There is nowhere quite like Maine in the summer. The snow’s melted away and left in its wake vibrant green mountains and a plethora of rivers and lakes for the hiking or canoeing connoisseur.
However, summer beach lovers have just as much reason to visit our most north-easterly state. With over 6,000 islands and more than 3,500 miles of crooked coastline, there are numerous coves, harbors, and beaches for the sandy-souled visitor to enjoy, not to mention a multitude of adorable coastal towns!
Even better news is that the beaches of Southern Maine are actually more accessible than one might think. While Maine does seem quite far away, the drive from New York City to York Beach is less than 5 hours, and from Boston, it’s only an hour and fifteen.
While there are oodles of options to choose from when deciding which southern town to tourist, there is one that is my favorite. Tucked between the more bustling shore destinations of York Beach and Kennebunkport, the town of Wells, Maine offers spectacular summer sun at a fraction of the traffic headache without sacrificing fun for the whole family.
- Beaches – One of the biggest draws in Wells is the beach, and there are plenty of them to choose from between Moody, Crescent, Wells, and Drake’s Island. Once you decide, enjoy the silky white sand as you stroll the waterline looking for beach glass and shells, or stretch out on your towel to read that perfect summer book. You might even walk out onto a jetty for a different view. And don’t forget swimming. With water temps in the mid-60s in July and August, a refreshing dip can be just the thing to rinse away the summer heat.
- Antiques – Maine is known for its antiques stores, and Wells is no exception. They line Rt. 1 (Post Rd) to the north and south and could be a great way to spend a few hours hunting for some treasures.
- Nature Preserves – Anyone wanting to spend some time trail-walking, taking scenic pictures, or enjoying nature in a less commercial location might want to check out the Rachel Carson Natural Wildlife Refuge or the Wells Reserve at Laudholm.
- Wells Auto Museum – If you happen to be lucky enough to be in town during the few weekends it is open, the auto museum could be a great stop for car lovers and kids alike. Weekends change yearly but can be located on their Facebook page. For 2017, they are open from 10am-4pm on June 10-11, July 29-30, August 5-6, and September 2-4.
- Wonder Mountain – Families with kids or kids at heart might love the range of activities available at Wonder Mountain. Possibilities include two mini-golf courses, a small arcade, a human maze, and the recently added go-karts. Take advantage of the combo deals and enjoy the atmosphere, music, and fun!
- Boardwalk Arcade – Steps off of Wells Beach is the old fashioned “Boardwalk Arcade” in the bright teal building. A great place to burn a few hours or some energy, it is home to a variety of games from skee ball to more modern options. Kids and adults alike will have fun earning, amassing, and then trading their tickets in for prizes.
Food and Drinks:
- The Steakhouse – One of the most popular (and crowded) restaurants in Wells, The Steakhouse has options for surf and turf lovers alike. Some of their specialties include bbq ribs, steak, lazy man’s lobster, and lobster pie (a dish I’d highly recommend for lobster lovers who’ve never tried it). Definitely consider going for an early dinner and arriving half an hour before they open or be prepared for an hour wait, but it’s worth it!
- Maine Diner – With over 7 million customers served, the Maine Diner is about as iconic as it gets. Although they have fantastic options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they are probably most known for their lobster pie. There will probably be a line when you arrive, but it moves along rather quickly and is definitely worth the stop.
- Congdon’s Doughnuts – This little shop might not look like much, but it frequently makes the lists of top donut shops in the US. Try the Maine blueberry fritter or the traditional cinnamon doughnut. They also offer other full breakfast options if you’re looking for something more filling.
- Feile – Irish for festival, this cute, aptly-named Irish pub has a dark cozy atmosphere and delicious pub food, but it’s even more fun on a Saturday night when the bar area is dancing to the sounds of the live local music. There is a nice selection of drafts, a small dance floor, and a whole lot of energy, from the locals hanging out after their day jobs to the pleasant bartenders and wait staff.
- Billy’s Chowder House – My husband’s family has been going to Wells since his mom was a kid, and this is definitely one of their must-do places to eat. The atmosphere, with big windows overlooking the marsh, is wonderful, and the clam chowder, lobster stew, and fried clams are delicious!
- The Scoop Deck – There are several ice cream options in the area, but the favorite seems to be the Scoop Deck. With a long list of flavors and huge portions, it’s not hard to see why. Take your place in the fast-moving line, then enjoy your scoop on the lawn or a bench nearby. Keep in mind that they are open seasonally.
- Hidden Cove Brewing – A fairly new brewery on the scene, Hidden Cove has a nice atmosphere and a handful of their beers on tap. I would suggest starting with a flight to see what you like before picking a pint of your favorite. No food here, though I’ve heard rumors you can pick up food at Billy’s less than a mile down the road and enjoy it there.
In addition to food and activities, Wells has a wide range of accommodations, from motels to inns, hotels to campsites. It’s all about your preferences and budget, but whatever you do, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore Wells, Maine!