Wondering when is the absolute best time to visit Maine? If so then THIS is the guide for you.
Because guess what? I’ve been traveling to Maine every year for well over 20 years. I’ve also visited this insanely stunning state pretty much every month of the year since my parents were obsessed with Maine and our family traveled there from New York ALL THE TIME.
So, trust me when I tell you that I really and truly do know when is the best time to visit Maine for you.
That being said though, the answer to this seemingly simple question will vary based on what you want to do and where you want to go in the state (i,e. are you looking to head inland or do want to savor the scenic beauty of the coast?).
I mean, if you want to go whitewater rafting (and you 100% should since it’s amazing and I almost not-so -low key fell out of the boat) then you’ll want to travel to Maine at a totally different time of the year than if you want to go a leaf peepin’.
Therefore, buckle up and grab the snazziest lobster bib you can find. Because I’m about to reveal the answers to all of your most pressing questions about the best time to visit Maine.
That’s why I’ll be answering things like:
- Best Time of Year to Visit Maine
- Best Month to Visit Maine
- Cheapest Time to Visit Maine
- Worst Time to Visit Maine
- Best Time to Visit Portland
- Best Time to Visit Bar Harbor
- Best Time to Ski in Maine
- Best Festivals in Maine
- When is the Best time to go to Maine for Lobster
- How Many Days do You Need in Maine?
- Is Maine Expensive to Visit?
- And more!
I also may or may not throw in a lame pun or two to keep you on your toes and mildly engaged in this delightful little post of mine.
But, if you want a quick answer to this immortal question, then the best time to visit Maine for the most beautiful weather is between June and August.
However, if you’re looking to avoid the hordes of tourists and selfie-stick-wielding peeps that inundate the state during the summer months, then the best time to visit Maine is in the off-season, in either spring or fall (I prefer fall just because then you can enjoy the awesome and super vibrant fall foliage).
That being said, there’s still a whole lot more info that you need before planning the beyond perfect Maine vacation. And we’ll get into it right now. Are you excited? Because I am and you definitely should be too!
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After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed.
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Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves
The Absolute Best Time of Year to Visit Maine
Okay, so the short, sweet, and to-the-point answer to this question would be that summer (June through the end of August) is the best time to visit Maine.
That’s when the weather is best, when the most attractions are open, and when you’ll be able to hang out by the beach without completely freezing to death – especially since you’ll enjoy comfortable daily highs in the 70s and nightly lows in the upper 50s (so yeah, definitely bring a jacket).
Visiting Maine in the summer – Summer is awesome because it will be nice and sunny. Yeah, between July and August Maine usually only receives between 3.3 and 3.5 inches of rain per month. And just in case you were wondering, that’s definitely not a lot of rain at all.
It is the perfect time to go out and do outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and biking. However, this is also the peak travel season in Maine. So, there will be tons of people there and prices will be higher.
Visiting Maine in the fall – Personally, I prefer fall since you can enjoy the awesome, vibrant fall foliage and comfortable temperatures that hover between the high 40s and high 50s. This is the best time to visit Maine in the off-season since the fall colors are stunning and you can still go hiking and out in the mountains.
If you want to avoid the crowds and want to enjoy slightly more reasonable prices, then you can always visit in either fall or winter.
Visiting Maine in the winter – Winter is hella cold (usually in the 30s or colder) and filled with snow, snow, and, oh yeah, more snow. Therefore, this is an ideal time to plan a wicked awesome ski weekend in Maine. And since everything is covered in snow it makes for great pictures too!
Visiting Maine in the spring – This is the time of year when towns are gearing up for summer and the countryside is also bursting with flowers and greenery.
It is rainy during this time so just keep that in mind when planning a trip but it also warms up so walking around outside is more enjoyable. It is a shoulder month, so if you are looking for travel deals then spring is the best time to visit Maine.
All that being said though, the best time to visit Maine also depends on what you want to do during your trip. So, to make things super easy, let me break down some of the best times to visit Maine based on some of the activities that you might want to do there.
Best Time to Visit Maine for Hiking – July through October since the weather isn’t too hot and the woods won’t be overly buggy. You could also hike it out in the ever-famous Acadia National Park or head inland to Mount Katahdin ( aka Maine’s tallest peak), the Bigelow Range, or the Moosehead Lake area.
Best Time to Visit Maine for Fall Foliage – The northern part of the state has the best fall foliage between late September and early October. In contrast, central and western Maine experience the best foliage between the second and third weeks of October.
And finally, the coastal portion of the state typically has the best foliage throughout the third week of October. But if you need help figuring it out, check out this site here.
Best Time to Visit Maine for Whale Watching – Ever since I saw Free Willy way back when I was obsessed with whales and kinda wanted to see them in their natural habitat. And while you won’t find any Orcas off the coast of Maine, you will find Humpbacks, Finbacks, and Minkes here.
