Maine is an outdoors lover’s paradise. The great expanse of Vacationland encompasses some of the most beautiful—and some of the wildest—countryside and oceanfront in the eastern U.S., and there’s something for everybody to explore out there: whether you’re a hardcore backcountry trekker or kayaker, or somebody more inclined toward an easy mosey, a bit of beach-hopping, or a leisurely afternoon of al-fresco sipping and sea watching.

In this guide, we’ll spell out a wide range of things to do in Maine if you are (like us here at The Craignair Inn) outdoors-inclined: not just the awesome recreating and adventuring, but also the equally important kicking back and relaxing when you’re nice and tuckered out!

Table of Contents:

Maine’s Landscape: A Quick Primer for Orienting Your Outdoor Experience

Let’s set the scene—broad strokes, mind you—with an overview of Maine’s beautiful landscape, the spectacular wild culmination of New England.

Mountain’s Majesty

Here you’ll find noble heights of the Northern Appalachians, which in Maine primarily include what some call the Longfellow Mountains—rising to arguably image9the single grandest peak in the Northeast, 5,269-foot Mount Katahdin, rooftop of the Pine Tree State—as well as that northeasterly extension of the White Mountains known as the Mahoosuc Range, which tops out at 4,170-foot Old Speck Mountain.

Katahdin’s giant cirques (which you can admire in huge Baxter State Park) are only among the most magnificent evidence in Maine of the heavy hand of Pleistocene glaciers, which retreated from the state “only” about 10,000 years ago. Glacial features also include moraines, eskers, ice-scarred bedrock, and so-called glacial erratics: boulders plucked by the ice sheets and left stranded when they retreated. (These can be downright monumental: Maine’s biggest-known erratic boulder, Daggett Rock, is reckoned to weigh on the order of 8,000 tons!)

Lakes, Coasts, and Beachesimage6

And those bygone ice sheets also carved out many of the myriad lake basins that pepper the Maine landscape: from tiny little kettle ponds to 75,450-acre Moosehead Lake, which ranks among the biggest natural lakes in the country.

Here at The Craignair Inn by the Sea, we give our guests an enviable home base on Maine’s gorgeous MidCoast: the seductive heart of Maine’s vast Atlantic Boreal seaboard, one of the longest saltwater shorelines of any U.S. state. The MidCoast is the southerly realm of Maine’s iconic rockbound coast, which stretches between Cape Elizabeth in the southwest and the Bay of Fundy in the northeast. By contrast, Maine’s southwestern oceanfront, south of Cape Elizabeth to the New Hampshire line, is mainly dominated by (swoony) sandy beaches.

image1-2Outdoor Adventures

With accommodations at The Craignair, you’ve got the splendid rocky headlands and islets, the postcard coves, and the pocket beaches of the MidCoast at your full disposal. And our area includes some other heraldic landmarks of the Northeast. Close by our Spruce Head B&B, the Camden Hills rise as some of the highest terrain on the immediate Atlantic Seaboard, with Camden Hills State Park offering some of the best hiking in the state and the delightful Camden Snow Bowl boasting—uniquely on the East Coast—ocean views from its ski runs.

Your Craignair guest room or suite also puts you within easy day-tripping distance of world-famous Acadia National Park on the Downeast shore, which also includes impressive coastal heights, such as Cadillac Mountain (famed for catching first rays of morning sunlight in the U.S.—well, much of the year, anyhow).

Maine Weather, Year-Round

What can you expect in the weather department when out exploring Maine’s genuinely great outdoors? The state is divvied up into three broad climate zones: the Coastal Division, covering the coastline and the land 20 or so miles inland; the Northern Interior Division, which covers close to 60 percent of Maine and includes the highest, most northerly terrain; and the in-between band of the Southern Interior Division.

image8Moderated as it is by maritime influence, the Coastal Division is the mildest zone in Maine, with warmer winter temperatures and cooler summer temperatures than the interior. Summertime temps in Maine as a whole average a very comfortable 70 degrees F or so. Extreme heat is rare, especially along the coast. Thunderstorms are quite uncommon in Maine compared to most parts of the U.S., which is good news for campers, paddlers, and other outdoor enthusiasts rightfully concerned about lightning.

