Looking for summer things to do in Southern Maine? Check out this guide to outdoor recreation and indoor experiences of all kinds!
Summer in Maine invokes images of gorgeous coastlines, chilly waters, sand between your toes, and salt in the air that sticks to your hair. There’s no better time of year to enjoy all that Southern Maine has to offer than the summer when visitors flock to the seaside communities.
Southern Maine really comes alive with restaurants, souvenir shops, and museums expanding hours and offering tourists and locals the chance to experience the beauty of Maine. Visitors flock to the beaches to sunbathe, surf, swim, and explore tidal pools.
The months we look forward to the most are July and August, with the bonus of June and September. This is when the warmth of the sun brings the best of outdoor activities to the forefront. Colors are vibrant too — from the beautiful flowers and bright welcome signs to the festivals each weekend in each coastal town.
Summer in Maine might revolve around the beach, but there are so many other fun, family-friendly spots to explore and enjoy. Whether you’re looking to learn about Maine’s history, shop, or take in the beauty of Maine’s wildlife, these ideas have something for every interest that will make your trip truly memorable.
Learn About Kittery’s History at Fort McClary
This fort has been very well preserved and includes impressive granite walls, a blockhouse, cannons, and many placards detailing the history of the site. Also, visitors can enjoy short forest trails and scenic Piscataqua River views. Pack a picnic, and you’ll have a nice meal with a view of the boats sailing past.
Snag a Deal at the Kittery Outlets & Kittery Trading Post
Locals and tourists come from far and wide in search of great deals on name-brand clothes, shoes, and accessories at the Kittery Outlets. It has over 120 trendy shops spread across 1 mile. Since the shops are spread out across both sides of Route 1, visitors need to drive to get from one plaza to the next.
While on Route 1, stop at the Kittery Trading Post too. This unique shop has all of the Maine souvenirs, outdoor gear, camping items, and apparel you’re looking for in one place. Children love visiting the Kittery Trading Post for candy, unique handmade toys, and taxidermied animals.
Take in the Beauty of a Maine Lighthouse at the Portland Head Light or Nubble Light
Cape Elizabeth and Cape Neddick
Maine is known for its lighthouses, and you can spot plenty of lighthouses along the Southern Maine Coast this summer.
One of the most popular is the Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, which is located at Fort Williams Park. This beautiful lighthouse has a museum that details the lighthouse’s history and a seasonal gift shop.
Or, check out the Nubble Light at Cape Neddick. While you cannot go into the lighthouse, you can view it from a scenic cliff walk at Sohier Park. Visitors love to take pictures in front of the picturesque lighthouse and then enjoy ice cream or lobster rolls at the nearby Fox’s Lobster House.
Watch Saltwater Taffy Being Made at The Goldenrod
The storefront has giant windows where you can watch the taffy being stirred, stretched, pulled, and packaged before being put onto the shelf. The whole process is mesmerizing, and you’ll see visitors lining up to snag some of the mouthwatering, freshly made taffy.
The Goldenrod is a cafe that serves ice cream, sandwiches, and desserts too. Or, pick up some homemade fudge, penny candy, or a souvenir to accompany the taffy.
Explore Perkins Cove via Marginal Way
Perkins Cove in Ogunquit Maine is a lovely fishing community that has many shops and restaurants to explore. The views of lobster boats, sailboats, and everyday marine activity can’t be beaten. Parking can be very limited, so it’s best to access the village via Marginal Way.
Marginal Way is a gorgeous cliff walk along the ocean that spans over 1 mile. From Shore Road to Perkins Cove, you can stop along the way at one of the dozens of benches to rest while enjoying views of the Atlantic.
So, put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes when you set out to enjoy amazing views along Marginal Way, followed by a day of perusing shops and restaurants in the picturesque Perkins Cove.
Spend a Day at the Beach
Summer in Maine isn’t complete without a day at one of Southern Maine’s stunning beaches. With miles of coastline and clean beaches, there are so many to choose from on your next visit.
