Maine is one of those places on most peoples’ travel wish lists, but if you’re not sure what time of year to go, your visit could be tarnished by harsh weather or peak season crowds.
Learn the best time to visit Maine for excellent weather, the freshest seafood, light crowds, and rock-bottom rates on rooms and flights in this quick travel guide!
You’ll see the best time to visit Maine for your specific trip goals below (and the worst time to visit). First, we’ll look at some of the reasons Maine belongs on your travel itinerary and what this beautiful coastal state is known for.
Why You Should Visit Maine
Maine is a storied state packed with natural beauty, historic landmarks, and chilly waters that make it a haven for world-class seafood. When you think of Maine, you probably picture lobster and lighthouses — and to be honest, you wouldn’t be far off.
But this state is filled with reasons to visit beyond sweet sea meat and shining coastal beacons. Here are just a few reasons you absolutely need to visit Maine.
Scenic National Parks
Maine is home to 4 national parks with every type of scenery you could imagine. While you’re there, make plans to check out Acadia National Park, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and Saint Croix Island International Historic Site.
These protected areas span thousands of acres and include rocky shoreline, mountains, lighthouses, historic roads and trails, lakes and rivers, diverse wildlife, plants, and trees, and museums.
You can hike scenic trails winding through forested areas, trek your way up rugged mountains that offer incredible vistas along the way, or take to the water on the Atlantic Ocean and the many lakes and rivers that carve through the state.
Keep your eyes open for “secret” cottages on the coasts that offer a peek into a simpler time. You can even take a boat to the rocky and historic settlement on Saint Croix Island (or catch a great view of it from the coast).
Bike 45 miles of gravel Carriage Roads in Acadia National Park, drive the 27-mile scenic Park Loop Road for great coastal, cliff, and inlet views, or summit Cadillac Mountain within the park to witness some of Maine’s most incredible views.
Don’t miss the Bass Harbor Lighthouse for a quintessential Maine coastal sight!
Read Next: The Best National Parks to Visit in America
Fresh Seafood and Local Cuisine
Everyone associates Maine with fresh seafood — especially lobster and crab — but this northern state is home to seriously tasty eats beyond the usual crustacean fare.
The state’s official dessert is the whoopie pie, a sugary treat made with creamy filling sandwiched between soft, chocolate cake-like cookies. You’ll find local favorites like red snapper hot dogs served on split-top buns (just like the beloved local lobster rolls are served on).
Try Maine’s Moxie soft drink that tastes faintly of root beer — you’ll either love it or hate it, but nothing in between.
For those who’d like a stiff drink during their stay, the state is a haven for craft breweries, unique wines (like blueberry and apple wines), and it’s the birthplace of nationally-loved Fireball cinnamon whisky.
Coastal Maine is where you’ll find the freshest seafood, from the famous Maine lobster to briny oysters, scallops, and clams.
Seafood chowders are on just about every menu along the coast, along with crab cakes, fried clams, fresh salmon and trout, and giant sea scallops.
Witness Amazing Wildlife
For lovers of the great outdoors, Maine’s diverse range of wildlife is a major draw. Moose, the state animal, is abundant throughout Maine and the state boasts the highest population of moose in the nation.
Black bears, white-tailed deer, beavers, Canada lynx, wild turkeys, bobcats, and bald eagles are regularly sighted here. That’s not even considering the thousands of fish (especially salmon and trout), reptile, amphibian, and bird species that call Maine home!
Some of the nation’s best whale-watching takes place on the shores of the state, with humpback, minke, finback, and pilot whales making their way through the Atlantic from mid-April to October each year.
You’ll catch sight of Atlantic white-sided dolphins here year-round, and Great White sharks are known to roam the chilly waters off the coast.
Unique Shops and Markets
Maine is a great place to do a little shopping, whether you’re hoping to visit the flagship L.L. Bean store or catch some of the unique local boutiques in the quaint, charming coastal towns.
Shop for steals and deals or spend your time perusing upscale shops filled with wares made by local artists and craftsmen. In Maine, you’ll find great shopping no matter what your budget or goal is!
From scenic parks that span every landscape to folksy markets and charming harbor towns, Maine has something to offer every type of visitor. The question isn’t if you should go to Maine (you should), but what the best time to visit Maine is. That’s what we’ll cover next!
