Maine’s nickname is Vacationland, and with good reason. There are so many beautiful places to visit, including glorious state parks and expansive beaches. For van lifers, Maine is a great place to explore and unwind. The summer is an especially perfect time to visit Maine. Warm days and cool nights beckon as you explore the mountains, coasts and small-town charms that await.
Lookin for more reasons to visit this beautiful state? Below we’ve outlined 10 reasons why Maine is an ideal summer van destination. Enjoy!
Acadia National Park
Acadia is a breathtaking expanse covering 49,000 acres on the Maine coast. Acadia is popular all year, particularly in the summer.
In Acadia, you can experience all that Maine has to offer. You can explore Cadillac Mountain, the tallest on the Atlantic coast or drive the 27-mile Park Loop Road to take in a tour of the park. Sand Beach is popular for shell collectors and swimmers (though the water is typically cool). You can also explore the bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, Rockefeller-funded Carriage Roads, Otter Cliff or Thunder Hole. You’re also nearby Bar Harbor, an idyllic town with shops, restaurants and galleries sure to entertain and help you unwind. Campground options are plentiful, including Mount Desert Campground, Bar Harbor Campground and Mainstay Cottages and RV Park.
Maine is one of the most active states for fishing, with fishermen and women earning livings tackling the sea throughout the state. Maine lobster is renown, delicious and a highly popular dish for residents and visitors alike. There’s also fresh shellfish and fish caught daily and prepared by some of the most masterful chefs at restaurants throughout the state. The Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, Yarmouth Clam Festival and Boothbay Harbor Fest are all popular annual events with fun activities for the whole family. Whether your preference is a formal sit-down meal of swordfish or steamers or grabbing a lobster roll from a roadside stand, you’re in for a treat.
Portland is Maine’s largest city and nestled in southern Maine. It is full of old-world charm and a small, walkable city. A visit to Portland must include the Old Port, which is full of antique shops, art galleries, souvenir stores, restaurants, coffee and ice cream shops, and bars. The Old Port is a great place to spend a day enjoying the winding streets and stores that make it such a popular spot.
Portland is right on the ocean, meaning you can explore the sights, sounds and smells of the Atlantic. Take one of the whale watching or chartered fishing expeditions from the active port. Or take a short ferry ride to explore Peak’s Island, just off the coast of Portland.
Bayley’s Camping Resort and Wild Duck Campground and RV Park, both in nearby Scarborough, are good choices for exploring Portland.
Outlet Shopping in Kittery or Freeport
Shoppers looking for a bargain have great options in Maine. Kittery and Freeport both boost expansive outlet towns. Freeport is home to LL Bean, the famed outdoor retailer. It’s also a walkable way to explore outlets by major retailers and take advantage of bargains. The same is true of Kittery, just over the border from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Kittery features miles of outlet shops. It’s a great destination for a rainy day during a summer vacation in Maine.
Sebago Lake is just one of many popular lake destinations in Maine. Sebago lake is Maine’s deepest and second-largest lake. On the lake, you can rent paddle boats, jet skis and boats, take a sailboat adventure or enjoy the three-lined beaches. There are plenty of fun activities nearby, including Seacoast Fun Park in Windham, with rides and games for everyone. You can also take the Songo River Queen, a replica of the Mississippi River paddle boats with two decks of excitement. The Point Sebago Golf Course in Casco is one of the state’s best and miniature golf courses offer lighter golf fare. The Naples KOA Holiday, Point Sebago and Sebago Lake Family Campground are good options for RV camping.
Old Orchard Beach
A popular destination year-round, Old Orchard Beach features family-friendly entertainment. It’s beaches wind for miles with perfect swimming, surfing and sunbathing. There’s also the Old Orchard Beach Pier extending hundreds of feet into the ocean, filled with shops and restaurants. Nearby is the Palace Playland, the state’s only oceanside amusement park, the Seaside Pavilion featuring live entertainment, and boat charters galore. There are many RV options, including Hid’n Pines Family Campground and Paradise Park Resort Campground.
Kennebunkport is the summer home to several presidents and a well-to-do community in southern Maine. It’s a great spot for exploring, with an artsy community, boutiques and fine restaurants. There’s also the Seashore Trolley Museum, a 300-acre site where visitors can take unlimited rides. The Intown Trolley offers narrated tours of the town and the First Families Kennebunkport Museum traces the town’s history from the shipbuilding founders to the Bush family. You’re also near great beaches such as Goose Rocks Beach and Gooch’s Beach, and the outlet malls of nearby Kittery. Consider the Sandy Pines Campground for your visit to Kennebunkport.
Sugarloaf Mountain is one of Maine’s most popular ski destinations. However, it’s an active place all year round. During the summer there is plenty to do. Take a scenic lift ride to the top of the mountain and see some spectacular scenery. Explore the area’s ample hiking trails, which include 4,000-foot peaks and portions of the Appalachian Trail. Enjoy paddling, zipline rides, mountain biking and disc golf at or nearby the mountain, located in Wilton. A good RV spot is Crocker Mountain Cirque Campground in nearby Carrabassett Valley.
The state’s capital lets you explore some of the state’s rich history. Major attractions include the state capitol building. The Maine State Museum (temporarily closed for renovations) features exhibits on indigenous people of Maine, its separation from Massachusetts and its role in the Civil War. Fort Western is a living history museum with tours and hands-on activities. The Foggy Bottom Marine and Campground is nearby in Farmingdale.
In the heart of mid-coast Maine, Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges. The Bowdoin campus in the summer is a great place to explore. The campus art museum is one of the finest in New England, with collections of American, European Asian and contemporary art. It also features an artic museum, which pays homage to the Bowdoin alumni who were among the nation’s most notable arctic explores. In the evening, take in a show at Pickard Theater as part of the Maine Summer Music Theatre.
You Can’t Get There From Here
The expression, “You can’t get there from here,” is a well-worn Maine staple. It’s also what makes Maine such a perfect summer destination. Without the crowds and hubbub of large cities, Maine lets you let your hair down, turn off the distractions of every-day life and enjoy a quiet, peaceful, recharging summer van vacation.