Maine experiences gorgeous, frosty winters, full of sparkling snowfall — though things are more frigid away from the coast and the farther north you go. As the Maine Tourism Association notes, coastal Maine might see 10 to 20 days of subzero temperatures, compared to perhaps 40 to 60 days in the Northern Interior; snowfall amounts range from 50 to 70 inches along the coast to more than 100 inches in the interior. All of that white stuff is cherished by downhill and cross-country skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, and snowmobilers. (Learn more about visiting Maine in winter.)

Things to Do in Maine’s Great Outdoors

Especially for a first-time visitor, the sheer breadth of outdoor recreation opportunities in Maine can seem a little daunting. And, indeed, it’s too much to do real justice here, but we can certainly sketch out at least some of the possibilities.

We’ll be especially highlighting MidCoast Maine and its immediate surroundings—our beloved neighborhood—but we’ll also certainly cover other parts of the state as well. After all, there’s a lot you can do day-tripping from The Craignair Inn by the Sea, and we also make the perfect MidCoast home base on a longer itinerary circuiting all around Vacationland!

Maine’s Superlative Stargazingimage5

You simply won’t find a better place in the Northeast for admiring unblemished night skies than Maine. The state’s vast wildlands and low population density make for minimal light pollution in many areas, showing off to a spectacular degree the planets, stars, meteors, the Milky Way, and other features that burn and blaze across our firmament.

And, Maine’s northerly location makes it one of the best places in the Lower 48 to view the Northern Lights—perhaps most reliably appreciated from the biggest and northernmost county, Aroostook, but which can also dazzle over any part of the state.

The quality of Maine’s nighttime heavens is reflected by the recent establishment of not one but two International Dark Sky locations, the only ones thus far established in New England. These include the 2021-established AMC Maine Woods International Dark Sky Park, some 75,000 acres of the 100-Mile Wilderness managed by the Appalachian Mountain Club, as well as the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument, bordering Baxter State Park and declared an International Dark Sky Sanctuary in 2020.

image3Those Dark Sky sites offer extensive opportunities to combine camping and stargazing. So does Cobscook Bay State Park, where the Downeast Amateur Astronomers throw the annual Maine State Star Party in August, as well as Acadia National Park, whose high-quality night skies—celebrated in the annual Acadia Night Sky Festival—are further protected by a special outdoor-lights ordinance in the adjoining town of Bar Harbor.

In Camden Hills State Park, meanwhile, the lofty vantages of Mount Megunticook (hikeable) and Mount Battie (driveable) provide exceptional night-sky viewing nice and close to The Craignair Inn by the Sea.

Speaking of, our Inn itself, nestled along tranquil tidewater across from mostly protected Clark Island, makes its own fine stargazing perch. That includes under the especially pristine skies of winter when your cozy room or suite (not to mention our on-site restaurant and bar) awaits when you need a post-skywatching warmup!

Learn more about stargazing and Northern Lights-viewing in Maine here.


Leaf Peeping in Maineimage7

Just as showstopping as Maine’s night skies are its fall colors. There’s no question the state’s one of the very best places in the world to enjoy autumn foliage, nowhere so vividly hued as in New England and southeastern Canada. Spread across such a latitudinal and elevational range as they are, our huge swaths of diverse forestlands, plus the handsome tree canopies of our towns, ensure splendid—and extended—leaf-peeping opportunities.

