Southern Maine Coast vacation rentals
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Your guide to Southern Maine Coast
Welcome to the Southern Maine Coast
The Southern Maine Coast — roughly the region south of Portland to the New Hampshire border — is quintessential Maine. Fair warning: it may also be unlike the Maine Coast of your preconceptions. It has some of the rocky headlands and stormy seas associated with the state, but in many ways the terrain here is less formidable, with expansive sandy beaches backed by beach towns bustling in summer.
Yet it’s not Cape Cod or the Jersey Shore — the water is often frigid, infiltrated as it is by the Labrador Current flowing from the Arctic Ocean into the Atlantic. Even in midsummer, bathing can require stamina, grit, and moderate to extreme shrieking. And it’s not all about beach towns on the Southern Maine Coast. On rainy days, or when you don’t feel like swimming, you can explore bird sanctuaries, marshlands, pocket harbors dotted with lobster boats, and colonial-era villages filled with historic home museums, restaurants, t-shirt shops, and art galleries.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Southern Maine Coast
Summer is peak travel season in Southern Maine, and the vast majority of visitors come for the warm days, active beach scene, and gallery shows and regional theater productions. Irksome bugs can persist early in the summer, especially when exploring the forests or marshlands — the ocean breeze usually keeps the mosquitoes and blackflies at bay at the beaches. If crowds aren’t your thing, aim to visit in the shoulder season, when the weather is less predictable and cooler, but you’ll have the trails and beaches more to yourself. Winter is a good time for an outdoor fire and self-introspection. Dress for cold weather November through April, and hope for calm and sunny days for walks along the beach.
Top things to do in Southern Maine Coast
Old Orchard Beach
At peak summer, tourists overflow the beaches and roam the shops of this resort town with roots deep in the 19th century. It’s got a classic beach town vibe, with amusement rides, carnival attractions, and a long, crowded pier offering fried foods and games. Take a stroll through the Salvation Army’s grounds, featuring an outdoor amphitheater, off Circuit Street, and swing by the intriguing and octagonal Temple at Ocean Park, a Baptist church built in 1881 in the Ocean Park neighborhood south of the town.
For a bird’s-eye view of the coast and beyond, hike up Mount Agamenticus, a 692-foot prominence outside the town of York. (You can also drive to the top, but that’s not half the adventure.) The rounded peak sits in a state park, and on a clear day offers sweeping views from Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Turn around and face west for a view of the raggedy ridgelines of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
Seashore Trolley Museum
Kennebunkport is home to the first and largest electric railway museum in the world, with three hangar-sized barns filled with specimens of urban transport from around the globe, including Glasgow, Budapest, Montreal, Rome, and San Francisco. Most are idle or undergoing restoration. Some stock is always on the roll, however, offering visitors rides along a two-mile track through a forest.