Sebago Lakes, Maine Vacation Guide
The Native American word “Sebago” translates into “great stretch of water.” It is appropriate for a lake that is ten miles long and nearly eight miles wide. Between that lake and the various rivers and ponds in the Sebago Lakes Region, you could paddle for 40 miles without touching land. It is a haven for power boaters, paddlers and fishermen. Pocket beaches provide spots for sunbathing and impromptu picnics and a number of campgrounds welcome nature lovers to pitch a tent or bring their RVs. Sebago Lakes State Park, on the northern edge of Sebago Lakes has one of the largest lakeside campgrounds. The various towns in the area all have a distinctive charm and complement the natural wonderland that is Sebago Lakes.
The Town of Casco dates back to when Maine was a province of Massachusetts. A substantial land grant was awarded to Capt. William Raymont. That grant would become Casco and various other Sebago Lakes towns. Early settlers found the soil poor for farming but the abundance of water led to a number of sawmills, gristmills and several factories. Steamboats transferred goods and passengers between Casco and Portland. A remnant of that era, the Songo River Queen, operates between the town of Naples on Long Lake and Sebago Lake via the Songo Lock.
A number of Maine’s major roadways run through Casco, including Route 11, the longest of Maine’s state highways and Route 32, the main roadway through the region and a connector to Portland. These highways and others make it easy to get to the Sebago Lakes area by car or boat. Travel these highways in the fall and the reds, golds and oranges of the changing leaves offer countless photo ops.
A number of summer camps call Casco home, including the Camp Arcadia for girls on Pleasant Lake and the Seeds of Peace Camp that hosts young people from parts of the world that are in conflict, either politically or militarily. Point Sebago Resort is also within Casco town limits, offering a championship golf course, beach access and various accommodation choices. In winter the resort becomes a snow blanketed wonderland, offering snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and even more winter fun. Nearby is the Seacoast Fun Park and its tubing hills. The park doubles as an amusement park in the summer.
Casco Days is held during the last weekend in July. A family favorite since 1935, this is an old fashioned carnival combined with the four-mile Casco Days Country Run. Get your exercise and then indulge in the carnival foods you remember from your youth. In winter take part in an ice fishing derby on Sebago Lake or enjoy Winterfest at Point Sebago.
Privately owned Frye Island sits in the middle of Sebago Lake across from Windham. All residents are seasonal, with the island rolling up its sidewalks from November until April. The ferry service, also owned by the island, shuts down for the off season. During the warmer months guests are welcome to play the Frye Island Golf Course and have an ice cream or a meal at the Frye’s Leap Café and Store. The island has 13 beaches, some lightly developed and others in their natural state. A favorite is Cocktail Beach, a strip of white sand facing west, perfect for watching the sunset. The only accommodations on the island are vacation rentals, either by owner or through an agent. The Long Beach Marina has a limited number of public slips for those sailing over from the mainland, but no overnight stays on boats is allowed.
The town of Gray includes the northern portion of Little Sebago Lake and the smaller Crystal Lake. It started as a farming and light industrial area and remains rural to this day. In 1791 Samuel Mayall built his woollen mill, defying British millenary trade laws at the time. It became North America’s first successful water-driven wool factory, in operation until 1902 and now a historic site. Dry Hills Schoolhouse, built in 1857 is on the National Register of Historic Place. It operated as a school until 1958 and is now a museum. The Libby Hills Forest Trails offer a chance to hike in summer and snowshoe in winter and is a popular geocaching spot. Geocaching is a more complex version of a treasure hunt. The Maine Wildlife Park is also located in Gray.
The town of Limerick sits on land that was once the Limerick Plantation. James Sullivan had Irish roots and named the town after his father’s birthplace in Ireland. Route 5, otherwise known as the Solokis Trail, runs through the heart of Limerick. It is one of the best highways to find the fall colors in the Sebago Lakes area. Annual events include Octoberfest, a celebration of brew and food and the Sokokis Lake Ski Club Water Ski Show in July. One of the town’s vintage homes, the Jeremiah Mason House, built in 1859, operates as a B&B.
Limington, founded in 1792, is home to Sawyer Mountain and at 1,100 feet a popular hiking spot. The Saco River offers swimming and kayaking as well as shore-side picnic spots. Part of the river in this area, near Route 25, has challenging whitewater rapids. A number of buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, including a tiny one-room library, a blacksmith shop and a vintage barn. The annual quilt show is held in the Old Town Hall, dating back to the early 1800s. The biggest celebration is the 4th of July Parade and evening fireworks. Limington is mostly residential with a few services clustered around Main Street. The closest accommodations are in nearby Limerick. The Limington-Harmon Airport/Airpark is just north of town.