Overall Best Time to Visit Maine
- June-September is the best time to visit Maine
- Everything at its peak – seafood, weather, activities
- Consider the bigger crowds and peak season pricing
Overall, the best time to visit Maine is during summer — June through September. This is Maine’s peak season for tourism because everything springs to life at this time of year.
You’ll get to eat the freshest-caught seafood, enjoy comfortably warm weather for hiking and outdoor exploration, and find the most activities and tours running to keep you busy during your trip.
Coastal and harbor towns are in full swing, with streets bustling with locals and visitors alike. Inland, things are a little less busy, but you’ll still benefit from visiting during the summer season with the best weather of the year.
Highs in the upper 70s dominate the summer forecast in Maine, with lows reaching the still-comfortable upper 50s. It’s perfect camping weather if you plan to check out one of the national or state parks.
Go during July or August for the driest weather (each month receives an average of roughly 3 inches of rain). If the large peak-season crowds and inflated prices during summer make it less appealing to you, opt to visit in September.
This is the tail-end of the peak season, so the crowds thin out a bit and prices fall slightly as a result. But if you’re really looking for a bargain visit to Maine, you’ll find the best pricing in the next section.
Cheapest Time to Visit Maine
- Mid-September-October is the cheapest time to visit
- Shoulder season for Maine tourism means drastic dip in prices
- Take advantage of off-season packages and deals
The best time to visit Maine on a budget is from mid-September through October, when the peak summer season’s tourists have gone home and demand for flights, hotels, and car rentals drops.
You could pay drastically reduced prices for your hotel room (up to $200 less per night) and campsites during this time of year!
You’ll secure the lowest pricing of the year for your stay by planning to visit in the fall, and there are tons of activities and sights to see for visitors during this time of year. Spend a day picking apples at a local orchard and catch the end of Maine blueberry season in early September.
Fall is the perfect time to visit one of Maine’s amusement parks if you’re seeking thrills, and stop by one of many outdoor fall festivals and fairs to get a taste of the local culture.
Maine in the fall is gorgeous. You’ll see the coastal villages and towns transform into works of art as the leaves on the trees change colors to brilliant yellow, fiery orange and red, and deep purple-brown.
It’s the prime time for spending quiet time on the water canoeing, kayaking, fly fishing, or taking a thrilling Maine Windjammer sailboat cruise. And since you’ll be doing it all for a much lower price, you can really enjoy a fall-time Maine vacation.
Least Busy Time to Visit Maine
- November-April see the fewest visitors in Maine
- Low season for Maine tourism means better hotel availability
- Score deals on travel, hotels, and food at this time
Maine’s annual visitor toll reaches its lowest point in the winter and early spring from November to April, making this the least busy time to visit. As the winter inches in, cold weather is the norm and snowfall is never far from the forecast.
This chilly weather makes outdoor enjoyment a little more challenging for most, so visitor numbers drop drastically and leave much of the state wide-open for a relaxing visit.
There are small upticks in visitors and tourists in the winter months as powder-chasers take to northern and eastern parts of the state for skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.
But if you avoid these crowded areas and stick to the coasts and inland areas to the south, you’ll enjoy a peaceful, uncrowded visit to Maine.
With so few visitors on the coast and in the south during winter and early spring, you won’t need to book as far in advance as you would during the peak summer season or the shoulder fall season.
Last-minute trips are easier to plan during this time of year and you’ll score lower rates than the summertime. Camping and outdoor exploration won’t be as comfortable from November to April, but you’ll enjoy the best chance at warm weather during the bookend months of November and April.
Locals consider April the “mud season” when the snowmelt begins, so hiking and biking may not be ideal at this time. But highs can reach the 70s, so it’s a great time to get out and enjoy the towns and easier hiking trails along the coasts.
Worst Time to Visit Maine
- February-April may be the worst time to visit
- Ranges from snowy and cold to muddy and unpredictable
- Visitors not engaging in winter sports could run out of things to do
Now that you know the best time to visit Maine, it’s good to consider the worst time to visit. That’s February through April for most of the state.
The weather in late winter (February and March) is very cold, very snowy, and not great for spending time outdoors (unless you’re planning on winter sport activities).
