There’s no doubt that Maine is one of the most beautiful states in the US. It’s a year-round destination known for having some of the most incredible sights, natural landmarks, historic mansions, and more. And of course, Maine is the perfect setting for visiting iconic lighthouses. Whether you’re discovering hidden beauty in the quaint seaside towns or off on a woodsy Maine road trip, there’s picturesque scenery everywhere you look!
I’ve put together a list of the most beautiful places in Maine. Be sure to add a few of these to your travel itinerary, and you won’t be disappointed as you travel through these scenic places in Maine.
When is the Best Time to Visit Maine?
Well, there’s beauty and charm to be found in just about every season in Maine, but it depends a bit on what you’re hoping to see scenery wise. If you are looking to see the blazing autumn colors transform the landscape, then fall is obviously the best time to visit Maine! And of course, if you’re coming to Maine to play in the snow, then winter is the best time for your visit. As a general rule, if you’re looking to be able to get out and see the most and do the most at these beautiful places in Maine, then you need to steer towards summer. You’ll not only be treated to the lush green vegetation of Maine’s forests, but you’ll also see the gorgeous wildflowers that carpet areas of Maine’s most scenic areas, too!
Most Beautiful Places in Maine
Acadia National Park
From the gorgeous hikes along Maine’s coast to the biodiverse landscape, Acadia National Park is filled with some of the state’s most beautiful sights. It’s the only national park in New England, preserving a region that will surely take your breath away.
There are plenty of ways to experience the park. Hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, listen to the magnificent sound of the waves at Thunder Hole, or explore the numerous scenic lighthouses on Mt. Desert Island.
Ride around the park in your car along the scenic loop road tour or hop out and explore via bike or horseback to immerse yourself into the surrounding nature.
Portland Head Light
Maine is famous for picturesque lighthouses lining the coast, but it can be hard to see them all in one visit. If there’s one lighthouse that you don’t want to miss, it’s the Portland Head Light. Located right outside of Portland, it’s not only convenient but also one of the most beautiful things to see in Maine.
Portland Head Light is the oldest lighthouse in Maine, yet still operating. You can tour inside the lighthouse keepers’ house, which is converted into a maritime museum. But the best part about visiting the lighthouse is the scenery. With views overlooking Casco Bay, it’s one of the most photographed lighthouses in the US.
Pequawket Trail Scenic Byway
Fall is by far one of the best times to visit Maine. Not only is the weather lovely for enjoying the outdoors, but you’ll also get a chance to see the colorful fall foliage. One of the best experiences is going on a long drive along the Pequawket Trail Scenic Byway. The destination isn’t as important as enjoying the sights along the journey.
Pequawket Trail Scenic Byway runs along Route 113 between Standish and Gilead. It’s a 60-mile ride through the Saco River Valley, where you’ll see landmarks including the Saco River and the White Mountain National Forest.
Bar Harbor Bay
When you think about Maine, one of the most iconic images is a scenic harbor lined with ship masts. Well, you’ll get to make the image a reality when you visit Bar Harbor. It’s the main town hub on Mount Desert Island that’s full of scenic vistas everywhere you go.
You can drive to the island during low tide, but you’ll spend most of your time near the harbor or in the bay. It’s a popular destination for scenic boat tours, whale watching, and kayaking. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to experience one of the famous Bar Harbor Music Festivals.
Penobscot Narrows Bridge
There are not too many cable bridges in the US, and Maine is home to one of them. While locals use it for a daily commute between Verona Island and the town of Prospect, tourists can take advantage of the Penobscot Narrows Observatory.
The bridge is a sight to see in itself, with several vantage points from either side. At night, it lights up! When you’re finished admiring the architecture, ride the elevator to the top of the highest bridge observation deck in the US at 420-ft. You’ll have an incredible view of the Penobscot River and Fort Knox State Historic Site in the distance.
