Best Time To Visit Maine

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Best Time To Visit Maine

The Best Time to Visit Maine

Precipitation is something you can count on year-round, and spring’s cold rain makes Mainers miss the snow. Hurricanes are rare and the benefit of Maine’s cooler climate is a summer season that sparkles with moderately warm temperatures perfect for outdoor pursuits, from hiking and biking to chowing down lobsters.

The Best Times to Visit Maine for Lower Prices, Fewer Crowds, and the Best Lobster

These are the best times to visit Maine for every type of traveler.

With rocky coastlines studded with lighthouses, picturesque sandy beaches, and forested hiking trails, Maine lives up to its nickname as a true “Vacationland.” The comfortable climate during the summer season makes it a popular destination for visitors looking to escape sweltering temperatures. Although summer is the most popular season to visit Maine, the low and shoulder seasons both offer unique advantages and activities for visitors. Whether you’re planning a trip around lobster season or leaf peeping, there’s always a good time to visit Maine.

Maine’s tourist seasons fall into three main categories:

  • High Season: June to August
  • Shoulder Seasons: May to June and September to October
  • Low Season: November to April

Here are the best times to visit Maine for every type of traveler.

Tables with umbrellas on deck surrounded by Spring Flowers

Best Times to Visit Maine for Smaller Crowds

Maine’s high season begins around Memorial Day and lasts through Labor Day. Within that time frame, June is a slower month as the weather is generally still mild but can be too cold or rainy to enjoy a beach day. Late August and September offer temperatures that are still warm enough to enjoy the coast without the peak summer crowds. “I find May, early June, and October are the best times to visit Maine. During these times, the weather remains splendid and the tourists are fewer, allowing travelers to get the full small-town allure that Maine has to offer,” Daniel Braun, manager of The White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, told Travel + Leisure.

September and October are relatively quiet in comparison to the bustling summer season. Autumn is perfect for drives to enjoy quintessential New England fall foliage and apple picking at local farms. “The pace slows down a notch, crowds thin a bit, the weather is crisp, dry, and beautiful, and my personal interests, fishing and foraging, are at their peak,” said Andrew Taylor, chef and co-owner of James Beard Award-winning restaurant Eventide Oyster Co.

Aerial View of Road Through Forest in Western Maine in Autumn

Best Times to Visit Maine for Good Weather

The weather begins to warm up at the start of May, with average temperatures in the 60s. Even in the peak of summer, it’s rare to experience more than a handful of days reaching over 90 degrees. If you want to visit when the weather is warmest, July and August are the best, albeit busiest, times for a trip. However, September is not far behind and offers a balance of fantastic weather and fewer crowds. “There’s really no bad time to come to Maine, but I think my favorite time is late September,” says Ben Conniff, co-founder of Luke’s Lobster. “It’s still warm, some days as warm as summer. But the tourist traffic has slowed down so it’s easier to get around and the parks, restaurants, and other attractions aren’t so packed. It’s basically summer vacation without the stress of dealing with everyone else who’s on summer vacation.”

Braun echoes this sentiment for a September trip, saying, “In my opinion, September is the best time to visit Maine for the weather. Free from the heat and humidity of August, the days are pleasantly warm for outdoor activities, while the evenings bring refreshing crispness. The water temperature remains pleasant, allowing visitors to enjoy swimming in the ocean or lakes, and of course, with fewer crowds, September offers a tranquil environment to fully enjoy the many charms of Maine.”

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Androscoggin River near Gilead, Maine USA with fisherman and family watching

Best Times to Visit Maine for Lower Prices

When the temperatures drop, so do the prices for accommodations. During the winter, resorts are often priced at just a fraction of what peak summer rates can reach. For the most budget-friendly time to visit Maine, consider planning your trip between January and April when prices tend to be lower due to the colder weather,” says Braun. “Despite the chill, this period offers a unique and cozy experience that is well worth the journey. A quintessential part of a winter stay in Maine is the joy of snuggling up by the fireplace, with a comforting warm drink in hand, while the snow falls outside. It’s a scene straight out of a storybook, creating a charming and magical atmosphere that encapsulates the essence of a winter getaway.”

