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For Maine at its Very Best, Take a Trip Up US 1

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On: Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 3:04PM | By: Bill Wilson

For Maine at its Very Best, Take a Trip Up US 1

Long before there was air conditioning, there was Maine. People from all over the eastern United States have long flocked to this spectacular state to escape summer’s sweltering heat. Some of Maine’s more famous aficionados include Mary Todd Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. To this day it remains a favorite destination of those who appreciate its craggy coastlines, mild June-August weather, and world-famous hospitality. And one of the best ways to see this jewel of the Atlantic coast is to take a pleasant drive up US Highway 1.

US 1 stretches 2,369 miles, from Key West, FL to Fort Kent, ME on the US/Canada border. One of the shorter yet most scenic sections runs 50 miles from Brunswick, ME to Thomaston. Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. Union Civil War officer and hero of the Battle of Gettysburg Joshua Chamberlain taught there in the 1860s; visit the historical site and museum dedicated to his memory while in the area.

From Brunswick the route continues on to Bath, a charming little town that was awarded the title of “best main street in America” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2012. Bath is home to the Maine Maritime Museum, where you’ll visit a historic shipyard from the days of wooden sailing vessels.

Further up the highway you’ll find Reid State Park, home to the well-known Mile and Half Mile beaches, two sandy shorelines that offer a marked contrast to the state’s usually rocky coasts. The park is a great place to have a cookpit, go on short hikes, or just watch the waves roll in.

Continue up US 1 and you’ll soon come to the tiny community of Damariscotta. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, originally built in 1827, is a short side trip down ME-130. In what was once the lighthouse keeper’s home you’ll find the Fisherman’s Museum, a small but highly informative venue with much to teach visitors about the fishing industry and the men and women who keep it going.

Further up the route is Thomaston, from which you can easily reach the shore and take a ferry to Monhegan Island. There you can enjoy watching puffins, hawks, gannets, and other wildlife. The tiny isle features 17 miles of interlocking nature trails, a lighthouse, and thriving artist’s community with many small galleries and studios to browse through.

From Thomaston you can continue to follow US 1 all the way to Canada if you like. Or, if you prefer, turn south and enjoy the sights and sounds of New England, as it gradually gives way to the mid-Atlantic region and finally enters Dixie. There’s no better way to sample the diverse culture and geography that makes up this multi-state region. US 1 is among the greatest treasures of the national highway system, so take the time to savor it as you explore America’s east coast.

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