Visit Baxter State Park to witness Maine’s highest mountain peak – Mount Katahdin. Towering over 5,000-ft, it’s surely a sight to see. And if the views from below aren’t enough, you can attempt to hike to the summit.
Hiking Mount Katahdin is the most challenging hike in Maine due to the elevation and weather changes. But it’s well worth it when you make it to the top.
Several routes lead up the mountain to Baxter Peak or Knife Edge. You’ll literally be on top of Maine as you enjoy panoramic views of the mountainous landscape.
Kennebunkport Historic Mansions
Discover what keeps attracting people to the tranquil seaside town of Kennebunkport. It’s always been a popular summer retreat destination for residents around New England throughout history, where you’ll get a chance to see magnificent seaside mansions.
Take a walk or drive through the Kennebunkport Historic District to admire Victorian homes and houses built for the wealthy, both past and present. Summer Street is lined with beautiful architecture, and visit Walkers Point to see the house used by the Presidential Bush family as a summer getaway.
Old Orchard Beach Pier
Old Orchard Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in Maine. It’s much more than just a place to go swimming or sunbathing. Views of the pier amidst the bay backdrop make it one of the most beautiful places to check out in Maine.
Pier is lined with restaurants, bars, and amusement park rides to create a lively atmosphere to enjoy for the entire family. And be sure to stick around the sunset for one of the best reasons to visit the pier.
For over a century, Monhegan Island has been the subject of famous American art paintings. Local artists such as Rockwell Kent and Briggs Knowlton have long been captivated by the secluded island’s beauty. You can see the very sights that led to famous artwork when you visit.
Monhegan Island is only accessible by boat from mainland Maine. It’s a small island covered with lush greenery and towering cliffs sloping down into the ocean. The Monhegan Museum hosts exhibitions showcasing local artists who attempted to capture the island’s beauty on canvas.
Don’t confuse Sugarloaf Mountain with the famous peak in Brazil. Maine is home to its own mountain by the same name that’s a popular skiing destination. Many people overlook Maine as a winter destination because of the cold, but if you don’t mind a little (or a lot) of snow, it’s the best time to visit the mountain.
There’s something about the views from atop the mountain that make the ski runs even better. In the warmer months, the high elevation peak and carved out runs are still visible and a favorite hiking destination in the region.
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Get out a stretch your legs at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. It’s one of Maine’s best-preserved areas, thanks to an environmentalist who developed the site. The refuge covers over 9,000 acres and is a popular destination for sightseeing and outdoor recreation.
The primary purpose of the refuge is to protect the migrating songbirds that frequent the area. The diverse landscape is home to a variety of species – it’s an excellent place for birdwatching. Many people also visit to enjoy the peaceful nature trails winding through charming, forested areas, wetlands, and extending to the coastline.
Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad
All aboard Maine’s famous narrow-gauge railroad, where you’ll have a unique perspective of the Casco Bay region. Located in Portland, you’ll get to take a scenic railroad tour that visitors of all ages will enjoy.
If you have time to spare, hop on the train ride tour, which lasts approximately 30-minutes. The open-air cars provide perfect views along the journey, where you’ll reach the endpoint for photos before returning.
Be sure to browse the museum exhibitions to see historical railcars and learn about the history.
The sound of the roaring water will only build up your excitement as you approach Moxie Falls. The falls are the largest in the state, with a single drop over 90-ft high.
Park your car and go for a one-mile hike in the forest that eventually opens up to one of the most beautiful natural sights you’ll see during your trip. Luckily the trail is relatively easy, so that all ages can access it.
On a hot day, you can also go for a refreshing swim in the natural pools below.
White Mountain National Forest
Breathe a breath of fresh air as you explore the wonderful natural setting of the White Mountain National Forest. The cast forest stretches across the Maine-New Hampshire border, where you’ll find some of the best hiking trails in New England.
