8 Key Reasons Why Summering in Maine Makes Life Better (Plus Where to Eat and Shop)

I equate summering in Maine to dining at your favorite beachside shack.  The view is amazing.  The amiable servers greet you with warm smiles.  And the food surpasses anything you’d pull out of the fridge at home.  Summering in Maine just makes life better. 

I’ve thought a lot about why Maine engenders this feel good quality.  And I’ve broken down this attribution into 8 key reasons.  As a bonus I’ve also included some favorite places to eat and shop!   So why not decide for yourself if the state known as “Vacationland” is where you should spend your next vacation.

8 Key Reasons Why Summering in Maine Makes Life Better (Plus Where to Eat and Shop)

Maine is the 9th least populous state in the USA. In fact for thousands of years indigenous people were the only inhabitants.
Maine is the 9th least populous state in the USA. For thousands of years, indigenous people were the only inhabitants in the state also known as “Down East”.

Table of Contents

  1. Maine’s Remoteness Promotes a Rustic Charm
  2. People are Friendlier in Maine
  3. Maine Connects You Nature
  4. You Breathe Better in Maine
  5. Maine Facilitates Better Bonding
  6. Food Tastes Better in Maine
  7. Sunsets Dazzle in Maine
  8. Shopping in Maine Rocks
  9. List of Some of My Favorite Restaurants and Shops in Maine

1 – Maine’s Remoteness Promotes a Rustic Charm

If you spot Maine on a map, half of the state sits above the Canadian border in the northeast corner of the USA.  Look it up! It’s almost like visiting Canada without needing a passport.  In fact many Down-Easters (another word for Mainers) share relatives with our neighbors to the north.

Perhaps in part to Maine’s faraway location, it has preserved this authentic, down-home quality.  People act unassumingly while day to day tasks transpire as lazily as a trickle of maple syrup.   Even local architecture melds into the landscape in an uncomplicated yet picturesque way.  Maine just dazzles.

Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth serves as Maine's oldest lighthouse. Construction began in 1787 and finished in 1791.
Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth serves as Maine’s oldest lighthouse. Construction began in 1787 and finished in 1791.

2 – People are Friendlier in Maine

Visiting Maine in many ways is like being transported back in time 50 years.  Native Maniacs tend to welcome complete strangers with a warm smile and friendly gaze.  And communities remain tight-knit.  Imagine living in a town where everyone knows your name!

For better or worse, you’ll make friends in Maine – some you may want, others you may not.  Regardless, Mainer’s unpretentiousness and broad-mindedness warms even the saltiest of cods.   The only challenging part may be deciphering the down east accent. Ayuh!

The population density of Maine is 41.3 people per square mile, making it the least densely populated state in New England.
The population density of Maine is 41.3 people per square mile, making it the least densely populated state in New England.  Why not consider summering in Maine this year?

3 – Maine Connects You Nature

Did you know Maine offers over 540,000 acres of natural beauty in all of its state parks?  This includes Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park (location of Mt. Katahdin and the northern end of The Appalachian Trail), and the 92-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway.  You may even try hiking Maine’s version of the Grand Canyon known as Gulf Hagas.

Furthermore, wildlife abounds in Maine.  As a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon to witness foxes playing on the roadside or to wake up to Moose grazing on the horizon.  Plus local waters are laden with fish just wait to bite on your lure!

As we were driving away from my families lakeside cottage we spotted 3 foxes digging a hole on the side of the road. This one even stopped and sat for a photograph. Even the animals seem friendlier in Maine.
As we were exiting my families lakeside cottage we spotted 3 foxes digging a hole on the side of the road. This one stopped and sat for a photograph. Even the animals seem friendlier in Maine – another great reason for summering in Maine.

4 – You Breathe Better in Maine

According to a 2017 survey by the American Lung Association, Bangor, Maine has some of the freshest air of any American city.  It’s no surprise.  With a scarcity of industrial pollutants and a small population (32,000 in 2017), samples of Bangor’s air have even been sold on eBay for as much as $29 USD.

Whether it be kayaking or jogging, I seem to always feel more invigorated and refreshed in Maine’s back country.  That surplus of oxygen gives me that boost to keep on moving.  And to think some people pay for samples of this fresh air!

Kayaking was originally developed by the Inuits, formerly known as Eskimos, in the northern arctic regions. They used driftwood or whale skeletons covered with animal hides to stealthily hunt prey.
Kayaking was originally developed by the Inuits, formerly known as Eskimos, in the northern arctic regions. They used driftwood or whale skeletons covered with animal hides to stealthily hunt prey.

5 – Maine Facilitates Better Bonding

Just being in Maine helps to relax the mind.  Stress dissipates and defenses lower.  I think overall for families, this leads to better bonding.  

In fact, some of my most favorite memories originate around a table with family in a little cottage in Maine.  We’d be playing cards or chit-chatting, when laughter would erupt over some egregious comment.   And life would feel like this is how it was meant to be.

