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The Spirit of Maine

Portland Headlight, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Portland Headlight, Cape Elizabeth, Maine


Let your Maine adventures begin! Get on Route Route 109 (Exit 2 off the new and improved Maine Turnpike) in Wells and head north/west to the city of Sanford. From there, take Route 11 through the picturesque, history-laden towns of Limerick and Limington. (Note: You can take Route 25 over to Standish and check out the Daniel Marrett House, a marvelous 1789 Georgian mansion which once held money from Portland banks for safekeeping during the War of 1812.) Continue along the western shores of Sebago Lake to the town of Naples, stopping off along the way to browse through the many quaint antique shops that line the winding road. Nearby, Sebago Lake State Park is great place for a picnic and some afternoon fun in the sun.

From Naples, take Route 302 through the delightful town of Bridgton Pick up Route 117 and head north along the meandering shores of Long Lake to Route 35.

Take Route 35 north to the classic New England village of Bethel. A 19th century haven for the city weary, Bethel still beams with the sights and sounds of a simpler time. A number of the elegant grand resorts and inns remain, as does the warm local hospitality. Sunday River Ski Resort just outside of town offers wonderful summer recreation opportunities. Hiking, biking and golf are just a few of the activities you can enjoy amidst the spectacular mountain vistas of nearby Grafton Notch State Park and White Mountain National Forest.

Pick up Route 2 north/east in the town of Newry and head through the town of Rumford and cross the river into Mexico. Pick up Route 17 in Mexico, and head north along one of Maine's most scenic highways. Wonderful views of the Swift River and spectacular mountain views greet you around each bend. Along the way, check out the Coos Canyon State Park. Legend has it this was the first place in America where gold was discovered. Before you know it, you'll arrive in the Rangeley Lakes region, one of Maine's most spectacular four-season destinations.

Seven lakes - Aziscohos, Richardson, Cupsuptic, Mooselookmeguntic, Kennebago, Umbagog and Rangeley - and dozens of ponds dot the region's mountainous landscape. While you can do just about anything here, the region's featured summer activities include: hiking, canoeing and fishing.

Take Route 16 north to Stratton, a mountain town offering sweeping view of Flagstaff Lake. Here, you can also hike the Bigelow Mountain Range Trail all the way to breathtaking Cranberry Peak.

Take Route 27/16 in Stratton and turn south towards the Carrabassett Valley. Here you'll find Sugarloaf/USA, one of the most popular ski destinations in the East. But Sugarloaf offers more than just winter fun. During the summer months, hiking and biking opportunities abound and Sugarloaf's 18-hole championship course is consistently rated among the most scenic in North America. (But be warned - even the most proficient golfers should bring along an extra sleeve of golf balls!!)

Continue south on 27/16 to the quaint, friendly mountainside village of Kingfield, where you can check out the antique treasures in the old-fashioned hotel located in the center and visit the Stanley Museum honoring the Kingfield-born Stanley family (inventors of the Stanley Steamer steam car).

Continue South on route 27/16 through North Anson and on to Bingham. Head back north a few miles along 201A/27/16 and pick up Route 201 in the town of Solon - one of four National Scenic Byways in the state. Affectionately known as "moose alley" for the frequent moose sightings it offers, this stretch of highway leads you north into the awesome landscape of the upper Kennebec River Valley and into the heart of Maine's whitewater rafting country. As you near The Forks, outdoor adventure centers abound and the folks here will help you experience the outdoor adventure of a lifetime.

For history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike, the Kennebec-Chaudiere International Heritage Corridor offers excitement and adventure at every turn. The trail links the histories of Maine and Quebec along two glorious rivers, Maine's Kennebec and Quebec's Chaudiere, and two scenic highways, Maine's Route 201 and Quebec's Route 173. Explore the great outdoors and discover the region's intriguing past.

Continue along Route 201 to the town of Jackman, a border town known to Mainers as the gateway to Canada. Though you'll not find any fancy nightclubs here, the people are friendly and the fishing, hunting and boating are simply incredible. For amazing views of Attean Lake and its adjoining lakes and ponds, stop at the rest area between The Forks and Jackman.

