Sebago Lake, 18 miles (29 km) northwest of Portland (map), is the second largest lake in Maine, Greater Portland's prime water supply, and a pure Maine natural refuge for your vacation. Despite its convenient closeness to Portland, the lake's 105 miles (169 km) of forest-cloaked shoreline are carefully preserved, offering fine water and island views.
The eastern shore is dotted with villages and businesses. At the southern tip, the town of Sebago Lake is hardly more than a few dozen houses, two stores, and a gas station.; but the northern reaches of the lake hold the best recreational possibilities.
Although the 1,400-acre (567-hectare) Sebago Lake State Park, with its fine beach, picnic facilities, hiking trails, bicycling roads, and a 250-site camping area is very busy in summer, the park is yours to enjoy with only a handful of others in early June or in September after Labor Day weekend.
Here's a Hotel Map with Prices for finding that inn or cottage for your getaway:
Just east of the park is Migis Lodge, a traditional Maine summer resort inn and cottages offering opportunities for a tranquil, refined lakeside vacation: days of swimming, hiking, boating, sailing, fishing, tennis, golf, relaxation and fine dining. It's been offering these simple but superb pleasures since 1916.
Point Sebago is a large resort complex on the northwestern shore of Sebago Lake offering cottages and houses for rental lease or purchase, camping areas, and a host of recreational and entertainment possibilities including a mile of lakefront beach, an 18-hole golf course, land- and water-based sports, children's camps and programs, and theater and musical shows. More...
Thirty miles (48 km) north of Portland along ME Route 26 at 707 Shaker Road, New Gloucester ME (map), is the settlement of Sabbathday Lake, the last active, living Shaker religious community in the country.
Founded in the 1700s, the Sabbathday Lake community still has a handful of active members who continue to work and live in the Shaker tradition.
Six of the community's 18 buildings are open to the public daily from 10 am to 4:30 pm EST (closed Sunday) from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, including a Museum Reception Center, the Shaker Museum, and a shop selling community products.
Guided tours (for a fee) show you the village and introduce you to Shaker beliefs, traditions and history. Tours depart about every hour.
The spare white buildings of the Sabbathday Lake village are plain but extremely well kept. Most notable are the brick Dwelling House and the 1794 Meetinghouse.
In the fields near the village are several small, simple cemeteries, each with only one monument, bearing the legend "Shakers" and the dates of interment.
Up the road a few miles is the village of Poland Spring, which gained fame in the 1800s when a man was miraculously cured by its waters. The water from the spring has been bottled and shipped throughout the country since that time. Several hotels here cater to those "taking the waters."
Continue north on ME Route 26 and you'll soon come to Bethel, one of the prettiest towns in Maine, right at the edge of New Hampshire's White Mountains and a vast national forest, and next to Sunday River ski resort, one of the most popular Maine ski resorts.
You can go fishing in the Androscoggin River, play golf on several courses, speed along ziplines, go canoeing, kayaking, hiking, learn how to build Shaker furniture, take a llama trek, propect for treasure in a gem mine and the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum, tour historic houses, go camping and, of course, in winter, enjoy some of the best skiing and snowboarding in New England—all in one of the most beautiful corners of the region.
A well-known preparatory school called Gould Academy (founded 1836) and several good inns and restaurants also, attract visitors to Bethel.
Use this Hotel Map with Prices to find your lodgings in Bethel or nearby.
What to See & Do
The Bethel Historical Society preserves several period houses, including the Dr Moses Mason House, 15 Broad Street, on the common, open in July and August.
Moses Mason was a congressman during the Andrew Jackson administration, and had this Federal-style house built in 1813. Today it's furnished in antiques of the period and also holds several murals attributed to Rufus Porter.
In winter, Bethel is lively with skiers from nearby Sunday River Ski Resort, with some of the best (and earliest!) snow of all New England ski areas. Other ski resorts nearby include Mount Abram and Black Mountain.
Maine's capital is a small, compact city of 25,000 on the Kennebec River. Stop to admire the capitol, the Maine State Museum, and old Fort Western.
There was a trading settlement near present-day Augusta in 1628, but it didn't last.
In 1827, Augusta became Maine's capital.
There are a number of hotels on the outskirts should you want to stay, and a lot of chain and fast-food restaurants, but few good places for a nice meal.
Use this handy Hotel Map with Prices to find a place to stay:
I looked in vain for the good delis and taverns filled with lawyers and lobbyists one usually finds near a state capitol. No luck....
Legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan is the symbol of this Maine city.
Statue of Paul Bunyan, Bangor ME.
In the late 1800s, Bangor was the "lumber capital of the world," the financial and distribution nexus for the timber wealth of Maine's forests. Ships crowded the Penobscot river docks waiting to be loaded with lumber bound for points near and far.
Today it's a working city of 35,000, the center of urban living in central Maine, with hospitals, a University of Maine campus, the Bangor Mall for shopping, and other essential services for a wide area.