Allan and I at our families' cabin on Ebeemee Lake along with his first wife, granddaughter, brother, daughter and son-in-law. Allan's father built the cabin by hand before there were any roads leading to the cabin. All materials had to be brought in by boat.
Summering in Maine: Allan and I at our families’ cabin on Ebeemee Lake along with his first wife, granddaughter, brother, daughter and son-in-law. Allan’s father built the cabin by hand before there were any roads leading to the cabin. All materials had to be brought in by boat.

6 – Food Tastes Better in Maine

Maine is known for its wonderful seafood. Succulent boiled lobster with drawn butter.  Seared scallops.  A bucket full of steamers.  Just the words make my mouth water.

However, Maine’s culinary expertise is not limited to the sea.  For example, on a recent trip to Vacationland I’ve also found myself repeating after many meals “that’s the best ever.”  Even hamburgers and sweet potato fries seemed to pack more of a punch.  I’m not sure if it was the preparation or ingredients – maybe even the freshness.  But the food tasted exquisitely. 

Soft shell lobster will have a remarkably tender, sweeter flavor – the result of trapped ocean water marinating within the lobster’s shell. With hard shell, the meat is denser with a briny flavor – a result of the meat fully filling the shell, leaving very little room for ocean water.
Lobster tip for summering in Maine: Soft shell lobster will have a remarkably tender, sweeter flavor – the result of trapped ocean water marinating within the lobster’s shell. With hard shell, the meat is denser with a briny flavor – a result of the meat fully filling the shell, leaving very little room for ocean water.

7 – Sunsets Dazzle in Maine

As a photographer I search for stunning sunsets in prime locations.  And in Maine the dramatic coastline acts as the perfect backdrop.  They sky turns into a technicolor light show rivaling Las Vegas.

For instance, sunsets at Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth are especially climactic. Surrounded by water on 3 sides, the peninsula lights up in tones of blue, pink and purple.  The experience sends me running around like a possessed person trying to photograph from every angel possible.

Before the Portland Head Light was constructed in 1776, residents of Cape Elizabeth posted 8 soldiers here to warn citizens of British attacks.
Before the Portland Head Light was constructed in 1776, residents of Cape Elizabeth posted 8 soldiers here to warn citizens of British attacks.

8 – Shopping in Maine Rocks

From deeply discounted factory outlets to artisan pottery and antiques, Maine offers an eclectic assortment to scratch that shopping itch.  I especially love the quaint craft boutiques in coastal villages.  There you can find one-of-a kind treasures.

Leisurely follow coastal Route 1 to discover an array of speciality shops.  From Boothbay to Rockland, Ogunquit to Bar Harbor, you can enjoy Maine’s colorful coastline while searching for treasures.  Actually most towns in Maine are filled with boutiques and art galleries.  Many crafters and jewelers find inspiration in Maine.

Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to enter the union as a slave state and Maine as a free state.
Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to enter the union as a slave state and Maine as a free state.

9 – List of Some of My Favorite Restaurants and Shops in Maine

Restaurants

  • Maine Diner – the best seafood chowder ever! 2265 Post Rd, Wells, ME, Tel (207) 646-4441,  mainediner.com
  • Frontier – fantastic food served in a rustic old mill overlooking the river.  Make sure to order the amazing sweet potato fries.  14 Maine Street, Brunswick ME, Tel (207) 725-5222, https://www.explorefrontier.com
  • Morse’s Cribstone Grill – right on the harbor on Bailey’s Island with delicious scallops and seafood.  1945 Harpswell Islands Rd, Bailey Island ME, Tel (207) 833-7775, https://www.morsescribstonegrill.net
  • Holy Donut – just about the best handmade donuts anywhere.  7 Exchange Street, Old Port, Portland ME, Tel (207) 775-7776, https://theholydonut.com
  • The Red Barn – luscious lobster rolls, 455 Riverside Dr, Augusta ME, Tel (207) 623-9485, https://theredbarnmaine.org/
  • Margaritas Mexican – my favorite Mexican restaurant, Portland and Augusta ME locations, https://www.margs.com/
  • C & J Variety – a convenience store with first-rate lobster rolls at budget prices, 86 Park Street, Milo ME, Tel (207) 943-2121
  • Wasser’s – iconic hot dog stand with unforgettable dogs.  2 N Main St, Rockland ME, Tel. (207) 594-4347, https://www.facebook.com/Wasses 

Shopping

A special thanks to Maine locals, Katie Heath, Kendra Lakeman and Sandra Johns, for some of their dining and shopping recommendations. 

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Matt Weatherbee
Matt Weatherbee

Hi, I’m Matt.  In 2008 I quit my job, sold everything and drove from Boston to Mexico to start a business.  Now I live and work in the Carribean, and spend my free time traveling the globe.  Learn more.

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