Maine is known for its rugged coastline, vast stretches of wilderness, an exceptional national park, a unique cultural city, and world-renowned lobster.
Maine is known for many things including vast wilderness areas, a rugged and picturesque coastline, distinctive food, a unique accent among natives, and a rich history. It’s also home to Portland, the state’s largest city and cultural center.
With only 1.38 million people in the state, Maine is the ninth least populous state in the United States. It’s located in most northeastern point of the country, sharing a border with Canada. Much of what Maine is known for derives from its 3,000 miles of jagged coast and its mountainous forested wilderness. But it also is distinctive for its food and the unique accent of locals.
Here’s what Maine is known for:
Here are 30 things Maine is most well-known for:
Due to its cold coastal waters, Maine has an abundance of lobsters and the crustacean is a big part of Maine’s identity and economy. Lobsters can be found in signage throughout the state and shacks serving freshly-caught lobsters line the coast. Fortunately, Maine lobstermen have traditionally followed sustainable fishing practices to keep their industry alive by returning females back to the water as well as only harvesting lobsters of a certain size, among other practices.
See related: 10 of the Best Lobster Shacks in Maine
Acadia National Park
Located about three-quarters of the way up Maine’s coast from its southern border, Acadia National Park is known for its stunning natural beauty and diversity of landscapes. It’s also one of the most-visited national parks in the United States. The park features over 120 miles of hiking trails, has beautiful sandy beaches and is home to several peaks including Cadillac Mountain which, as the highest point on the East Coast of the United States, is where the first sunrise can be seen in the country each day.
Maine’s largest city, Portland, is home to 67,000 people and is the state’s economic and cultural center. Here you’ll find a vibrant arts scene paired with unique and award-winning restaurants. Just wandering around the downtown can be entertaining enough as the Old Port historic district features cobblestone streets, brick sidewalks, many 19th-century buildings, and fun-to-explore shops and restaurants. About 100 miles up the coast from Boston, Portland attracts a number of visitors each year for its scenery, history, and culture.
Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world. The state’s acidic soil, low-nutrient bogs, and harsh climate provide ideal growing conditions for the berries. The majority of wild blueberries are harvested in July and August and a number of farms allow visitors to pick their own. You’ll also find a plethora of blueberry products throughout the state including jams, syrups, pies, and even soap.
Maine has some of the most popular and distinctive lighthouses on the East Coast of the United States. The state’s long, jagged, and rocky coastline can be dangerous for ships, making lighthouses essential for early ship captains. Some of the most well-known lighthouses in Maine include the Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth, the Marshall Point Lighthouse in Port Clyde, and Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in Bristol.
As you drive into Maine you’ll immediately notice the term “Vacationland” on both state signs and license plates. The term dates back to the 19th century when the state began promoting Maine as a desirable vacation destination even though decades before wealthy industrialists and city-dwellers had already begun spending their summers in Maine. “Vacationland” was officially adopted as the state’s official slogan in the 1920s.
Mount Katahdin is the highest mountain in the state of Maine, located in the Baxter State Park in the North Woods region of the state. The top of the mountain is the starting point (or endpoint) of the 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail which stretches from Georgia to Maine. Hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy this remote terrain. The mountain’s name “Katahdin” comes from the Penobscot Native American tribe, and it means “the greatest mountain”.
Maine has several ski resorts that offer a wide range of skiing and snowboarding terrain and facilities. The state’s long winters provide ample snowfall which combined with a mountainous geography make it an ideal location for the sport. The most popular ski resorts include Sunday River, Sugarloaf, and Saddleback located in the western half of the state not too far from the New Hampshire border. The Camden Snow Bowl, while small, provides the only opportunity to see the Atlantic Ocean while skiing in the Northern Hemisphere.
L.L. Bean was founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean as an outdoor store. Bean started his business by initially only selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe, and later expanded to a wide range of outdoor products. Today, the flagship store, located in Freeport, is a gigantic multi-floor experience featuring gear for activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and more. The store also has large shoe and clothing departments, a camping and backpacking section, and a section for home goods, such as bedding, furniture, and home decor.
Being the northernmost state in New England, Maine is the first to show an array of fall foliage colors. The state has a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees that show brilliant displays of red, orange, and yellow. Some popular places in Maine to see fall foliage include Acadia National Park, Moosehead Lake region, and The Forks area in the western part of the state. Fall foliage begins to show sometime between late September and early October in Maine, depending on the weather.
Maine has the second most islands off its coast of any U.S. state. With 3,000 islands, 200 of which are inhabited, Maine is just behind Alaska which has about 33,000 islands. A few popular Maine islands for tourists to visit include Monhegan Island, Peaks Island, and Vinalhaven.
