I was born and raised in the South. Here are 10 things that surprised me about visiting New England.
I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, so many things surprised me about my first trip to Maine.
I couldn’t believe how quickly I’d pass through state lines and how many lighthouses I saw.
The beach is always pretty close, you can get seafood anywhere, and the people are very kind.
Growing up in the South, specifically Memphis, Tennessee, meant access to some of the world’s best barbecue, the birthplace of rock and roll, and jazz-filled nights on Beale Street.
But when I moved to the East Coast in 2018, I knew I’d be taking a lot more trips to New England, a region that’s vastly different.
Here are some things that surprised me on my first trip to Maine:
You can drive through more states in less time
As I began my road trip, I realized I passed through states at a faster rate than I’d normally be able to in the South since they’re smaller.
I drove through five different states in less than five hours on my way to Maine, which would be unimaginable in Tennessee considering the widespread, vast landscape.
The beach always seems to be close but may cost money
Since many New England towns are right along the coast, the beach is usually mere minutes or hours away. Although some of them may cost money, they’re worth it.
Several of Maine’s beaches were voted some of the best in New England in Town and Country magazine, and I agreed as I dipped my feet in the saltwater and watched my dog splash around in the waves.
The people in Maine are extremely kind
Although people often think of Southern hospitality – Tennessee is even called “The Volunteer State” – the simplicity and charm of Maine go hand in hand with its pleasant people.
New Englanders are said to be more reserved, but Mainers are an exception to this rule and are apparently known for their friendliness.
During my trip, I even found a dollar bill that someone had set aside on a rock in case anyone had lost it.
It’s a great place to sail and see the coast
One of my favorite parts about my trip was the silhouettes of sailboats along the coast. Coming from a landlocked state, I missed out on water sports such as surfing and sailing.
I was lucky enough to go for a sailboat ride, which left me aghast at the effortless beauty of Maine’s coast.
Towns are more walkable and bikeable
A noticeable difference between the South and New England is the ability to walk and bike to get where you need to go.
I didn’t have to get in my car and jump on the interstate to explore these quaint, coastal towns.
Lighthouses really were everywhere
The New England coast – and Maine in particular – is known for its abundance of lighthouses. Still, I couldn’t believe how many I was able to see in different locations. Some were on rocky cliffs or on hills against the shore.
I visited both Marshall Point Lighthouse and Owl’s Head Lighthouse, which are on U.S. News and World reports’ list of the best ones to visit.
There’s an abundance of local seafood, and you can even get it from locals’ basements
I was constantly surrounded by seafood and the people who catch it. I had heard that Maine’s lobster is the best in the country, and I now have to agree.
The majority of the country’s lobster comes from Maine, and as waters have gotten warmer, the region has recently seen a boom in the crustacean.
Much to my surprise, I also picked up raw oysters from a local stand in someone’s basement that requested for customers to leave money and take as many as they’d like.
The oysters were unlike anything I had ever seen or tasted. They spanned the length of my whole hand and were as mouthwatering as I’d hoped.
Maine has some historical art scenes – and it’s inspired some famous paintings
After many trips to the Museum of Modern Art, I grew to admire one of America’s most recognizable paintings, “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth. But prior to my trip, I had no idea it was inspired by a field in Maine.
The Olson House, which served as inspiration for many of Wyeth’s paintings, normally runs as a museum but was closed for the season.
My friend and I still decided to recreate Wyeth’s famous painting.
The dreamy landscape is ideal for photographers
I practice photography in my free time, and everywhere I went in Maine was a feast for the eyes (and lens).
The quaint, scenic towns along the rugged coast and vast forests full of pine trees create an ideal spot to sit behind a camera.
It is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been
New England is home to some of the most serene places I’ve ever been.
I’ll not only miss the down-to-earth locals in Maine, but also I’ll reminisce on the fresh salt air, farm stands, lighthouses, seafood, and so much more.
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