Just south of Jackman, you can pick up Route 6/15 and head east towards Moosehead Lake and the picturesque town of Greenville. The area's tourism history dates all the way back to the 1890s. With such an amazing variety of things to see and do, including spectacular Mt. Kineo, a magnificent rock edifice rising to the sky out of the middle of Moosehead Lake, it's not hard to see why. Swimming, boating and fishing opportunities abound in the 40 mile-long lake. You can also go on safari! - a Moose Safari that is. And the gracefully restored S/S Katahdin steamship offers scenic cruises around the lake.

Take Route 6/15 to Guilford. Pick up Route 16 again and head east through the towns of Dover-Foxcroft and Milo. Once you're in Milo, keep an eye out for Route 11. Head north on 11 to the town of Millinocket, from where you can visit extraordinary Baxter State Park and mile-high Mt. Katahdin, Maine's tallest peak. (Due to the park's limited admission policy, you should contact the Park Reservation Clerk in Millinocket prior to visiting the park). In Ashland, you can visit the fascinating Ashland Logging Museum and catch a glimpse of the region's logging past. Exhibits include a blacksmith shop, machine sled and logging equipment. After you've had a taste of Maine's great logging tradition, take Route 163 over to Presque Isle.

From Presque Isle, you can experience Maine's centuries old Acadian heritage. In fact, a visit to the Acadian Village in Van Buren makes for an eye-opening side trip. Its 18th century attractions include a school, old homesteads complete with period furnishings, a barber shop, log church and even an old train station. Named an "All-American City" in 1966, Presque Isle is the commercial center of Aroostook County – the largest county in America east of the Mississippi River – and the gateway to Maine's glorious North Woods.

Now that you've experienced the natural splendor of Maine's incredible interior, it's time now to chart your course to the sea.

Head south on Route 1 through Aroostook County down through Houlton and on to Calais, stopping along the way at the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. Catch Route 190 south/east in Perry and head to Eastport, where you can experience a wonderful whale-watching cruise, discover the area's unique history and close ties to the War of 1812 or catch a glimpse of Old Sow - the western hemisphere's largest whirlpool located on nearby Deer Island.

Eastport is also close by to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's famed summer residence at Campobello Island (makes for a great side trip!). Eastport's quaint downtown also offers a variety of shops, restaurants and galleries.

Head back to Route 1 and continue south along the coast past beautiful Cobscook Bay. Take 189 east out to Lubec and check out picturesque West Quoddy Light, the easternmost point in the United States. Head back towards West Lubec.

Take Route 191 south/west through the picturesque town of Cutler and on to historic Machias, where in 1775, a group of Machias rebels stormed and seized the British gunship Margaretta leading to what many believe was the first American victory of the Revolutionary War. While in town, you can also visit historic Burnham Tavern, where this early act of revolution was planned.

After your historical interlude, continue south on Route 1 to Jonesboro. Take Route 187 and begin the winding journey southward along Maine's famed coastline. Charming Jonesport is the quintessential Maine lobstering community. Together with adjoining Beals Island, they make up Maine's largest lobstering fleet. Enjoy the towns' antique shops, galleries, bookstores and restaurants and B&Bs.

Take 187 north back to Route 1 South. Take Route 3 south in Ellsworth and head towards Mount Desert Island. New England's second largest island, Mount Desert, the home of Acadia National Park, has inspired artists for generations - and offers an abundance of unique recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

Jump on 102 South down to Bass Harbor and check out the Bass Harbor Lighthouse, situated on a dramatic precipice 56 feet above sea level. Continue to beautiful Southwest Harbor, a seaside village featuring shops, cafes and charming inns and B&Bs.

