North of Portland , the Maine coast starts to look like a jagged sawblade, with crannied bays carved out of the coast, and long points jutting out into the Atlantic. For many people, this is quintessential Maine , washed clean of the honky-tonk beaches of the South Coast  and teeming with panoramic vistas wherever the eye lands.
In fact, it may be where you spend the bulk of your time in the state, driving slowly down one peninsula after another and pausing to eat lobster-in-the-rough at the end of a dock, watch fishing boats stream into harbor, or climb to the top of one of the area’s many lighthouses.
The area is far from homogenous, however. Each town along the coast has established a distinctive character. The military base near Bowdoin College makes Brunswick  a college town with a difference, while nearby Bath  is acclaimed both as a shipbuilding center and artists community. Wiscasset  is a picture-postcard village that might have been dropped here from Vermont. Boothbay Harbor  might be its foil—a cotton-candy and T-shirt-shop tourist destination that teems with families in the summer months.
Heading further north, Penobscot Bay  is the heart of the region, a wide crinkly bay scattered with dozens of small islands and anchored by two very different towns. Camden  has been a yachting capital for decades and is filled with ritzy shops and eateries, while the working lobstering town of Rockland  has woken from a long slumber to provide a good mix of industry and tourism.
The latter is also home base for several ferries that provide access to the islands in the neighboring bay, which each have their own charms—the fishing village of Vinalhaven , the long flat Islesboro  (a bicyclist’s dream), and the artists’ magnet of Monhegan .