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I’ve Lived in Maine My Whole Life — and These Are My Favorite Hidden Gems in the State

Even after living in Maine for almost 40 years, I still feel like there’s something new to discover around every corner. That’s partly because my favorite landscapes get a fresh coat of color every few months and partly because Maine’s natural beauty is simply endless.

Some of my favorite lesser-known destinations in Maine include a section of Acadia National Park that’s visited by less than one percent of tourists, a place where you can buy a 24-inch lobster roll and cheesecake on the honor system, and a hike with a pond at the summit.

For that and more, read on for nine hidden gems that make me feel lucky to call Maine home.

Coos Canyon

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If panning for gold, waterfalls, and hiking pique your interest, add a stop to Coos Canyon in Byron, where you can soak in the swimming holes and enjoy a picnic along the Swift River. For some added adventure, make your way to the summit of Tumbledown Mountain for beautiful views and, surprise, a dip in the pond to cool off from the 1.5-mile ascent. Coos Canyon Campground & Cabins provides a place to set up a tent, in addition to offering a variety of lean-tos and cabins.

Schoodic Peninsula

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Welcome to the forgotten part of Acadia National Park. Less than one percent of travelers who visit Acadia make the approximately one-hour drive to the Schoodic Peninsula. Because this part of Acadia is located on the mainland, rather than Mount Desert Island like the rest of the park, it’s often skipped. But some of the state’s best views can be found here — namely, Raven’s Nest lookout at Schoodic Point. Visitors can also take a 45-minute ferry ride from Bar Harbor to Winter Harbor and meet the free Island Explorer shuttle, which takes guests to Schoodic.

Related: 10 Best Beach Towns in Maine, According to Locals

Piscataquis County

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This area is arguably the most underrated part of the state. Start with a cruise on The Kate, a historic steamboat that takes passengers on various guided tours of Moosehead Lake (Maine’s largest). After popping into local shops and going for a dip at Lily Bay State Park, rest your head at Blair Hill Inn. For hikers, Gulf Hagas is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of Maine, thanks to its striking rocky gorge and falls. Or, you can take in the 360-degree views from the summit of Borestone Mountain in Guilford. To cool off, wander over to Dover-Foxcroft’s Peaks-Kenny State Park. Check into The Mill Inn, located in a restored mill along the Piscataquis River, before heading to dinner at The Quarry, a James Beard Award-winning restaurant in Monson. Lastly, two breakfast options await: Mill Cafe (just downstairs from your accommodations) or Peace, Love & Waffles.

Maine Yoga Adventures (MYA)

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As a traveler, I love finding small, local businesses that lead intimate groups on various explorations. For one, you get the opportunity to meet locals who have common interests, plus it’s a great way to have an unofficial guide who knows the area. Discovering companies like Maine Yoga Adventures (MYA) is where the magic happens. MYA captures the essence of Maine with a variety of group trips around the state and beyond. While yoga is usually a component, owner Holly makes even beginners feel welcome. Trips have also included hiking, paddleboarding, state park visits, dancing, tasty food, collaborations with local breweries, spas, and other adventures.

Related: 10 Best Small Towns in Maine, According to a Local

Kennebec Cabin Company

Over the past few years, the Maine Cabin Masters series on Magnolia Network has gained a global following, and visitors from around the country find their way to Kennebec Cabin Company in Manchester, hoping to catch a glimpse of the laid-back stars. While there are sightings here and there, what folks also love is the retail store that features items from local makers and artists, as well as the live outdoor music with lobster rolls and local brews. If you can get tickets to a lobster bake, consider yourself lucky.

Cabbage Island Clambakes

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After 50 years, the clambakes are still going strong on Cabbage Island — a beloved event among Mainers and visitors. Board the ferry at Pier 6 at Fisherman’s Wharf Inn in Boothbay Harbor and enjoy the narrated cruise over to the private island residence. This traditional New England clambake includes two lobsters, steamers, fish chowder, potato, an egg, corn on the cob, and blueberry cake. Reservations fill up fast.

Momo’s Cheesecakes

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I never liked cheesecake until I tried the one from Momo’s in Ellsworth. But what I love just as much as the apple crisp cheesecake (among 60 other flavors) is that this business is run entirely on the honor system from a garage. If you’re heading to Bar Harbor or Acadia National Park, you have to drive through Ellsworth, so this is an easy stop for travelers headed to the coast.

The Cat Ferry

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While there isn’t much that flies under-the-radar on Mount Desert Island, one perk of visiting this area is the high-speed ferry that takes passengers to and from Nova Scotia between mid-May through mid-October. Of course, travelers will need a passport to enter Canada, but this is a fun and easy way to add an international component to your Maine trip.

Taste of Maine

Eating lobster is almost obligatory in Maine, and one of the most common questions I hear is, “Who has the best?” All sorts of preferences come into play for lobster rolls, specifically. (I ditch the mayo and substitute drawn butter, for example.) So, rather than talk about the best, let’s discuss the biggest. At Taste of Maine, located in Woolwich, the world’s biggest lobster roll is served on a 24-inch roll with a 1.5 pounds of meat. The cost depends on market value, but typically runs in between $175 and $190.

Related: The Best Times to Visit Maine for Lower Prices, Smaller Crowds, and the Tastiest Lobster

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