Head to Somesville along Somes Sound, the only fjord on the U.S. Atlantic coast, then east/south on 198 and 3 to the popular yachting destination of Northeast Harbor. Here, the fabulous Asticou Terraces and Asticou Azalea Gardens provide acres of beautiful gardens to explore, and nearby inns offer exquisite accommodations. From here, Route 3 takes you to the legendary vacation destination of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Opportunities for fabulous shopping, sightseeing and dining abound in Bar Harbor; in addition, the town offers a wonderful range of accommodations to suit any taste, from rustic to refined.

While in town, visit the Abbe Museum now boasting two locations on Mt. Desert island. Opened in the Fall of 2001, the new museum located in downtown Bar Harbor. The original Abbe Museum is located at Sieur de Monts Spring in Acadia National Park. Both locations celebrate Maine's Native American life and culture from the past to the present. The museum's collection includes more than 50,000 objects spanning 10,000 years.

If you're interested in Bar Harbor's roots as a summer resort for American tycoons, the town's guided Victorian Walking Tour reveals how the rich and famous lived and played at the turn of the century.

You can also bike the lovely network of carriage paths (designed and built by John D. Rockefeller Jr.) in Acadia National Park, as well as hike the park's scenic trails and enjoy an island tradition of tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House. Locals will advise you to watch a sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, which is easily accessible by car. If you'd like to do some exploring on the water, Bar Harbor offers opportunities for kayaking, windjammer day-sails and whale- and puffin-watching cruises.

From Bar Harbor, take Route 3 over the Mt. Desert Island Bridge back to Ellsworth. While in Ellsworth, you can tour the spectacular Georgian-style Colonel Black Mansion (built in 1862). Also, the Stanwood Homestead Sanctuary is a must-see.

Continue south on Route 1 through the town of Bucksport, and into the heart of Maine's spectacular Mid Coast region. A delectable blend of Maine's time-honored maritime traditions and upscale sophistication, the Mid Coast region is indeed a unique treasure. Here you'll find bait and tackle shops sharing village blocks with dazzling art galleries.

In Camden, you can stroll through the picturesque streets of the historic downtown to enjoy shops, harbor side restaurants, and pubs. Enjoy the sweeping harbor views from Harbor Park.

Then it's on to Rockland, the home of Maine's world-famous windjammer fleet. A windjammer cruise is a spectacular way to experience the wonders of Maine's coast. You can also visit the nationally acclaimed Farnsworth Art Museum and experience Maine's beauty through the eyes of famous Maine landscape artists.

The Farnsworth Museum also features the Wyeth Center, which houses thousands of works by N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth - the first family of Maine painting. The Olson House in nearby Cushing was the setting for many of Andrew Wyeth's paintings, including the poignant Christina's World.

Pick up Route 32 south in Waldoboro and loop down along the shores of Muscongus Bay to the quaint fishing village of New Harbor. Hook up with Route 130 south and visit the absolutely stunning lighthouse at Pemaquid Point. Head back north on Route 130 towards Damariscotta and Newcastle, two quintessential New England villages. The main street linking these two towns is lined with magnificent 19th century storefronts.

While in town, check out the Round Top Center for the Arts, a 1924 farm that now offers a full schedule of cultural events, including concerts, classes, exhibitions and festivals.

Continue south on Route 1 to the town of Wiscasset. Situated on a hillside sloping gently towards the Sheepscot River, Wiscasset's streets are lined with antique shops, historic homes, galleries and restaurants. Formerly an 1852 sea captain's mansion, The Musical Wonder House features an astounding collection of music boxes, reed organs, Victrolas and other melodious wonders.

After you've experienced the wonders of Wiscasset, continue on Route 1 south to Bath. Not to be missed is the Maine Maritime Museum – located on the grounds of the 19th century Percy and Small Shipyard. While in town, you can also browse the historic downtown, bustling with shops, pubs and restaurants.

Interested in history? Then take Route 209 south to Popham Beach. Here you'll find historic Fort Popham, a forbidding, massive stone structure that protected Bath's shipbuilding interests during the Civil War. Nearby Popham Beach State Park features one of Maine's most famous and most beautiful sandy beaches. A great place to soak up some summer rays!