Just come prepared with some Dramamine since the waters can be choppy (read you might get seasick). There’s also no guarantee that you’ll actually see a whale. And if you do, well, they usually just come to the surface briefly to get some air and don’t actually jump out of the water.
So, if you’re okay with all of that then the best time to go whale watching in Maine is in June, July, and August, although the whale watching season in Maine does extend from mid-April/early May through October.
Best Time to Visit Maine for Skiing – Luckily for you (you intrepid skier you), the ski season is pretty dang long in Maine and typically runs from November all the way through the beginning of May (that’s when most resorts open and close respectively).
However, the best time to ski in Maine is Between January and March (longer if it’s cold and Maine gets a lot of snow). Some great places to ski in Maine include Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Bigrock Mountain, Black Mountain of Maine, and Camden Snow Bowl.
Best time to Visit Maine for White Water Rafting – I went rafting on the Kennebec River way back in the day and it was awesome (think solid class 4 rapids that made my excited, high school age heart beat with joy).
So, if you want to do a bit of white water rafting in Maine, definitely consider the Kennebec River (class 2 – 4 rapids with releases daily May through October), the Dead River (class 3-5 rapids with releases between May and October), and the Penobscot River (class 3-5 rapids with releases May through September).
And for the most intense rapids, go in either May or June to get the spring runoff. Otherwise, you can go in July/August for the best weather (go during the week to avoid crowds) or in September/October for fewer crowds and to enjoy the lovely fall foliage (the fall is a bit cold for me so I’d opt for either spring or summer).
When is the Best Month to Visit Maine?
Not gonna lie, this is a tough choice since Maine is amazing at any time of year. But if you were twisting my arm and I HAD to pick, I’d say that the best month to visit Maine is September.
Not only is the weather still pretty good with highs in the upper 60s and low 70s, but those hordes of annoying tourists? Yeah, most of them will be back at home since their kids have started school again.
And although hotels won’t be super cheap, they’ll definitely be a whole lot less expensive than they are at the height of the tourist season.
So, you could definitely go on an un-crowded scenic boat ride, maybe catch the very start of the fall foliage season (probably not but a human can dream), hike through Acadia in relative tranquility, go sea kayaking without catching frostbite, and dine at some of the state’s top restaurants without waiting 2+ hours in line.
Pro Tip: Try and time your visit for the end of September to catch the start of the fall foliage season. Temperatures will be crisp but not frigid and depending on where you are, the leaves might be starting to change color.
When is the Cheapest Time to Visit Maine?
In Maine, high-season (read, most expensive time of the year) typically starts on July 4th and runs through Labor Day, or the unofficial end of the summer.
And if you’re looking to do a bit of skiing throughout the winter, then peak ski season typically runs from mid-September through April.
Now, because these are two of the most popular times to travel to Maine, you will encounter increased hotel prices and large crowds everywhere you go.
Therefore, don’t travel to Maine at these times if you’re looking to save some cold, hard cash. Instead, try visiting between mid-September and October since this is the cheapest time to visit Maine.
Sure, fall foliage makes this a popular time to travel to the state. But, most of the summer crowds are gone, the temperatures are still warmish, and prices are very budget-friendly since many hotels can lower their rates by as much as $200 per night.
When is the Worst Time to Visit Maine?
Honestly, your definition of the worst time to visit Maine will really depend on what you want to do and where you want to travel.
Personally, I avoid summer in Maine because there are just so many tourists (don’t expect a whole lot of peace and quiet), traffic is insane, and hotel prices are incredibly steep. However, if you want to go for a stroll through the woods or do a bit of sea kayaking, then this is probably the best time to visit Maine.
Similarly, if you’re looking to go skiing and hurl yourself down the side of a mountain (no judgment but skiing is just not my thing), then summer and fall are probably the worst times to visit Maine since well, duh, there’s no snow to ski on.
However, if you’re not into skiing, winter can be a brutal time to visit Maine since the state gets a ton of snow (between 50 and 70 inches along the coast every year) and highs are only in the low 30s, with lows routinely in the mid-teens.
That’s why fall, from late September through October, is probably my favorite time of year to visit Maine.
When is the Best Time to Visit Bar Harbor?
Ah, good old Bar Harbor, I’ve been so many times, and for good reason since it’s basically the gateway to Acadia National Park.
So, if you plan your visit for the summer, definitely don’t expect to have this place all yourself.
That’s why I personally think the best time to visit Bar Harbor is in late September. Not only is the weather still lovely, but there are fewer tourists in the area. It’s also still warm enough for your to get out and do all those fun outdoorsy things in Acadia.
The only thing you probably won’t be able to do in September is to go whale watching since these tours typically stop running fairly early in the month. I’d also try and visit towards the end of the month since cruise ships still dock in the area, making it busier than you might initially expect.
