Weather is moody in the autumn in Vacationland, but that’s what makes the photos so glorious.
It doesn’t matter if fog is rolling in along the coast or if it’s a clear, autumn day — Maine has some of the best things to do in the fall. There is a multitude of reasons to visit Maine in the fall including attending dozens of festivals, taking scenic drives, and tackling some incredible hikes. But what truly makes Maine stand out, is the pure vastness of the state. Huge swaths of uninterrupted forest blanket a majority of the state which means endless solitude and sweeping vistas.
Whether you want to check out the famed Bean Bootmobile, take a walk in Acadia National Park, or simply visit the quaint local towns, Maine has it all in the autumn. Here’s our top 10 favorite things to do in Maine in fall.
1. Visit Acadia.
If there is one thing that you do in the fall in Maine, it’s visiting Acadia National Park. Although there is no wrong time to visit New England’s most famous and most photogenic national park, the beauty of the autumn brings this park to a whole new level.
You might witness a spectacular sunrise or a moody fog blanketing the coastline. Maybe you’ll see the loons on Jordan Pond or brave the crowds (and heights) on the Beehive trail. Whatever trail you choose, you won’t regret heading to Acadia in the fall months.
2. Gear up at L.L.Bean.
Can you even say that you have traveled to Maine in the fall without visiting the L.L.Bean flagship store in Freeport? I think not. The large campus sprawls out across several buildings and includes an indoor pond (complete with fish!) and the iconic Bean Boot just outside its main entrance. Grab those flannels that will keep you cozy as you explore the northern woods.
Since weather is unpredictable in the area, always make sure to have the right outerwear no matter the season. Nobody will know that you’re a tourist once you grab everything you’ll need for your adventures in Vacationland.
3. Go hunting for moose.
You could literally go hunting for moose if you snagged one of the highly coveted permits. It is moose hunting season in the fall which means you should always wear orange whenever you’re adventuring in the woods. But, you could also go hunting for sightings of moose which is, arguably, more fun. State biologists believe there is upwards of 75,000 moose in the state making it the largest concentration of these large ungulates in the lower 48.
Despite their numbers, though, seeing them in the wild can be tricky. The places with the best chances of viewing these majestic creatures is around the Moosehead region along Route 15, the Rangeley Lakes region, and in the northern parts of the state along Route 11 leading into Fort Kent. A favorite spot, though, is along Golden Road in Baxter State Park where speed limits are slow so seeing moose safely is at an all-time high.
Related Read: 11 Best Glamping Destinations in Maine
4. Support women-owned businesses.
There is no shortage of shops within all the cute, coastal towns along the thousands of miles of shoreline. But if you’re looking to put your money towards something where it’ll make a difference, I highly suggest the region known as Kittery Foreside. Forgo the big outlet stores found just north and, instead, head just over the border of New Hampshire where a quaint downtown is booming with business.
A plethora of shops are female-owned and showcase the diverse tastes found in the area. It’s a perfect place to grab a lunch and stroll through the various stores on a cool, autumn day. Tayla Mac Boutique, an eclectic home goods store, prides itself on carrying only ethically produced items. Just down the street at Kit Supply + Co., owners Holly and Suzie, visitors can buy sustainable clothing and gifts for the outdoorsy kids in their lives. For a truly unique experience, head to Yarrow for jewelry made by local artisans, gems and rocks to heal your ailments, and all the air plants you could ever need.
Related Read: 5 Best Backpacking Trips in Maine for a Wild Adventure
5. Hike Maine’s tallest peak.
Sitting at 5,269 feet above sea level, Mount Katahdin is a behemoth of a mountain. Maine’s highest summit not only indicates the end of the Appalachian Trail, but it’s a wonderous feat to complete in the autumn months. On a clear day, you can see for miles across the vast wilderness of northern interior Maine.
The area leading up to Mount Katahdin is known as the 100-mile wilderness which means this area is remote. Only experienced hikers and adventurers should attempt climbing Mount Katahdin and only when the weather is deemed suitable. Weather can change quickly in the autumn so always be prepared to turn around.
Related Read: 14 Best Hikes in Maine for Exploring the Great Outdoors
6. Check out the fall foliage, of course!
Of course you have to go searching for all the fall colors in Maine. There are several spots throughout the state to see the best fall foliage. The farther you head north, the less crowded the roads and trails will be so if solace is what you are after, head to the border of Canada.
One of the best views is along the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway at the “Height of Land” located on Route 17. You’ll be able to see for miles with zero effort — all you have to do is pull over on the side of the road.
7. Book a whale watching tour.
View this post on Instagram
It’s true! Fall is one of the best times to check out the migrating whales, despite popular belief. Most visitors to coastal Maine wanting a peek at the world’s largest animals come in May. Whales are usually making their way north to feed in plankton-rich waters.
But few visitors brave the colder autumn season when whales are making the same trek but south to the warmer waters. Try to book your whale watching tour on a clear day (which might prove difficult) since Maine’s infamous fog will hinder your ability to view these beautiful creatures.
Related Read: 12 Magical & Unique Places to Stay in Maine
8. View the moody fog at the famed lighthouses.
Instead of heading out on the water on those foggier days where you likely won’t see any whales, stick to land and check out the hundreds of lighthouses along the coast. There are dozens upon dozens of lighthouses scattered along the extensive Maine coastline.
There’s even a whole website dedicated to the lighthouses in Maine. If anything, the foggier days are the best times to visit the lighthouses to see them in action.
9. It’s lobstah season!
Believe it or not, peak lobster season isn’t in the summer. Thanks to climate change, the best time to get fresh lobster in Maine is in the fall. This is the time when both hard- and soft-shell lobsters are ready for consumers.
Related Read: 9 Must-See Waterfalls in Maine You Can Hike To
10. Festivals, festivals, festivals!
View this post on Instagram
As with most New England states, festivals are a classic pastime in the fall and Maine is no exception. Check out the sheep dog trials and demolition derby at The Blue Hill Fair just south of Acadia National Park in the small town of, you guessed it, Blue Hill. For those with a more adventurous spirit, the Trails End Festival located in Millinocket brings together outdoor enthusiasts to celebrate the beauty of region.
The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta is one of the biggest festivals in the state and is a hoot of a time! For a family-friendly option, head to the Boothbay Fall Foliage Festival, Fryeburg Fair, or the Freeport Fall Festival.
More Fall Adventures in New England
Get epic travel ideas delivered to your inbox with Weekend Wanderer, our newsletter inspiring thousands of readers every week.