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From starlit skies to the best place on earth to see the famed New England fall leaves, Maine is a top spot for nature and natural wonders. And let's not forget the beer.
1. The best place on earth for autumn
Leaf peeping, as it's affectionately known, is a must-do in Maine. The burnt hues of fall all merge into a palette of stunning autumn colours. Photographs do not do this seasonal phenomena justice – seeing is believing. Maine is generally considered the less-crowded option for foliage lovers, with Acadia National Park boasting some beautiful, yet relatively quiet areas. Visit in mid-October for the best of the rest. There’s also Grafton Notch State Park near New Hampshire's border. Albeit lesser-known, the easy trails and Screw Auger Falls, which were forged from a glacier, provide the perfect backdrop for a flurry of spectacular leaves.
HOT tip: The fall leaves are at their most impressive between late September and late October.
2. Malt, hops, yeast and water
With over 100 Maine breweries crafting a medley of unique beers, if you have a thirst that needs to be quenched, explore the ‘Maine Beer Trail’. Great ale is something this state takes very seriously. Even during the prohibition, devoted drinkers didn’t exactly abide by the law. And why would you? With an ample supply of crystal clear water, the flavours are legendary. Ask any Maine beer maker and they’ll credit Sebago Lake. Found northwest of Portland, the glacial sand bed acts like a natural filter. And with a resource like that, why wouldn’t you stick two fingers to the law and brew?
HOT tip: Penobscot Bay Brewery in Winterport also makes beer-flavoured ice-cream, as well as chocolate milk stout, made from Ghana’s richest cocoa beans.
3. A day at the orchard
Simpler times and even simpler past-times. When all you need is a digital detox, ditch the gadgets and seek out one of Maine’s numerous orchard farms. This is apple country, and from August through to late October, working farms open their doors for pick-your-own apples, orchard picnics and cider tasting. And that’s only the half of it; once plucked, these rosy orbs fall into the hands of talented bakers. You’ll find hot apple pies, apple doughnuts, tarts, breads and warm apple cookies across the state.
HOT tip: Hope Orchards (in Hope) boasts 14 apple varieties, an ‘open door’ season from September to October, and freshly pressed cider that’s bottled every Friday - and sold out by Sunday.
4. Clawsome lobster
Fresh lobster is the star attraction of any Maine menu, and a meaty little number that will be just as delicious in a downtrodden sea-fronting shack as it will in a sparkly upmarket restaurant. In Maine, pretty much all the seafood is an experience to write home about, but for the most authentic Maine dining experience, order your lobster in a casual brasserie - flanking the coast and overlooking the ocean. The breeze in your face should be as fresh as the food on your plate.
HOT tip: When ordering, ask for the lobster “shore dinner.” This will ensure your crustacean is served with the quintessential mix of red potatoes, corn-on-the-cob and lashings of melted butter.
5. Seeing stars
You will be, because star gazing in Maine is an absolute knockout. When was the last time you saw the universe, in all its shining glory, spread out above you? In Maine, the night’s sky is so naturally dark (and preserved that way), the sky is void of any light pollution and swarming with stars. Come winter, gazers often get clear views of Jupiter, the Pleiades and Orion’s Belt. So spectacular are the views, September's Acadia Night Sky Festival has become an annual event, with workshops, presentations and hands-on experiences, while the Central Maine Astronomical Society have started to host the infamous (and year-round) ‘star parties’.
HOT tip: There are numerous observatories across the state, but the beach is as good a spot as any to admire the Milky Way. Sit, recline into the sand and soak up the star show.
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