The beaches of Southern Maine are perfect — sunny with gentle surf and plenty of sand to stroll or sit in your beach chair. Temperatures are in the 70s and 80s by day and cool to a refreshing 60 in the evening.
York is known for having great surfing conditions at Long Sands Beach and family-friendly small waves at Short Sands Beach. Or, venture to Ogunquit for Ogunquit Beach, which is over 3 miles of pristine sands and gentle surf. It’s consistently ranked one of the best beaches in the country.
Other amazing Southern Maine Coast beaches include Wells Beach in Wells, Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk, and Old Orchard Beach in its namesake resort town. For more options, check out this list of Southern Maine Coast beaches.
Reconnect With Nature at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
York County & Cumberland County
The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge spans 50 miles across York County and into Cumberland County. The refuge is a welcome break from the touristy spots and beaches of Maine for those looking to unwind and take in some of Maine’s natural beauty.
The refuge includes saltwater marshes, rivers, forests, mudflats, dunes, and other habitats for wildlife. Visitors may spot many species of birds, rabbits, deer, squirrels, and more. Along with nice hiking trails, there are fishing and hunting opportunities (hunting requires a refuge permit).
HIKING TIP: Hiking and walking paths are everywhere for you to explore, especially at nature preserves like Wells Reserve at Laudholm in Wells.
Sail Away with a Schooner Tour
If you’ve ever wanted to sail the open seas, Southern Maine has several schooner tours to make that dream come true. Sailing trips typically include a narrated history and a tour of the Southern Maine sites and lighthouses from the boat. There are many options for schooner tours, so book a short trip or a full-day excursion.
Take to the Seas for Whale Watching & Deep-Sea Fishing at Seafari Charters
Why sit on the shores of the Atlantic when you can venture out onto the Atlantic waters? Check out Seafari Charters for some thrilling sea adventures.
It offers whale watching and coastal cruises where you’ll have the chance to see humpback, minke, or finback whales. Or, book one of the lighthouse cruises to see five of Southern Maine’s famous lighthouses.
Looking for the chance to fish? Seafari offers deep-sea fishing expeditions where you could catch haddock, halibut, or cod.
Step Back in Time at a Vintage Arcade
York and Wells
There’s no better way to bring back the nostalgia of the 1980s than visiting a vintage arcade. Summer in Maine is the perfect time to visit a beachside arcade and try to beat the high score in pinball or skeeball. Kids and adults will have a blast trying to earn prizes or beat each other’s scores.
Visit the Fun-O-Rama at Short Sands Beach in York for dozens of vintage games, ranging from classics to racing games to claw machines. Or, if you’re closer to Wells, check out the Boardwalk Arcade, which features both retro and new games — from skeeball to Pac-Man to Pop-A-Shot basketball.
View Famous Artists’ Works at the Portland Museum of Art
The collection includes over 18,000 pieces of art with many recognizable, famous artists like Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, and Winslow Homer featured throughout the galleries.
Plus, the museum offers films ranging from foreign to independent to award-winning cinematic pieces. Families love the Sculpture Park, an open space with neat sculptures where children can run around, climb, and explore.
Bring the Kids on a Trolley Ride at the Seashore Trolley Museum
The museum lets you board the historic trolleys and walk through them. During the ride, you’ll get a narrated history from the conductor. Learn about the stations, buildings, people, and trolleys that operated in Maine.
Become a Lobsterman on a Rugosa Lobster Tour
Consistently rated one of the best lobster tours in Maine, Rugosa Lobster Tours will have you working like a lobsterman in no time!
This lobster tour is just over an hour long and provides guests with a narrated tour of the Kennebunk River, the coastline, and of course, the history of the lobstering industry. Guests will get to see lobster traps getting hauled in and can even lend a hand.
Cheer on the Portland Sea Dogs
Baseball is America’s summer sport, and Maine has its own Double-A baseball team in Portland. The Portland Sea Dogs are the Double-A team for the Boston Red Sox, and they play at Hadlock Field.
The stadium has been rated as one of the country’s top minor-league baseball parks. It features a replica Green Monster that mirrors what you would see at Fenway Park and has a replica lighthouse.
