12 Beautiful Coastal Towns in Maine

Maine is a state renowned for its rugged beauty, iconic lighthouses, and of course, the renowned lobster dishes. But, as those who’ve ventured to its shores know, the true charm of Maine resides in its quaint coastal towns. Scattered along the state’s lengthy coastline, these towns offer a unique blend of natural beauty, history, culture, and culinary delights.

We’ll journey along the Maine coast, from the north in Eastport (which is also the most easternmost town in the U.S.) down to the south in York. Along the way, we’ll unveil the 12 most beautiful coastal towns you simply must visit in Maine.

Map of coastal Maine and its towns

Each town has a character all its own, filled with hidden gems waiting to be discovered. We visited every town multiple times during different seasons. Thus, we are able to provide you with some really helpful tips!

These coastal towns are truly stunning, each one a picture-perfect postcard. Missing out on these places would mean missing out on a significant slice of what makes Maine so special.

Whether you’re drawn to the allure of serene beaches, the historic ambiance of old ports, the vibrancy of local festivals, or the call of outdoor adventure, there’s a town on this list with your name on it.

1. Eastport

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse (Lubec), near Eastport

Eastport is an island city located in the southeastern part of Moose Island. It is the easternmost town in Maine and the U.S. and is known for its high tidal range. The annual Eastport Pirate Festival, with its unique blend of fun and history, makes this coastal town an intriguing destination.

You can find Cobscook Bay to the west and Passamaquoddy Bay to the east. From the waterfront walking trail, you can spot the Canadian island of Campobello across the channel, 

Like in other Maine coastal towns, lobster is a specialty here. We recommend visiting WaCo Diner (Google Maps Location), which is the oldest dinner in Maine. You should also take a stroll through the downtown Historic District. It will take you back in time, with fascinating shops, galleries, restaurants, and cafes. 

Hiking: Shackford Head State Park is an excellent place for hiking on the island. The park is located on a peninsula on Moose Island and can be reached from the center of Eastport within 20 minutes on foot. The miles of hiking trails that overlook little beaches and hidden coves are its main features. Picnic places are also available. You can spot birdlife, including terns, sandpipers, woodland birds, and bald eagles. 

Whale Watching: Eastport is also an excellent place for Whale Watching. The peak time is in June, July, and early August. During these months, the chance of seeing whales off the coast is very high. However, it’s possible to encounter whales from mid-April to October when they leave. It’s best to take a trip out into Passamaquoddy Bay, where you can have an unforgettable whale-watching experience.

Lighthouse/Ferry: West Quoddy Head (Google Maps) is truly fascinating. It is the easternmost lighthouse in the USA and looks out over Quoddy Channel, the border of the U.S. and Canada. It’s an intriguing lighthouse located in Lubec, south of Eastport. It would take about an hour to drive from Eastport. However, you can reach it via ferry in 30 minutes. We highly recommend this breathtaking ferry ride. It offers views of the “Bold Coast” and a scenic view of the Canadian islands.

2. Bar Harbor


Bar Harbor is the gateway for all your explorations in Acadia National Park. Additionally, you can do so many things right in Bar Harbor: Eat fresh and tasty seafood, discover all sorts of shops and even art galleries, and explore the village environment. Keep in mind that many restaurants and hotels close during wintertime.

When visiting Bar Harbor, start your day early and catch the breathtaking sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, as it’s the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise. For nature enthusiasts, take advantage of the numerous hiking trails in the park, each offering stunning vistas.

Downtown Bar Harbor offers an array of local shops, restaurants, and galleries worth exploring. Finally, don’t miss out on a traditional Maine lobster dinner at one of the local waterfront restaurants for an authentic Bar Harbor experience.

3. Camden


With its classic schooner fleet, stunning harbor, and panoramic view from Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park, Camden is an adventurer’s dream. The vibrant downtown area, full of unique shops and quality restaurants, adds a dash of charm to your visit.

Best Time: The best time to visit Camden to enjoy the captivating local activities is from May to mid-October. However, Camden can be visited year-round. You’ll find enough places for eating and lodging in the winter.

Crowds: The best months to avoid the crowds in Camden and already enjoy somewhat pleasant weather are April and May when there are no crowds, no long lines, or fighting for parking spaces. However, April weather, especially until mid-April, can be icky.

In the fall, a mid-week visit after Labor Day weekend is perfect in terms of fewer crowds and mild weather.

Views and Shops: You’ll find truly gorgeous scenic views of the bay in Camden Hills State Park’s overlooks and in Camden itself along the coastline at any time of the year. If you’re looking for uniquely crafted items, visit the gift shops on the main street in downtown. A must-visit is Camden Harbor Park, with a stunning landscape design and a beautiful panoramic view of the harbor.

