Picturesque New England fishing village of Stonington.

9 Top-Rated Small Towns In Maine

Maine stands out from other states for being one of America's most picturesque and diverse destinations. Bordered by Canada to the north and east, the Atlantic Ocean in the south, and New Hampshire in the west, Maine is the perfect place to enjoy various environments and landscapes within one state. From touristy yet vibrant escapes in towns like Bar Harbor and Kennebunkport to calm, secluded escapes and upscale towns such as Camden, read along for the list of top-rated small towns in Maine, and plan your visit to the Pine Tree State this season!


Fishing boats docked in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, on coast of Maine south of Portland
Fishing boats in Perkins Cove, Ogunquit.

One of Maine's most scenic small towns opens the list as the perfect representation of what to expect when visiting Maine. The town’s name translates from Abenaki Native American to “The beautiful place by the sea,” the small village still lives up to its nickname. Ranked as one of the top-rated small towns for having some of the best hiking spots like Ogunquit’s Marginal Way, Rachel Carlson Wildlife Refuge, and the moderately challenging paths of Mt. Agamenticus. Popular tourist destinations in Ogunquit include the Barn Gallery, which is recognized as Maine’s oldest Art foundation, The Ogunquit Heritage Museum with its 18th-century artifacts, and the family-friendly Ogunquit Playhouse, where visitors can catch live events and performances. Norseman Resort is one of the best lodging options for those looking to fall asleep to the sound of the waves, while Old Village Inn in the heart of town allows visitors to relive history with its antique classy design that dates back to 1833.

Bar Harbor

Picturesque Bar Harbor, Maine
Picturesque Bar Harbor, Maine.

Bar Harbor ranks on the list of top-rated small towns in Maine for its proximity to Acadia National Park, coastal setting, and a thriving seafood culinary scene. Thanks to the diverse range of attractions and unique settings, Bar Harbour also ranks as one of Maine's most visited and crowded vacation towns. Bar Harbor is a vibrant gallery of scenic backdrops, from the scenic vistas of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park to the iconic Harbor Head Lighthouse. Visitors can stop by the Natural History Center in town to learn more about Bar Harbor’s ecosystems, species, and the nearby national park. At the same time, Mount Desert Oceanarium offers an educational insight into maritime history and the town’s geographical positioning near open waters. Turn your trip to Bar Harbor into a relaxing wellness escape when staying at locally renowned accommodation options like Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina, and Bar Harbor Inn & Spa.


Fisherman in Stonington, Maine.
Fisherman in Stonington, Maine.

Stonington is a small town in Hancock County recognized for its historic charm, colorful wooden hilltop homes, and once-booming stone-cutting industry. 19th-century buildings, waterfront homes, and rugged trails along untouched nature qualify this small town to make the list of the top-rated small towns in Maine, despite its far-out location off the shore of Maine. Stonington is also considered the gateway to Merchants Row, Maine’s largest Archipelago and a land long before European settlements. The town’s island setting makes it an excellent relaxing getaway from more popular cities in Maine, like Bar Harbor. Along with kicking back and relaxing near the water, Visitors can take a boat tour to explore the nearby Deer Isle with Isle au Haut Boat Services and explore historic and artistic attractions like the Stonington Opera House, operating since 1886, and the miniature village, a series of petite houses constructed by enthusiast Everette Knowlton in 1947. With limited accommodation options, the nearby Saddleback Island campgrounds and the Inn on the Harbor make up some of the best stays for a memorable visit to Stonington. 


The beautiful harbor in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The beautiful harbor in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Unlike many of Maine’s top-rated small towns, Kennebunkport ranks as a popular summer escape with some of the state's best beaches and watersport activities. Synonymous with exceptional seafood cuisine and known for its fishing industry, some of the best food in town can be found at The Clam Shack, Hurricane Restaurant, and the Boathouse Restaurant on Ocean Ave. Kennebunkport’s central dock square allows a local shopping experience with quaint businesses like Abacus Gallery for creative gifts, memorabilia, and more. The Candyman’s local sweetshop is located on the waters. Stay near the beach and marina when booking your accommodations at the Yachtsman Hotel & Marina Club, or opt for a more homely and central option like the Kennebunkport Inn. 


The gorgeous Maine town of Camden in fall.
The gorgeous Maine town of Camden in fall.

