Best Things to Do in Northern Maine | Eat, Stay & Play

Get our picks for the best places to visit, eat, and stay in beautiful northern Maine, where the excitement of the great outdoors awaits travelers of all stripes.

By Ian Aldrich

May 24 2022

Lodge at Moosehead Lake

A view across Moosehead Lake to Moose Mountain.

Photo Credit : Jumping Rocks/Courtesy of Lodge at Moosehead Lake
Maine is a deceptively large state. Its northernmost country, Aroostook, is larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, while its coastline is longer (3,478 miles) than California’s (3,427). And yet for many, a Maine visit often ends midway up the coast, at Bar Harbor. That’s a shame, because what lies to the north is unlike anything else east of the Mississippi. Big lakes, a big mountain, and big stretches of wilderness have long made this slice of New England a four-season escape for outdoor enthusiasts. But this is not a region for only extreme adventurers. The food scene is vibrant, and the lodging options cater to all manner of travelers. If your Maine visit includes nothing beyond the southern coast, you’re missing out. Ready for a visit? Then read on for a lineup of some of our favorite places to visit, eat, and stay in northern Maine.

Best Things to Do in Northern Maine

Baxter State Park | Favorite Maine State Parks
Baxter State Park is arguably one of the best state parks in New England.
Photo Credit : Maine Office of Tourism

Guide to Northern Maine | Things to Do

Baxter State Park | Millinocket & Patten

Although the lands east of Baxter State Park recently became a U.S. National Monument, most Mainers will say that if you want to experience northern Maine’s most spectacular chunk of wilderness, Baxter is the place. Edged by the Penobscot River and crowned by Katahdin — Maine’s highest peak and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail — “forever wild” Baxter welcomes hikers, wildlife-watchers, paddlers, and outdoors lovers (but leave the bikes, motorcycles, RVs, and ATVs behind).  Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best State Park.” 

Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camps | Near Millinocket

While it’s a little surprising that no cell service, no electricity, and no running water can figure into a heavenly getaway, these shorefront cabins in Baxter State Park deliver just that. Getting here requires either hiking three-plus miles or flying in via floatplane, but it’s worth the effort. Guests lodge in individual cabins stocked with wood, ice, and drinking water, with outhouses nearby. Enjoy breakfast and dinner in the main lodge; box lunches allow for spending the day hiking, paddling, or wildlife-watching. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Adventure Lodging.”

Moxie Falls | The Forks

As one of New England’s highest and most dramatic waterfalls, with a single vertical drop of some 90 feet in addition to other plunges and pools, Moxie delivers a nice reward for modest effort. The roughly two-mile (round-trip) trail begins on a wide swath through the woods and then ascends via boardwalks and steps to the falls. Named a 2014 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Waterfall Hike.”

Northwoods Outfitters | Greenville

The Moosehead Lake region supports some of the most dense populations of moose in the country, and Northwoods is so confident of finding the gangly critters that it offers a money-back guarantee. Named a 2016 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Moose-Spotting Tour.”

Roosevelt Campobello International Park | Welshpool, New Brunswick

No, it’s not technically Maine, but it sure feels like it. Cross the International Bridge into Canada from Lubec, Maine, and visit the 2,800-acre parkland commemorating U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who summered here. Tour the Roose­velt Cottage, hike the trails, and don’t miss “Tea with Eleanor,” a program in which park docents share local stories about First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt while serving tea and cookies. Named a 2016 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best International Excursion.”

Bold Coast Walk | Cutler

Hailed as one of the most beautiful seaside hikes on the eastern seaboard, this coastal adventure is laid out like a figure eight: The full loop covers almost 10 miles, and the shorter version is just about half that. Neither walk could be classified as easy, but if you’ve got the stamina, the longer one is a worthy goal. For a little more than three and a half miles you follow the coast, soaring above the water in places, finding your footing along a sandy landscape in others. In summer, pink sea roses, lupines, and other wildflowers dot the land, while offshoot pathways lead visitors seemingly to the edge of the earth.

Patten Lumbermen’s Museum | Patten

Lore Rogers, a research scientist and son of a lumberman, and Caleb Scribner, an artist and game warden, opened this museum in 1963. What they created isn’t a mere collection of artifacts but rather a tour through time. Over here is a replica of a sparse, dirt-floored 1820 camp; over there is its more accommodating 20th-century counterpart, complete with bunkhouse and dining quarters. The early saws give way to their gasoline-powered successors, and harnesses and haying tools yield to internal-combustion engines. In all, it’s a museum that paints a vivid picture of the past, and of the men and women who built the region.