Special Tip: Visit Camden Library and take a stroll around it. It’s a gorgeous building with an impressive view of the harbor.

Restaurants: Waterfront vs. Petter Otts? The Waterfront Restaurant is the perfect place for eating delicious burgers and, of course, lobster rolls. Tip: Wait for a table outside and enjoy the fantastic view while eating. However, for lobster and other seafood, we recommend ‘Peter Otts on the water.’ It’s the perfect seaside restaurant, and the lobster is fantastic (first, eat a burger at Waterfront and then lobster at Peter Otts). Both restaurants offer lovely views. Visit Megunticook River Falls as well.

Sailing Tour Tip: Take a schooner sailing tour. They are available between May and mid-October and are a must-do activity in Camden. Experience the magnificent coastline in such a unique way. View the islands, wildlife, and views of Camden Hills and other coastal mountains from a historic schooner. Penobscot Bay / Camden: Historic Schooner Day Sailing Trip starts at Peter Ott’s restaurant (see above).

4. Rockport


Named the “prettiest town in Maine,” Rockport offers postcard-worthy views at every turn. From the peaceful harbor teeming with classic schooners to the world-class Maine Media Workshops, Rockport is a feast for the eyes and mind.

Rockport is situated right between Rockland and Camden (10 or 5 minutes drive to each town) and is home to the historic coastal Samoset Resort. Rockport is smaller and less touristy. There are also fewer activities being offered. As one of the smaller coastal towns, the best time to visit Rockport is from May to mid-October.

Activity Tip: Since Rockport belongs to the Rockland/Rockport/Camden area, you’ll find at least one excellent sailing tour operator here.

5. Rockland 


Home to the Maine Lighthouse Museum and the renowned Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland blends coastal charm with a rich cultural scene. Known for its Lobster Festival, a visit to this bustling town promises delicious seafood and lively entertainment.

Rockland is located alongside Penobscot Bay. The best time to visit is from spring to fall. However, especially if you’re looking for open restaurants, you’ll find plenty of them in the off-season in Rockland.

Like other mid-coast towns, Rockland is not known for its beaches, as the shoreline along this section of Maine’s coast is very rocky. That means you won’t find those beautiful long beaches here like in towns of Southern Maine. However, the views are just stunning!

Foodie Haven: Rockland is recognized as the one mid-coast town with the most restaurants, including the famous Primo: ‘A farm, with a restaurant at the edge of it’.

Things to Do: Visit the art museum, photograph the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, take a schooner (‘Windjammer’) sailing trip, and more: TripAdvisor – Best Things to Do in Rockland – Maine

Local Tip: Do something uniquely different: Visit the island of Vinalhaven with the Maine State Ferry Service in Rockland.

6. Boothbay Harbor


This picturesque town is a boater’s paradise, complete with an array of waterfront dining and charming boutiques. Whether you explore the renowned Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens or take a puffin watching tour, Boothbay Harbor delivers an unforgettable experience.

The best time to visit Boothbay Harbor is from May to October. However, it’s a year-round town, and there are still restaurants and hotels open in the off-season. Personally, we recommend staying in another slightly bigger coastal town like Camden or Rockland when visiting during the winter months.

Boothbay Harbor is one of the tinier and less touristy coastal towns:

  • A beautiful harbor
  • No beach
  • Fewer crowds in peak season
  • Not as busy as Camden, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, etc.
  • It has a downtown area but not as big as other coastal towns with those dozens of shops and galleries.

Must-Do Things:

Best Lobster: Visit Kaler’s Lobster directly in Boothbay Harbor (closed in winter until mid-May)! However, we also recommend that you either walk half an hour or drive the 6 minutes over to Robinson’s Wharf in Southport (open year-round, no winter closures). They offer excellent lobster and a great outdoor opportunity to watch the boats while eating.

7. Portland


Portland is Maine’s cultural center and a vibrant city throughout the year. It is known for its world-class dining scene, bustling Old Port district, and historic lighthouses, which are a feast for the senses.

There is something to do in Portland every season. Visit captivating museums, explore attractions downtown, the brewery scene, and eat lobster in the best restaurants at any time of the year.

Great Base: Portland is the best base for those who want to enjoy food, shopping tours, and see the magnificent coastal scenery but are not that much into extensive hiking or camping.

Day Trips: Portland is also the perfect location for day trips to gorgeous coastal towns like Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, or Camden, as they are just nearby via a short drive (35-45 minutes). Winter Tip: If you’re visiting in the winter months, plan your day trips to one of the beautiful smaller coastal towns on the weekend, as more restaurants are open in the off-season.

