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Common Maine Vacation questions

People planning to visit Maine have questions. We at Visit Maine Lodging Guide want to provide the best answers to help you plan your Maine vacation. Here are the Top Maine visitor questions:


How many days should I plan to visit Maine?
Maine is a big state, geographically larger than all the other New England states combined, so it is nearly impossible to see it all in a month, never mind a week’s vacation. We suggest you plan a week to visit Maine, stopping in a few coastal towns for a few nights each. On a separate trip, explore Maine’s lakes and mountains. We want you to really enjoy your time here, walking the beach, meeting some Mainers, savoring our best Maine made food, including fresh Maine lobster. If you try to see too much, you will be driving more than you are enjoying.


See our Tour the Coast page for recommendations on where to stop along the Maine coast and where to stay along your way. Some of the best towns include York, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, Portland, Boothbay Harbor, Rockland, Camden, and Bar Harbor. Inland, the Sebago Lake region is beautiful, so are the ski resort towns of Sunday River, Saddleback and Sugarloaf. To really get away, we recommend time on Moosehead Lake, The Forks and Baxter State Park.


Where should I go in Maine if I only have a few days?
For a Maine weekend, or a two day getaway, head to the Southern Maine Coast, and stay in a seaside town like Kittery, York, Wells or Ogunquit, WellsKennebunkKennebunkport. These beautiful Maine towns are just an hour to an hour and a half drive from Boston, easy to reach off I-95 and offer great lodging, Maine's best beaches, dining, shopping and a vibrant art and entertainment scene in summer plus fun festivals in fall and winter around the holidays.


Where is the best shopping in Maine?
Maine is famed for its outlet shopping, LL Bean, antique shops and Maine made crafts sold in small boutiques and shops throughout the state. Maine’s best outlet shopping is in Bangor, Kittery and Freeport - where you will find the legendary LL Bean- open 24/7/365. In smaller coastal towns of Maine you will find general stores and Maine craft shops that sell Maine made jewelry, art, crafts and delicious food made with Maine blueberries and maple syrup. Maine art galleries in seaside villages like Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, Rockland and Bar Harbor offer Maine inspired scenery that you can take home on a canvas. For bargain hunters, make a stop in Maine discount stores Mardens and Reny’s - where they sell everything from tarps to lobster traps, hunting vests to designer shoes.


Can we visit a Maine lighthouses?
Yes, there are 65 Maine lighthouses, some you can get very close with your camera, some are on more remote islands and rocky coastal bluffs, so you can take photos from a lighthouse boat tour. Some lighthouses like Portland Headlight offer tours and have an onsite museum and gift shop, plus a scenic park for picnicking. See our Maine Lighthouse directory and dot your way up the coast visiting Maine’s best beacons.


Where should we go to eat our first Maine lobster?
Never eaten a lobster? Then we suggest a casual lobster pound or a clam shack with picnic tables overlooking the water, here you can roll up your sleeves and wear a bib for your first buttery crustacean encounter. No need to go fancy on your first lobster bake. It will be love at first claw.


Should you buy Maine lobsters to bring home with us?
Sure, lobster can be packed properly for you to bring home, see our instructions on how to cook a Maine lobster. You’ll need a big pot and melted butter (real Mainers suggest unsalted butter). Fresh lobsters are best cooked and enjoyed the same day. Otherwise, we suggest you order live lobster to be shipped professionally to arrive the day you plan to cook and eat them.


Are the Maine beaches packed in summer?
Maine has many beautiful beaches, with the majority located along the southern Maine coast. Even though Maine beaches are quite popular in summer, you can still find a quiet space and untouched sand. Even Old Orchard Beach, voted Maine’s best beach, is seven miles long so there is plenty of place to spread out your beach towel, or toss a Frisbee. The further you walk from the Pier and beach parking, the more private and peaceful your beach retreat will be.


Is there anything to do on the Maine coast in winter?
Yes, local Mainers call the off-season their favorite. You can still walk the beach, the ocean mediates the temperature as it is warmer than the air in winter. Maine seaside villages have just enough inns, hotels and restaurants that stay open in winter. And you can enjoy un-crowded shopping, horse drawn carriage rides, and even cross-country skiing when it snows. Some of the best festivals in Maine are in early December just before the holidays, like Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport, and Lighting of the Nubble in York. Ogunquit and Portland have holiday celebrations and Valentines festivals in February too. Maine’s mountains are spectacular in winter, covered in snow. Maine is a wonderland for outdoor adventure, with alpine skiing at 18 Maine ski resorts, plus snowmobiling, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, tubing, and ice skating.


What’s the weather like in Maine?
They say in Maine if you don’t like the weather, stay another day. Maine temperatures do vary greatly. Summer days are typically 70-80F, and evenings cool off as low as 55F. In winter, temperatures range from 20-40F daytime, and cool off at night as low as 15F. We suggest in summer that you bring a sweatshirt or light jacket for those cool evenings, or a boat ride as it is always cooler out on the water. In winter, be prepared with a coat, hat, gloves and footwear that works in the snow… you just never know! See our Maine Tides and Weather pages as you plan and pack for your Maine vacation.


When’s the best time to see a Maine moose?
The moose are loose all year round in Maine, but the majority of the Maine moose population, about 70,000, live in the western lakes and mountains and the northern part of the state. So your best bet for a moose sighting is near Rangeley, the Maine Highlands and the Moose River valley. Moose tend to be out and visible most during the spring and fall, and the best time of day to see a moose is dawn or dusk when they are out roaming for food. Most Maine Moose safaris can pretty much gurantee they will find you a Moose!


How far is it to Bar Harbor?
Bar Harbor is about 224 miles from the southern Maine border, so it’s a 3 ½ hour drive to Down East and Mount Desert Island from Kittery – the first town you enter in Maine on I95 from Portsmouth New Hampshire.


Do you have to take a ferry to Bar Harbor?
You can drive to Bar Harbor. Although it is located on Mount Desert Island, the Island and Acadia National Park, and the largest town of Bar Harbor, are reached via bridge, from the mainland town of Trenton on Route 3.


Are Maine locals friendly?
Mainers are a rare breed, mostly friendly, quite funny, with wicked accents, sarcasm, and a Yankee mentality. See our Maine slang for a briefing on how to talk native. Don’t have huge expectations of making Maine buddies though… these things take time, ayuh. 


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