Maine. Simply, the word conjures feelings of tranquility and images of charming fishing villages, deep blue waters, and plates of fresh seafood. But while the northeastern-most U.S. state is the ultimate summer hotspot, you can still find a coastal paradise in Maine during the off season with less crowds and plenty to do.
Make York in Southern Maine your destination and prepare to spend a weekend falling in love with the town’s tiny villages, hiking through forests, and, of course, eating seafood.
Nestled atop Bald Head Cliff, Cliff House is the epitome of New England cool.
The captivating hotel is an ideal base for exploring the area in any month. During the cooler months, you can sit by the hotel’s many fireplaces, while during the warmer months the 70 acres that surround the hotel beckon, as does Cliff House’s lobster shack with, yes, lobster rolls. Between the spa, the spacious yet cozy rooms, and activities, that include tennis, hiking, kayaking, and more, it can be hard to actually leave the hotel and its grounds to explore the rest of the area.
*Featured image courtesy of Cliff House
Mount AgamenticusRejoice, outdoor lovers – Maine was made for you. Head to Mount Agamenticus, a 30,000 acre region, home to the largest remaining area of underdeveloped forests in coastal New England. Trails of various distances and difficulty levels allow visitors to explore Maine’s plants and animals and simply escape from busy lives for a few hours.
No trip to Maine is complete without at least one lighthouse sighting. Spend a few hours exploring Nubble Light. Built in 1879, you can visit the historic lighthouse year-round, although the visitors center and gift shop is open April through October. For a view of the lighthouse by sea sign up for one of the tours of Maine’s coast offered out of Perkins Cove and sit back and take in the breaktaking scenery.
Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School
If you can’t make it through a homemade brunch without reaching for one of Stonewall Kitchen’s delicious jams, syrups, or baking mixes, a trip to this part of Maine should include learning from the masters themselves at the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School. You can reserve a class online up to 90 days in advance and there are seasonal classes, such as spring brunch or wintertime soups, as well as classes for different skill sets.
Shop, Shop, Shop throughout Southern Maine
York County is a shopper’s paradise and even those that would always rather be hiking should plan at least an afternoon window shopping. Bargain hunters should head to the Kittery Outlets where more than 120 stores offer deals of up to 60 percent off on designer goods, while lovers of quaint main-streets should go to Ogunquit’s Perkins Cove. The historic little village was once home to much of the county’s shipping and fishing industries but today is a destination unto itself for its historic streets, boutiques of local, handcrafted goods, and access to charter ships for whale watching and deep-sea and lobster fishing.
Dig into the history of Maine with a visit to some of the nearby museums. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art has a permanent collection of nearly 1,600 works including paintings, sculptures, and more from the Ogunquit arts colony whose artists include Edward Betters, Charles Woodbury, and Robert Laurent. If art isn’t your thing, the world’s oldest and largest museum of public transportation vehicles happens to be in Kennebunkport, Maine. The Seashore Trolley Museum holds more than 250 vehicles including 10 trolley and railroad cars.