The 12 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Maine
As New England’s largest state, Maine is almost as big as the rest of the region put together. And with the lowest population density among them, that means the state has a lot of trees (about 90 percent is forested) and not a lot of people.
Peak foliage usually occurs during the first two weeks of October, spreading from north to south. Though Vermont and New Hampshire draw more tourists from New York and Boston, Maine offers a special something to those who make the trip: the dramatic contrast of rock and sea and foliage. Plus, fall is the most plentiful time of the year for lobster.
With thousands of miles of scenic, uncrowded roads, over 12 million acres of forest, dozens of food and cultural festivals, and countless outdoor activities, Maine is often at its best in the fall.
There’s a land- (or sea-) scape for everyone, whether you want to watch the leaves change by a quiet lake, a coastal village, or the undisturbed mountains (and moose) of the state’s great forests. Many state and national parks offer guided tours geared toward foliage hunters, and outdoor outfitters across Maine provide different ways to interact with the natural world. (Whitewater rafting, anyone?)
Oh, and at the end of the day—however you decide to spend it—there’s steamed shellfish and cold beer waiting for you. View beautiful fall photos of Maine.
A former Gilded Age hot spot, this charming seaside village on Mount Desert Island sits conveniently beside Acadia National Park. Watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain (the first place it becomes visible in the U.S.), take a ride (by bike or by horse) along the park’s beautifully groomed carriage roads, and drive along Acadia’s stunning park loop road. Get your lobster at Thurston’s Lobster Pound, perched on a bluff above Bass Harbor, and on the way back stop at both the Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden for breathtaking vistas.Where to stay:
The historic Bar Harbor Inn & Spa has the best view in town (even if you go just for a drink), and the cozy Acacia House Inn, just a few blocks from downtown, offers both beautiful rooms and delicious breakfasts.
Baxter State Park
Not for the faint of heart, Baxter State Park offers visitors over 200,000 acres of wilderness and the state’s highest peak, Mount Katahdin. It’s also your best bet for a moose sighting. There’s a ton of hiking for walkers of all skill-levels, and the extraordinarily affordable canoe and kayak rentals ($1 per hour or $8 per day) offers yet another way to see the forest change color all around you.Where to stay:
Open for camping until October 15, bring your sleeping bag. (The closest town, Millinocket, is at least 30 minutes from the park entrance.) South Branch Pond Campground is one of the prettiest of the bunch, and it offers tent sites, lean-tos, and a bunkhouse.
A year-round destination (the popular Sunday River Ski Resort is just five miles away), Bethel offers visitors easy access to Grafton Notch State Park and a host of delicious restaurants. In the park, there are easy—and spectacular—walks to Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas (also known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”), Mother Walker Falls, and Moose Cave along Route 26. On the way back, check out the Instagram-worthy Sunday River Covered Bridge. Pack sandwiches from the Good Food Store to bring with you and relax with a meal at 22 Broad Street on your return.Where to stay:
Bethel is rich in B&Bs. Try the Holidae House Bed & Breakfast, the Mill Hill Inn, or Bethel Hill Bed & Breakfast. For a hotel feel (and golf course access), the Bethel Inn Resort is also within walking distance of downtown.
Tucked between Blue Hill Harbor and Blue Hill Mountain, this seaside village has a single, flashing traffic light. A former shipbuilding center, it’s now a destination for those who want a low key, but incredibly scenic, escape. Try high tea at the Harbor House before dinner at Arborvine downtown. Shop local at Rackliffe Pottery and Blue Hill Books.Where to stay:
With its harbor full of sailboats, this “Jewel of the Coast” has plenty to do on land and on sea. Climb Mount Battie for a stupendous view of the coast (and the surrounding leaves), or try a boat tour (Schooner Surprise and Schooner Olad are both good options) to see the mountain from water. Camden has great, seafood-centric eating: try Natalie’s for an elegant dinner and Fresh for a more casual feel.Where to stay:
The Hartstone Inn & Hideaway has set up a superb bed and breakfast (and restaurant) in a historic Victorian mansion, and the Lord Camden Inn boast views of the water in addition to a spa and art gallery.