White Mountain National Forest is a predominantly forest-covered mountain landscape – expect lots of elevation changes as you navigate the forest. There are more than enough hiking trails that take you to some of the forest’s best sights, including scenic overlooks of the landscape, natural landmarks like waterfalls, and historical sites such as covered bridges.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Botanical gardens are also must-visit tourist attractions, but none quite compare to the beauty you’ll witness at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. It’s the largest in New England and uniquely positioned along the shoreline for incredible views everywhere you look.
Most of the flora you’ll see in the garden are native to Maine or the Northeastern region. It’s well decorated and designed to highlight the beauty of the landscape.
The best time to visit is to attend the Gardens Aglow event during the holiday season, where decorative lights illuminate the entire garden.
Let’s be honest – Maine has plenty of impressively-designed homes, but after seeing the Morse-Libby House, you’ll understand why it’s one of the most captivating. It’s a home built in the mid-1800s who’s architecture continues to be celebrated for its beauty.
Visit the Morse-Libby House in Portland to admire the decorative brownstone interior and have a chance to tour inside it. You’ll see the lavish interior decoration featuring original furnishing. It gives a true sense of wealth and luxury from the 19th century.
Sometimes, you have to travel to the most remote areas to discover untouched natural beauty. Such is the case at Moosehead Lake, Maine’s largest lake. It has an extensive tree-lined shoreline of over 280-miles long.
Moosehead Lake is a freshwater lake that’s perfect for swimming or relaxing on the beach with incredible views of mountains in the backdrop. It’s also a destination for boating and fishing. You’ll be surrounded by nature in the secluded site.
One of the best experiences is staying overnight at a picturesque lakeside cabin and waking up to views of the lake. You’ll even spot a few moose living at the lake.
It’s easy to agree with why Casco Bay is considered one of America’s most beautiful bays. It’s the most visited bay in Maine, with Portland located right on the waterfront. There’s no shortage of scenic vistas in the bay. It is definitely one of the prettiest places in Maine.
Visit the harbor to see the ferry boats and fishing boats that fill up the harbor. There are also several lighthouses, including Portland Head Light and Cape Elizabeth Lights. Take a scenic cruise in the bay to see the numerous islands in the Gulf of Maine.
Quoddy Head State Park
If the Quoddy Head Lighthouse scenery looks like something right off of a postcard, it’s because it probably is. It’s the most photographed lighthouse in the US and a big reason people visit the Quoddy Head State Park.
Quoddy Head State Park is located at the easternmost point in the country. That means you’ll be the first to catch a glimpse of the sunrise lighting up the sky. There are several hiking trails along the coastal cliffs offering excellent views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Coastal Maine at Sunrise
The native people of Maine were referred to as People of the Dawn as the Maine coast is the first to be kissed by the morning sun, and there are many places in Maine where you can bear witness to this spectacularly stunning natural attraction. After the coastal Maine sunrise? All else will likely pale in comparison for a bit.
Height of Land
Your estimated time of arrival while driving to your destination along Maine’s Route 17 might be a bit misleading, but for a good reason. It’s not a place you can just drive straight through without stopping by the iconic Height of Land overlooks.
Height of Land is one of the most beautiful places in Maine, where you’ll have the best viewpoint over the Rangeley Lake Region. With the White Mountains, Mooselookmeguntic Lake, and forested landscape making up the scenery, you’ll see why it’s a popular stopover point along the road.
Read these next:
- 50 Things to Do in Maine: Your Essential ME Travel Guide
- Where to Find the Best Whale Watching in Maine
- 15 Absolute Best Places to Visit in Maine
- Where to See Puffins in Maine
- 9 Beautiful Botanical Gardens in Maine
Amy is the founder of New England with love. A proud Vermonter, she hopes to share her love of New England and help you find the best adventures in the region. Amy is also blogger/founder at Two Drifters, where she writes alongside her husband about romantic and couples travel, relationships, honeymoons, and more. When not working on websites, Amy is probably reading, cuddling with her husband, son, and cats, & drinking a maple latte.