11. Camden, Maine
So what will it be? The beach or the mountains? Here’s a question – why not both? In Camden, Maine – a small 3,570-person town, according to estimates from City-Data, you can have both. Specifically, Camden is located on Penobscot Bay, along the Atlantic seaboard, a place where the mountains fittingly merge with the ocean. So yes, in the summer months when the weather is warm enough, you can enjoy the beach and the mountains.
Camden is a former shipbuilding town that’s been a favorite destination of travelers since the 1880s for those two features. In fact, many of the mansions that were formerly occupied by wealthy seasonal residents back in the day have since been converted to hotels, bed and breakfasts and other places to house the many tourists that flock to the area. But there’s much more to do in Camden than just sit back, relax and enjoy the view. Consider taking a schooner cruise through the bay to take in all of what Maine has to offer. Lighthouses, islands and coves dot the coast.
Camden’s Main Street is rich with antique shops and art galleries that are great for browsing and window shopping – and of course, there’s that east coast favorite dish, lobster, which is served up at all the restaurants in town. If relaxing isn’t your thing, just venture into the mountains and into Camden Hills State Park to explore up to 30 miles of hiking trails (for a great view, visit Mt. Battie, which offers great views on top of its 800-foot summit).
Camden is truly the best of both worlds, which is why Budget Travel has named the small town as a finalist on its 2013 “Coolest Small Towns” contest. And with a population of just 3,570, it truly is a small town in every right.