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Travel Nurse Guide to Maine

Dec 5, 2019
Kelly Samolis, RN

A Travel Nurse’s Guide to Maine 

Beware: Maine may disrupt your travel nurse plans and keep you here! :)

My History With Maine

My husband went to school in Fort Kent, Maine. So, we had some history here prior to arriving as well as some really amazing friends to reunite with! We were planning to go to Maine for the brief and beautiful summer-to-fall transition (my favorite time of year here). The Universe had greater plans, as I extended at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

I am now in Wilton, Maine working remotely for the best Company EVER, yours truly... Trusted

Maine is a HUGE state with few main roads and interstates... and a lot of back roads in between. Meaning a couple things: when you are choosing to travel in Maine, you may want to explore the immediate area you are in, or be prepared to drive A LOT (with probably very poor service) to explore multiple aspects of the state! 

That said, I decided to write this guide in which I divide the common areas where you might obtain a travel assignment. Maine is a very outdoorsy state, so I am going to focus mostly on the outdoorsy aspects of these locations as well as some of my favorites for food and drink.

Small towns in Maine are like no others; they are sustainable, quant, and typically have everything you need. Make sure you stop at one of the MANY mom & pop country stores, soak in the antique vibes, and talk to the locals. Antiques and antiquing is huge in the whole state of Maine, so make sure you stop at least once to get an authentic Maine souvenir! 

I highly recommend checking out the Maine Beer Trail, which has over 30 breweries you can check out (and even collect a stamp at each location)! You’ll get a chance to try a wide variety of beers as well as the unique vibes each of these breweries exhibits (you may even play some Cribbage while you are there)!

Geographical Layout 

These are the most common areas you could be based out of for a travel nurse assignment: 

Northern Maine: Presque Isle and Caribou

Not Quite Northern Maine: Bangor

Down East: Ellsworth, Bar Harbor, and Machias

Central: Lewiston, Waterville, and Augusta

Southern Maine: Portland and York

Guide to Northern Maine

What the Locals Recommend

Not hitting a Moose. Moose are highly populated in this area so be cautious while driving and hiking around them as you soak in your first site of this cute, horned horse. Winter lasts the majority of the year here, ranging from October-May, so the only way to get through it to get out! Snowmobiling, ice fishing, and other winter activities are very popular. 

Adventure

Adventure is unlimited in this area, but with the vast remoteness of this area, I would suggest you go with someone -- and not alone -- unless it is a clearly marked trail with good cell service, like Aroostook State Park. There is also some amazing fishing in this area, especially ice fishing. There are plenty of great spots in this area, but the locals mainly go to Eagle Lake. Mount Katahdin and The Allagash are decent drives but worth it!

Again, please do not adventure in these areas alone! You can also find many opportunities to do some cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or downhill skiing at Lonesome Pine Mountain.

Events

The Can Am Dog sled race runs close by if you want to check that out. There’s also the Maine Potato Blossom Festival in the summer.

Surrounding Towns to Visit

Fort Kent, a small University town right on the border of Canada.

Food

Presque Isle, near the Canadian border, has some great options. Canadian cuisine is very influential on the food scene here. I would recommend some poutine and checking out the Riverside Inn

mount katadin maine

Not-Quite-Northern Maine: Bangor Area

What the Locals Recommend

Check out Bangor City Forest for a nice walk or trail run right in town! If you come in the fall, check out Treworgy Family Orchards. During the summer, there are also a lot of concerts on the waterfront!

Adventure

Check out Acadia National Park, but plan for a 1-1/2 hour drive (so worth it!). You can also go to Camden Maine for hiking and cute little shops, or Rockland for the breakwater walk to a lighthouse! 

Events

A big even in the area is Common Ground Fair, located at Unity, Maine, which occurs on the 2nd weekend of September each year! Winter fun can include the Christmas Parade of Lights right in Bangor. There are also year-round farmers markets for local goods and crafts!

Surrounding Towns to Visit

Hamden for the best little workout studio, Maxium Studio, where you can check out their ultra red sauna (trust me, you will need it with the winter months!). Winterport has the cutest little tea shop, and Old Town is where the Old Town Canoe Factory was based and founded. Also check out Belfast for a cute coastal vibe and lots of good eats and cute shopping. 

Food

Bangor: Local recommendation The Coffee Pot for a sandwich with way too many onions but amazingly good. Also, Timber Kitchen and Bar, Blaze, and Masons Brewing Company. For drinks, take a look at the Maine Brew Trail for local breweries!

Camden: Long Grain for a modern Vietnamese spot (make sure to make a reservation!).

Belfast: Try Chase's Daily and the local co-op for a fresh bagel and humbling experience; stop by the farmers market while your there! 

weld, maine travel nurse

Down East

What the Locals Recommend

Checking out the Rock Coast and lighthouses. Here is a great resource for travel tips in this area!

