The 15 Best Small Towns in Maine to Visit

Year-round, Maine has something for almost any type of traveler. Foodies will love the fresh seafood served along the coastline, adventure lovers will love the giant forests, history buffs will love the ocean roots, and families will love the kid-friendly resort towns scattered throughout the state. Imagine the Candy Cane Stripe Lighthouse, the lush woods of the Appalachian Trail, whales swimming along the rocky coastline and nautical buildings.

While you can see a lot of Maine’s character through the big cities, it’s the small towns where the state’s mild-mannered personality really shines. Seasonal activities like snowmobiling in winter, fishing and boating in summer, and wildlife viewing in fall make Maine an ideal destination to visit no matter what time of year you are.

The best way to see Maine is on a slow-paced itinerary, where you can really relax and enjoy your surroundings. From luxury travelers to those who can’t fully enjoy the outdoors, these small towns often have cozy B&Bs, campgrounds, lodges and wilderness lodges that serve as cozy home bases.

Pack your bags and get ready to explore the best small towns in Maine:

1. Van Buren

Van Buren

Van Buren is a small town where visitors can travel to the beautiful St. Johns River Valley and gain an exclusive insight into Acadian culture. The town preserves the old Acadian style, preserving old buildings and buildings such as blacksmiths, timber and mills, log churches and schoolhouses. New homes are restored or built in the same 1700s style, which is what makes the town so original.

You can easily spend the day walking along the Bangor and Arustok Trail, which runs through Van Buren and into dense forest. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy all the local hiking, snowmobiling, fishing, boating and horseback riding. There are a variety of cultural events centered on live music and local food throughout the year.

2. Round Pool

Round Pond Public Reserve

This coastal village is known for its hospitality and seaside charm. Many hotels are still run with gas lamps, and no one will blame you for feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. There are antique shops, lots of seafood restaurants (you need to try the lobster) and the picturesque Marshall Point Lighthouse.

Nearby is the Round Pond Public Reserve, a tranquil lake surrounded by dense forest. The reserve attracts hikers, kayakers, fishermen and other types of outdoor enthusiasts. Keep your voice low as you walk along the Dot Mountain Trail for a chance to spot local seabirds and other wildlife.

3. Seebeck

Seebeck

This small town of less than 700 people on the banks of Lake Sebec is understated but looks like it’s on a postcard. Most of the time, with tall trees reflected on the mirrored calm lake, the pace of life is slow and simple. It was originally an old mill town in the early 1800s, founded by retired soldiers of the Revolutionary War.

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The best time to visit is before fall, when the leaves are starting to turn fiery red but the weather is still warm and you can explore the surrounding scenery as much as you like. There’s not much to do in terms of shopping or dining, so it’s best to come when you just want to enjoy your free time.

4. Hartland

Hartland

Take a walk around Hartland and you might mistake it for a movie set—especially if you come across the quaint gazebo. Hartland is a town with stunning architecture and uninterrupted natural beauty nearby.

Fishermen from all over the area often come to Heartland to fish. At Big Moose Lake, you can catch a variety of fish including trout, bass, salmon and brown bullhead. Once you’re done, you can venture out to Morrill Pond, which features a boat ramp with trout, white bass, and chain pike. Of course, even if you’re not into fishing, you can paddle on calm waters or explore the woodlands surrounding the area.

5. Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport

No matter what time of year you’re visiting Maine, Kennebunkport is a town you have to stop by—at least on the weekends. In warm weather, visitors can go whale watching, visit caves, go horseback riding, cycle around the city, fish for lobster, and kayak to the local islands. Former President George H.W. Bush even had a summer home here!

When the weather turns cooler, you can browse the window displays at Dolphin Point, take a guided tour, visit the Goat Island Lighthouse, and collect shells. The town is used to receiving tourists – but it’s never too crowded. Skip Kennebunkport and you’ll regret it.

6. Stonington

Stonington

Stonington is backed by lobster and fisheries, so you know there’s no better New England seafood restaurant. In addition to local food, Stonington is a great place for boating, fishing and a great base for exploring the Deer Island, Upper Island and Shipwreck Island Conservation Areas.

Interestingly, the town also attracts various creatives and artists. Haystack Mountain School of Crafts features indigenous art, is surrounded by dozens of local galleries, and you can watch live performances of drama, dance and singing at the Stonington Opera House. If you’re looking for a destination that doubles as a Maine muse, head to Stonington.

7. Phippsburg

phipsburg

If you’re interested in American history, you’ll love Phippsburg. Near the city center is Popham Colony, the first English colony, settled in 1607 – one of the first settlements in the United States. Although the reconciliation failed, life at the time was still there. Once again paying homage to history, visitors can stay at the 1774 Inn, a bed and breakfast built in 1774 that still retains many of its original features.

