As summer heats up in the city, you're probably feeling the increasing pull to escape somewhere by the water. While there are tons of awesome things going on in Montreal, sometimes you just need a break from the hustle, the hot concrete, and the general stresses that come with city life.
In just five hours by car, you can make it to one of the most beautiful seaside locations in the world - the state of Maine. Never been there? Don't know what it's like? Imagine the most quintessential beach movie you've ever seen, or the setting of a summer romance novel - that's Maine, undoubtedly.
The list of amazing things to do in this state could go on forever, but since you're likely looking for a relaxing vacation where you can disconnect from everyday life, this list showcases some of the best that Maine has to offer in that regard. It's time to breathe in, breathe out, and let the ocean soothe all your troubles.
Everything quintessential, peaceful, and beautiful about Maine can be found in Ogunquit. Start here for your getaway, and you'll find a plethora of things to do. From hiking the Marginal Way, checking out Perkins Cove, hanging out at the beach, or doing a boat tour, Ogunquit is no doubt the perfect New England beach vacation.
It's also the ideal place to try some fresh seafood - I mean, they have lobster shacks on the shore that fish straight from the ocean daily. It's your vacation, so time to indulge; treat yourself, Maine style.
2. Bar Harbour
I think I spent at least 15 minutes scrolling through photos of this place, gazing at my computer screen as if it was going to magically transport me to this seaside paradise. Bar Harbour, a little quieter of a town than Ogunquit, will deliver all the East Coast charm you could imagine.
The hiking and biking trails in Bar Harbour are outstanding, and this is a main draw for many tourists. There are also tons of adorable little boutiques in the downtown area, so don't worry about being bored - you can toil away the hours here easily.
3. Acadia National Park
This park is in the Bar Harbour region, but I had to include it on its own because it's truly a spectacle. If you go to Bar Harbour, you simply cannot miss the breathtaking views, crystal blue water, and secluded spots that this park can offer.
If hiking is your thing, consider Acadia for the main destination of your Maine trip. Also, since it's a national park, you'll be seeing something that tons of U.S. citizens surely have on their bucket lists - once in a lifetime, for sure.
4. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay
The town of Boothbay offers similar attractive qualities of Ogunquit or Bar Harbour, but the real draw here are the botanical gardens. I know what you're thinking; Shauna, I've already been to Montreal's Botanical Gardens, that's all I need to see.
But trust me, the foliage here is so beautiful, and there is no better time than summer to visit. While you might not make the trek all the way from Montreal just for these gardens, they should definitely be incorporated into your Maine trip, especially if you're in and around Boothbay.
So, Kennebunkport is where George W. Bush has his summer home. I mean, however angry or excited that makes you feel, you can't deny that this Maine beach town is obviously beautiful, and loved to the point where former Presidents feel comfortable hanging out there.
As in Ogunquit, the seafood here is out of this world - get acquainted with lobster and fresh fish real quick, friends. Also, I may be completely dating myself by saying this, but Kennebunkport is also home to Ocean Avenue - yes, the road famed by the 2003 Yellowcard song. No, I'm not joking. Let your middle school self geek out over this very important pop culture moment in history.
6. Casco Bay Islands
Outside of the region of Portland, Maine, are the Casco Bay Islands - accessible only by boat, these series of islands are truly unique, and will truly provide the escape from the rat race that you might be looking for.
Boat tours of the islands are recommended, and you can always stop off to explore where you see fit. If you're visiting Portland, be sure not to miss the opportunity to check out these islands.
7. Camden Hills State Park
Close to the town of Camden, this state park is perfect for the ambitious adventurer, but if you're more interested in a laid-back, leisurely day, you can certainly have that too. I mean, if you want to rock-climb like these hardcore people, go for it. But quiet, serene hiking trails are also just around the corner.
Visiting the town of Camden before or after your time at the state park makes for a great trip to Maine. Camden has a mix of everything, from an Opera House, to fine dining, to boat adventures.
8. Hermit Island & Campground
Everyone who has just had enough with life and people in general: this is the place for you. I mean, it's called hermit island. If you need a serious break from the monotony, or just a way to truly get off the grid, this coastal heaven has your back.
Near the town of Phippsburg, Maine, this spot offers you all the best of Maine through the experience of camping. Since most Canadian camping takes place in forests and near lakes, camping out by the ocean will be a truly unforgettable experience. If you're willing to rough it to take in the raw beauty of Maine, Hermit campground is beyond worth it.
9. Cape Elizabeth
When most people think of the East Coast, they picture that iconic image of the lighthouse set upon the rocky shore, and Cape Elizabeth is the embodiment of that fantasy.
But don't think the stunning lighthouse view is all this little town has to offer; there is also Fort Williams park to visit, and public beaches to relax on. If you want that typical New England shore experience, but aren't willing to brave tourist crowds, serene Cape Elizabeth is your best bet.
10. The "secret" Seawall Beach
Yeah yeah, I know, it's not a 'secret' if I'm telling you about it, but Seawall beach is definitely off the beaten path; you can't drive up to it, and you have to hike for a while to get there. But when you're trying to escape the hustle, this is where you should definitely go.
A beautiful, flat expanse of sand with low tides, Seawall beach is worth the adventure. Leave your phone behind, forget about your troubles, and let yourself really take in the glory of the ocean. After this experience, you'll always think of Maine as the most peaceful, breathtaking place to visit - and believe me, it is.