Head back north on Route 209 and pick up Route 1 south towards the city of Brunswick. Maine's oldest college town, Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, formed in 1794. The picturesque Bowdoin campus is matched only by the old New England charm of the town's Main Street.

Continue south on Route 1 to Freeport, home to legendary retailer LL Bean as well as a whole host of other brand name outlets and retail stores.

Nearby Yarmouth is a peaceful, charming Maine town featuring 18th and 19th century homes and buildings, historic green spaces, quaint stores and antique shops. If you're lucky enough to be here in mid-July, you can take in the family fun at the perennially popular Yarmouth Clam Festival (July 19 -21).

After you've had your fill of "steamers", jump on 95 South for a quick ride down to Portland. As one of the Northeast's most sophisticated small cities, Portland pulses with a delightfully vibrant urban atmosphere, yet retains all the warmth and charm of a close-knit community.

Portland's art scene is simply electrifying, as evidenced by it's many galleries, theaters, dance companies, performance halls and museums. Portland also boasts dining options as delicious as its arts scene. In fact, per capita, Portland is said to be home to more places to dine than any other American city, save San Francisco; the caliber of the fare to be found here has been noted in Bon Appetit, Travel & Leisure and Wine Spectator.

The Portland Museum of Art, located on historic Congress Street, is a landmark I.M. Pei-designed building that holds one of the most celebrated art collections in the Northeast. The museum also hosts exciting exhibitions and programs that showcase the work of artists including Mary Cassatt, Andrew Wyeth, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso and Pierrre-Auguste Renoir. Of special note is a body of 19 significant works by Winslow Homer.

The Portland Performing Arts Center's elegant theater seats just 290 people, but has earned a reputation for the wonderful performances it hosts. It is also home to the Ram Island Dance Company, a notable modern dance troupe.

The Center for Cultural Exchange hosts diverse and lively musical performances and events, featuring artists from all over the world. And the beautifully appointed 1913 Merrill Auditorium with its vaulted ceilings and balconies and 5,000 pipe Kotzchmar Organ has also taken center stage in the recent past. It has hosted entertainers as diverse as Natalie Merchant, Taj Mahal, Itzhak Perlman and BB King, and a Boston Globe opera critic deemed it "drop-dead gorgeous." The auditorium is well worth a visit - preferably when the resident Portland Symphony Orchestra is giving one of its celebrated performances.

Portland is also a wonderful city to explore on foot. Greater Portland Landmarks offers walking tour maps of the city's four main historic districts. Enjoy the refreshingly pleasant sea breezes as you stroll along the city's tree-lined sidewalks beneath the warm, bright blue summer skies.

On the Portland "must-do" list is shopping and dining in the brick-and-cobblestone Old Port District, taking a scenic ferry ride to one of the Casco Bay Islands, visiting the highly regarded Portland Museum of Art and the adjacent Children's Museum of Maine, and touring the incredibly ornate, Italianate Victoria Mansion.

There are also wonders to explore just outside of town. Visit South Portland, where the Spring Point Ledge Light rests on a breakwater adjacent to the Portland Harbor Museum - which features as its centerpiece the bow of America's last clipper ship, the Snow Squall. This 157-foot beauty was left to rot in South America in 1864, but portions of the vessel were recently recovered and are being restored at the museum.

Just to the south is Fort Williams Park. Here, you'll find heart-stopping views of the sea and access to world-famous Portland Head Light. Commissioned by George Washington in 1791, this light enjoys a long and fascinating history, and has spawned its fair share of legends. A local favorite dates to the early 1900s, when the lighthouse-keeper's parrot (who reportedly cursed like a pirate) acted as a barometer, telling the keeper to turn the light on when a storm was approaching. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also visited the light frequently, and is said to have penned some of his poetry here. Learn more about this landmark beacon at the museum housed in the former lighthouse-keeper's quarters.

