Area Codes: Maine’s area code is 207 throughout.
Business Hours: Shops in Maine are usually open weekdays from 9am to 6pm, Saturdays from 10am until 5 to 7pm, and Sundays from noon until 5 or 6pm. In bigger cities like Portland, and in shopping-mall and outlet-shop areas, shops stay open as late as 9pm during peak shopping days and/or seasons.
Cellphones (Mobile Phones): Don’t take a cell signal for granted on the back roads of Maine, or even at your rustic country B&B. It’s a good bet that your phone will work in the region's major cities and along Route 1, at least until you get way Downeast. The peninsulas can be a crapshoot, though, and the same goes for heading inland. Before heading out, Look over your wireless company's coverage map on its website; T-Mobile and Sprint are particularly weak at covering rural areas.
Foreign cellphones may or may not work here due to the poorly developed GSM network; they will probably work on the southern Maine coast, but may not on the rest of the coast. Foreign phones may or may not be able to use SMS to send text messages.
Need to rent a cellphone? Check at the airport in Boston or Portland when you arrive. Or head for a shopping mall or the central business district/main street of the town or city you're visiting.
Drinking Laws: The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21; proof of age is required and often requested at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so it’s always a good idea to bring ID when you go out. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car or any public area that isn’t zoned for alcohol consumption. The police can fine you on the spot. Don’t even think about driving while intoxicated.
Liquor of some sort is sold at special, state-operated stores; some supermarkets; and many convenience stores in Maine. Restaurants without liquor licenses sometimes allow patrons to bring in their own—this is particularly common at lobster shacks, but ask first. Bars sell liquor until 1am in Maine.
Embassies & Consulates: All embassies are located in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. The embassy of the United Kingdom is at 3100 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (www.britainusa.com; tel. 202/588-6500). The embassy of Ireland is at 2234 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/462-3939; www.irelandemb.org).
The embassy of Australia is at 1601 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202/797-3000; usa.embassy.gov.au). The embassy of Canada is at 501 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 (tel. 202/682-1740; www.canadianembassy.org). The embassy of New Zealand is at 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202/328-4800; www.mfat.gov.nz).
For travelers from the British Isles, consular services are relatively close to Maine. The British Consulate (tel. 617/245-4500) is at 1 Broadway in Cambridge, MA, on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). And the Irish Consulate (tel. 617/267-9330) is on the 5th floor of 535 Boylston St. in Boston, near Copley Square.
Emergencies: For fire, police, and ambulance, find any phone and dial tel. 911. If this somehow fails, dial 0 (zero) and report an emergency.
Gasoline(Petrol): Gas in Maine is a bit more expensive than it is in some other parts of the U.S., but still much cheaper than it is in Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. There are next to no full-service gas stations in Maine, meaning you can expect to pump the gas yourself.
Internet Access: Many of Maine’s public libraries maintain computer terminals with free public Internet access. It is a rare Maine inn or hotel these days that does not offer free Wi-Fi with your stay; ask when booking or checking in. Internet cafes come and go, but any reasonably hip coffee shop on the coast is also likely to have free Wi-Fi.
LGBTQ Travelers: In 2012, Maine became one of the first three states to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. Portland hosts a sizable pride festival early each summer that includes a riotous parade and a dance on the city pier. South of Portland, Ogunquit is hugely popular among gay travelers, a longtime (even historic) gay resort area that features a lively beach-and-bar scene in the summer. A website, www.gayogunquit.com, lists information on locally gay-owned inns, restaurants, and nightclubs.
Mail: Every town and city in Maine has a post office—in the smallest towns, it may double as a grocer or other business. At press time, domestic letters cost 47[ce] (up to 1 oz.) and postcards cost 34[ce]. International rates are always higher. For more information on rates, go to the website www.usps.com and click on “Calculate a Price.”