Adventure

The Bold Coast via the Culter Coastal Trail to get an Oregon vibe right here in the state of Maine. Acadia National Park (Note: only open seasonally). For hiking, check out Pinnacle Trail for the more “dangerous side,” and Cadillac Mountain for the sunrise (be the first to see the sun in North America!). Arias also has some beaches within the park, although my favorite beach in this area is further north.   

Food

Bar Harbor: Seafood-lobster foshoo! There are also a bunch of great homemade ice cream spots like Mount Desert Island Ice Cream! The small spots and good food is about endless here and slightly overwhelming. Some well-reviewed spots are Mainly Meat BBQ at Atlantic Brewing Company, The Travelin Lobster LLC, and West Street Cafe

Machias: Helen's Restaurant and Pat’s Pizza have raving reviews! 

mount bigelow, maine travel nurse

Central/Western Maine

What the Locals Recommend

Get outside in nature!

Adventure

This area is very close to the mountains of western Maine, but also the ocean, with multiple lakes and ponds in between! Summer activities could include hiking, fishing, canoeing, biking, camping, or beach relaxation by a lake. Check out Popham Beach or the lakes around the area; the beaches and boating are endless! 

Surrounding Towns to Visit

Wilton (come see me!), but also check out Mount Blue State Park or head up to Sugarloaf for some skiing. 

Events

Blueberry Festival in Wilton occurs in August. There are also multiple events at Sugarloaf throughout the year, although mostly in the winter months.

Food

This area, along with the entire state of Maine, has a farm-to-table and local-eats base if you see a small place along your travels, you should definitely give it a try! It’s likely to be amazing!

Waterville: Portland Pie Company - this place is based out of Portland but is also in various locations. I love getting it in Waterville (order the Cheeseburger Pizza)! 

Lewiston: Governors is a local favorite. You can also try Davinci’s in Bangor for fresh and famous pies and great dinner vibes! 

Wilton: Caselios Pasta Company and Ambition Brewery are my favorite local spots.

mount crocker, maine travel nurse

Southern Maine

What the Locals Recommend

Music scene is great and the State Theater is a local gem. Take a look along the coast and get into the ocean... via boat or beach! 

Adventure

Go to the beach! This area is the best spot for your non-typical beach spots of Maine. I say this because Maine is known for rocky coasts, not sand, so there are some nice “beach” spots in Southern Maine with actual sand beaches. 

Hikes: Portland, Maine is super close to New Hampshire hiking and Western Maine. Try either for a day trip and adventure. Head to Grafton Notch for hiking, especially in September-October; you will not be disappointed!

Surrounding Towns to Visit

Freeport has some great shopping. You can visit the L.L Bean Boot! Wells, Bath, and tons of other small beach towns are also close! 

Food

The list of amazing food here is way too long to even share. The food scene is truly great! I will leave you with this wonderful write-up for more info! 

For some excellent seafood and fancy vibes, head down the cobble stone streets and visit Street and Company. One of my favorite noodle bars is Mi Sen. For a mini spa and tea break, please go see Soakology for the best loose leaf tea and a warm rice bag on your shoulders… ahh, take me back... so relaxing... For some morning treats, try CBD, or Coffee by Design, a big roaster locally. And, of course, check out Maine Potato Donuts at the Holy Donut (a must!).

rockland breakwater, maine travel nurse

All of the Maine Things (Recap & Highlights)

Food and Drink

Seafood is most likely fresher than where you are from unless you are also close to the ocean, so you should definitely try a lobster roll! I would recommend Seafood especially in Down East and Southern Maine.

Maine is also obsessed with Pizza. Being NY born, I would not say anything special with the thousands of Pizza joints in every little town of Maine, but I will say you MUST try a Cheese Burger Pizza at Portland Pie or Pizza Gourmet in Hamden… great for chowing down post-hike!

Whoopie Pies are the Maine thing and wicked good, a must try before leaving the state! Also Needums, a potato-based dessert that melts in your mouth, is worth a try. 

Hiking:

Hiking is so much fun in Maine. Check out the 4,000 footers for a huge adventure, but I suggest you bring along a partner! If it’s hunting season, wear orange!

Beaches: 

Even in the winter time, the beaches are so nice to go and see the ocean. I would recommend looking at this guide for some beaches near you!

Ultimately, if you’re thinking about giving Maine a try, I highly suggest you do it in the summer. Although, keep in mind this is when Maine will have the most competition for jobs! Hope to see you in “Vacation Land” soon! Oh, and for a good laugh -- and insight in the Maine accent that I love so much -- listen to Bob Marley, a famous Maine comedian.

Interested in travel nursing in Maine but are a first-time traveler? Let us help you get started!