While the great state of Maine is abundant with history, spectacular scenery, and legendary cuisine, the southern edge that borders the Atlantic is where the fun really begins!

From Kittery in the south to Portland to Brunswick in the north, you’ll find an astounding number of fascinating things to see and do on land and water. Here are just a few possibilities for your next big adventure in Southern Maine.

1. Get Your Feet Wet

Maine sailing
Sailing in Maine

Whether you’re enjoying a sunset cruise with the Portland Schooner Company, casting your line from a chartered fishing boat, enjoying a private kayak excursion where you can get up close and personal with the local harbor seals, or participating in a real-life lobster haul with Rugosa Lobster Tours out of Kennebunkport, Southern Maine offers visitors numerous options for fun and excitement, on (and in) the cool waters.

2. Wander Through the Desert

Desert of Maine
The Desert of Maine | Photo courtesy of David Fulmer

The first question you might be asking is “there’s a desert in Maine?” Well, not quite, but this 40-acre expanse of glacial silt (complete with rippling dunes) is a fascinating geological phenomenon that is definitely worth visiting. Hike through the area and discover how this incredible landscape was created over 11,000 years ago. The Desert of Maine is located about four miles from the heart of downtown Freeport.

3. Scarborough Marsh Nature Center

Scarborough Marsh
Scarborough Marsh Nature Center | Photo courtesy of Robert H. Pos

Fed by the Nonesuch River, the Scarborough Marsh Nature Center is Maine’s largest salt marsh. At 3,100 acres, this region is a dreamland for those looking to see local wildlife, especially native waterfowl. Keep your eyes open for a few land-dwelling residents including deer, muskrat, otter, and mink. The nature center can be traversed on foot or viewed from canoe or kayak, both of which can be rented at the center.

4. Palace Playland

Palace Playland in Maine
Palace Playland | Photo courtesy of H. Michael Miley

Located in the town of Old Orchard Beach, midway between Kennebunkport and Portland, the Palace Playland amusement park is New England’s only beachfront amusement park. Fun for all ages, this seasonal amusement park has been in operation since 1902. Boasting a variety of kiddie rides for younger visitors and high-speed thrill rides for adults, there really is something for everyone at this four-acre seasonal attraction right on the beach.

5. Portland Head Light and Museum

Portland Head Light
Portland Head Light | Photo courtesy of Ken Lund

No list of must-see Maine attractions would be complete without at least one lighthouse, and no trip to Southern Maine would be complete without a visit to the Portland Head Light and Museum. Commissioned by George Washington, this gorgeous lighthouse was built in 1791 and still stands in Fort Williams Park overlooking Cape Elizabeth. Take a tour of the lighthouse, hike the trails that meander through the park, explore the ruins of Fort Williams, visit the arboretum, and discover why the Portland Head Light is the most photographed lighthouse in the United States.

6. The Old Port District

Portland, Maine Old Port
Portland’s Old Port district | Photo courtesy of PhilipC

Take a trip back in time in downtown Portland. Walk among the 19th-century brick buildings in this timeless section of town where you can still hear the sound of horses’ hooves on the cobblestone streets or the sing-song shouts of fishmongers selling their wares down by the piers. Today, visitors to the Old Port will also find phenomenal restaurants like Central Provisions for tapas and Street & Co. for fantastic seafood, alongside unique local boutiques and some of the best bars in the area.

7. Visit a Museum

Victoria Mansion in Portland Maine
The Victoria Mansion in Portland | Photo courtesy of Staib

Maine is extremely proud of its rich history—you’ll find a museum or two in almost every city and town throughout Southern Maine. Right in Portland, tour the exquisite Victoria Mansion, a pristine example of pre-Civil War American architecture, visit the Wadsworth–Longfellow House, boyhood home of the 19th century poet, wander the Colonial-era Tate House Museum and herb garden, and gaze out from the Portland Observatory, America’s last standing wooden maritime signal tower.

And if you find yourself in the Kennebunkport area, do yourself a favor and pop into the Seashore Trolley Museum, the world’s largest and oldest museum dedicated to mass transit with over 250 vehicles on display. History buffs, especially those interested in the presidents of the United States, won’t want to miss the First Families Kennebunkport Museum.

8. Walk in York

York Cliff Walk
York cliff walk | Photo courtesy of Robyn Gallant

Between Portsmouth and Kennebunkport, York offers more than just popular beaches for enjoying the great outdoors. Those looking to lace up their hiking boots and see some natural beauty will want to spend time on the many walking and cycling trails.

Enjoy the in-town Fisherman’s Walk Trail, a 1.7-mile trek for all skill levels that runs right along the York River and past a number of beautiful residential gardens. Others may want to try the half-mile Cliff Walk overlooking York Harbor. If you’re visiting with your four-legged friends, be sure to cross the aptly-named Wiggly Bridge and then hike the shaded trails that winds through the dog-friendly Steedman Woods Nature Preserve.

While there’s so much to experience in Maine, be sure your next journey takes you along the coast, where you’ll discover many sights to see and exciting things to do in Southern Maine.

Featured photo courtesy of Rk_pix

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Author: Scott Woodard

When he was 10 years old, Scott told his mother that when he grew up, he was going to move to Hollywood to become a writer. A few years later, he did just that. Scott has also penned a feature-length audio drama, co-authored a book about the history of fantasy films, and designed two tabletop roleplaying games.