After trekking through the Presidential Range in New Hampshire and getting pushed on by the cold weather, our next destination was Maine. Maine was an easy target from the beginning since it’s the most northeastern state in the US and it also has the only National Park in the northeast – Acadia National Park.
How do you picture Maine? Quaint oceanside towns? Lighthouses perched on cliffs over the sea? Mountains? Moose? We saw them all, except the dang moose! There were signs every few miles for moose crossings, but apparently the moose didn’t know to use the signs.
But we did see lobsters, and lots of them. The coast of Maine is scattered with “Lobster Pounds” – little restaurants on the side of the road with picnic tables out front designed around eating lobster. They’re a main attraction in the warmer months as tourists and locals flock to them for cheap and delicious lobster. However, most of them close around Columbus day as traffic dies down and the lively tourist towns get sleepy. We turned to the more traditional restaurants instead in places like Bar Harbor that were still serving their staple crop.
Bar Harbor is a great little seaside town that reminded us of some of the places we visited in New Zealand. The main streets are filled with restaurants and shops for the many tourists to pick up their souvenirs, but there’s enough local charm to keep it authentic… but it could all change in the summer when the cruise ships arrive. Like most of our trip to the northeast, we’ve traveled in the off-season so I’m sure it’d be a lot different in the summer.
The off-season also proved to be a good time to visit Acadia. Travel forums are filled with tails of impossible parking and lines of tourist throughout Maine, but we didn’t experience any of it. We stayed in Acadia for five days which gave us plenty of time to explore the many peaks and shorelines of the park. The mountains don’t sound very intimidating at only 600-800 feet above sea level, but starting at zero makes their steep accents much more challenging. They also have some really exciting hikes like “Bee Hive” where you cling to the side of the mountain holding on to the iron rungs.
The trade-off of off-season travel is of course, the weather. The weather that motivated us to leave New Hampshire was also in Maine. That meant rainy and chilly days combined with cold nights. We wore heavy coats for the hikes, but the humid cold still gets to you. But somehow, it just felt right. Bundled up while walking through the quaint little towns and chattering teeth while visiting the seaside lighthouses, it felt genuinely Maine.