Naples is surrounded by water. It sits on the northern end of Lake Sebago, with part of Sebago Lakes State Park within its borders. One big draw is the Causeway, filled with restaurants and pubs and a perfect spot to enjoy a sunset. Long Lake in Naples is also where you may board the Songo River Queen for an old-fashioned paddle-wheeled boat cruise through Songo Lock. Fishing charters, boat rentals, campgrounds and motels are all available. The Augustus Bove House, on Long Lake, dates back to 1850. It currently operates as a B&B inn.
This year-round outdoor playground offers a Blues Festival in June, 4th of July celebration with parade and fireworks, summer concerts at the town gazebo, a mini-golf course, arcades, antique and novelty shops and ice cream parlors. Fall is leaf-peeping time. In winter, bring out the ice fishing gear, the skis, snowshoes and snowmobiles.
One of the larger towns in the Sebago Lakes area, New Gloucester is largely rural. It is home to the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, which is a National Historic Landmark and a working Shaker Farm. The onsite museum and library are open throughout the summer and nature hikes are offered, as well as tours of the village. Annual events include the Maine Festival of American Music each June, and a Native American Summer Market and Demonstration held each August.
Each fall Thompson’s Orchards is open from Labor Day until the end of December and invites guests to pick their own apples, buy baked goods and take a hayride or sleigh ride. The New Gloucester Community Fair is held every October, featuring car shows, antique tractors, games, entertainment, craft booths and regional foods. Limited visitor services are in the center of town off Route 231.
Raymond sits on the eastern end of Sebago Lake, off Jordan Bay. It is also blessed with an abundance of waterways, including Panther Pond, Crescent Lake and Raymond Pond. Founded in 1767 it was part of the original land grant that created Casco and parts of Naples. This rural township is the birthplace of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. His boyhood home, built in 1812, is on the list of National Historic Buildings and is used for events hosted by the Hawthorne Community Association. The annual Strawberry Festival, during the latter part of June and an old-fashioned Christmas Party are held each year. Raymond is tourist oriented, with a number of hotels, inns, restaurants and boat rental outfits available.
Sebago covers 50 square miles but only has about 1,500 year-round residents. The draw is the tranquil lakes and ponds and their backdrop of rugged mountain scenery. The community sits on the north-western edge of Sebago Lake, along Route 107. Douglas Mountain, once used primarily for logging, is now a nature area. It has trails that lead to the summit and an old stone tower that gives visitors an even better view of the surrounding country side. Built in 1925, oxen were used to haul the large stones and building materials to the top. Campgrounds, cabins and vacation cottage rentals are nearby. Grocery stores, ice cream shops and assorted seasonal stores are along Sebago Road, the main drag.
Standish is spread out over 83 square miles, surrounding the southern end of Sebago Lake. It is made up of a number of small villages including Standish Corner, Steep Falls and Sebago Lake Village. The Steep Falls Wildlife Management Area is on the northern end of Standish, off Route 114. This day-use park offers the chance to fish and hunt, both in season, and enjoy wildlife watching year round. Most restaurants and services are along Route 25 in the center of town. The closest campground is Family & Friends at Sebago Lake. Other options in Standish are private vacation home and cabin rentals.
Sitting only ten miles from Portland, Windham is Sebago Lake’s largest town. Founded in 1762 it is home to the Babb’s Covered Bridge, built in 1840 and connecting Windham to neighboring Gorham. The original structure was destroyed by fire in 1973 but the community rebuilt the structure, restoring its vintage charm. The Parson Smith House, built in 1764, and the Goold House, circa 1837 are both on the National Historic Registry, along with the entire Great Falls Historic District. The Old Grocery Store is now a museum, housing an impressive old tools collection. Most of the motels, cottages and visitor services are along Sebago Lake or Route 302. If you happen to visit during the holidays, Christmas tree farms are big business. Start your holiday by picking out your own tree and cutting it down, just like they did in the old days.
Sebago Lakes Region Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Sebago, Maine area.
- Casco Maine
- Cornish Maine
- Gray Maine
- Limerick Maine
- Limington Maine
- Naples Maine
- New Gloucester Maine
- Raymond Maine
- Sebago Maine
- Standish Maine
- Windham Maine