One of the greatest treasures of living in New England is the spectacular beauty of fall. Long warm days followed by crisp cool nights, the explosion of color in the trees, apple picking, harvest festivals, and all the spooky trappings of Halloween. The Maine Beaches has all of this, but against a unique backdrop of historical coastal communities and thirty miles of shoreline. Located one hour north of Boston, the Maine Beaches is easy to get to, yet a world away. Whether you’re coming for the day or making it a weekend getaway, we invite you to blaze a trail using some of these themed trip itinerary ideas or create one of your very own!
Hike Through History
Start your day by grabbing a steaming hot coffee and decadent pastry from one of the cafes in Kittery Foreside and then bring your treats to Fort McClary in Kittery Point. The site is home to several bunkers and a block house, all of which are accessible for the public to explore, and there are binoculars stationed along the seawall, allowing visitors views for miles across the ocean.
A few miles down the road is Fort Foster, located on the southwest tip of Gerrish Island. Fort Foster is home to several historical military structures, and with its long beach, soft tides, long pier, and views of Whaleback Lighthouse, it is an excellent place to stop for your picnic lunch.
After lunch, travel just a bit north to the Town of York and allow the Old York Historical Society to take you on a guided tour of the past. Home to the Museums of Old York, visitors are immersed in the rich, maritime history of the town, from its founding in 1652 through today with family friendly exhibits, historical buildings and walking tours. York is home to the Old York Gaol (jail) and McIntire Garrison House, both listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
Later in the day, or perhaps the next if you’re overnighting, head a little bit inland to the community of South Berwick, and you’ll be able to tour the Sarah Orne Jewett House, home to the famous author, and the Hamilton House, setting for her novel ‘The Tory Lover’. Keep heading up the coastline, and you’ll discover the historical beauty of Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm, the renowned Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, or traverse the underground canals at the Biddeford Mills Museum.
Search for Treasure
While you can always find beautiful treasures at the ocean’s shoreline (think sea glass, sand dollars, and shells), the Maine Beaches offers those in search of a bargain or a one-of-a-kind item many opportunities to find them.
If antiques are your thing, plan a day exploring some of the more than 50 antique shops that dot Route 1 from Kittery to Arundel, or focus your efforts on the corridor through Wells fondly recognized as the “Antique Mile”.
Looking for a more ‘boutique’ shopping experience? Plan to spend a morning meandering around the galleries and shops located at Dock Square in Kennebunkport, where you’ll also find plenty of cafes and dining options to break for lunch and replenish your reserves. Once sated, travel a little bit south and spend the afternoon exploring Ogunquit proper’s shopping scene. From there, cap the day off with a leisurely stroll along the Ogunquit Beach shore, just a few minutes’ walk from the town center.
For serious bargain hunters, the Kittery Outlets are a must stop. With more than 120 stores, a variety of restaurants and plenty of parking, it’s the perfect place to hone your shopping skills. While the outlets are open year-round, fall is a great time to visit and take advantage of their Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day sales events.
Celebrate the Season of Witches
October ushers in a month filled with things that go ‘bump in the night’ and the Maine Beaches has no shortage of scares.
Spend a morning exploring a cemetery or two. As you walk between headstones dating back centuries, it won’t matter if the sun is high in the sky. You’re sure to feel a shiver as you pass by.
Later in the day, head on over to Zach’s Corn Maze in York where you’ll embark on a twenty-minute hayride to the maze. As you navigate the twists and turns trying to find your way out, the eerie soundtrack of rustling stalks is sure to make you jump more than once.
For some evening fun, Destination Haunt in Lebanon was voted ‘most haunted’ walk in and around New England. With stops along the way named The Butcher, the Buried Alive Cemetery, and the Clown House, what could there possibly be to fear? Or, if your preference is immersing yourself in the haunted history of the region, you’ll want to consider one of several walking and trolley tours hosted by New England Curiosities. Guided by local expert on local folklore, ghosts, and mysterious history, Roxie Zwicker, these tours are sure to leave you reaching for a hand to hold.
Embark on A Delectable Quest
Ready to satisfy your inner foodie? Plan your trip around finding the best of the best of your favorites.
Looking for the best lobster roll? Map out your route using the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Arundel Lobster Roll Trail.
Sweets more your thing? Starting from Kittery up to Old Orchard Beach, plot a trail to include visiting some of the dozens of ice cream shops, bakeries, and old-fashioned candy stores that meander up the coast.
And for the adults, consider a brewery, wine or distillery tour and taste an array of carefully curated local and imported spirits.
The season of plenty also spills over into our farmer’s markets, located all over the region, many of which also host local artisan and craftsman wares, fresh breads and baked goods, and live musical entertainment to serenade you while you peruse the bounty. Create yourself a farmer’s market trail and experience the diversity in offerings that the Maine Beaches is so proud of.
For more information on any of these trip ideas (and more!) visit TheMaineBeaches.com or use the link at the beginning of this article.
Whatever your visit entails, whether a day trip or an overnight, fall is a spectacular time of year to find your way back to the Maine Beaches.