With an eye on what’s new for 2023, Yankee’s editors round up the best attractions, eateries, and hotels in top Maine travel destinations.
By Yankee Editors
Apr 29 2023
Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, MainePhoto Credit : Feng Cheng/Shutterstock
With an eye on what’s new for 2023, Yankee’s editors round up the best attractions, eateries, and hotels in top Maine travel destinations. Headed to the city? Check out our spotlight guide to Portland, Maine.
Bakery, Bread | Tinder Hearth, West Brooksville
Crusty, chewy, and delicious best describe the Old World–style organic and naturally leavened breads that emerge from Tinder Hearth’s wood-fired ovens. Tim Semler and Lydia Moffet operate their bakery in the family farmhouse, located on the Blue Hill Peninsula. Using flours sourced from Maine and Quebec, they create loaves and boules including French batards, Vollkornbrot rye, miche, whole spelt, sandwich, and whole wheat.
Destination Brewery | Oxbow Brewing Co., Newcastle
Amid the serpentine tidal rivers, fields, and woodlands of rural Newcastle, Oxbow Brewing Co. crafts European-style fresh and aged farmhouse ales in a renovated barn; nearby, it grows fruit and tends beehives for honey to flavor its beers. Visit the tasting room, and then wander the bucolic grounds: Perhaps play a lawn game, hike or bike the trails, or simply snag a pond-side seat to sip, savor, and relax.
Historic Restaurant | Moody’s Diner,Waldoboro
Moody’s may not be a clapboard-clad, ye-olde-style spot, but there’s a lot of history to this place, which began as a lunch wagon in 1927. You’ll also find old-school fare like fish cakes, lobster stew, baked beans and brown bread specials, and blueberry pie.
New Restaurant | Salt Wharf, Camden
At sunset, the views over the yachts and windjammers anchored in Camden’s inner harbor to the hills beyond perfectly complement the fare at Salt Wharf. Chef Chris Pierce’s seasonally inspired, creative New American menu offers both small and large plates, making it easy to cobble together a meal for any appetite. The awning-shaded rooftop offers drinks and lighter fare.
Pizza | Rosalie’s, Bar Harbor
Family-owned Rosalie’s has been hand-tossing its scratch-made, thin-crust pies since 1981. Now double-dough, stuffed, and gluten-free varieties keep everyone happy. So, too, does availability in four sizes as well as by the slab. Nothing fancy or fussy in this family-friendly spot in downtown Bar Harbor, but the entertainment—watching employees toss the dough—is free and the portions are generous.
Seafood Shack | The Clam Shack, Kennebunk
This beloved shack perched on pilings over the Kennebunk River has a great water view, the perfect lobster roll, generous (and reasonably priced) lobster dinners, and terrific fried seafood. What more could you ask? They’ll even ship lobster rolls to you anywhere in the country.
Wine Bar | Old Vines, Kennebunk
Factor in the tapas-style food menu made for sharing, the wine list emphasizing small vineyards, and the knowledgeable servers who understand how to pair food and drink, and it’s easy to see why Old Vines is a perennial favorite among oenophiles. Located in a mid-19th-century barn, the restaurant overflows onto a deck in Kennebunk’s Lower Village, just a few minutes’ walk from Dock Square.
Coastal B&B | Topside Inn, Boothbay Harbor
Gaze over the town, the inner and outer harbors, and islands from this inn with a walk-to-everything location. Owner-innkeepers Buzz Makarewicz and Mark Osborn double as your concierges, and from three-course breakfasts created with ingredients from the inn’s gardens and local farmers’ markets to sips, nibbles, and bites in BarOne, nothing is overlooked. Public rooms, a wraparound porch, and a lawn salted with Adirondack-style chairs provide plentiful places to relax.
Glamping | Terramor Outdoor Resort,Bar Harbor
Terramor’s safari-style tents with beds and private bathrooms make camping luxuriously easy, while its location on the Island Explorer shuttle route lets you explore Acadia National Park without a car. Camp in comfort with electricity, Wi-Fi, robes, and private firepits. Relax with drinks or over flatbread in the lodge, enjoy the hot tub and pool, play lawn games, and let your pup romp in the dog park.