So, if you want to visit Bar Harbor in September, try exploring Acadia early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
However, any time between May and September would be a good time to visit Bar Harbor. Although try and aim for May or September if you’re not into crowds since Bar Harbor is a straight-up tourist mecca in the summer.
But if you can’t visit in September, then May is another especially nice time to visit since temperatures are in the 60s, hotel rooms are still pretty reasonably priced, it’s warm enough to enjoy a hike through Acadia, and most seasonal businesses will probably be open.
Yup, three cheers for traveling during shoulder season. Hip hip hooray.
Yeah, the only time I probably wouldn’t visit Bar Harbor is in the winter since a lot of things are closed, like the Acadia National Park Loop Road (a lot of roads in the area close because of the snow) and local businesses that typically close from November through May 1st. It’s also pretty cold and snowy which doesn’t really make it fun to take a leisurely walk outside.
When is the Best Time to Visit Portland?
I couldn’t very well discuss the best time to visit Maine without mentioning Portland, now could I? After it all, it’s Maine’s biggest city and a popular destination for anyone visiting the state.
It’s also just a super cute, seaside city that is filled with quaint AF cobblestone streets and a nice little lighthouse that is the perfect place for you to take gobs of photos. You know, just in case it wasn’t already charming enough.
However, to really get the most out of your visit and thoroughly enjoy your time here, you’ll need to plan your visit for the right time of year.
Personally, I think the best time to visit Portland is any time between June and August (I’d plan to visit early in June to avoid crowds but get the best weather possible).
Now is this peak travel season? You betcha! So, do expect high prices and lots of tourists. However, the weather at this time of year is pretty dang perfect (highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 50s) – making it the ideal time to visit since everything will be open and you can do tons of fun outdoor things, like check out Art in the Park.
However, if you want to save a bit of money then you can try visiting Portland in November when basically no one is around, or any time in spring (between March and May) since the weather is pleasant with highs in the upper 60s and lows in the high 20s. Just be sure to pack an umbrella since this time of year can be exceptionally rainy.
Also, random aside, winter is actually a pretty popular time to visit Portland. Yeah, I thought it would be dead but it’s actually the second busiest season after summer. But if you visit, pack lots of warm clothes since it’s cold (between the upper 20s and upper 30s) and you can definitely get some snow.
When are Some of the Best Festivals in Maine?
Maine is a truly unique place with some out-of-the-world festivals that happen throughout the year. Some of the coolesr are the following:
- January – There’s an annual Snowfest and Snodeo on Rangeley Lake in mid-January and a polar plunge in Portland, Kennebunk, and Old Orchard Beach.
- February – Camden hosts the annual Toboggan Championship in the US at the Camden Snow Bowl and February is for Lovers is hosted in Kennebunkport (they even have an igloo bar).
- March – Maine restaurant week is typically held from the 1st through the 12th of the month. Maine Maple Sunday is also held the third weekend of the month throughout the state and celebrates all things maple syrup (#liquidgold).
- April -Sunday River hosts the Parrothead Spring Fest (a la Jimmy Buffet) the first weekend in April, Sugarloaf hosts an annual Reggae Fest the second weekend in April, and Ogunquit hosts an annual Patriots Weekend.
- May – The Kennebunk May Day Parade and Festival is held the first weekend in May, the Taste of Bar Harbor food festival is held annually, and the Moosehead Lake Moose Mania festival celebrates all things moose at the end of the month.
- June – The Old Port Festival is an art and music festival held in mid-June that is Maine’s single largest festival. The Portland Schoonerfest and Regatta is also held in Portland in mid-June and the Kennebunkport Festival is a food and wine event held in early June.
- July – The Maine Windjammer Parade in Rockland and Tall Ships in Camden Harbor is an annual festival held in both towns in mid-July. The Stonington Lobster Boat Races are also held this month, as is the North Atlantic Blues Festival in mid-July in Rockland.
- August – Portland holds its annual Art in the Park festival on the second Saturday in August while The Great Falls Balloon Festival (with tons of cool hot air balloons) is held in Auburn/Lewiston. The American Folk Festival is also held in Bangor, Maine this month.
- September – Boothbay Harborfest is held this month as is The Camden Windjammer Festival and Parade (first weekend of the month) and the Maine Open Lighthouse Day (for one weekend day you can visit any lighthouse in Maine for free).
- October – The Rangeley Oktoberfest is held the first weekend of the month, the Fryeburg Fair is held from late September through October, and Portland holds the Harvest on the Harbor Festival in mid-October.
- November – Kennebunk holds its annual Festival of Lights the weekend after Thanksgiving, Bath holds its annual Old Fashioned Christmas (through December), and Saco has a super cool festival of trees (through December).
