Maine is one of the most popular US States for summer vacations and rightly so. Tucked up on the Northeast coast of the USA, it’s home to 200 miles of coastline and the coastal area is about as beautiful as it gets. You’ll find stunning beaches, cliffs, beautiful fishing ports, and the seafood is to die for.
Inland from the coast is just as beautiful in Maine as it’s home to rivers, lakes, mountains, and thousands of acres of forest. I guess you’re starting to see why Maine is so popular with tourists, so how do you avoid the summer crowds? By going to the hidden gems.
Join me as we take a look at all the wonderful hidden gems in Maine so you can find places with very few tourists and explore this stunning state, the right way.
The first of Maine’s hidden gems we are going to look at is Artist’s Bridge near the small town of Newry, almost on the border with Vermont. This part of Maine is absolutely beautiful with many rivers and a forest that seems to never end and a great place to take all of this in is sitting next to Artist’s Bridge.
Artist’s Bridge was built in the late 1800s and it still stands today at 100 feet long spanning the gap over the Sunday River. The bridge was named after artist John Enneking who is famed for his beautiful paintings of New England landscapes.
John Enneking visited Newry a lot and he always sat next to the bridge and painted the scenes around him. He did it so much, in fact, that the locals began calling the bridge, Artist’s Bridge, and the name stuck.
The best way to visit the bridge is on a day trip and you can also explore the peaceful park which has numerous hiking trails and lots of picnic tables where you can enjoy a nice lunch.
One of my favorite hidden gems in Maine is Rattlesnake Flume as it creates a refreshing end to a day spent exploring some of Maine’s most stunning landscapes, the White Mountains. This hidden secret sits on the border with New Hampshire and can only be accessed via a short hike but you can do a lot more while you’re there and should.
Rattlesnake Flume is a crystal clear pool at the bottom of a waterfall and to get there you’ll want to park you car at Shell Pond Road and then walk through a grassy field, following a marker showing the Stone House Trail and stay on the path, ignoring Rattlesnake Gorge, until you find the sign for Rattlesnake Flume. The hike is just 2 miles or so but you can make it a lot longer by hiking Blueberry Mountain nearby.
When you find Rattlesnake Flume you’ll be blown away. The small falls and deep blue pool are stunning and very inviting for a dip. The water is super cold but immensely refreshing so swimming on a hot day is advised and the surrounding forest and rivers are stunning and it’s a gorgeous place to hang out at.
One of the hidden gems pretty much no one knows about bar locals is the Camden Public Library and it’s very much worth stopping in if you’re passing by or staying in the area.
You might be asking, why a library would be a hidden gem and for good reason, as I’m sure staring at rows of books isn’t what you had planned for your vacation to Maine. There is something special about this library though and it’s an unusual gem.
The Camden Public Library is National Historic Landmark and was built back in 1928, funded solely by the community and donated land. Inside the library is a rather special reading room with stunning views of Camden Harbor and there isn’t a better place to find some peace with a book or do a bit of work while vacationing in Maine.
If you happen to be spending some time on one of Maine’s most popular destinations, Portland, then this hidden gem is one to remember. Sitting on Fore Street in Portland is a shop called Siempre Mas which is jam-packed with clothes, souvenirs, trinkets, and ornaments.
The main reason to buy all your vacation goodies from Siempre Mas is that they donate 25% of all their profits to Community Projects in Cambodia to help improve life in the country that has dealt with so much trauma in the past.
You’ll find items from all around the world in this shop and clothing-wise it has everything from silk and cotton to Indonesian-style batik scarves, t-shirts, sweaters, and more. If you’re souvenir shopping, you can find magnets, keychains, postcards, and even silver, wood, pottery, and handmade ornaments.
One of the weirdest and most surprising hidden gems you’ll find in Maine is the Desert of Maine, and it’s actually a desert. You might be thinking, how the hell did a desert form in a place that is seasonal with loads of rainfall and a heavy winter? Well, let me tell you.
The Desert Of Maine was once a very productive farming area back in the 1700s but a combination of mistreatment and what lay under the soil soon changed things. Through overgrazing and overfarming, the land allowed a layer of glacial salt to rise up into the topsoil, once it was already pretty much a dust bowl and this event came together to create a desert.
You can walk around The Desert Of Maine and enjoy the sand dunes which are oddly surrounded by a pine forest and there is even a camping ground there to spend the night at.
Inland from Camden in the small village of Union and at its Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage is where you’ll find one of the strange hidden gems of Maine, the Moxie Bottle House.
