Drive up the coast of Maine and you’ll be amazed by what you see. From the border of New Hampshire to Canada, this 300-mile stretch of shoreline takes you past breezy beaches, wave-kissed cliffs, hidden coves, and seaside towns and fishing villages that embody classic New England. The best coastal towns in Maine offer a relaxed and unhurried lifestyle, perfect for a beach getaway any time of year.
As the largest state in New England, it’s no surprise that beach towns in Maine are plentiful. They call coastal Maine “Vacationland,” and it won’t take long to see why. It seems that everywhere you go, you’ll find delicious lobsters, charming lighthouses, and scenic beaches to spend a summer vacation. But which are the best and most unique coastal towns in Maine? From hidden gems and historic fishing villages to more popular beach destinations, here are the best Maine beach towns that you should add to your bucket list!
Maine Coastal Towns Map
Here’s a map of Maine coast towns that you should know about:
15 Best Maine Coast Towns that You Should Add to Your Bucket List
From historic fishing villages to sandy beach towns, here are the top coastal towns in Maine that you should add to your New England wish list!
For beachgoers, it doesn’t get any better than Ogunquit. This coastal Maine town is home to miles of sandy beaches with plenty of hotels and cottages lining its shores. And best of all? It’s just a short day trip from Boston MA! Growing up in Boston, I’ve spent many summer vacations in Ogunquit. This coastal Maine town truly has the whole package!
Walk along the Marginal Way, a winding path that connects downtown Ogunquit with Perkins Cove. Indulge in the fresh local seafood and enjoy an ice cream at Barnacle Billy’s. Relax in a classic coastal accommodation and enjoy the vibrant nightlife that Ogunquit is known for. To say that Ogunquit is one of the top weekend getaways in New England would be an understatement.
In the native tongue of Algonquin Indians, Ogunquit means “beautiful place by the sea.” After spending lots of time exploring all its nooks and crannies, I can definitely say that this charming beach town in Maine lives up to its name.
Read next: Top Day Trips from Boston, Massachusetts
Located at the gateway of Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is a Maine coast town that shouldn’t be missed on a New England itinerary. It’s a popular place for locals and tourists alike, offering kayaking and canoeing, hiking and biking, and seaside charm that you won’t find anywhere else.
Take full advantage of Mount Desert Island’s stunning mountain and coastal scenery from a hotel or vacation rental in Bar Harbor. It’s truly the perfect home base for exploring Acadia National Park, as it’s just minutes from the park entrance. The restaurants and bar scene are also very lively, making it a great place to enjoy after a day of outdoor activities.
Is Bar Harbor one of the best places in Coastal Maine? It sure is!
A list of the best beach towns in Maine wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Kennebunkport. Nestled along the coast in Southern ME, this town exudes charm and vibrance at every corner.
Kennebunkport has always been a top destination amongst wealthy social circles in New England. However, it was made famous worldwide thanks to George H.W. Bush and his family, who spent their summers at the Walker’s Point Estate, also known as the Bush Compound.
Spend a warm summer’s day at Goose Rocks Beach or Arundel Beach. Stay at a charming inn with views of the scenic waterfront. The town’s historic fishing village charm is on full display as you stroll past quaint shops, captain’s homes, and ports. It’s easy to see why Kennebunkport is among the top Maine beach towns!
York is one of the best beach towns in Maine
Located just across the border from New Hampshire, this summer resort town in Maine is the perfect family-friendly retreat.
York is collectively made up of four places – York Beach, York Harbor, York Village, and Cape Neddick. The village is filled with historic buildings, while the beach has many candy shops and arcades, perfect for families with young children. Don’t miss the chance to stay at a Victorian-era mansion, hotel, or inn at York Harbor. And of course, no visit to Southern Maine is complete without taking your picture in front of Nubble Light in Cape Neddick! See more: Top Photography Tips for Beginners and Intermediates
Just south of York is another beautiful town called Kittery, which is also worthy of being among the top Maine coast towns. Enjoy a lobster roll at one of the dock restaurants along the water before making your way over to Nubble Night, just a short drive down the road.
Not far from Portland, Maine’s biggest city, is Cape Elizabeth. This coastal Maine town should not be missed in a New England travel itinerary, as it’s worlds apart from bustling downtown Portland.
Enjoy a morning or afternoon at one of the two state parks in Cape Elizabeth: Two Lights and Crescent Beach State Parks. This town is also home to Fort Williams Park and Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine. Beachgoers will love basking in the sun at Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in Southern Maine.
A coastal Southern Maine getaway wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Wells. Nestled between Kennebunk and Ogunquit, Wells is the third oldest town in the state. It’s no wonder, then, that this historic enclave is also known for its coastal charm and scenery.
Take advantage of the beautiful beaches and natural beauty at every turn. And don’t forget to venture out to see the farms, waterfalls, and marshes nearby- there’s truly so much to explore in this part of ME. This friendly town is also known for its antique shops; however, after experiencing Wells’ fun nature-filled activities, you won’t want to be indoors!
Like Rockport, MA, this charming coastal town in Maine is also one of the most scenic in the northeast. It’s just a short drive southwest of Augusta, the capital of Maine, and is one of the coolest beach towns and hidden gems in Maine’s mid-coast region.
Indulge in the fresh seafood caught by the local fishermen. Go hiking along the coastal trails and stop by the small artisan shops that line its shores. In addition to its seaside charm and picturesque harbor, Rockport is also an art colony. As you take in a breathtaking scene filled with fishing boats and schooners, you’ll quickly see why this has been a refuge for creatives for centuries.
Take a drive through Bath, Maine and you’ll be amazed by what you see. Stay here, and you’ll never want to leave!