There are buses and flights to Bangor, but no trains.
Bangor International Airport (BGR; map) handles flights by Allegiant, American, Delta, and United Airlines to/from Chicago, Detroit, New York City (LaGuardia and Newark), Philadelphia, Sanford/Orlando FL, Tampa/St Petersburg FL, and Washington DC (Reagan National). Take a Downeast Transportation bus from the airport to reach Bar Harbor and nearby towns.
Only 20 miles from Québec, Canada, and miles away from the towns and traffic of Maine's coast, Rangeley and its lakes are the place to get away and go back to nature.
Rangeley is surrounded by forests and perched at the edge of broad Rangeley Lake, with even larger lakes (Mooselookmeguntic, Richardson, Aziscohos, Umbagog) and many small ponds nearby.
What to See & Do
It's just over 20 miles (32 km) from Rangeley to the border with Québec as the crow flies, but there's no straight road north between the 3700+-foot peaks of West Kennebago and East Kennebago mountains, so Rangeley is not on the easy road to Canada.
In fact, Rangeley is a destination, not a town along the way. People come here to get away from it all, to go hiking, canoeing, hunting and fishing in summer, skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling in winter.
This historic narrow-gauge rail line offers 50-minute scenic rail excursion from the town of Phillips, 23 miles southeast of Rangeley (map), into the Maine woods over part of what was once the longest two-foot-gauge line in the USA (120 miles). More...
Owned by the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, this sanctuary 2-1/2 miles (4 km) west of town along ME Route 4 toward Oquossoc, is a good place to get the feel of nature. Walk its 3 miles (5 km) of trails along the shore of Rangeley Lake through forests of pine, spruce, poplar, cedar and alder watching for birds, bears, bobcats, coyotes, deer and—if you're lucky—a moose.
The Wilhelm Reich Museum, a mile farther west, then north to 19 Dodge Pond Road, is located at Orgonon, the estate on which psychoanalist Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) late in life carried out some of his investigations into the pseudo-science of orgone, a supposed sexual energy force existing in all living beings. (According to the US Food & Drug Administration, there is no medical or scientific proof for Reich's orgone theories.)
Here's a Hotel Map with Prices:
For food, the inn and motor inn have dining facilities. Sarge's Pub & Grub, across from the inn, at 2454 Main St, is the best local watering hole, with a selection of beers on tap, including Carrabassett brews.
Moosehead Lake, at an elevation of 1029 feet (314 meters) in west-central Maine (map), is the largest lake in the largest state in New England, with1 18 square miles (305 square km) of surface area. It is the source of Maine's Kennebec River.
Forty miles long and 10 miles wide (64 km x 16 km) at its widest points, Moosehead's 281-mile-long (452-km) shoreline and 80 islands provide plenty of room for all sorts of land-and-water activities.
Mount Kineo's 700-foot (213-meter) cliffs rise right from the lake opposite Greenville ME—a dramatic introduction to the lake as you approach from the south along ME Route 6.
In the mid-1800s, Henry David Thoreau explored interior Maine with an Indian guide, and traveled about Moosehead Lake as his guides hunted the plentiful moose of the area.
Hunters and fishers have favored the Moosehead region ever since, but today visitors come to hike, camp, swim and sail in summer, and to ski cross country, snowshoe, snowmobile and fly small planes in winter.
Do you want to really, really get away from it all and experience the Maine woods, its beauty, birds and wildlife? Head for Spencer Pond Camps, 34 miles (55 km; 1 hour) north of Greenville at the foot of Little Spencer Mountain. More...
Hotel Map with Prices:
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Given the name "Greatest Mountain" (Katahdin) by the Penobscot Indians, this is the highest mountain in the State of Maine, 100 miles (161 km) north of Bangor ME and 24 miles (39 kilometers) northwest of Millinocket ME (map).
Not quite as high as Mount Washington (6288 feet/1917 meters) in neighboring New Hampshire, Katahdin has still inspired many outdoors enthusiasts and artists.
On August 24, 2016, President Obama designated 87,500 acres (35,410 hectares, or 137 square miles) of Maine wilderness as the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, a step on the way to its becoming a national park. If it achieves that goal, it will be New England's second national nature park, the only other one being Acadia National Park, also in Maine.
Mount Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. If you start at Katahdin and hike to the southern end of the trail at Springer Mountain in Georgia (map), you will have hiked at least 2158 miles (3481 km). More...
Mount Katahdin is the centerpiece of Main's Baxter State Park (map), 64 Balsam Drive, Millinocket ME, more than 200,000 acres (81,000 hectares) of protected forests and wilderness, and wilderness is the spirit of the park.
The 10 campgrounds within the park are simple: unpaved roads, no electricity, no running water, pit toilets, no trash disposal (carry-in, carry-out).
Private campgrounds outside the park near the entrance may have more conveniences, but Baxter is maintained for those who enjoy the wilderness and prefer to keep it wild.
Where to Stay:
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