the road along the Maine coast at a local seafood shack can be a surreal experience. Fresh lobster and clams, here? It does seem hard to fathom initially, but this will be the freshest seafood that you can possibly imagine.

Yes, Maine is famous for fresh lobster. Here in Maine, lobster is so affordable that you may eat it for lunch and dinner.

Keep your mobile phone (i.e. camera) at the ready. If you’re lucky, you may just see a fishing boat pull into the dock with full lobster traps stacked on deck. It’s a sight to behold!

4. L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean is retail company founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean. A replica of its famous boot stands outside the flagship store.
A 16-foot-tall boot at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine. Editorial credit: Jane Rix / Shutterstock.com

It may not be first on your list, but shopping is a key component of many vacations. Thank goodness for the town of Freeport, and more directly, to Leon Leonwood Bean, an avid hunter and fisherman who founded the primarily catalog retailer way back in 1912.

Initially the company had one product, a waterproof boot named the Maine Hunting Shoe, later to become duck boots and finally, Bean Boots. Today the company sells hundreds of high-quality clothing items to cover Mainers and everyone else from top to bottom. And its flagship store here is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Freeport has become a mecca for outlet shopping, as more than 150 other retailers have opened up shop here, too. The town of 8,737 residents is just 17 miles north of downtown Portland.

5. Iconic fishing harbors

Boothbay Harbor

Maine is known for having so many picturesque natural harbors that it’s impossible to have a favorite. If you’re in the vicinity, any or all of these will provide you with amazing photo ops.

Portland (the largest and busiest), Bar Harbor, Camden, Rockport, Boothbay (a gem!), Isle au Haut or Kennebunkport.

6. Farnsworth Art Museum

Farnsworth Art Museum
Editorial credit: Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock.com

A nationally recognized art museum in Rockland, Maine? Affirmative! With a collection of more 15,000 pieces of Americana and 20,000 square feet of gallery space, the Farnsworth Art Museum is a shining star in “The Art Capital of Maine”.

Just 78 miles up the coast from Portland, The Farnsworth celebrates Maine’s impact on American art. Focused on artists who were born or lived in Maine, you’ll look in awe at paintings from Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, Rockwell Kent and of course, N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth.

After your Farnsworth visit, browse the more than 20 art galleries around town. Art lovers may also want to check out The Maine Art Museum Trail for info about eight more museums around the state.

7. Blueberries

Blueberries

And you thought Maine was just famous for lobsters, clams and fresh seafood. Think again, and take a look at that supermarket package of blueberries you’re taking home. There’s a good chance you’ve chosen some of the sweetest blueberries known by man (and woman) from the mountains of Maine.

Mountains you say? Don’t blueberries come from farms? Not in Maine they don’t, because here the blueberries grow in the wild on mountaintops and in deep glacial plains, just like they have for more than 10,000 years. Maine produces more wild blueberries than anywhere else in the world, and 10 percent of the U.S. crop overall.

Blueberry season runs from late July to mid-September and attracts umpteen thousands of visitors who come to pick their own. The scenery is spectacular, and the vibe of Downeast Maine’s blueberry harvest is something you’ll want to experience firsthand.

8. The ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia

Ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia

One of my favorite childhood memories remains our family trip aboard the ferry from Bar Harbor, Maine to Nova Scotia. The CAT vessel holds 750 passengers and 200 cars on the 3.5-hour trip. The ride and scenery on both ends is permanently etched in my mind.

9. Winter sports

Hockey players

Kids grow up in Maine playing hockey. Indoors and on frozen sheets of ice. If you’re lucky enough to have a pond behind your home, grab a pair of skates, shovel any snow and drop the puck!

Downhill skiing reigns at Sugarloaf, Sunday River and Saddleback resorts, Maine’s three largest. If you’re not up for speeding down the mountain, cross-country ski trails are abundant here. Snowshoeing provides another amazing cardio workout.

10. Famous writers

Stephen King writer Books for Sale in a Bookshop
Editorial credit: Eyesonmilan / Shutterstock.com

You may not think of Maine as a literary capital, but it has made enormous contributions to the world of books.

