Wolf Cove Inn in Poland is a tranquil spot in the Sebago Lake Region. Photo by Christian Giannelli

The morning serenity playing out across the eastern shore of Tripp Lake is a stark contrast to the high-energy vacationing that consumes most of Maine’s summer. Here, guests at Wolf Cove Inn in Poland loaf on the wide lawn’s Adirondack chairs, sit in quiet repose in the sauna overlooking the lake or read actual paper books in the screened-in 1894 boathouse. Others doze in their cabins, waking to soft knocks accompanied by platters of herb-baked eggs and sweet potato hash. Some paddle kayaks, co-piloted by their pooches, as bird calls echo through the sun-dappled pine groves.

“It’s an otherworldly wonderland here,” said Geoff Skidmore, who bought the property last year with his wife, Nicole. “There’s a calmness that settles on people.”

Welcome to lake living in Maine, where time feels all but suspended. Campfires and card playing – rather than cellphones – are the going entertainment. Where warm fresh waters (unlike their salty cousins) make swimming more of a treat than a double dare. And where each activity leads seamlessly onto another – even when many such activities involve doing next to nothing.

Here’s a glimpse of where to find a mix of effortless retro fun interwoven with flashes of sophistication in the state’s major lake regions.

Situated on the edge of the Sebago Lake Region, Tripp Lake doesn’t attract party boats or jet skis like the bigger bodies of water. Photo by Christian Giannelli


The aforementioned Tripp Lake, perched on the cusp of this region, is one of its countless gems, and relaxation is the primary agenda item. “You really don’t see jet skis here,” said Skidmore.


You will, though, on neighboring water bodies – where party boaters gather on Long Lake and Brandy Pond. Each spot has its own character: Sebago Lake – the deepest in Maine with a shoreline of around 105 miles – is chockablock with outfitters (like Sebago Lake Fishing Charters and Tours in Raymond) providing everything from pontoon boat rentals to waterski lessons. Those pursuits and far more continue at Sebago Lake Park. Opened in 1938, its 1,400 acres envelope sandy beaches, extensive woodlands (with hiking), little ponds (for fishing, boating) and a 250-site campground.

More domesticated stays are found in every direction; resorts and rentable cabins proliferate. Migis Lodge, engulfed in 125 acres of pine forest on Sebago Lake in South Casco, multitasks by offering both airy, pine-paneled lodge rooms and cabins complete with cathedral ceilings and fieldstone fireplaces.

Meals in the area run from basic (a hot dog grilled over a fire pit, anyone?) to ambitious takes on classics – as at relative newcomer Beacon Bar and Bistro in Naples, which doles out scads of seafood (including an addictive lobster popover crowned with a creamy sauce and scallions), along with topnotch views of Long Lake. Yolked Farm to Table, previously a food truck named for the owners’ flock of chickens, has gone cozy brick-and-mortar in Windham, where affable staff bring out dishes like plump oysters with rhubarb mignonette. If your crew prefers a side of activities with dinner, then chase your meal of fried clams at Rick’s Café in Naples with a guided ride on the Chute River in one of the establishment’s amphibious vehicles that drive on land and float on water.


The region’s chain of seven lakes and ponds (plus countless streams and wetlands) in the Kennebec Valley Region is a magnet for families, freshwater fisherfolk (landlocked salmon, trout and bass abound), as well as rusticators of all ages looking to soak up simpler times

A golf pro at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club sets up the putting green next to the clubhouse as it prepares to open for the 2020 season. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

Get out on Great Pond (the largest of the bunch at 8,239 acres) or Messalonskee Lake (second in line at 3,510 acres) after hitting one of the local marinas. Brightside Marina rents vessels ranging from antique cruisers and pontoon boats to kayaks, and offers boat tours. A bird’s-eye view of all the lakes rewards anyone who hikes Blueberry Hill. Or simply opt to while away a few hours teeing up at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club.


Josh McMahon, a bartender at the Village Inn and Tavern in Belgrade, mixes a lemon drop martini in 2021. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

Follow it all with late-afternoon waterfront cocktails on the deck of Sadie’s Restaurant in Great Pond Marina or dock and dine at The Village Inn and Tavern (its 12-hour roast duck is legendary) and slumber in one of eight rustic-meets-plush lakeside guest rooms. If a throwback camp stay is calling your name, E.B. White spent his childhood summers at Bear Spring Camps on Great Pond, and after a few days taking in the majestic views from these lakeside cabins, you’ll understand why.


It may be technically known as “The Maine Highlands Region,” but everyone knows it as simply “Moosehead.” Encompassing more than 80 islands and covering 74,890 acres, Moosehead Lake is a wildlife jackpot; its shores brim with salmon and trout to fish, birds to watch and, yes, moose to spy on. Simply put, it’s nirvana for rugged outdoorsmen, with occasional pockets of romance thrown in.

Take a cruise of Moosehead Lake aboard the Steamboat Katahdin. Photo by Isaac Crabtree/@northwoodsaerial

Rent boats or other equipment (Moosehead is ideal for paddleboarding) from any of the local outfitters – or, in cases such as The Birches Resort in Rockwood or Wilsons on Moosehead Lake in Greenville Junction, directly from your host. Maybe put your feet up on a narrated cruise on the Steamboat Katahdin, an early 20th-century steamer, out of Greenville.

A fire pit provides warmth at a campsite in Lily Bay State Park. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

Eating around here leans hearty, simple and homemade – particularly if you’re staying at one of the many wilderness lodges or camping at one of the barbecue-grill-outfitted sites at lakefront Lily Bay State Park. But tonier takes beckon, too – elaborate dinners at romance-minded Slate restaurant at Blair Hill Inn are inspired by the 79 acres of fields and woodlands on the property and are well worth getting dressed up for.



Tucked into the western Maine mountains, these seemingly endless acres of forest contain upwards of 112 lakes and ponds, including six biggies: Mooselookmeguntic, Cupsuptic, Aziscohos, Rangeley and the Upper and Lower Richardsons. The mix of visitors that it draws includes the full spectrum of outdoors enthusiasts – passionate sportsmen and dabblers alike – as well as gaggles of families here for the camaraderie-based activities and relaxation.

There’s lots for outdoorsy types and families to do on and around Rangeley Lake. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

All of those lakes and mountains make for exquisite panoramic views thanks hikes like those in the network of trails on Saddleback, as well as lower-lying trails along the lakes (the Cupsuptic Lake Trail is popular for its boardwalk). Meanwhile, the area’s been a destination since the 1850s for serious fly fishermen lured by the hefty brook trout population – for which there are plenty of expert fishing guides, like Tom Welch, of Magalloway.

When it’s time to eat, hungry families flock to Pine Tree Frosty in Rangeley for lobster rolls and ice cream. And Bald Mountain Camps in Oquossoc, which was founded in the 1800s as a sporting camp and once hosted Teddy Roosevelt, has upgraded its 14 cabins and offers guide services and a restaurant that’s open to the public – as is its endless prime rib carving station every Friday.

As stays go, the creature comforts at Rangeley Lake State Park making camping barely feel like roughing it. Its 50 sites all access well-maintained facilities, showers, fishing, hiking, grills and a beach and playground with stunning views of the lake and Saddleback Mountain.

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