Green Hotel | Maple Hill Farm Inn & Conference Center, Hallowell
Situated in a renovated 1906 farmhouse on 130 acres just outside Augusta, Maple Hill Farm does “green” two ways. It’s kind to the environment—with its wind turbine, solar panels, and free electric vehicle charging—but also close to nature, offering a country setting (complete with friendly barnyard residents) with fine trails for walking and bird-watching at Jamies Pond Wildlife Management Area right next door.
Hotel Restaurant | Slate at Blair Hill Inn, Greenville
Built in 1891 as a gentleman’s estate and breeding farm, the Blair Hill Inn offers the kinds of elegant rooms, fine dining, and gracious hosting that befit a Relais & Château member. Drink in the sunset views over Moosehead Lake from Greenville to Kineo while sipping cocktails on the wraparound porch. The inn’s restaurant, Slate, prepares a seasonally driven, multicourse tasting menu, with most ingredients sourced from the inn’s gardens or local farms, foragers, and Maine fishermen.
Luxury Suite | Elsie Weare Suite at Cliff House,Cape Neddick
Binge-watch the dancing sea spray from your glass-railed balcony or a snug armchair by the double-sided fireplace. Named for Elsie Jane, the wife of Cliff House founder Captain Theodore Weare, whose family owned the resort for four generations until 2014, this 1,750-square-foot suite even has ocean views from its deep soaking tub. The sun makes an early appearance on the coast, but you can pull your king-size, Maine-made Cuddledown comforter up over your eyes.
New Hotel | The Lincoln Hotel, Biddeford
Maine’s scene-iest boutique hotel opened last fall in a repurposed textile mill, part of the “Biddesance” transforming Biddeford into a baby Brooklyn. The aesthetic? Palm Beach meets industrial chic. The rooms? High-ceilinged with distinct architectural features, tall windows, and gas fireplaces. The sparkling rooftop pool and tiki bar? The place to be this summer. That is, when you’re not at the newest Batson River Brewing & Distilling outpost, located right in the building.
Pet Pampering | Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth
Welcome to dog heaven. Not only do pups stay free at this beachfront resort, but each also receives a bowl, beach towel, sleeping mat, and turndown treat. Dogs can dine with their humans in the pub or outside and order from their own menu (meat roaff, perhaps?), and when the outdoor pool closes to human guests at the end of the warm-weather season, dogs celebrate with a weeklong “Pool Pawty.” Don’t have a four-legged friend of your own? Since the inn sponsors a shelter dog, you might even go home with a new friend.
Romantic Overnight | Camden Harbour Inn, Camden
From the welcoming flute of prosecco to the turndown chocolates and slippers, you’ll feel positively pampered here, where every room has at least a glimpse of the ocean and even the smallest ones offer in-room espresso machines and dreamy bedding. Chase spa treatments with drinks in the lounge and a fine-dining experience in Natalie’s restaurant. The grand finale: a champagne breakfast in the restaurant or in your room.
Stay & Play | Samoset, Rockport
Tee off on the 18-hole ocean-hugging golf course. Sunbathe by the zero-entry outdoor pool. Play lawn games, tennis, or pickleball. Work out in the fitness center, and swim laps in the indoor pool. Hike along the adjacent breakwater to Rockland Breakwater Light. And after a long day of doing everything—or nothing at all—enjoy cocktails in Enoteca Lounge and fine Mediterranean fare at La Bella Vita Ristorante, either inside or on the ocean-view deck.
Animal Encounter | Maine Wildlife Park, Gray
Moose! Bears! Cougars! Raptors! At this family-oriented park operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, more than 30 Maine wildlife species are represented by animals that found a home here after being injured or orphaned, or that otherwise wouldn’t have survived in the wild. Other highlights in this wheelchair-accessible park include a visitor center with interactive exhibits and a museum covering the history of the Maine Warden Service.