Islands via Ferry: The ferry is an iconic and inexpensive way to visit the nearby Casco Islands, or just to view the stunning coastal scenery is a must-do activity. Check Casco Bay Lines for the schedule. They are usually operating year-round. Locals suggest a trip during the more pleasant months from spring to fall.

Food Tip & Lighthouse: The restaurant with the tastiest lobster roll is Eventide! And don’t forget to see the historic and iconic lighthouse Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, which is probably the most photographed lighthouse in the whole world!

Winter Eating Tip: Lobster shacks (preferred by locals over restaurants) usually close in winter. Not in Portland! There are some shacks that are open year-round. Ask a local or the staff in your hotel for recommendations.

8. Old Orchard Beach

Old Orchard Beach is a seaside gem nestled 16 miles south of Portland, Maine. This quaint New England town provides the perfect escape.

Spring in Old Orchard Beach is typically mild. Expect the occasional rain shower. With fewer tourists around, it’s the ideal time to enjoy the tranquility before the summer rush.

Summer brings the heat and the crowds. Old Orchard Beach buzzes with families and solo travelers soaking in the sun. Note it can get quite crowded, particularly in midday. For quieter beach moments, aim for early mornings or late afternoons.

By Fall, the weather remains pleasant and the crowds thin out. You’ll find peace and serenity, and the sunsets over the ocean are simply breathtaking.

Old Orchard Beach boasts a seven-mile stretch of sandy shoreline. But it’s not just any beach – the iconic Pier, nearly 500 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, stands as the town’s entertainment and dining hub. With unique views of the water and the town, it’s a must-see for any visitor.

The town itself offers a mix of local shops, restaurants, and amusements. You might explore the beachfront amusement park, Palace Playland, or sample local seafood at one of the many restaurants.

The beach, with its soft sand and gentle waves, invites relaxation. For those who love outdoor adventures, kayaking and surfing are popular activities. Don’t forget to explore the scenic nature trails around town, too.

In Old Orchard Beach, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a beach lover, food enthusiast, or outdoor adventurer, this quaint town will leave you charmed. Pack your bags and embark on your Old Orchard Beach adventure.

9. Kennebunkport


Just a 20 minutes drive from Ogunquit and a half an hour drive from Portland, you’ll find this historic town with the typical New England charm.

With its stunning coastal views, charming downtown, and the famous Walker’s Point estate, Kennebunkport offers an exquisite taste of Maine’s coastal life. Don’t miss the chance to take a scenic boat tour and experience the area’s rich maritime history.

Summer Visit: The best time to visit Kennebunkport for favorable weather is from June to September. Top Tip: Late May and early June, as well as the first two weeks after Labor day, are the best shoulder months. You will enjoy pleasant weather without the heavy summer tourist crowds. Also, all the restaurants and shops are open, and almost every activity, from sailing tours to kayaking, is possible.

Activity Tips: The 15 best things to do in Kennebunkport via TripAdvisor

Kennebunkport vs. Ogunquit: Kennebunkport is located very close to Ogunquit (north of it) and offers similar beautiful beaches, also a great downtown area, shops, seafood restaurants, and the famous ‘Clam Shack,’ known as the best lobster shack worldwide, for quite a while. Locals say that Kennebunkport is classier while Ogunquit still has the ‘younger vibe.’

Winter Visit: Kennebunkport is quiet in the off-season from late October to March/April. However, there are enough shops and restaurants around Dock Square open in the winter months. Also, hotel rates are much lower. Exception: It can get busier on the first two weekends in December due to Christmas Prelude.

10. Wells


Wells, fondly known as “The Friendliest Town in Maine”, boasts seven miles of coastline perfect for fishing, bird watching, and beachcombing. Its extensive network of nature preserves offers trails for all levels of hikers.

The town is located midway between Ogunquit (see above) and Kennebunkport (see below) and is only a very short 10-12 minute drive from both towns. It’s smaller, without a nice downtown area, fewer shops, fewer restaurants, and fewer hotels.

While the beaches are beautiful in Wells, locals say that Ogunquit is definitely better as far as impressive beaches go.

Wells in a Nutshell:

  • Nearby Ogunquit and Kennebunkport but smaller
  • The best time to visit is from spring to fall. Winter is possible and very quiet
  • Smaller and less touristy than Kennebunkport and Ogunquit
  • Fewer restaurants, shops, and hotels but cheaper rates
  • Great beaches but not as gorgeous as in Ogunquit

Best Lobster Rolls: We recommend driving a few minutes to Kennebunkport and eat at the excellent ‘Clam Shack’ (see below).

Pizza Tip: In case you already had enough lobster rolls, try the best pizza in Wells at Seacoast Pizza and Pasta

Winter Accommodation Tip: If you plan to visit in the winter, expect a quiet time and gorgeous winter scenery. The best place to stay in winter is the Village by the Sea (via booking.com with price match). Their beautiful indoor pool and hot tub are perfect for relaxation after a winter walk at the beach.