There are plenty of opportunities for cold weather enthusiasts to explore the great outdoors by skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing during the winter months. While many resorts and restaurants close during the off-season, the properties that remain open occasionally have off-season specials, so travelers get to experience the quieter side of the Pine Tree State for less. Later in the season, Maine Maple Sunday is held on the fourth Sunday of March each year, and it’s the perfect way to welcome spring. During this beloved state tradition, maple syrup producers open their doors to the public and demonstrate how syrup is made, usually offering samples to visitors who stop by.

Lobster roll served by the waterfront in Maine

Best Times to Visit Maine for Lobster

While Maine is best known for its signature shellfish, the state offers more than just lobster. Bluefin tuna, halibut, and dayboat scallops are just a sampling of some of Maine’s best locally sourced seafood. “All seasons are pretty special, but I think fall and winter are the best,” says Taylor. “In the fall, the bluefin tuna is at its peak and oyster and mussel harvesters are in full swing. The waters are cooling, beautiful swordfish are coming out of the Gulf of Maine, and lobsters are cheap (relatively speaking) and abundant.”

For visitors looking to plan their trip around lobster season, Conniff echoes that fall is the time to arrive, saying “Late September is also a great time for seafood because it’s the peak of the new-shell lobster season.”

And there’s another blossoming industry in Maine’s coastal waters. “Kelp from Maine is amazing as well, adding a great revenue stream for fishermen and shellfish farmers,” Conniff says. “I add it to basically every green dish or sauce I make, and it adds a nice umami and a ton of health benefits.” Companies like Atlantic Sea Farms are leading the way, having created the country’s first commercially viable seaweed farm in 2009. Their products — including kelp-based burgers and fresh kelp cubes — are available in retailers nationwide, and they’re on the menu at many Maine restaurants.

Portland Head Lighthouse in Winter

Worst Times to Visit Maine

Each season offers advantages and disadvantages, so figuring out the best and worst time to visit Maine really depends on what you want to see and do. The spring brings ample rain across the state, the summer is crowded with tourists and has the highest hotel prices, the fall is a bit chilly for outdoor activities, and winter means ice, snow, and storms.

Want to sit beachside during the warmest days and don’t mind traffic, busy restaurants, and booking your stay well in advance? July and August are the warmest (and busiest) months in Maine. Don’t mind bundling up a little in exchange for the tastiest lobster and fewer crowds? September and October are the months for you. Do you want to curl up by the fire, try your hand at some cold-weather activities, and take advantage of some of the lowest rates that hotels offer? A mid-winter escape during the first few months of the year is right for you.

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The Best Time to Visit Maine

Kim Knox Beckius is a Connecticut-based travel writer, author, photographer, and editor. She’s been with TripSavvy since 1998.

Jillian Dara is a freelance journalist and fact-checker. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, USA Today, Michelin Guides, Hemispheres, DuJour, and Forbes.

when to visit maine

Mainers, with their wry sense of humor, often joke that New England’s northernmost state has only two seasons: winter and the Fourth of July. The best time to visit Maine is in the summer when all of the recreational possibilities of seacoast and mountains combine to help Maine live up to its “Vacationland” nickname. August is the ultimate month for a Maine vacation. September’s a close second, particularly if you’re unencumbered by school-aged children.

There’s more to consider, though, as you choose a time for your Maine adventure. Each season repaints Maine in a fresh palette that is strikingly beautiful, and with nature’s color shifts come diverse ways for travelers to explore and appreciate this wild and scenic state.

The Weather in Maine

Maine has four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Each has pluses, minuses, and a degree of unpredictability. While winter offers up starry nights, it also can be downright frigid. The first snowfall can happen in November, sometimes in October, and spring starts any time between mid-March and mid-May.

Precipitation is something you can count on year-round, and spring’s cold rain makes Mainers miss the snow. Hurricanes are rare and the benefit of Maine’s cooler climate is a summer season that sparkles with moderately warm temperatures perfect for outdoor pursuits, from hiking and biking to chowing down lobsters.

Be mindful of the fact that weather conditions in Maine can change on a dime. If you’re hiking in the mountains or setting out on a boat, you’ll want to monitor the weather forecast and be prepared for falling temperatures and pop-up storms.