A few miles south on Route 77 are two beautiful sandy beaches at Crescent Beach State Park and Scarborough Beach State Park. Stop to soak up some sun and frolic in the gentle surf. Continue on 77 to 207, where you can take a side trip to Prouts Neck, home of revered painter, Winslow Homer. An unmarked trail beginning at Winslow Homer Road (ask for directions at the nearby inn) winds along the cliffs where the artist was often inspired.

Take 207 out to Route 1 and head south to Old Orchard Beach, where the seven-mile sandy beach is a haven for sunbathers and sand-sculptors (a sandcastle competition draws aficionados from near and far each August). In addition, Old Orchard's historic pier and amusement park offer hours of fun for families.

Continue on Route 1 South to Kennebunkport, a charming coastal village that was plunged headlong into worldwide fame when summer resident, George H. Bush, became President back in 1989. You can take a scenic drive along coastal Route 9 to catch a glimpse of the Bush mansion on beautiful Walker Point, as well as the other magnificent summer homes that grace the picturesque shoreline.

Enjoy a stay at one of Kennebunkport's magnificent inns, one of which houses an acclaimed four-star restaurant. Many inns and B&Bs are located just steps away from the exciting dining and shopping area at Dock Square in the town's center.

In Kennebunk (located due west on route 9A), you can tour the stunning Brick Store Museum, a wonderful three-building complex that houses local memorabilia, fine art, antique furniture and nautical exhibits. And, right up the street is the historical White Columns home (built in 1853), which offers a wonderful tribute to the Victorian era.

Head south on Route 1 to Wells, where you'll find wide, sandy beaches, antique shops and the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge, which provides habitat for over 250 species of birds.

Head south on Route 1 to Ogunquit. This seaside resort's heralded natural beauty drew artists from near and far in the late 1800s, making it one of the nation's first art colonies. Among the many artists who found inspiration here were Maurice Prendergast, Walt Kuhn and Edward Hopper. Their legacy lives on today in the exquisite galleries and museums that line the village's quaint streets and scenic coves.

Of special note is the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, dedicated exclusively to 20th-century American art. In addition to housing over 1,300 significant paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, the museum's location overlooking the Atlantic is truly breathtaking - inspiring a former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to deem it "the most beautiful small museum in the world."

While in town, take a walk on Marginal Way, a footpath offering amazing views of the sea as well as of the summer "cottages" that line the shore. The path ends at Perkins Cove, a picturesque harbor surrounded by galleries, restaurants and boutiques, and which features a draw footbridge across its entrance.

You can also kick back and relax on the warm, white sands of three-mile long Ogunquit Beach, recently rated one of the ten best beaches in the U.S. Take in a show at the historic Ogunquit Playhouse, a grand old summer-stock theater first opened in 1933. The Ogunquit area also offers a number of exquisite inns, many within walking distance of the beaches and attractions around town.

The next stop along your tour of Maine's fabled South coast is The Yorks. Explore the village of York Beach, where Victorian-era shops line the boardwalk at Long Sands Beach. Soak up some sun, visit the local amusement park and zoo, and stop at the village's restaurant & taffy shop, which has been owned by the same family since 1896. In addition, make sure to visit the circa-1879 Cape Neddick (Nubble) Light; the beacon's grounds make for a very scenic picnic spot.

Another interesting stop is Old York Village, where a number of these buildings are open for tours. Among these is the Old Gaol, a prison dating from 1719 and believed to be the oldest remaining public building of the English colonies. If you are interested in gravestone rubbing, don't miss the Old Burying Ground, where stones bear the Old English spellings of 18th-century town members. Also of interest is York Village's Civil War Monument; upon inspection, you'll notice that the soldier is wearing a Confederate uniform. Due to a shipping mistake, York's statue is on display somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Head south on Route 1 to Kittery, where a multitude of popular outlet stores makes this a key stop for shoppers. Kittery is also home to the historic community of Kittery Point, which served as a summer destination for many respected 19th-century artists and writers, including Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain).

Pick up 95 South in Kittery to complete your trip. Thank you for visiting! Come back again.