- December – Freeport holds its Sparkle Weekend the first weekend of the month, York holds its Festival of Lights on the first Saturday in December, Portland has its Christmas Boat Parada of Lights the second Saturday in December, and Ogunquit has an amazing Christmas by the Sea Celebration the first two weekends of December.
When is the Best time to go to Maine for Lobster?
Oh, this is a great question! And a popular one too since everyone and their brother’s, sister’s, cousin’s dog wants to eat lobster in Maine – not that I can blame you since, well, lobster in Maine is flipping delicious.
So, before you decide just when to visit Maine for the best lobsters possible, you should probably know the difference between soft shell and hard shell lobsters.
Because in general, hard-shell lobster is firmer and meatier than its soft-shell brethren. Therefore, you’ll definitely get more meaty goodness per lobster with a hard shell.
However, the meat on soft-shell lobsters tends to be sweeter and a whole lot more tender. Therefore, softshell lobsters are considered a total delicacy.
They can also typically be opened using just your hands while, as the name would suggest, you’ll need a pair of badass nutcrackers to swan dive into the awesomeness of a juicy, hard-shell lobster.
That’s why the best time to go to Maine for lobster will vary based on whether you want hard or soft shell lobsters (I prefer the soft shell but what can I say? I’m a total dive like that).
If you want soft-shell lobsters, the best time of year to go to Maine is in the summer since this is when lobsters molt their shells.
Therefore, soft-shell lobsters start to become more plentiful in June and then continue to increase in supply throughout the summer.
In contrast, hard-shell lobsters become more available between mid-September and late November since they haven’t molted and are chock full of delicious meat.
That’s why summer (July through September) is the best time to indulge in a sweet and delicious lobster roll since hard shells are scarce (AKA expensive) while soft shells are plentiful.
However, once the fall rolls around and you get into late September (through November and early December), hard-shell lobsters are everywhere and there are way fewer tourists around, making it a good time to buy cheap hard-shell lobsters.
As a result, I’d say that the best time to visit Maine for lobster is between July and September since tons of soft-shells will be available but you can still find a hard-shell (or ten) if that’s more your jam.
Pro Tip: Try to avoid ordering lobster in winter (December through March) since harsh weather and seasonal migrations off the coast make them difficult to find, resulting in a limited supply and higher prices.
How Many Days Do You Need in Maine?
I know a lot of people like to do romantic weekend getaways in Maine from either Boston or NYC. But honestly? Maine is big. Like hella big.
So while you could do a weekend (read 3 or 4 days) in one of the best beach towns in Maine, I would definitely recommend staying a bit longer if you want to get a real feel for this awesome state and experience a fair amount of what this beautiful place has to offer.
That’s why, if you’re sitting there wondering, “how many days do you need in Maine?” then I’d recommend spending at least a week in Maine.
I mean, will you be able to see all that Maine has to offer in this amount of time? Nope, definitely not since Maine is way bigger than the rest of New England combined.
However, a week will give you enough time to spend a few days in some of Maine’s most amazing coastal villages – places like York, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, Portland, Boothbay Harbor, Rockland, Camden, Bar Harbor, and more.
And then later, on an entirely different trip, you can spend time exploring the exquisite mountains, awe-inspiring forests, and stunning lakes of Maine’s vast interior – in areas like the Sebago Lake region, Sunday River, Saddleback, Sugarloaf, Moosehead Lake, The Forks, and Baxter State Park.
Is Maine Expensive to Visit?
Real talk? I love Maine but man oh man can it be expensive to visit.
Because between the cost of a hotel (you really won’t find anything less than $100 per night, especially in high season and if you want to stay along the coast), the price of a lobster dinner, and the cost of local activities, you could easily spend upwards of $200 per night on a trip (definitely more if you plan on living the luxe life).
So yeah, Maine can be pretty dang expensive to visit. However, per usual, the cost of your Maine trip will vary based on the hotel you stay in, what part of the state you visit (the coast will be more expensive than more inland locations), and what type of activities you’ll be doing.
However, in general, and on average, you should plan on spending between $157 and $176 per day on your vacation in Maine.
A figure that is based on the fact that most travelers spend around $39 on meals per day, $40 on local transportation per day (even if you drive there, you’ll still need to drive a lot since it’s a deceptively large state), $78 per night on accommodations, and $19 per day ob fun activities.
Therefore, a one-week trip to Maine will probably cost the average person somewhere in the neighborhood of $1100.
So yeah, definitely plan accordingly.
Additional Maine Resources You Will Love
- 10+ Scenic Drives in Maine
- 15 Stunning Beach Towns in Maine Your Must Visit
- 15 Amazing Romantic Getaways in Maine
- 13 Best Hikes in Maine
- 12 Best Hikes in Acadia National Park
- 7 Best Lighthouses in Portland Maine
- 17+ Best Things to do in Rockland Maine