In early spring – late March through April – the weather is a mixed bag that goes back and forth between frigid winter and warm, muddy springtime.
Highs can reach the 70s once April arrives, only to dive back down into the upper 30s days later. Snowmelt can turn the beautiful landscape into a muddy mess, making outdoor enjoyment harder.
Avoid February through April to get the most out of your Maine trip. Stick to the late spring, summer (the best time to visit), and fall for the best Maine experience.
More Things to Consider
What else should you know before you plan your visit to Maine? Here are our best travel tips for Maine visitors who want to pack the most enjoyment into their stay.
- Pack for the season. Maine experiences wildly different weather during its 4 seasons, so pack appropriately. In winter and early spring, it ranges from frigid to chilly and warm layers are a must. In late spring and summer, things warm up but stay comfortable and mild – you’ll want to pack light layers you can remove when it gets toasty. Comfortable shoes, hats, and sunscreen are a must if you plan to explore outdoors. If you’re going in springtime, bring rubber boots to expertly trek through the mud.
- Attend local events and festivals. Maine always has something going on, whether you go at the best time to visit Maine or the worst. Plan to attend some of the many events planned throughout the year in the area you’re staying for a taste of the local culture, produce, and seafood. From the New Year’s Day Lobster Dip in Old Orchard to the North American Wife Carrying Championship (you read that right) at Sunday River in October, you’ll find fun events anytime of year here.
- Learn the lingo and accent. Maine’s slang and local accent is pretty unique. You’ll be less confused when chatting with locals if you brush up on the lingo before you go. Mainers – the locals – typically drop the r’s when they speak, so Bar Harbor becomes Bah Hahbah and lobster becomes lobstah. If someone asks if you’ve been to Beans, they’re talking about L.L. Bean’s flagship store. Oh, and if a local utters the phrase “wicked pissah,” just know it’s a good thing.
- Try some fresh-caught seafood. Even if you’re not a seafood lover, you owe it to yourself to try some of the local ocean fare in Maine. Maine’s world-famous lobster is more tender and delicate than lobster from other regions, so try a lobster tail or enjoy the sweet sea meat on a lobster roll. The giant sea scallops here are worlds away from the tiny bay scallops you’ll find in other coastal areas. Fresh-caught salmon and trout are a must if you’re visiting on the coast, and don’t leave without tasting the delicious fried clams the state is well-known for. Red Lobstah, who?
- Check out Stephen King’s Victorian mansion. Fans of the creepy will enjoy stopping by Stephen King’s Victorian mansion in Bangor. You can’t tour inside the home, but sidewalks allow you close-up access. You’ll get to see the famed wrought iron gates adorned with ominous bats and spiders outside the house when you visit and it makes for a great photo op!
Best Time to Visit Maine: Final Thoughts
Overall, the best time to visit Maine is during the peak summer season from June to August. You’ll enjoy the warmest (though still mild) weather with sunny skies that make outdoor adventuring a perfect way to spend your stay.
Crowds and higher prices can make this incredible season less attractive to some tourists, but it really is the ideal time to go.
The Cheapest Time to Visit
The best time to visit Maine on a budget is the shoulder fall season from mid-September through October. It’s chilly but bearable during this time, less crowded than summer, and you’ll find the lowest rates on travel, hotels, and local fare at this time of year.
The Least Busy Time to Visit
The best time to visit Maine without big crowds is during the off-season from winter through early spring. The weather can be cruel from November through April, but that’s what keeps the majority of visitors away at this time of year!
Enjoy cheaper rates, winter sports, festivals, and cozy time in coastal towns if you can get past the snow and chill.
The Worst Time to Visit
Try to avoid visiting Maine from February to April, when the weather is unpredictable, outdoor activities are harder to enjoy, and challenging conditions from snow to mud can make travel, hiking, and biking unappealing.
Maine is a beautiful state that bundles awesome outdoor adventures like mountain climbing and rugged hikes with quaint, coastal charm and seaside bliss.
Whether you’re planning on spending your time exploring the city, stopping at restaurants and shops, or taking to the parks for some natural sightseeing and exercise, you’ll look back on your trip to Maine fondly for years to come.
Start planning your Maine trip now with these guides on where to stay next!