Though Bath isn’t exactly a coastal town in Maine, it’s just a short drive away. Known for its ship-building, Bath has a maritime heritage that can rival any of the seaside towns and cities throughout the state. In fact, much of America’s naval fleet was born at the Bath Iron Works, a major shipyard on the Kennebec River in Bath, ME.
While there’s certainly an industrial side to this town, many visitors come for the quaint boutiques and galleries downtown, as well as the outdoor adventures nearby. You won’t have to go far to see the Bailey Islands in Casco Bay, as well as Reid State Park in Georgetown. With its well-preserved historic center and variety of unique attractions, it’s no wonder this is among the coolest small Maine towns.
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Damariscotta-Newcastle – A Pair of Unique Coastal Towns in Maine
These twin villages are a must-see when exploring the coastline of Maine. The Damariscotta River divides the two towns, each offering charming village vibes and unspoiled scenery. You won’t have to drive far to find some unspoiled sandy beaches and the famous Pemaquid Point Lighthouse.
If you’re into fresh oysters, look no further! Damariscotta is considered by many as the “Oyster Capital of New England” and even holds multiple oyster festivals each year. The Pemaquid Oyster Festival typically occurs on the last Sunday of September, where proceeds are donated to numerous marine education and conservation organizations in mid-coast Maine. Are these among the best towns in Maine? 100%!
Lubec is one of the best and most affordable coastal towns in Maine, hands down. It’s located in the northeastern corner of the state and is acclaimed as the easternmost point in the United States. Though Lubec can be difficult to get to, it’s totally worth it for the scenic views and authentic small town feel.
The closer you get to the US-Canada border, the wilder it becomes, and Lubec embodies this perfectly. This town is a great place to see Atlantic puffins, where you can easily spot them from the beach and the coastal trails that dot the Maine coastline.
It truly feels like you’re at the end of the world, so if you can’t find your way, look out for the incredibly picturesque and iconic Quoddy Head Lighthouse. As far as small towns in Maine go, this is among the very best!
Stonington-Deer Isle – An Amazing Maine Coastal Town
Located on the island of Deer Isle, Stonington truly has it all: dramatic cliffs, endless hiking trails, sandy beaches, and some of Maine’s best lobster. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s considered one of the best hidden gems and top coastal towns in Maine.
As its name suggests, Stonington was once known for its stone and granite. Many quarries left behind show the coastal town’s sheer importance in constructing city halls, custom houses, and other stately buildings throughout New England.
Today, the pulse of this Downeast Maine town belongs to the fishing industry, with lobster boats scattered around the harbor and local innkeepers and restaurant owners mingling with fishermen on the daily. The lifestyle on Deer Isle is slow and relaxed, making it one of the best fishing villages in Maine.
If you’re planning a trip to see Coastal Maine, don’t miss out on a visit to Camden. Overlooking West Penobscot Bay, this historic town is one of the most beautiful Maine towns imaginable. It offers a quaint old town, traditional lobster boats and yachts, and stunning scenery at seemingly every turn. Camden Hills State Park is the perfect place to visit on a warm summer’s day, where you can go hiking in the morning and afternoon, followed by a local lobster and a draft beer.
Admire the thriving art scene, ride on a quintessential Downeast schooner, and take in the stunning views of Penobscot Bay. This is truly one of the best small Maine coastal towns, particularly if you’re looking for something local and authentic.
It would be a crime to write an article on the coolest Maine coastal towns without mentioning Freeport. This town is best known its L.L. Bean flagship store and other outlet shops, but there is so much more than meets the eye in Freeport.
Nestled between Brunswick and Falmouth on the Maine coast, Freeport offers a variety of oceanfront and recreational activities. The outlets in the shopping district are a huge draw, but there’s also Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, the Desert of Maine, and Casco Bay to take in and experience Maine’s raw beauty.
Enjoy the hiking trails that are sprawled around the town by the Freeport Conservation Committee. And don’t forget to try the whoopie pies from Wicked Whoopies. It won’t be long until you see why it’s among the coolest cities in Maine on the coast.
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Blue Hill – A Top Coastal Town in Maine for Nature Lovers
Located near Acadia National Park, Blue Hill is a Down East village in Maine brimming with historic charm and character. The architecture sprawled around town dates back to the 1700s, and there’s lots of nature to see and experience nearby as well.
The surrounding region of Blue Hill Bay is comprised of rustic farms, cozy cottages, and unexplored waterways. Don’t miss a visit to Blue Hill Falls, and be sure to stay in a small campground overlooking Penobscot Bay. With so much charm and personality, it truly doesn’t get better than this Maine east coast gem.
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As you venture up the coast of Maine, you’ll want to spend some time in Castine. This quaint seaside town is tucked away at the mouth of the Penobscot River, offering an artist’s enclave that’s allured creative minds for centuries.
Wherever you look, you’ll find the town’s rich seafaring traditions on full display. Old homes and inns line the town’s historic center, while there are also unique military sites and museums strewn throughout the Penobscot River estuary. Hiking and picnicking are top things to do here, as well as tennis, golf, yachting. Acadia National Park is also just around the corner. With its captivating history and small-town charm, Castine is definitely one of the prettiest towns in Maine.
Last but not least on this list of the best coastal towns in Maine is Portland. Though it’s technically a city, Portland retains its small town feel and historic charm, especially in the Old Port district.
As you walk down its cobblestone streets, you’ll be surrounded by brick buildings housing boutiques, restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. Here, there are many classic New England restaurants that serve the freshest seafood. You’ll be just a stone’s throw way from the pier, which offers scenic cruises and kayak trips around Casco Bay. Some of my favorite beaches around Portland include Willard Beach, East End Beach, and Little Beach. Though if you’re willing to drive 45 minutes, there are many more up and down the Maine coast that you’ll want to take advantage of.