Best Time to Visit Maine In 2020
Summer may be Maine's peak travel season, but it is by no means the only time that the state dubbed "Vacationland" is worthy of a visit. Throughout the state, you'll find a range of elevation, melting pot of culture, and diverse ecology in forest, mountain, lake, and coastal locales that are desirable year-round - and southern Maine is the ideal place to access it all! Enjoy foliage season, ski season, beach season, bloom season, and even lobster season, conveniently from the picturesque hub of Portland on the Maine coast.
Portland's geography sets the stage for a climate that is unique in the New England region. Due to its proximity to the Portland Peninsula, the state's largest city is somewhat buffered from dramatic coastal effects. This keeps both winters and summers milder than the norm for coastal Maine. The area welcomes four distinct seasons, with equally distinct rewards. The ideal time of year for your visit really depends on how you wish to experience the region. As you discover the benefits each season brings, you're likely to find reasons to visit more than once each year.
Maine's tourist season peaks from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Sunny, warm weather and some of the east coast's best beaches combine to make the Portland region an obvious favorite for those seeking a traditional summer vacation. Summertime on the southern coast of Maine tends to be cool, with average temperatures ranging from daytime highs in the 70s, to lows in the 50s at night. In a state that sees its fair share of precipitation, the summer boasts the least amount of rainfall.
Clear skies and pleasant temperatures create the perfect environment for original events as well! The summer season doubles as festival season, with more family-friendly, cultural events scheduled than any other time of the year, including The Old Port Festival, Windjammer Days Festival, Yarmouth Clam Festival, and Maine Beer Festival. Just about an hour away, Rockland's annual Maine Lobster Festival is a five-day celebration of seafood feasting and fun at the peak of lobster season!
Speaking of New England's most revered native catch... although lobster rolls are a year-round staple in the region, the summer season will bring not only the freshest supply, but the broadest selection of purveyors, as even the seasonal seafood shacks are open for business at this time. This is also the best time of year for whale watching opportunities - an experience you'll never forget. Summer is the prime time to visit Portland, Maine if you want to take advantage of nearly perfect weather, ideal coastal conditions, and all of the treasures that they provide.
As the crowds begin to thin out from the peak season rush, the fall ushers in a quieter scene that's every bit as alluring as the exiting summer. Until early October, average daytime temperatures hover around 70°F, before gradually lowering to the 50s, and later reaching the 40s by early November. Nighttime lows tend to stay around 10-20 degrees cooler. With the arrival of more brisk temperatures, you'll also encounter striking changes in the landscape... the kinds of changes that lure visitors from near and far.
New England presents vibrant fall colors as the season marches in - especially downeast along the coast and through the southern towns of Kennebunkport, York, and Wells. Fall foliage in a vivid spectrum of reds, oranges, and yellows blankets the Pine Tree State canvas, creating a masterpiece of hues worthy of bucket list status, and easily making this one of the best places to observe the season's earthy palette. Don't miss the annual Fall Foliage Festival at Boothbay Railway Village or the Freeport Fall Festival!
Foodies will especially appreciate the unique culture of Southern Maine in the fall. Aside from the adoption of pumpkin-flavored everything, Mainers serve up a smorgasbord of tasty culinary events to celebrate the bountiful season, including Harvest on the Harbor, Harvest Festival at Shaker Village, Harvest-Fest at Maine Wildlife Park, and the Punkinfiddle Family Festival at Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm. The only downside to a Maine visit in the fall is that rainfall is at its peak during the months of October and November. So keep your eye on the weather forecast as you prepare your camera and your taste buds for the most striking season of the year!
As far as the northern United States goes, Maine is not known for the harshest of winters, but you'll still encounter the brisk chills and blankets of snow that winter wonderland seekers crave. With average highs in the 30s and lows dipping into the teens, snow is always on the horizon during the winter months in Maine. In other words - winter sports reign supreme.
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Maine residents and visitors eagerly welcome the nip of winter with an urge for adventure. Sebago Lake provides the perfect destination for ice fishing, while the The Rink At Thompsons Point offers ice skating for the whole family. On average, the Portland area receives 61 inches of snow annually, setting the stage for excellent cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing. With just a short drive, experience skiing and snowboarding at top spots like Sunday River, Sugarloaf, or Shawnee Peak! With plenty of professional outfitters in the area, it's easy to get geared up and out on the slopes in Maine!
Winter may also be the best time to sidle up at a brewery for local craft brews or warm up with traditional northeastern comfort foods at any number of legendary eateries on Portland's growing culinary scene. Nearby, experience a flavorful adventure of gastronomic proportions at the Flavors of Freeport Festival each year in February. If you're in search of a new holiday tradition, consider Kennebunkport's Christmas Prelude - voted the "#2 Christmas Town in America" by HGTV!
The rise of spring sees white powder landscapes giving way to vibrant arrays of blooming flowers and forested greens. Temperatures make a gradual rise from March highs in the 40s to May highs in the low 60s. Overnight lows are about 10-20 degrees cooler, keeping a crisp balance in the temperate climate. Early spring showers help to encourage the floral bounty that paints the enchanting coastal communities throughout the season.
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Those in search of the most lavish spring blooms will marvel at the beauty of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, situated on just under 300 acres of expansive shore-front in Boothbay. Early spring brings the annual Maine Flower Show to Portland, and by late Maine, visitors can explore the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House and Gardens - a generational landmark. As the blossoms begin to open, so do the region's seasonal shops and restaurants.
These are also the best months to take advantage of natural recreation at Maine's lakes, streams, and community parks like Deering Oaks. Sebago Lake State Park near the foothills of the White Mountains are a popular spot for sport fishing, with trout, salmon, and bass growing abundant as the season rolls in. For those seeking a piece of the action, the temperatures and overall mild conditions of the region make an ideal environment for kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding, and hiking.
Even if you're loyal to your summer pilgrimage, consider giving southern Maine a try in the off-season. Half of the area's annual visitors plan summer stays, meaning that crowds are significantly decreased throughout the rest of the year. Nature lovers, photographers, and those seeking outdoor recreation are sure to find the Portland area to be a welcoming getaway with much to offer all year long. The colors of the coastline during the fall and spring months provide a wanderlust-worthy excuse for day trips to popular destinations in other areas of the state, including Baxter State Park, Acadia National Park, Bangor, and Bar Harbor.