A major hub for whitewater rafting, the Forks is the perfect spot for those who want to see the leaves change with a paddle in hand. Local outfitters have raft trips for all skill levels, but for the most adventurous, the Upper Kennebec Gorge has up to class IV rapids. For hikers, check out nearby Moxie Falls, one of the state’s highest waterfalls, dropping from a height of nearly 90 feet. Whatever your mode of transportation, grab a beer at day’s end at the Kennebec River Brewery.Where to stay:
On the shores of Moosehead Lake, Rockwood is the perfect base to visit the area’s natural wonders. An angler’s dream: trout, bass, and salmon fishing is available on the lake and fly-fishing on the Kennebec River. Moosehead Lake Golf provides a shuttle from Rockwood to Mount Kineo for golfers and hikers alike from Memorial Day through Columbus Day weekends. The Bridle Trail is great for beginners, while the Indian Trail is more challenging: both are well worth it for the spectacular view at the summit.Where to stay:
The lakeside Birches Resort was first built as a hunting and fishing lodge in the 1930s and retains all its L.L. Bean-esque charm. Maynard’s is another equally charming and rustic option, with a wrap-around porch decorated with antlers and furnished with rocking chairs.
Yes, it’s where the Bush family summers—but whatever your politics, you can appreciate their good taste in Maine travel. A town full of beautiful walks, gorgeous architecture, and delicious food, there’s a lot to enjoy. Take a stroll along Parson’s Way, get a taste of the local fishing industry with Rugosa Lobster Tours, and snap a picture in front of the Summer Street “Wedding Cake House.” Grab a lobster roll at Nunan’s Lobster Hut and a cone at Rococo for lunch, and try local- and organic-inspired dinner at Bandaloop.Where to stay:
There are many splendid options in Kennebunkport, whether you are looking for something on the grand scale (try the Tides Beach Club, Nonatum Resort, or Kennebunkport Inn) or something more intimate (try the Captain Lord Mansion or the 1802 House Bed & Breakfast).
The easternmost town in the United States, Lubec is also a great jumping off point for Quoddy Head State Park, one of Maine’s most photographed sites. In town, explore Monica’s Chocolates for something sweet and the Lubec Brewing Company for something cold. Explore the coast on a whale watching tour, and try the McCurdy Smokehouse Museum for something more quirky.Where to stay:
Peacock House Bed & Breakfast is located in an 1860 house built by a British sea captain for his bride, and is as charming its origin story.
Ten miles from the mainland, this tiny island (it’s a half-mile wide and under two miles long) feels both intimate and expansive. There are no paved roads (and no cars either), but many beautiful trails along the coast and quiet paths past the island’s many artist studios. (It’s why Monhegan also earned the nickname “Artists Island.” Stroll past the charming Monhegan Lighthouse and check out the tiny Monhegan Museum of Art and History housed inside, then sample a craft beer at Monhegan Brewing Company.Where to stay:
The heart of the Rangeley Lakes region, the town of Rangeley is just 30 miles east of the New Hampshire border. Get on the water with the Rangeley Region Lakes Cruises & Kayaking and out on the trails of nearby Bald and Saddleback mountains. Small Falls and Height of Land are both accessible by car and provide gorgeous views, from high and low. Remember to eat: Forks in the Air won’t disappoint.Where to stay:
Downtown, the taxidermy and plaid-filled Rangeley Inn & Tavern continues a tradition of hospitality more than a century old. Just outside of Rangeley, the Highland Heath House welcomes visitors in a log home located in an alpine meadow above the lake.
Home to the annual Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland is a great place to eat. Claws has Maine’s famous crustacean down pat, while the Home Kitchen Café serves up a breakfast you won’t easily forget. And with cultural institutions like the Farnsworth Art Museum (not to mention the Maine Lighthouse Museum), there’s a lot more to do besides. Nearby Birch Point Beach State Park is a great place to see trees right up against a half-moon sandy shore.Where to stay:
Berry Manor Inn has converted a former 19th-century mansion into a B&B famous for its Victorian décor, pie baking, and singing toy hamsters. Relax on the LimeRock Inn’s wraparound porch in Rockland’s Historic District.