The state of Maine is at least three places, each of which could be subdivided into smaller, distinct regions. Coastal Maine — one of the longest coasts in the U.S., in fact — is where most of the money and most of the tourists are. The major shore route (Route 1) is usually unpleasantly crowded in mid-summer, but many of the places and features this road takes you to are well worth the visit.
Away from coastal Maine, whose northernmost point of Eastport is a full 120 miles south of the state’s northern border, is a huge and varied landscape that includes cities such as Augusta and Bangor to rural farmland and vast wilderness, some of it traversed only by gravel-packed logging roads.
Maine’s western countryside is among the most beautiful lake country in the East, bordering New Hampshire and Quebec. A developed vacationland in the south, western Maine stretches into the wilderness of Moosehead Lake, the 100-mile Allagash Wilderness Waterway, with unlimited canoeing and kayaking offerings. West of Moosehead is the stunning crown of Maine, the mile-high monolith of Mount Katahdin.
Southern Maine from the border to Portland feels like an extension of Massachusetts, which of course once was Maine. The largest cruise ships bring huge crowds to Portland, which has become famous in recent years for its cuisine. Signs of a seafaring history abound on the Portland waterfront, where an active fishing fleet carries on its business well within the view of diners in the many restaurants on shore. The city lies on Casco Bay, whose dozens of islands are bound together by the Casco Bay ferry line on the Portland docks, offering ferry rides of varying length to the “Calendar Islands.”