Camden is one of the top-rated towns in Maine for its natural abundance, friendly local community, and many events. Like Kennebunkport, Camden is also a popular summer escape with a population that triples over warmer seasons and an array of waterfront mansions that beautify the town, making it a desirable summer-home spot. Nicknamed the Jewel of Maine’s Coast, some of Camden’s most popular events include the three-day Jazz in June Event, the Camden Windjammer Festival that attracts sailors from all over, and the International Film Festival held annually since 2005. Aside from the aquatic atmospheres, this top-rated small town is also a desirable destination for hikers and those seeking a challenging trek with trails like the trails in Camden Hills State Park and the far-out Maiden Cliff Trailhead that overlooks Megunticook Lake. Some of the best stays in town include The Country Inn at Camden Rockport and Grand Harbor Inn, which are centrally located near Camden Harbor. 


Waterfront homes surrounded by fall colors in Wiscasset, Maine, USA.
Waterfront homes surrounded by fall colors in Wiscasset, Maine, USA.

The historic town of Wiscasset is one of the best destinations to embrace architecture and learn about the state’s history. Located along the tidal waters of the Sheepscot River, some of Wiscasset’s main attractions include the Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington Railway Museum, which offers excursions through the town’s nature, Lincon County Museum with its Old Jail and historic homes like the Marston House, and Castle Tucker mansion. Nicknamed the prettiest village in Maine, some of the best lodging options include Cod Cove Inn and Cottages to take in the aquatic views or Wiscasset Woods Lodge for a stay amidst vibrant and lush nature. 


Marina Harbor in Castine, Maine. Image credit Kristi Blokhin via Shutterstock
Marina Harbor in Castine, Maine. Image credit Kristi Blokhin via Shutterstock

One of the oldest towns in New England, Castine is also one of the most peaceful destinations for enjoying scenic aquatic views. With a rich history dating back to 1630, it was first settled by French explorers who established Fort Pentagöet in the area. The small town’s beauty can be experienced through its untouched nature at places like the 193-acre hikeable Witherle Woods and the town’s main street that leads to waters and is enhanced with Victorian architecture. Wilson Museum, Witherle Memorial Library, and Castine Historical Society offer unique insights into Maine’s settling and developing history, qualifying Castine as one of the best family-friendly destinations with workshops, artifacts, tours, and more. Stay at the Castine Inn built in 1898, the classy Pentagoet Inn & Wine Bar, or rent an Airbnb to experience the town as a local. 


The High Street in Ellsworth, Maine.
The High Street in Ellsworth, Maine.

Ellsworth is the gateway to Acadia National Park and part of the perfect small-town hopping itinerary for exploring places like Bar Harbor, Bucksport, and their surrounding lush forests like Mt.Tuck Trail & Preserve. Some of Elsworth’s main attractions include The Black House Museum at Woodlawn, which features 200 acres of wilderness, and Knowlton Park on State St. Tour the town’s untouched nature with the Downeast Scenic Railroad, or explore Elsworth by cycling its rugged paths like Sunrise Trail and Sunrise Trail, located in the city's heart. Plan an overnight getaway surrounded by nature at Acadia National Park Campgrounds, bring your RV to Timberland Acres RV Park, or book one of the many lodging options on High St, like the Atlantic Coast, when visiting Ellsworth.


Fort Knox State Park is located on the western bank of the Penobscot River in the town of Prospect,
Aerial view of Fort Knox in Prospect, Maine. Image credit: Michael Carni via Shutterstock.

A stone’s throw from Ellsworth and Castine is the history-rich town of Prospect, sitting along the Penobscot River and known for its iconic Penobscot Narrows Bridge that connects Prospect to Verona Island and Bucksport. The historic Fort Knox, built in the 1800s, stands out as one of the best-preserved coastal defense camps and is Prospect’s main tourist attraction. Prospect also makes the list of top-rated small towns for its quirky tours and events like Stargazing at Fort Knox and haunted overnight accommodations when booking a stay with the 207 Paranormal Ghost Trackers, along with live performances like Shakespeare Under The Stars. Thanks to the town’s small population of 698 residents, Prospect makes the perfect relaxing getaway town to enjoy serene coastal views and zone out into a blend of history and nature. Some of the best-rated lodging options for an unforgettable visit to Prospect include Albee’s Shorehouse Cottages and Acadia’s Oceanside Meadows Inn.

In summary, each small town in Maine unveils its unique chapter, contributing to the state's allure as a remarkable destination. Aptly known as "The Pine Tree State," Maine invites travelers, adventurers, and culture enthusiasts to savor a leisurely escape within its captivating landscapes. From the inviting atmosphere of Ogunquit, where scenic trails and cultural gems await, to the bustling coastal haven of Bar Harbor near Acadia National Park, find a balance of all-natural environments when you visit Maine this season.  

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