Ocean waves crashing gently on the rocks of Otter Cliff in Acadia National Park.

Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park. Photo © Jon Bilous/123rf.

Map of Maine


Tipping the northeasternmost corner of the United States and comprising 33,215 square miles, Maine boldly promotes itself as “The Way Life Should Be.” Not to say that everything’s perfect, mind you, but Maine is an extraordinarily special place, where the air is clear, the water is pure, and the traditional traits of honesty, thrift, and ruggedness remain refreshingly appealing.

From the glacier-scoured beaches of the Southern Coast, around spruce-studded islands and Acadia’s granite shores to the craggy cliffs Down East, Maine’s coastline follows a zigzagging route that would measure about 5,500 miles if you stretched it taut. Eons ago, glaciers came crushing down from the north, squeezing Maine’s coastline into a wrinkled landscape with countless bony fingers reaching toward the sea. Each peninsula has its own character, as does each island, each city, and each village.

But don’t stop at the coast. Venture into Maine’s inland playground: 6,000 lakes and ponds, 32,000 miles of rivers, and 17 million acres of timberlands for hiking and biking, skiing and snowmobiling, paddling and fishing. This is where intrepid Appalachian Trail hikers finish at the summit of Katahdin, Maine’s tallest peak, and determined canoeists can spend a week on the Allagash, a water lifeline through the wilderness.

Pair natural highs with human pleasures: fine and quirky museums, theatrical and musical performances, artisan studios and art galleries, designer boutiques and specialty shops.

Lobster, of course, is king, but don’t overlook luscious wild blueberries, sweet Maine maple syrup, delicious farmstead cheeses, and the homemade pies and preserves sold at roadside stands and farmers markets. Access to this bounty is why talented chefs are drawn here. But balance a fancy meal with a beanhole or chowder suppah, where you can share a table with locals, the umpteenth-generation Mainers who add character to this special place: the fishermen who make their living from the bone-chilling waters, the lumbermen who know every nook and cranny of the forested wilderness, the farmers who tame the rocky fields. If you’re lucky, you might hear a genuine Maine accent (hint: Ayuh isn’t so much a word as a sharp two-part intake of breath).

A student of Maine-born author Mary Ellen Chase once mused, “Maine is different from all other states, isn’t it? I suppose that’s because God never quite finished it.” Maine may indeed be a work in progress, but it’s a masterwork.

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Maine.