Newspapers & Magazines: The Portland Press Herald is Portland's daily newspaper, with decent listings; the free Portland Phoenix and Dispatch are also very handy for listings of southern Maine concerts, clubs, and art shows. The biggest paper in the Downeast and Midcoast regions is the daily Bangor Daily News. Regional newspapers still abound in the rest of coastal Maine, too, from the York Weekly to the Biddeford Journal Tribune, Mount Desert Islander, Brunswick Times-Record, and the Camden Herald. There are a number of quality glossy magazines based in Maine, from longtime star Down East to Portland Monthly to WoodenBoat.
Police: Dial tel. 911. You can also find the direct phone numbers for many of Maine’s small-town police stations in the local phone book.
Senior Travel: Maine is well suited to older travelers, with a wide array of activities for seniors and discounts commonly available. Members of AARP (www.aarp.org; tel. 888/687-2277), get discounts on hotels, airfares, and car rentals. (But check these against the normal online discounts; the AARP price isn’t always lower.)
The U.S. National Park Service’s America the Beautiful Senior Pass gives seniors 62 years or older lifetime entrance to all properties administered by the National Park Service—national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, and national wildlife refuges—for a one-time processing fee of $10. The pass must be purchased in person at any NPS facility that charges an entrance fee.
Besides free entry, the America the Beautiful Senior Pass also offers a 50% discount on some fees for camping, swimming, parking, boat launching, and tours. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm.
Smoking: Smoking is now banned in all workplaces and public places (restaurants, bars, offices, hotel lobbies) in Maine.
Taxes: The United States has no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. Every state, county, and city may levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant checks and airline tickets. Maine has a 5.5% sales tax on most consumer goods and a 9% tax on lodging. These taxes will not appear on price tags.
Time: The entire Maine coast lies within the Eastern Standard Time zone (EST). When it’s noon in Bar Harbor and Portland, it’s also noon in New York City, and it’s 11am in Chicago (CST), 10am in Denver (MST), 9am in Los Angeles (PST), and 5pm in London (GMT).
Daylight saving time is in effect from 1am on the second Sunday in March to 1am on the first Sunday in November, except in Arizona, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Daylight saving time moves the clock 1 hour ahead of standard time.
Tipping: Tips are a very important part of certain workers’ income, and gratuities are the standard way of showing appreciation for services provided. However, tipping is certainly not compulsory if service is poor. In hotels, tip bellhops $2 or more per bag ($3–$5 if you have a lot of luggage) and tip housekeeping staff a few dollars per day (more if you have a large suite). Tip the doorman or concierge if some specific service was provided (for example, calling a cab or obtaining difficult-to-get theater tickets). Tip valet-parking attendants $3 to $5 each time you get your car.
In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff 15% to 20% of the check, tip bartenders 10% to 15%, tip checkroom attendants $1 per garment.
Tip cabdrivers 15% of your fare; tip skycaps at airports at least $1 per bag ($2–$3 if you have a lot of luggage).
Toilets: In coastal Maine, they’re called bathrooms or restrooms. Find them in hotel lobbies, bars, coffee shops, restaurants, fast-food places, museums, department stores, train stations, and some gas stations. (Sometimes, you will need to ask the cashier for a key, or make a purchase first.)
Travelers With Disabilities: If you plan to visit Acadia National Park, consider obtaining the America The Beautiful National Park Access Pass, which gives visually impaired or permanently disabled persons free lifetime entrance to sites administered by the National Park Service. This may include national parks, monuments, historic sites, recreation areas, and national wildlife refuges.
The pass can only be obtained in person at any NPS facility that charges an entrance fee. You need to show proof of a medically determined disability. Besides free entry, the pass also offers a 50% discount on some fees for camping, swimming, parking, boat launching, and tours. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm, or call the United States Geological Survey (USGS) at tel. 888/275-8747.
Traveling With Children: Families will have little trouble finding fun, low-key things to do with kids in Maine. Some recommended destinations include York Beach and Acadia National Park. Be sure to ask about family discounts when visiting attractions. Many places offer a flat family rate that costs less than paying for each ticket individually. Note that some parks and beaches charge by the carload rather than the head count.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.