Maine is like something out of a storybook with its rocky coastlines, towering pines, and picturesque lighthouses. But beyond the natural beauty are dozens of delightful small towns in Maine just waiting to be explored. These are my top 8 picks for charming best small towns in Maine to add to your Maine getaway.
1. Bar Harbor
Let’s start with one of the most popular tourist spots & best small towns in Maine, Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island.
I gotta say, when you arrive and see the rocky coastline dotted with sailboats, it really does feel nostalgic and old-fashioned. The brick sidewalks, antique shops, and cute little cafes remind me of stepping back in time.
Bar Harbor’s biggest claim to fame is being the gateway to Acadia National Park. We’re talking about mind-blowing ocean views while hiking trails that wind under massive fir trees. Grab a bike and cruise along the carriage roads for that full national park adventure!
One of my favorite parts of Bar Harbor is the Shore Path that skirts the coastline where you’ll see magnificent “summer cottages” (more like mansions!) from back when wealthy families vacationed here. I love gawking at them and imagining what it was like here over a hundred years ago.
Next up is Camden, also on the coast, which proudly calls itself the “jewel of Maine.” I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description. The main drag is lined with gorgeous 19th-century homes and shops surrounded by trees. It’s seriously picturesque.
To get the quintessential Camden experience, you gotta take a windjammer cruise. Seeing the old schooners sailing along the rocky coast just feels special. Don’t miss the Windjammer Festival in late summer either.
3. Boothbay Harbor
Boothbay Harbor was practically designed for Instagram with its winding cobblestone streets, flower boxes, and rows of shops and restaurants. But it’s the classic harbor that really gives it that authentic Maine coastal vibe.
Watching the lobster boats coming and going while vocês grab a buttery lobster roll dockside is what visiting Maine is all about. You can also go sea kayaking, sailing, or scuba diving if you want to get out on the water yourself.
At night, take a romantic stroll down by the waterfront to see the Harbor Lights display of over 80 decorated lanterns lining the harbor. And for nature lovers, the botanical gardens here are gorgeous, especially in peak bloom season.
If you are looking for the best small towns in Maine to retire, then Kennebunkport is the best choice. Let’s head a bit further south now to Kennebunkport.
Known for being the home base for the Bush political dynasty, it’s also a classic New England beach town. Drive along Ocean Avenue for swoon-worthy views overlooking the rocky coast.
Goose Rocks Beach is a favorite with its wide expanse of pristine sand. And if shopping and dining in style is your thing, downtown Kennebunkport will delight with trendy boutiques, galleries, and bistro patios perfect for people-watching.
Don’t leave without grabbing a lobster roll from one of the seafood shacks overlooking the fishing boats coming and going in the river.
Summer brings the annual Lobster Festival and all the fixings that go with it…yum!
For a fantastic beach vacation, put Ogunquit on your small towns in Maine bucket list. We’re talking over 3 miles of sandy beachfront dotted with beach grass and crashing waves. Take the scenic Marginal Way walking path that hugs the shoreline past rocky cliffs and secluded coves.
Beyond the beaches, Ogunquit has a thriving art scene, restaurants, and a range of places to stay from quaint B&Bs to the Cliff House Resort perched along the cliffs.
Food & Wine magazine named one of the restaurants here, MC Perkins Cove, as one of the best in Maine which tells you the dining scene is top-notch.
If you head up the coast to Rockland, you’ll find a small city experiencing a rebirth as an arts and culture hub. Galleries line the streets of downtown along with restaurants, shops, museums, and live music venues.
For some of Maine’s best art, check out the Farnsworth Art Museum and its collection highlighting prominent local artists like Andrew Wyeth.
One of my favorite parts of Rockland is the mile-long breakwater that stretches out into the harbor. Take a walk or just find a bench to sit on and take in the views of schooners sailing along the rugged coastline. There’s something so quintessentially Maine about it.
Bethel in western Maine offers mountain charm in a friendly small-town setting. Nestled along the Androscoggin River and surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest, Bethel is all about nature and outdoor recreation.
Hiking, fishing, and golfing at the Sunday River Golf Club are top draws. Plus, visiting the neighboring towns of Locke Mills and Greenwood makes for a nice afternoon of farmer’s markets, shops, and artisan goods.
Summer brings fun festivals like the Mollyockett Day Parade and Bethel Harvest Fest, including laughs watching the wife-carrying competition! Bethel really captures that small-town country vibe.
No trip to Maine is complete without a stop in Freeport, home of the LL Bean flagship store. It is one of the popular small towns in Maine but don’t dismiss it as just an outdoor shopping mecca. Freeport has a lively coastal town feel with harbor cruises, microbreweries, lobster shacks, and local hangouts.
Browse LL Bean’s 24/7 store any time, but also check out the 130-foot observation tower for epic views of the area. I like to go for New Year’s to experience their Harbor First Friday festival with fireworks over the waterfront…now that’s a party!