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Old Orchard Beach, Maine© Chee-Onn LeongOld Orchard Beach, Maine
© Chee-Onn Leong
Remember the places you used to go on vacation when you were a kid? Places where you could camp by a quiet lake, ride your bike down country roads or stain your fingers picking wild blueberries? That's much of Maine in a nutshell.

Maine's 1.2 million people are scattered across some 85,000 square kilometres (33,000 square miles), making Maine the most sparsely populated U.S. state east of the Mississippi. That leaves lots of room for wild residents, including moose, deer, bears, puffins and seals. Keep your eyes out for creatures great and small while hiking in Acadia National Park, cross-country skiing on backwoods trails, canoeing along the state's endless network of rivers lakes, or sea kayaking amid some 2,000 islands.

For generations, Maine has been a favourite destination for summer vacationers seeking an escape from heat and humidity elsewhere. With cool summer temperatures and some 8,900 kilometres (5,500 miles) of coastline, it's a great place to hang out on the beach. Two presidents certainly think so: several generations of the Bush family have spent their summers in a sprawling compound just outside the postcard-pretty village of Kennebunkport.

If loafing on the shore reading a book or munching on lobster rolls sounds too sedate, hit the water aboard a windjammer or a whale-watching ship. Or grab your camera and capture spectacular shots of some of the state's 60-odd lighthouses.

For urban amusements, head to the Old Port section of Portland, a neighbourhood of 19th-century buildings now home to lively restaurants and shops. For a city of just 65,000 people, Portland Portland Head light, Maine© Timothy GrayPortland Head light, Maine
© Timothy Gray
offers a surprising range of cultural attractions, including an opera company, a symphony orchestra and a museum of African tribal art.

And finally, Maine wouldn't be Maine without its booming retail outlets, particularly the always-popular headquarters of outdoor clothing king L.L. Bean in Freeport.

by Laura Byrne Paquet

Stock Photos from 123RF

Stock Photos from 123RF