Maine's state license plate confidently decrees "the way life should be", and it's hard to disagree. Its rugged, lighthouse-dotted shoreline in the very north-eastern tip of America separates the Atlantic Ocean from an interior patchwork of lakes and dense forests. Inhale the head-clearing aroma of pine trees in the North Woods forest, picking Maine's beloved, intensely flavorful blueberries along the way. More than 2,000 artifacts will tell you the story of this wild region at the Maine State Museum in Augusta, the state capital.
Portland charms visitors with its Old Port neighborhood of cobblestone streets and its red brick homes. Oil paintings hanging in Rockland's Farnsworth Art Museum bring out the mellow harvest-time yellows and deep ocean blues that characterize Maine's landscape. Gear up for a trip into the countryside at Freeport's L.L. Bean, the outfitter that takes outdoor living seriously.
Sandy beaches in Ogunquit and Kennebunk draw visitors to the southern part of Maine. Inland is sparsely populated and unspoiled: You're more likely to see a moose as you relax at an azure lake or tramp through forests and mountains. Rising abruptly from a thick blanket of North Woods forest, the nearly mile-high Mount Katahdin has an ineffable spiritual quality. It's the centerpiece of equally inspiring Baxter State Park, one of the last, best wilderness areas of the eastern states.
Eating and Drinking
When it comes to touting fresh, local food, restaurants in Portland such as Fore Street are way ahead of the culinary pack. Indulge in Maine's iconic crustacean and order lobster rolls to eat at a casual dockside table from any lobster pound. You can find reliably good Southern fare -- Memphis dry rubs, pulled pork, and beef brisket -- in Augusta. Seek out not-too-sweet, locally brewed blueberry ales from Atlantic Brewing Company in Bar Harbor.
The extremely popular Acadia National Park occupies most of offshore Mount Desert Island. To visit, base yourself in Bar Harbor town, or go all-out and camp overnight in the park. Most people drive up to Cadillac Mountain, but hikers climb up on their own steam for a more intimate experience. Seek out quiet fishing villages on the western part of the island, and kayak on Long Pond or swim surrounded by granite rock face at Echo Lake.