Maine has one of the highest densities of moose in the northeastern United States. The large mammals are native to the northern and western regions of Maine and are often found in the state’s forested areas. It’s not uncommon to see signs warning of Moose crossings while driving down busy roads in Maine. And don’t be surprised if you see a moose grazing on the side of a road. Mainers consider moose to be a symbol of their state and they often appear in tourism-related materials and license plates.
Maine is known for its rugged and rocky shoreline which stretches for more than 3,000 miles along the Atlantic Ocean and is dotted with small islands offshore. This rocky coastline is primarily a result of Maine’s geology, which is characterized by ancient volcanic and glacial activity. Along the coast you’ll find rocky ledges, cliffs, inlets, and harbors, making for a striking and diverse seascape.
When you visit Maine, don’t forget to try Moxie soda! This drink was first introduced in the U.S. in 1885. It has a slightly bitter flavor that’s often described as medicinal, which is the result of its main ingredient, gentian root extract. Moxie is primarily consumed in Maine where it’s been a popular beverage for over a century.
Maine is known for having many antique shops, and it’s considered a destination for antiquing by many enthusiasts. As one of the thirteen original colonies, Maine has a long history which includes old homes that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. From these homes have come early American antiques that have been preserved over time including Windsor chairs, painted furniture, and hooked rugs. With its long and rich maritime history, Maine is especially known for maritime antiques including nautical instruments, ship models, and folk art. The coastal towns of Maine, such as Portland, Bath, and Rockland, are great places to find maritime antiques.
The Maine accent, also known as the Down East accent, is distinctive to the state but is considered a variation of the accent spoken in other parts of New England, such as Massachusetts and Vermont. The origins of the Maine accent can be traced back to the early settlers of the region, who were primarily of British, Irish, and French-Canadian descent. Similar to the Boston accent, the Maine accent drops the letter “r” and also tends to have a rising intonation at the end of a sentence, making it sound like a question, even though the speaker is making a statement. While similar, there are slight variations in the accent in the northern and southern parts of the state.
Maine has a long fishing history, dating back to when European settlers roamed the woods and fish provided a major source of food. The state features a wide variety of fish including Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, cod, haddock, pollock, halibut, and many types of crabs and lobsters. Fishing is done in a variety of ways in Maine including shore fishing, boat fishing, fly-fishing, and ice fishing. While many residents make their livelihood through fishing, it’s also a popular sport among Maine tourists.
Famed author, Stephen King, lives in Bangor, Maine, and has made the state a frequent setting in his horror, suspense, and supernatural fiction novels. King was born in Portland in 1947 and has spent his entire life in the state. His first novel, “Carrie” was published in 1974, and since he’s published more than 60 novels, many of which have become popular worldwide.
Maine has a long history of shipbuilding, dating back to the 19th century when wooden ships were built in shipyards along the coast. In the early years, the state was known for building clippers and schooners, which were used in international trade, particularly in the East Coast United States and the Caribbean. By the 20th century, shipbuilding in Maine shifted to building smaller vessels, including tugboats and fishing boats, as well as steel and aluminum pleasure boats. Additionally, Bath Iron Works, a major shipyard in the state, has been building and repairing Navy destroyers for many years. In recent years, Maine has been working to expand and modernize its shipbuilding industry and there are now several shipyards in the state that are building advanced and high-tech vessels, including wind turbine installation vessels and hybrid ferries.
Famous People Maine is Known for:
Maine may have a small population, but a surprisingly large number of famous people have been associated with the state. Here are six of the most famous people Maine is known for:
- Stephen King: author known for his horror, supernatural fiction, and suspense novels
- Anna Kendrick: an actress best known for her role in the movie series Pitch Perfect
- Andrew & Jamie Wyeth: renowned father and son artists
- George Mitchell: politician best known for brokering the Good Friday Agreement
- E.B. White: children’s author having written the classics Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little
See related: 22 of the Most Famous People From Maine
Food Maine is Known for:
Food that Maine is known for is often connected to the identity of the state. Besides, lobster, blueberries, maple syrup, and Moxie here are five other foods Maine is known for:
- Whoopie Pies: Small circular cakes sandwiched with cream filling
- Fiddleheads: curled young fern shoots harvested and eaten in the spring
- Potatoes: Aroostook county is one of the top producers of the spud
- Potato donuts: a centuries old Maine tradition revived by Portland’s Holy Donut
- Needham candies: similar to Mounds bars but with a potato and coconut filling
About Kerry Flatley
Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.