We periodically publish content from DownEast Magazine, The Magazine of Maine. Dedicated to evoking and illuminating the spirit and culture of Maine at its best.
Maine’s 10 Prettiest Villages
As voted by you.
Photographed by Susan Cole Kelly.
No doubt you’ve had plenty of time (stuck in Route 1 traffic) to admire Wiscasset’s sign declaring it “The Prettiest Village in Maine.” Such a grand claim bears occasional examination. So we asked our readers which Maine village is the prettiest of them all.
More than a thousand of you voted, and it turns out that Wiscasset has some stiff competition. Using the broad but helpful parameters set by Merriam Webster’s dictionary definition for a village (“larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town”), we present your picks for Maine’s loveliest locales — in your own words.
“So much about Camden represents Maine at its most iconic — the harbor, Mount Battie, the Village Green, lobster rolls on the deck at Marriner’s Restaurant. Camden is the best way to show someone ‘from away’ what a unique and special place Maine is.”
Dave Ahlers, Omaha, Nebraska
2. Boothbay Harbor
“A laid-back village far from busy Route 1, Boothbay Harbor features authentic charm, a working waterfront, drop-dead natural beauty, and a great mix of restaurants, cultural events, and artisans. It’s surrounded by islands and lighthouses, while the village itself shines, thanks to brick sidewalks, handsome hand-painted signs, and a gentle hilly terrain.”
Susie Saudek, Capitol Island, Maine
“Damariscotta is just picture-perfect, and everything is in scale, not too big or too small. It’s walkable and has well-preserved, original architecture. As a true Maine village, it feels and looks just right.”
David Charters, Fredericton, New Brunswick
“Wiscasset has retained so much of the charm that represents Maine and New England — the old lovely churches, the beautiful old homes. There are wonderful shops and antiques, and when you walk down the hill toward the center of town, you see the Sheepscot River. In Wiscasset, there is a real feeling of village life.”
Ginny Maillet, Wellington, Colorado
“Kennebunkport is absolutely charming and has the amenities of a cosmopolitan community: incredible dining, luxury lodging, and unique galleries. But somehow, it has remained a quaint village, still giving visitors the sense they’ve stepped into the past.”
Johanna Hauer, Kennebunkport, Maine
“Pastoral landscape meets coastal splendor. Rockport has all the essence of busier Camden with a deliciously subtle sense of seclusion.”
Crystal Cordoba, Lubec, Maine
“The minute you hit Stonington, you enter the magical world of an authentic Down East village. While great for tourists, it’s still a working fishing village with a Main Street that makes you feel like you have stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting.”
Jeff Rocker and Colleen Johnson, Auburn, New York
“From the gorgeous elm trees that line the streets to the amazing harbor, Castine is a sight to behold. But it’s the friendly townsfolk, willing to lend a hand, and eager to preserve our little piece of history, that makes the village special. When a microburst knocked down trees throughout the downtown, the students from Maine Maritime Academy showed up in droves with saws and able bodies to help.”
Karen Cukierski, Castine, Maine
9. Blue Hill
“I’ve been visiting Blue Hill since my kids were little, and we keep coming back. Sometimes the weeks we spend are cold and rainy, but it doesn’t matter. We never remember the weather. We come back because it always feels warm and is a part of us now. And who doesn’t love the Blue Hill Fair?”
Abby Link, Long Island, New York
10. Northeast Harbor
“We love to stroll in and out of the shops and galleries, grab a sandwich at the Full Belli Deli, and find a nearby picnic table at the harbor to watch the boats come and go. Such a picturesque village — both quiet and busy at the same time!”
George and Barb Walker, Canton, Ohio