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During the warmer months, stop at Popham Beach, a 3-mile stretch of sand for sunbathers. Phippsburg is also a great base for exploring the nearby towns of Bath, Morse Mountain and the Kennebec River.

8. Rockport

rockport

Rockport is no stranger to getting accolades for its stunning small-town charm. This port town is quiet, full of historical sites, and easy to get to. Boating enthusiasts can kayak, jet ski or sail around the harbor, or even go on a sunset dinner cruise around Penobscot Bay. The truly adventurous can even sail or drive to Thatcher Island for views of Rockport Twin Lights and Halibut State Park. Rockport Marine Park is also great for water lovers who want to swim, fish and play in the reserve.

After a day on the water, check into one of the beautiful accommodation options in Rockport and enjoy a fine lobster dinner in town.

9. Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Brooklyn is a town of less than 1,000 residents and is world-famous for its wooden boats. Brooklyn-based boat builders build everything from wooden dinghies to luxury yachts, and their craft can be seen everywhere. Visitors can sign up to learn how to build their own wooden boats.

The town is also home to the great writer EB White, whose fans can see here where he once lived and is now buried. There is also Kneisel Hall for live music and the nearby Blue Mountains to explore and pick berries.

10. Eustice

Eustice

Adventurous and outdoor travelers need to visit Eustis when they come to Maine. The town is near Bigelow Preserve, a 36,000-acre park with mountains perfect for camping, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It’s also near Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, the largest ski mountain in the state.

Eustis is at the start of two long trails – the Northern Forest Canoe Trail to Flagstaff Lake and the Appalachian Trail to the Bigelow Mountains. The town itself is family-centric, safe and friendly. For winter fun, come during the Polar Blast Festival, which celebrates having fun in the snow.

11. Allagash

Allagash

While many small towns lack culture due to their size, this is not the case in Allagash. The town was built by Arcadian pioneers in the early 1800s through logging, and their descendants still live in the town today. Heritage is clearly displayed through community activities, architecture, and even local museums.

Surrounded by woodlands, those who were not born in Allagash came here to seek tranquility. There are artists of all types, including quilt makers, sculptors, painters, musicians and more creative types, who have displayed their work throughout the town – free for tourists to visit. So, if you like eclectic places with rich culture and natural beauty, Aragash is the place to go.

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12. East Port

east port

Geography lovers will have fun visiting the easternmost point of the United States. The town has more character than its neighboring resort areas, and has undergone a somewhat renaissance over the past few years.

Visit Eastport, a humble seaside town with a thriving arts and culture scene. Catch a performance at the Eastport Arts Center, and visit the Tide Institute and Art Museum to showcase local art. The town is also blessed with a seaside location, where strong currents and tides create a pleasant climate for a variety of fish. This fish lures eagles and sea lions of all types, making Eastport one of the best towns in Maine for wildlife viewing.

13. Freiburg

Freiburg

You can easily spend a few days in Freiburg without getting bored. The town has a dozen parks and hiking trails and is located on the banks of the tranquil Saco River. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike, bird watch, kayak, swim, fish and more along the Jockey Hat Trail. Architecture and history buffs will love crossing the Hemlock Bridge, built in 1857.

In terms of accommodation options, Freiburg offers a variety of accommodation options to suit every travel style and budget. You can stay at the Old Saco Inn, the late 19th century Stone Mountain House, or one of the eco-resorts on the 65-acre preserve.

14. Wijnalhaven

vinalhaven

Vinalhaven is Maine’s largest offshore island community, perfect for those who can’t spend enough time on the water. From here, you can take various types of seaside excursions such as kayaking, canoeing, bird watching, swimming in the quarry, swimming in the sea, clams and more. The view of the town from the sea is one of the most beautiful sights in Maine, especially when the sun is low on the horizon.

In addition to sailing, Vinalhaven has art galleries of all genres and even live theatre performances. There are dozens of gift shops to peruse, and the Saturday morning flea market attracts just about everyone in town.

15. Trenton

Acadia National Park

The town has a history of boat building, logging and fishing that can still be seen today through the town’s culture and way of life. Trenton is a small town punctuated by the surrounding nature, perfect for travelers looking for a place to get back to nature. There are many campgrounds, hiking trails and other outdoor services. It’s also a great base for viewing Acadia National Park, Thompson Island, and Desert Mountain Island.

Best of all, visitors can cheer on their favorite lumberjacks at the Great Maine Lumberjack Show, where lumberjacks compete in sawing, rolling and chopping competitions. In addition to loggers, the area is also known for a variety of wildlife such as caribou, moose, deer and waterfowl.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Maine (ME)
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