The Southern Maine coast is the ideal place to vacation, visit, even relocate. Southern Maine from Kittery to Kennebunkport to Portland and Freeport is full of beautiful beaches, ocean drives, seafood and shopping. So much to see and do. Here is our favorite guide for your tour of the Maine coast, and our recommendations on the very best places to eat, drink, sleep, shop and boat!
Hit the beach – Maine has so many beautiful beaches from soft long stretches of sand, to rocky beaches with perfect smooth pebbles, tidal pools and quiet coves , to broad open strands that surfers love for the big breaking waves. Southern Maine’s beaches are the best, unlike anywhere else in the world, given the 8-11 foot tide twice daily, Maine beaches are incredibly scenic and unique. Old Orchard Beach, Higgins Beach and Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport are among the best in southern Maine. See our guide to Maine’s best beaches.
Best Photographs – Maine Lighthouses Maine has a proud maritime history, and the lighthouse is the beacon and best representation to this day. From Whaleback Light best viewed from Kittery’s Fort McClary, to the most photographer Nubble Light at Cape Neddick York, to Goat Island Light off Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport, Woods Hole Light in Biddeford and the oldest and most celebrated Portland Headlight in Fort Williams Park… you should see them all. Pack a picnic and enjoy the grounds these gorgeous seaside settings, and ponder the shipwrecks these lights have thwarted over the centuries.
Take the Presidential pass to Kennebunkport
Kennebunkport Maine was the summer home to President George H W and Barbara Bush, and nows George W (we call him 43 versus his Dad 41), and Jeb too. You can drive along Kennebunkport’s Ocean Avenue and see their spectacular Walkers Point estate (locals call it gawkers point in prime tourist season), then visit Kennebunkport‘s White Columns Bush First Family Exhibit at Kennebunkport’s Historical Society.
Sea Food – Eat Maine
Eat some local Maine seafood, lobster, fried clams, shrimp, scallops, and oysters. You can dine at a fancy four star restaurant on artfully prepared lobster out of the shell, or you roll up your sleeves at a roadside Clam Shack, or enjoy a fresh made lobster roll.
Some of our favorite Maine restaurants include the York Harbor Inn – try the Ship’s Cellar Pub downstairs, Velveteen Habit and MC Perkins in Ogunquit, Joshua’s in Wells, The Boathouse Waterfront in Kennebunkport, Old Vines Wine Bar in Kennebunk, or casual pub fare at Alissons – it’s the Cheers of Maine. Portland has so many good restaurant – too many to mention.
Maine is loaded with local crafts people, artists, chefs, and jewelers. Whether its lobster or lighthouse decor, starfish and sea glass jewelry, seascape inspired art, or Maine made blueberry and maple products, be “Shore” to save time to shop Maine boutiques. Score some bargains at Kittery Outlets and Freeport Outlets, and go open minded with an open wallet to Maine discount stores Mardens and Reny’s. You must LL Bean, in Freeport 365/7/24 since 1913, and see this Maine clothier and outdoor gear flagship store, famous for its amazing return policy, LL Bean boots, and the Bear and Moose display, plus the massive Bean Boot outside (photo opp)!
Meet the Mainers
Accents – we got that! Mainers are incredibly proud, funny, pragmatic people. They work hard, laugh often and have a strong sense of Yankee-ism. Mainers are often sarcastic, you’ve been warned. See this guide to Maine slang for a clue, ayuh!
Maine’s natural assets
Besides the beaches, southern Maine is host to wonderful walking trails, bike paths and seaside walks. We recommend the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm, and Parsons Way in Kennebunkport, plus the Eastern Trail which encompasses 65 miles from Kittery to Casco Bay, Portland. Get out and explore the great Pine Tree State.
Get on a boat
The best way to see Maine’s dramatic coastline is by sea. Maine boat tours range from lobster boat tours and sailboat rides that last an hour or two, to scenic lighthouse excursions, or all-day fishing charters and whale watch expeditions. Southern Maine’s most beautiful ports offering boat tours include Ogunquit and Kennebunkport and Portland. We think the best boat rides are the Rugosa Lobster Boat Toor from Kennebunkport‘s Nonantum for a fun family-friendly boat ride on the Kennebunk River, captain Bob takes you out to President Bush’s estate at Walkers Point, and you get to see how lobster is trapped caught and hauled. If sailing with the wind floats your boat, then the Pineapple Ketch is a beautiful sailboat charter from the same docks – the sunset sail is a 10. For a fishing charter, Libreti Rose II in the same Nonantum Marina is a great day, or a few hours, fishing with a licensed experience Captain Bruce, he was once featured on Deadliest Catch.
Stay another day
There is a reason Maine is called Vacationland, and “The Way Life Should Be” so slow down and enjoy your visit to Maine. Find a romantic seaside inn, or a full service hotel on the ocean, even a nice motel right on the beach. See our favorite Maine lodging locations and stay a little longer.
Photos by Greg Burke, see more at Southern Maine Coast Lodging Guide , Visit Maine Lodging Directory, and Kennebunkport Maine Lodging Guide.
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