Peak fall color across the state ranges from late September and early October in the north to mid-to-late October along the coast (as around The Craignair Inn) and in Southern Maine. Here in our vicinity, we’ve got a fine medley of superstar trees and shrubs—from sugar maples to beeches to blueberries—which put on a show, and plenty of good leaf-peeping spots nearby: from Clark Island to the Camden Hills.


image2Birdwatching in Vacationland

If you’re of the birding persuasion, you’re in luck: Maine’s a fabulous place for birdwatching, with better than 330 species—from songbirds and waterfowl to raptors and seabirds—recorded in the state. Clark Island, right across from our Inn, is also one of the top preserves for spotting birds in the state!

That’s true all year round, too, though it’s hard to beat the spring and fall migration for sheer diversity and excitement. The spring migration generally kicks off in early March and runs into early June; Neotropical warblers are among the flashy highlights. That season also comes marked with the distinctive winnowing sounds and flight displays of the American woodcock.

Fall migrants of one kind or another sail overhead and flutter through the understory from late August and early September into November. Southbound raptors are among the stars of the autumn show, not least the droves of hawks that cruise along the Camden Hills: a truly must-see spectacle!

But from the boreal songbirds and woodpeckers of the summer nesting season to the greatest concentration of wintering harlequin ducks along the East Coast in the Gulf of Maine, every stretch of the calendar offers rich pickings in the birding department. Learn more at the website of the Maine Birding Trail.

Outdoor Recreation & Events

Every season of the Maine year also offers ample opportunities for other forms of outdoor recreation besides eyeballing our feathered friends (which, of course, can be combined with all sorts of other activities).

The hiking here, for one, is some of the best in the country, whether you’re tackling the wildest stretch of the Appalachian Trail, braving Katahdin’s legendary Knife Edge inimage11 Baxter State Park, or day hiking close to The Craignair Inn at Clark Island, Camden Hills State Park, the Cross Cushing Nature Preserve, or Acadia National Park

Of course, many of the same trails appeal to wintertime wanderers, too. The snowy season also sees snowsports devotees flock to destinations such as the aforementioned Camden Snow Bowl, which besides its downhill trails and terrain parks maintains a unique, 400-foot-long wooden toboggan chute that plays host to the U.S. National Toboggan Championships in early February—a bucket-list event to attend on a Craignair Inn getaway!

Throw in boundless road- and mountain-biking opportunities, a plethora of top-quality golfing (browse through some of the best golf courses in Maine here), and a treasure chest of paddling options—from inland lakes and ponds to saltwater forays along our islet-peppered coastline—and you’ll see why the Pine Tree State’s easily on the short list of America’s best outdoor playgrounds.

And, MidCoast Maine is also renowned for its many historic lighthouses, including a bevy within shouting distance of The Craignair Inn: the Owls Head, Rockland Breakwater, and Marshall Point lights, among ‘em.

As a dog-friendly luxury B&B, by the way, we’re happy not only to host you and your faithful four-legged bestie, but also point you to nearby opportunities for hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, and otherwise relishing the Maine outdoors in the company of a pooch!

Indoor Stopovers to Spice Up Your Outdoor Fun

Mix up your forest-bathing, slope-crushing, sea kayaking, and bike-touring with some indoor pleasures during your Maine getaway!image10

For one thing, you’ll obviously want to stay nice and fueled up for all of that adventuring, and on that front, you’ve got a whole slew of great restaurants, cafes, and bars.

It’s not all about great food and drink, either: Don’t forget about shopping in Maine during your outdoorsy vacation, and spare some time for art-gallery hopping (including our very own Craignair Gallery, of course!).

The Craignair Inn by the Sea: Your Warm, Welcoming, Restful Retreat

With easy foot access to the trails of Clark Island right from our front door and some of MidCoast and even Downeast Maine’s most lauded outdoor attractions within easy reach, The Craignair Inn by the Sea is the perfect place to stay while you get to know just how incredible outdoor recreation, sightseeing, and R&R can be in Vacationland.

Book your guest room or suite at our luxurious MidCoast bed-and-breakfast today!