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Maine Coast

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26 Smart Ways to See the Region ing


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1 Strategies for Seeing
the Maine Coast

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Strategies for Seeing Maine
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Previous page: Paying a little more for an ocean view is well worth the cost.
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9

Strategies for Seeing Maine


oing to the Maine coast for a week isn’t like going to
Daytona, Maui, or even Boston; it’s far bigger, chillier, foggier,
less expensive, and more thinly populated, to take just a few exam-
ples. Here are a few strategies and rules of thumb that can help you
get the most enjoyment out of this unique place.

Rule #1: Get yourself some slow, solitary walks along beaches
wheels. Public transit in Maine or up mountains when I had no itin-
exists, but it’s frankly not all that erary and no watch on my wrist,
great. (This is a big and mostly rural and the next day’s plans weren’t
state, so you can’t really blame pressing me to hurry back to my
them for that.) Unless you’re plan- room or campsite. Staying in one
ning to confine yourself to Port- town—and one room—for 3 days
land—in which case you could use isn’t a bad idea at all.
city buses, but even then, you’d still
Rule #4: Adjust your expecta-
end up walking a lot—you’re going
tions slightly downward. Luxury
to need bicycle, scooter, or automo-
inns and gourmet restaurants are
bile wheels almost anywhere that
here in increasing numbers, but there
you want to go.
are also plenty of villages (Downeast
Rule #2: Think about visiting and on out-of-the-way peninsulas)
during the off-season. Maine is that still offer lodgings best described
a prime summer destination, of as throwbacks to the old days—days
course, but it’s pretty wonderful in when a traveler would sleep in a
late spring and fall, too. And you sparely furnished room, sharing hall-
can sometimes save big on coastal way bathrooms and communal break-
hotel rooms by visiting the coast fasts with fellow travelers. That’s not
before July or after Labor Day. an unpleasant experience at all, so
Weekdays, of course, also tend to long as you come in expecting it. Any-
be much cheaper than weekends— way, on this coast, Mother Nature is
even in high summer season. the star attraction.
Rule #3: Don’t try to do too Rule #5: Pay more for a view
much. After all, the Maine coast is (or don’t). It’s up to you, but know
a place to relax. That means travel- what you’re getting before you get
ing and sightseeing slowly. Some of here. Even resort rooms on the
my very best memories here involve Maine coast sometimes look out on

Renting a bike is a great way to see the sights along Maine’s coast.
10
Strategies for Seeing Maine

Water taxis are a convenient way to experience the sea in Maine.

gorgeous ocean vistas and sometime tried to nudge you gently toward
look out over big parking lots. Prices things that aren’t obvious tourist
usually reflect these differences in stops—local coffee shops and din-
scenery—but not always. When ers, little-known historical spots,
booking, always ask about your view somewhat-secret beaches. You can
and try to negotiate a better one if see just the “greatest hits” if you
possible. You could scrimp, of want, but you’ll probably have a bet-
course, but here’s my take: Going to ter story to tell afterward if you
Maine and then skipping the views deviate from them.
doesn’t make much sense.
Rule #9: Bring a good cam-
Rule #6: Get out on the era. I’ve traveled and photo-
water. Maine is all about the sea, graphed all over the world.
so at some point, you need to feel Recently, I realized that many of my
that salty, bracing sea spray on your favorite shots came from right here
face to really experience the place. on the Maine coast, often in anony-
Whether it’s on a ferry boat, a deep- mous places. The interplay of water,
sea fishing excursion, a boogie sunlight, fog, stone, snow, and sand
board, or a friend’s yacht, it doesn’t never fails to create something I’ve
especially matter; just get out there. never seen before—and won’t see
again, after the next 1⁄8th of a second.
Rule #7: Engage locals. You
don’t need to put on a fake accent Rule #10: Be like a Boy Scout.
and wear a Red Sox hat to fit in (in You know, “Be Prepared”? I’m talk-
fact, don’t do those things if you’re ing about the weather here. We all
not from New England). Mainers are dream of perfect, sunny days on the
surprisingly open and humorous, beach, but in reality, Maine is a
you’ll find, even if they seem pretty pretty humid place (it’s next to a big
quiet at first. It’s a cultural thing. Get pile of water called “the ocean,”
past that hard shell (here’s where a lit- after all). You can expect to be
tle Red Sox knowledge really comes in rained out maybe a third of the time
handy), and people are usually pretty in summer, sometimes much more
friendly deep down. And you can often than that in a bad year. Bring
always talk about weather. umbrellas, a sweater, a change of
dry shoes, a TV Guide, and a thick
Rule #8: Get off the beaten
track. Throughout this book, I’ve
novel, just in case.