The story of the Moxie Bottle House dates back to 1906 when this huge bottle was made for marketing purposes at the New England Food Fair in the early 1900s but once the fair was done, the Moxie Bottle House was rendered, well, useless.
After this, the Moxie Bottle House had quite a few homes ranging from Coney Island in New York to Pine Island Amusement Park in New Hampshire. After a while, the amusement park was done with it and they moved it to private land, which was then sold leaving the bottle homeless.
It was then when a gang of people who loved the Moxie Bottle House gathered enough money to have it moved to Union where it’s now a part of the Moxie collection of the museum.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path coastal town to spend your Maine vacation at, then this is one of the hidden gems you’re going to want to visit.
Sitting on an island called Deer Isle in Penobscot Bay which is connected to the mainland via bridges is the stunning town of Stonington. Sittig on the southernmost tip of the island and easy to reach by car, it has everything you could want for the perfect beach holiday in Maine.
The year-round population of Stonington is mainly taken up with lobster fishermen as their haul is usually the largest in the state and you won’t find many tourists there, even in the summer. This means you’ll have the beautiful town, stunning cliff-filled coastline, miles of hiking trails, and even a small beach covered with sand, almost to yourself.
The town is quiet and the shops and restaurants looking over the harbor are a delight and, of course, their lobster roll is one of the best in the state.
If you have kids or are a fan of blueberries then a small detour via Columbia Falls to Wild Blueberry Land is kind of a must. This is one of Maine’s weirder hidden gems and it’s a park that is dedicated to the state’s official fruit which is, now quite obviously, a blueberry.
This theme park is 7 acres packed full of everything to do with blueberries. You’ll find blueberry-shaped statues all over the site, and at the main dome freshly baked blueberry pies, as well as muffins, bread, sweets, cakes, and more tasty treats all featuring blueberries.
There is a mini-golf course to play on with blueberry-themed holes and thankfully learn lots about blueberry farming and what one can make with blueberries too. The park promotes small-scale farming and teaches you about the farming history and heritage of the area too.
The views from the park are also wonderful as you can spot Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park, and Cadillac Mountain from it.
Related: Discover the best National Parks on the East Coast.
The Bryant Stove and Music display is another of the unique hidden gems that is home to Maine and you’ll find it in the little village of Thorndike. This little place started out as a repair shop for old stoves run by an old couple, Bea and Joe Bryant, that fixed the stoves and sold them on for a profit.
One day they had so many stoves to fix, they quit their jobs and started repairing and re-selling stoves full time but kept some of the more special stoves for themselves and put them on display in a museum.
You can see stoves from the 1800s in their display as well as other things such as antique dolls, cars, and musical instruments.
Olso House is one of Maine’s hidden gems that has a stunning location. Sitting on a peninsula between Burton Point and Bird Point around a short drive from Rockford, this old colonial farmhouse is a National Historic Landmark.
The house was built in the 1700s and was then painted on canvas by artist Andrew Wyeth and the piece is quite famous in the art world. The scene includes one of the owners of the house, Christina Olson, looking back at it but having contracted polio, she couldn’t use her legs to get there. The painting is thought-provoking to say the least.
The artist, Andrew Wyeth found the farmhouse so inspiring, he kept a studio there. Today, the Oslo House is a museum and is preserved almost just how it was when the Olsons lived there and Andrew Wyeth painted there.
Sitting in Boothbay close to South Bristol is one of the hidden gems in Maine you should consider stopping off at, the Kenneth E. Stoddard Shell Museum. It is home to one of the biggest private collections of shells in the world and the shells have come from almost every continent on the planet.
Kenneth E. Stoddard was in the navy during WW2 and he spent a lot of time in the South Pacific which is when he started to find small marine creatures’ shells on the surrounding beaches and collect them. He would send the shelly back to his family and over time his family had thousands of shells from all across the world.
The shells remained in boxes until Kenneth E. Stoddard got cancer, at which point his son promised he would find a place to put them on display, and so the Kenneth E. Stoddard Shell Museum was born.
The last of the hidden gems in Maine we are going to look at is Blue Hill Bay, a region of coast that remains unspoiled and sparsely populated by the residents who love their space and their peace and quiet.
Blue Hill Bay is the perfect spot to spend your vacation if you looking for space away from the crowds while also having all the best things Maine has to offer. There are amazing views, great fishing, a good hike, waterfalls, lovely wine bars, art galleries, and excellent restaurants.
Consider renting a cabin in the woods or staying at one of the few family-run campsites and you’ll have a whale of a time in Maine.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!