The Portland Sea Dogs typically have fun promotions throughout the summer — like Bobblehead Night, Kids Run the Bases, fireworks, Bring Your Dog to the Park, and more. It’s a wonderful family-friendly activity.
Have Fun at Maine’s Only Beachfront Amusement Park at Palace Playland
Old Orchard Beach
If you’re looking for a one-stop destination for the family to enjoy rides, carnival games, and the beach, look no further than Palace Playland at Old Orchard Beach.
This beachfront amusement park spans 5 acres and features nearly 30 rides for all ages. The arcade has over 200 games inside and dozens of carnival-style games outside.
Carnival-type food — think fried dough, cotton candy, and popcorn — is served on the boardwalk. When you’ve had enough stimulation from the carnival fun, you’re steps away from Old Orchard Beach for some beach relaxation.
Plus, the park puts on a fireworks show every Thursday night during the peak season. And, a special holiday display is planned for July 4.
Trade the Beach for Pools & Waterslides at Funtown Splashtown USA
While Maine is known for its beaches, it’s fun to take a break and enjoy some water recreation at a pool sometimes. Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco Maine has several pools, waterslides, a lazy river, splash pads, and water rides for all ages.
When you’ve had enough water fun, check out the rides — like bumper boats, classic tea cups, bumper cars, and a roller coaster. There’s so much to see and do that it’ll take a full day to get through all of the water and ride attractions.
Hike to the Summit of Mount Agamenticus
Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, or ATVing, you’ll love the experience of getting to the summit of Mt. Agamenticus. This mountain encompasses 10,000 acres of conservation land with wildlife and trails throughout.
The Turtle Loop is the most popular trail at about 2 miles long. It features information stations along the way and will take you to the summit of the mountain. For a challenge, Bear Loop is a bit further at about 3 miles and has more challenging terrain.
For those who may not be able to hike on foot, you can drive your car (or other vehicle) to the summit to take in the amazing views.
Sip on an Award-Winning Beer at Allagash Brewing Company
If you love checking out local breweries, the Allagash Brewing Company is the perfect spot for you. Its award-winning wheat beer — Allagash White — is a must-try. With the first sip, you’ll quickly taste why this beer is famous in Maine.
Indulge in a variety of beers at the Allagash Brewing Company’s Tasting Room. It also has a food menu and is a family-friendly experience. For an immersive experience, book a tasting in The Cellars, which offers curated tasting tours for small groups.
Join the Celebrations at a Summer Festival or Concert
Summer is a time of celebration in Maine with festivals and fireworks and outdoor concerts weekly. Kennebunk has weekly concerts in the park, Portland Maine has the Maine Outdoor Film Festival, and L.L. Bean sponsors Summer in the Park in Freeport Maine.
Summer in Maine Is Truly Memorable
It’s no wonder Maine has been dubbed “Vacationland” as there’s so much to do and see. And, Southern Maine is the perfect summertime destination for travelers of all ages and interests.
History buffs will love the historical sites, museums, and building architecture. Art lovers will appreciate the art galleries and art museums. Children and families can enjoy carnival rides, boardwalks, kid-friendly museums, and arcades. Nature lovers will love the refuges, hiking trails, and reserves. Beach lovers can enjoy miles upon miles of pristine beaches.
Plus, Maine summer food is decadent and delicious with an abundance of fresh farm-raised treats and fresh-caught Maine lobster and fried clams. There are homemade ice cream parlors on every small town corner too.
Maine makes for an amazing, memorable vacation spot when it truly comes alive in the summer. There’s no shortage of summer things to do in Maine, and Southern Maine is the ultimate vacation destination for visitors of all ages!
TRAVEL TIP: Since summer is peak travel season in Maine, it is wise to plan your trip by calling ahead or booking your summer lodging online. While most coastal towns have availability midweek in summer, the best hotels and beachfront motels often fill up, particularly on weekends. So, having a reservation makes your visit much smoother. You can check in and spend the day exploring the town instead of searching for a place to stay.
So, make plans now to spend time on the Southern Maine Coast. But… should you miss us in the summer… there is always fall in Maine!