Katahdin Woods and Waters | Millinocket

Standing in the shadow of Mount Katahdin on the eastern border of Baxter State Park, this National Monument encompasses more than 87,000 acres of wilderness in Penobscot County. At the center of the park is the Katahdin Woods and Waters Scenic Byway, which features 89 miles of roads, as well as access points for hiking trails, paddling spots, and campsites. Park property also includes the East Branch of the Penobscot River, which offers excellent fishing, canoe trips, and whitewater rafting opportunities.
Quoddy Bay Lobster in Eastport is a great spot for a northern Maine lobster roll.
Photo Credit : Amy Traverso

Guide to Northern Maine | Where to Eat

Quoddy Bay Lobster | Eastport

Lobster doesn’t get any fresher than what’s served at this family-owned fish store and lobster shack sited on a working pier in Eastport. Chopped claw, tail, and knuckle meat is tossed with a hint of mayo (Miracle Whip, if you prefer) or drizzled with butter, mounded in a toasted and buttered split-top roll, and gilded with a meaty claw. The views over Passamaquoddy Bay to Campobello Island seal the deal. Choose from junior, regular, or jumbo size.Open seasonally from the middle of May until the middle of October. Named a 2016 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Lobster Roll Experience.”

Canterbury Royale | Fort Fairfield

To experience one of Maine’s fanciest French restaurants, trek to Fort Fairfield. There, Canterbury Royale immerses guests in an intimate and elegant setting, with fine china, crystal, and silver adorning tables and elaborate wood carvings accenting the dining rooms. Guests order entrées for their five-course candlelit meal in advance, choosing from 20-plus possibilities, including pheasant under glass and lobster thermidor. Open year-round. Named a 2017 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Fine Dining.”

Cohill’s Inn | Lubec

Order a pint of Guinness and drink in the views over the Lubec Narrows and Johnson Bay while enjoying a hearty burger, shepherd’s pie, or a locally sourced special. Open seasonally from the middle of May until the middle of October. Named a 2014 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Seaside Pub.”

Misty Meadows | Grand Isle

Comfort foods, including traditional Acadian dishes, are prepared from farm-fresh, organic ingredients and served in a rustic, family-friendly combo café/farm store. The outdoor seating, with views of Mount Carmel and the working farm, is especially nice. Open seasonally from the middle of April until the middle of October. Named a 2015 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Farm Store.”
The Moose Mountain view at the Lodge at Moosehead Lake
Photo Credit : Jumping Rocks/Courtesy of Lodge at Moosehead Lake

Guide to Northern Maine | Where to Stay

The Lodge at Moosehead Lake | Greenville

The call (or at least a killer view) of the great outdoors awaits at this AAA 4-Diamond property. Set near one of the most iconic lakes in New England, this nine-room resort offers the chance for visitors to get away and get pampered. Packages include the “Decompression,” in which guests are treated to in-room wine-and-cheese service, gourmet breakfasts, and a moonlight canoe ride. The “Moosehead Sampler,” meanwhile, features expert-led moose safaris and a picnic lunch atop Mount Kineo.

The Birches Resort | Rockwood

In places, Moosehead is as wide as most lakes are long, but for years families have been drawn to the narrow passage at its midpoint, where you’ll find the Birches’ lakeside lodge and cabins at Rockwood, a village of camps and marinas at the mouth of the Moose River. Forget unpacking — you’ll want to get out on the porch and into the water. Here, tucked into the woods as though it’s been there since the dawn of time, the Birches makes disconnecting easy.

Gorman Chairback | Greenville

The Appalachian Mountain Club has restored and renovated this historic sporting camp, turning it into an alternatively powered green experience. Savor home-cooked meals, paddle across Long Pond, and hike 70 miles of trails on 66,000 acres of conserved lands. Named a 2012 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Lakeside Wilderness Lodge.”

New England Outdoor Center | Millinocket

NEOC’s Twin Pine campus edging Millinocket Lake and overlooking Katahdin puts the best of Maine’s adventures at your fingertips. Join guided rafting trips or moose safaris, paddle the region’s lakes and streams, hike the peaks, and return to a full-service base with cabins, restaurant, lounge, and other frills. Named a 2014 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Adventure Resort.” This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated. 

See More: Best of Maine 2020 | Hall of Fame