11. Ogunquit


Renowned for its three-mile stretch of pristine sandy beach, Ogunquit is a paradise for beach lovers. Add in a thriving arts scene, including the celebrated Ogunquit Playhouse, and this town offers a unique blend of natural beauty and culture.

The best time to visit Ogunquit for great weather and almost endless activities is from late spring to fall, but it’s also a charming year-round destination.

The main attraction of this coastal town is the gorgeous beach with fluffy white sand. It is known as the most beautiful beach in New England and is worth visiting any time of the year. Every restaurant, hotel, and shop is open from late spring to fall, but it also gets crowded in peak season during the summer months.

Open Year-Round: The following links provide you with restaurants and shops which are open year-round, even in the off-season between November and March/April in Ogunquit. For hotels, check the booking.com link above.

Marginal Way Tips: This famous paved path is a must-do. It offers gorgeous scenic ocean and cliff views. There are dozens of benches if you’d like to rest. Get there early (around 9 AM) in peak season to avoid the crowds and to find a parking spot. We prefer Perkins Cove (Google Maps). The parking lots at Marginal Way fill up quickly between spring and fall. However, even in the summer, you can enjoy almost solitude by starting the walk around even earlier at 8 AM. Alternatively, get there in the late afternoon, when many visitors already left.

Summer Visiting Tips: Ogunquit Beach gets jam-packed in the peak months, even more on weekends. Tip: Stay there one night, so you can get up early enough to avoid the crowds and parking hassle. Also, check the tide times for low tide, as it’s much more relaxed during low tide. At high tide, the beach can feel extremely crowded.

Winter Visiting Tips: Several restaurants and hotels in Ogunquit are closed during the winter months (from November to March). However, in Ogunquit Central, you’ll still find enough places to eat, as well as nice lodging opportunities. While winter offers fewer options, it’s also a much quieter time and highly recommended as you won’t see crowds. At the end of March, almost all restaurants, shops, and resorts start to open again in Ogunquit; it’s like the town is waking up.

Stay One Night: We highly suggest staying at least one night in Ogunquit (in a gorgeous beachfront hotel or a resort) to dodge the crowds and explore the stunning beach and coastal area in solitude in the morning. Otherwise, it’s easy to day-trip Ogunquit from Portland (45-minutes drive) or Boston (about 1 hour and a half).

12. York


York is the southernmost coastal town in Maine we recommend visiting. That means, coming from Boston, you don’t have to travel that far if you’d like to see a typical seaside town. It’s an hour’s drive: Google Maps Route: Boston > York. Travelers describe York as a fun-filled, family-oriented summer resort town. While definitely not as big as Portland, York is one of the slightly larger towns along Maine’s coast.

York is rich in historical charm, with attractions like the 18th-century Museums of Old York and the iconic Nubble Lighthouse. With its lovely sandy beaches and idyllic coastal walking path, it’s a must-visit for history buffs and nature enthusiasts alike.

Summer vs. Winter: The best time to visit York in Maine is between the spring (April/May) and fall (mid-October). During that time, everything is in full swing. However, there are still enough open hotels and restaurants in the winter months (between November and March). The advantage in the off-season: No crowds, no waiting lines, lower hotel rates, winter discounts, and even restaurants offering deals on special meals.

Long Sands Beach & Nubble Lighthouse: While not as outstanding as the golden sand beaches in Ogunquit (see below), the gray sand beaches in York are still great. A walk on Long Sands Beach leads you to a view of the remarkable Nubble Lighthouse at Cape Neddick. Not as iconic as the Portland Head Light (see below) but still one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine.

Short Sands Beach is located downtown, with restaurants and shops right there. Plus, it’s perfect for a fun time with kids: York Wild Kingdom Zoo and Fun Park are at Short Sands Beach, as well as a bowling alley overlooking the ocean. Locals say York has a sort of carnival atmosphere with arcades at the beach and the amusement park area.

Special Food Tip: Visit Dunn’s Ice Cream Stand at Nubble Lighthouse at least once! We had one of the tastiest homemade ice creams we ever tried. Our recommendation: The blueberry ice cream.

Winter Tip (+ Year-Round): If you visit during the off-season or at any other time, drive the 10 minutes to Kittery and eat a lobster roll at one of the best shacks. Bob’s Clam Hut is open year-round (usually lobster shacks close in winter): Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery – Route from York Top Tip: Don’t forget to visit the popular outlets in Kittery. They are also open throughout the year, and some offer nice discounts in the wintertime.


Save the 3 Best Activities