Lakeside towns

Set in the foothills of western Maine with easy access to the lofty mountains beyond, the communities of Fryeburg, Norway, Rangeley, and several others offer unfettered access to the region’s natural beauty and diverse attractions year-round. With a landscape characterized by rolling hills, ponds, lakes, or lush forests, these places connect with nature, creating a harmonious blend of relaxation and adventure.

One of the prime draws for many of these cute towns, like Naples and Waterford, is that they are classic Maine resort communities with easy access to the water. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, or unwinding along their sandy shores. Most boast charming streets lined with local shops, eateries, and historical landmarks, perfect ways to create a welcoming atmosphere for strolling and exploration.

For those seeking a respite in nature, several state parks sit nearby, including Range Ponds State Park and Rangeley Lakes State Park. Hiking trails wind through lush forests, revealing panoramic vistas and glimpses of native wildlife. The Norway-Paris area showcases the beauty of Norway Lake, surrounded by parks and green spaces that provide tranquil spots for picnics and family outings. Cultural enthusiasts will find a rich history in the communities’ architecture, and museums, while local festivals and fairs celebrate the vibrant traditions of these tight-knit communities.

Whether it’s the allure of natural wonders, the thrill of outdoor activities, or the charm of small-town living, the lakeside communities of Maine’s Lakes and Mountains allow travelers to immerse themselves in a region where every season unfolds a new chapter of exploration and enchantment.

must visit spots

The Fryeburg Public Library


A charming escape for visitors to Maine and just moments from both Lovewell and Kezar Ponds, the town of Fryeburg is to easy reach from Portland and Lewiston-Auburn. Driving up Route 302 reveals this picturesque village where a climb to the top of the historic Jockey’s Cap gives a panoramic view.

In town, among the shops and restaurants, look for Saco Valley Sports Center, which houses a vintage bowling alley and an assortment of arcade games that cater to visitors of all ages.

With a population of just over 3,000, this quaint city grows into a bustling summertime playground. Then each October, it comes to life again as hundreds of thousands gather for the renowned Fryeburg Fair. With roots dating back over a century, the fair is the largest agricultural gathering in Maine, featuring livestock shows, horse pulling, farm equipment demonstrations, and a delightful petting zoo.

For the remaining months of the year, The White Mountain National Forest and the surrounding mountain landscape offer visitors trails like Blueberry Mountain and Big Deer Hill, while paddlers, boaters, swimmers, and freshwater anglers can enjoy time in the Saco River, Kezar Pond, and Lovewell Pond.

Whether you’re planning a trip around the iconic Fryeburg Fair or simply seeking a peaceful vacation retreat, Fryeburg is a delightful pond-side destination for all.

The Maine Woods Shop for gifts in Norway


Norway and its neighbor, South Paris, represent some of the best of the Oxford Hills area. With quintessential charm and breathtaking natural beauty, South Paris overflows with history and fun. At the same time, Norway’s Main Street welcomes visitors to a renaissance underway. As you traverse to these idyllic towns, you’ll find yourself passing through a landscape painted with rolling hills, dense forests, and meandering rivers.

South Paris boasts a rich history visible in its well-preserved architecture and attractions that invite you to step back in time and explore. Two outstanding attractions include the Celebration Barn performance venue and the McLaughlin Garden’s cooling shade. Both deserve more than a passing glance.

Downtown Norway is best explored by leisurely stroll down Main Street. You’ll find an abundance of places to shop, browse, and dine, many housed in buildings dating back to the late 1800s. While Norway has been around much longer than that, the Great Norway Fire of 1894 decimated the town. Quickly rebuilt, many of the buildings from that effort still standing today.

For nature enthusiasts, the area serves as a gateway to outdoor adventures. Trails at the Roberts Farm Preserve and paddling or fishing for “smallies” in Lake Peneseewassee, just to the north of Norway, invite exploration.

Family picnic in Rangeley Lakes State Park


The small town of Rangeley in western Maine is known for the gorgeous lakes surrounding it. It is one of the region’s most popular destinations with sportspeople and paddlers partly because there are 112 lakes and ponds in the town’s immediate vicinity. The many bodies of water and abundant nature trails provide countless outdoor adventures, from fly fishing to hiking and climbing. If traveling during the warmer months, remember your bathing suit and towel for a refreshing swim at Rangeley Lake State Park Beach, known for its clear and cool water.

This postcard-worthy town near the border with New Hampshire bursts with history along its streets. Founded by sawmill workers and farmers, tourists and sportspeople started trickling in by the late 19th-century following rumors of the inland town with boundless nature to relax and go fishing. The town’s unique shopping opportunities include locally-made maple syrup jams and natural skin care products. Plus, there are plenty of places to grab a bite or have a full meal (depending on your time and budget).

The Rangeley Lakes region, with tranquil surroundings and spectacular lakes, continues to be on the radar for big-city residents. Despite its ever-growing popularity, the humble town is full of non-fussy charm set among quintessential Maine lakes. 

more lakeside towns

Ways to Adventure

Plan Your Trip

Maine’s Lakes and Mountains offers a variety of resources to help you plan your next visit, including an annual visitor’s guide, stand alone map, and the new Adventure Guide App.

Visitor's Guide

Our Free Visitor's Guide will help inspire your next adventure along our mountain trails, lakes, scenic byways, bustling towns and more.

Map of the Region

Companion to the Visitor Guide, our dual-sided planning map will help you find your way to adventure in every season throughout the region.

Adventure Guide App

The App will point the way to all kinds of adventures, experiences and destinations in Maine’s Lakes and Mountains with GPS location maps and alerts.

Adventure Respectfully

Our lakes, mountains, and forests are worthy of respect. Whether you’re venturing out into our vast public or private lands or parks, here’s what you can do to conserve the area’s natural resources for all.

other resources

Take Care of the Land

Tread lightly and leave no trace. Keep this place as pristine as you found it.

Where ya headed?

Check if you’ll be on public or private land and if there are any restrictions or fees. Always research your destination ahead of time.

Stick to established trails & roads.

Whether hiking, biking, angling, or ATVing, always stay on a designated trail.


To protect the forest, only build fires in approved sites, don’t leave them unattended, and extinguish them thoroughly.

Avoid spreading invasive species.

Don’t transport firewood, brush your boots, and wash and dry your boat before heading to your next adventure.

Avoid peak hours

Plan around peak hours midday to avoid crowds. Have a Plan B in case the parking lot is already full.

No litterbugs allowed

If you pack it in, pack it out, including food waste like apple cores. Bring bags for pet waste.

When nature calls

If you have to go, pick a spot at least 100′ off the trail or away from a body of water, and bury your poop 6″ deep.

Maine's Lakes and Mountains by the numbers

4,000+ footers
Mountain Peaks
Lakes and Ponds
+Towns and Villages
Square Miles of Adventure
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