The two most famous native authors are Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Stephen King. Others whose lengthy stays in the state clearly impacted their work include Henry David Thoreau and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

11. Nor’easters

Winter storm waves crash over the seawall causing coastal flooding and road damage.
A stormy winter’s day in a Maine harbor town. Editorial credit: Arthur Villator / Shutterstock.com

Think George Clooney in “The Perfect Storm” back in 2000. These powerful and destructive storms come up the Atlantic Coast and slam the Northeast U.S. between September and April.

Packing hurricane-force winds and torrential amounts of rain or snow, they are becoming stronger and more frequent due to climate change.

12. The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail

The northern terminus of the 2,200-mile-long Appalachian National Scenic Trail is on Mount Katahdin, the tallest mountain in Maine at 5,269 feet.

Named by the Penobscot Native Americans, the name translates to mean “The Greatest”. Typically just called “Katahdin”, the mountain is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park.

13. Portland

Portland night skyline

Maine’s largest city is the heart of a metro area of half a million people. The Old Port District, known for its 19th-century architecture, is the heart of the city’s lively nightlife.

Be sure to visit the waterfront Ft. Williams Park at Cape Elizabeth to see the Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine (1791), which sits at the entry to the city’s harbor.

14. Lighthouses

Lighthouse in Maine

The picturesque Atlantic Coast of Maine has more than 60 lighthouses.

Some of the most popular include Cape Neddick in York, built in 1879; Sequin Island, commissioned by George Washington in 1795; Marshall Point (1832), near Port Clyde Harbor; and West Quoddy Head Light in Quoddy State Park, authorized by Thomas Jefferson in 1808.

15. Great small colleges

iew of the campus of Bowdoin College, a private liberal arts college located in Brunswick, Maine, United States.
Bowdoin College. Editorial credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

While not officially Ivy League, the “Maine Big Three” of Colby College in Waterville, Bates College in Lewiston, and Bowdoin College in Brunswick are highly respected top-tier private institutions with a long list of famous graduates. The schools often offer programs in tandem with Ivy League institutions.

16. The Windjammer fleet

The Stephen Tabor windjammer sailing
A windjammer schooner sails along the Maine coast. Editorial credit: Malachi Jacobs / Shutterstock.com

Numerous companies offer half and full-day, as well as multi-day trips aboard historic schooners. Some ships date back over 100 years. There’s no better way to see Maine’s spectacular coast than from the deck of a multi-masted sailing vessel.

17. Gateway to Canada

Nova Scotia (Canada) flag waving on the wind
The Nova Scotia flag

If you’re headed to Canada’s maritime provinces, rather than riding the ferry consider a leisurely drive through Maine. Stop off in New Brunswick en route before heading over to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.

18. Fall foliage

Fall foliage in Maine

Maine is no slouch when it comes to dazzling fall colors. From late September through October, from north to south, the green hills and valleys turn to spectacular shades of gold, orange and blazing reds across the state.

For the latest foliage updates visit the official state website.

19. Whale watching

Whale watching in Maine

Humpback, fin and minke whales return to the waters off the southern Maine coast from mid-April to October annually.

Whale watching excursions from Bar Harbor, Kennebunkport and Portland search out these incredible mammals as they feed on plentiful plankton and small fish about 20 miles out. You may even see a stray orca or sperm whale.

20. Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport
Idyllic view of Kennebunkport, Maine

A favorite of New Englander’s in-the-know, this picture-perfect town of 3,600 is filled with amazing restaurants, upscale art galleries and chic boutiques.

Mabel’s is a dining spot made famous by the George H.W. Bush family who made their summer home here. The Clam Shack of Food Network fame, is widely known for their delectable lobster rolls.

21. Puffins and other wildlife

Atlantic puffin in Maine

Maine is famous for being home to the only Atlantic puffin nesting sites in the U.S.

To see these adorable birds during their summer breeding season head for Macias Seal Island or Petit Manan Island on the Downeast coast, Seal Island or Matinicus Rock at Penobscot Bay, or in the midcoast region, Eastern Egg Rock.

22. Long, cold winters

Cold winter and snow in Maine

Winter comes early and stays late, especially in Northern Maine, but that’s just fine for Mainers who embrace the four seasons.

Winter brings the opportunity to break out the snowmobile, put the ice-fishing shack on the lake, or make your own ice skating rink on a pond behind your house.

Nothing’s better than putting up your feet in front of a roaring winter fire after a winter day outdoors in Maine. Curl up with a Stephen King novel, sip your favorite beverage and forget that the outside world even exists.

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