With its deep harbor, calm waters and protected anchorages, some regard this central Maine coast town the boating capital of New England. But, even if you floated in on a cruise ship, opportunities abound for getting out on the water in a more intimate way. There's paddleboard, kayak and small boat rentals from which to explore nearby coves and islands. A fun excursion is to the 1821 Burnt Island Light House -- Maine's oldest -- where interpreters re-enact the lives of a lighthouse keeper's family on Mondays and Thursdays in July and August. Commercial whale-watching cruises are also available from the harbor.
Back on land, cross the narrow 1901 footbridge to the eastern side of the harbor for a quieter, more residential scene. Here, the waterfront Fishermen's Memorial remembers locals lost at sea. A bronze dory rests atop a plaque etched with the names of the victims and the circumstances of their death, dating back to 1798, when Captain John Murray, 27, died from a fall down the after hatches.