Downtown Shopping | Belfast
Artists, back-to-the-landers, button-down business types, and families all can be seen shopping in Belfast’s charming Victorian brick downtown (listed on the National Historic Register). They’re drawn by independent shops selling books, gifts, garden goods, toy and games, clothing, art, sweets, and kitchenware, plus an environmentally focused general store and America’s oldest shoe store. Other lures include a waterfront park and rail trail, eclectic restaurants, and plentiful free parking.
Factory Outlet | Jagger Spun Stash Mill Store, Springvale
No fancy pseudo-outlet, Jagger Spun’s aptly named Stash Mill Store, located in the yarn-making company’s 19th-century brick mill, is the real deal. Choose from a dizzying array of colors, heathers, and tweeds; natural and organic dyes; merino, bamboo, and silk wools and blends; and yarns of various weights. Fiber arts fans will find roving, fiber, kits, and patterns—the perfect items to stash away for future projects.
General Store | Washington General Store, Washington
Need chainsaw oil or a caulk gun? Washington General Store, 20 miles inland from Camden, has what you’re after. Craving fresh lobster? Yup, got that, too. Or maybe you need a good read, locally made soap, or a timeless toy. Heck, WGS even carries gardening supplies. Also available: fresh produce grown by area farms, pantry staples, and locally made food and beverages (psst … the cookies are delicious).
Mini Golf | Desert of Maine, Freeport
The Hermit’s Adventure Golf Course draws its inspiration from the sandy expanse of the Desert of Maine itself. The 18-hole course, built mostly with natural materials such as wood and stone, challenges golfers with water features and obstacles while sharing the desert’s story via sculptures and interpretive signage. You’ll also learn about the hermit who entertained visitors en route to the desert.
Mountain Biking Spot | Carrabassett Valley
With roughly 100 miles of professionally designed, well-signed, and annually mapped single- and double-track trails—and more under development—Carrabassett Valley ranks as one of New England’s top mountain-biking destinations. Beginners find a great place to learn, experts are challenged, and international pros participate in Enduro World Series downhill races.
New Attraction | Haunted Hotel at Funtown Splashtown USA, Saco
Whispering Pines isn’t like any Maine hotel you’ve visited. It’s cursed. And when this one-of-a-kind family amusement by industry leader Sally Dark Rides debuts this summer, you’ll want to grip your curse eradicator tightly and laser down all the menacing characters you’ll encounter in 14 spooky rooms, all while keeping a keen eye out for Maine-themed “Easter eggs.” Low scorer should treat your whole crew to poutine.
Stargazing Spot | Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Penobscot County
Home to the inkiest skies east of the Mississippi, Katahdin Woods and Waters became the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary on the Eastern Seaboard in 2020. With no electric lights and no commercial power sources amid these 87,564 acres, it’s easy to find a place to set up a telescope to view the Milky Way in all its twinkling glory, identify constellations, spy planets, or see meteor showers. Look for the Stars Over Katahdin festival in the fall.
Stay-All-Day Beach | Old Orchard Beach, Old Orchard Beach
The namesake apple trees may be long gone, but from the waves lapping at the wooden pier to the hand-painted carousel, Old Orchard Beach is the best kind of throwback. Seven miles of sand are perfect for long walks, beach reading, or splashing in the waves. When it’s time for a change of pace, there are plentiful options for both food and souvenirs, an amusement park, game arcades, and even a pair of 18-hole golf courses.
Used Bookstore | Skidompha Secondhand Book Shop, Damariscotta
Step inside, and you’ll instantly sense the love and pride that have powered this volunteer effort for 55 years. Hand-built shelves gleam. Maps guide you to reasonably priced books for every interest. And all purchases—there are puzzles, vinyl albums, DVD movies, and audiobooks, too—buoy the Skidompha Public Library. Look up from your browsing, and you’ll see the Damariscotta River meandering by. Look above the fireplace, and you’ll learn what Skidompha means.
Check out our full 2023 Best of New England Summer Travel Guide to find our current editors’ picks in all six New England states.