Heavy spring rains create a lot of mud in March and April, making for a mucky early spring. Back roads can be treacherous when the ground is oversaturated with melted snow, so travel with caution. If you’re hoping to enjoy the outdoors, avoid visiting during black fly season (mid-May through mid-June) at all costs. The biting insects congregate in the woods and will cover you in incredibly itchy bumps.

Peak Season in Maine

Maine’s best beach hotels come at a premium in the summer months and ski resort prices skyrocket in winter, particularly during holiday and school vacation weeks. Throughout the year, lodgings will nearly always cost you more on weekends than on midweek nights.

September is something of a best-kept secret in Maine. Lodging prices, particularly on the coast, fall from their summer highs, and they’ll stay on the low side until late in the month when leaf peepers begin to arrive. Ocean waters are still at their warmest, but beach crowds have disappeared, and you’ll face less traffic on interstates if you’re headed to Maine on a Friday after work.

Lobster prices tend to deflate, too, after summer crowds depart, and it’s another little-known bonus that lobsters caught in the fall tend to be of the meatier hard-shell variety. That said, many of the state’s most famous lobster shacks close after Labor Day or Indigenous Peoples Day. Some seaside hotels and motels are seasonal, too, so if you’re planning an off-season ocean escape, look to towns like Kennebunkport and Freeport that have worked hard to stay on tourists’ radar year-round.

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Summer

With pleasantly warm temperatures, summertime vacationers love lazing on Maine’s lake and ocean beaches, visiting charming seaside towns, exploring Acadia National Park, driving along the coast to see some of New England’s prettiest lighthouses, and feasting on lobster in the rough (outdoors with few frills).

Events to check out:

  • Yarmouth Clam Festival: Starting the third Friday in July, this three-day festival in Yarmouth, Maine is your chance to eat clams every which way and to enjoy a packed schedule of old-fashioned entertainment.
  • Maine Lobster Festival: Held in Rockland, Maine, for five days in August, this long-standing celebration of the state’s signature crustacean features top musical acts, competitions, a parade, and 20,000 pounds of fresh lobster.

Fall

Fans of autumn in Maine scoop up reservations at scenic inns and hotels months before the leaves start to change. Bethel is the state’s best foliage-viewing home base, and there are gorgeous drives to follow and day trips to take that showcase fall’s finest experiences, from antiquing to apple tasting.

Events to check out:

  • Fryeburg Fair: Regarded as Maine’s best agricultural fair, this annual tradition in Fryeburg is eight days of guaranteed fall fun.
  • Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta: Always during the long weekend of Indigenous Peoples Day, this photo-op-filled celebration of gigantic pumpkins in Damariscotta, Maine, features a parade, pumpkin-boat regatta, giant pumpkin drop, and more zany events.

Winter

With premier ski resorts like Sunday River and Sugarloaf, plus smaller mountains that make the list of New England’s cheapest places to ski, Maine offers downhilling for all budgets throughout the snowy winter months. Maine is a great place to snowmobile and a fine place to ice skate, and—when it’s really too bitter to be outdoors—a great destination for beer.

Events to check out:

  • Boothbay Lights: The centerpiece of this six-week holiday happening, which lights up all of Maine’s Boothbay peninsula, is Gardens Aglow: a display of 500,000 LEDs at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.
  • Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude: For 11 December days and nights, Kennebunkport is a festive destination for events, like the lighting of the lobster trap tree, that will put you in the holiday spirit.

Spring in Maine

Spring may be Maine’s least popular season, but it’s the peak time to visit if you want to see waterfalls at their most dramatic and taste the year’s new crop of maple syrup.

Events to check out:

  • Maine Maple Sunday: On the fourth Sunday in March, sugarhouses statewide open their doors for tours, demonstrations, and, most importantly, tastings.
  • Maine Flower Show: Just when it seems as if spring will never arrive, this annual indoor celebration of all things floral in Portland the last weekend in March revives the winter-weary.

The best time to visit Maine is between June and September. During this time of the year, the weather is warm and you can take advantage of the recreational opportunities offered by both the seacoast and the mountains.

Lobster season in Maine lasts from late June through December, but fall is the best time to eat them. After Labor Day, lobster harvests are at their peak and prices are reasonable.

January is the coldest month in Maine, with daytime high temperatures of 31 degrees F (-0.6 degrees C) and nightly lows of 13 degrees F (-10.6 degrees C).