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Preceding the boom of Google-able AirBnBs, VRBOs, and other vacation rental websites with an acronym for a name, is the decades-old Maine vacation tradition of going “upta camp”—aka the act of spending time in a remote location. There are no hard and fast rules of what makes camp, camp; in fact, the exact terms and conditions are highly subjective and based on one’s own interpretation-making it all the more interesting. Camp could be an oceanfront cottage or lakefront cabin. Camp could be a vacation home a drive away or winter outpost accessible only by snowmobile. Camp could be a patch of grass you revisit year-round with a tent and some trusted supplies.
Whatever it may be-it’s the rustic charm, off-grid location (most of the time), and wabi-sabi style of a handcrafted Maine hideout that makes it camp and even though this list is comprised of modern rentals that swap out rickety screen doors for floor-to-ceiling picture windows, and luxurious linens for questionable patchwork duvets-the heart and soul of camp are still there, just with a few upgrades.
Vibe: Not Your Average Glampsite
Located in midcoast Maine, about a 40 minute drive from Boothbay Harbor and Camden, Tops’l Farm classifies their own glamping experience as a cut above the rest, and we’d agree. It’s high-quality without being high-brow. Curated enough to enhance your stay without distracting you from actually enjoying it. Or as they put it, “a mashup of the exhilaration of summer camp, the comfort and simplicity of Grandma’s kitchen, and the laid back smoothness of a perfect Anejo tequila.”
Vibe: Solar-Powered Seclusion
Way downeast in Southern Maine and about a 45min drive from downtown Portland, a weekend (or 14-day stay if you’re in quarantine) away in this treehouse makes for an ahem elevated stay out in the woods. Aside from a hot tub, amazing views, electric fireplace, sprawling wraparound deck, and three acres all to yourself, it’s a carbon-neutral structure, just like the treehouse of your childhood, but a little more luxe. Within walking distance is Littlefield Pond, which is home to snapping turtles, ducks, herons, loons and other native Maine critters.
Vibe: The Simple Life
An hours drive from the heart of Portland, Harpswell, and Freeport, an extremely minimalist interior and two-burner camp cookstove kitchen means this compact cabin with beautiful views is merely a step above camping (don’t forget your sleeping bag), which is great news for the outdoor-lover who wants more out than in. If that’s you, you’ll revel in having easy access to 400 acres of forests and fields with winding hiking trails. If you prefer water to earth launch a kayak from the private dock to paddle around the Androscoggin River or head to Androscoggin Riverlands State Park for snowmobiling, ATV trails and more.
Vibe: Anchors Away
In case you wanted cozy, Camp Roam has just enough room for two on what might be the most romantic hideaway of all time. This houseboat has a swim ladder and spacious sun deck that encourages you to explore, plus a grill for some seriously epic outdoor dining. The wooden beams and portholes open up what might otherwise feel like a cramped space into an immersive natural experience on Rangeley Lake.
Unfortunately, Camp Roam is currently unavailable to rent, as the owners are facing some permitting issues. They are looking for a new home for their houseboats, however, so stay tuned
Vibe: Lakefront Luxe
A good ol’ glamping trip on Sebago Lake isn’t exactly channeling all those upta camp vibes, but that being said, it’s time spent out of doors with others that counts. Luckily, this surprisingly large safari-style tent has two separate bedrooms to comfortably sleep four campers and cook up three square meals. Do yourself a favor and unplug while you soak up all the little luxuries of this lakeside retreat.
Vibe: The Bare Necessities
Up in the wilds of Maine, this 10’x10’ hewn-log cabin captures the essence of bare-bones seclusion. Be prepared to forgo modern amenities and opt for a truly back-to-nature experience. Fortunately, there is no Wi-Fi, an outhouse, and nearly 4,000 acres of undeveloped forest and land to help you do just that. Perfect for hermits, hunters, gatherers, and folks looking for a break from city life.
Vibe: Modern Retreat
For those embarking on a family vacation or group trip, this modern 3 bedroom house tucked away in a sea of birch trees is your spot. The cedar exterior is painted a dark green to match its forested surroundings, however, it doesn’t require a vehicle with high ground clearance to get here. If the group is going stir-crazy make the short drive to nearby maine coast towns of Old Orchard Beach or Ogunquit but it’s not hard to disconnect when you’re spending a weekend in this oasis in the woods.
Vibe: Riverside Campout
There may not be weathered beams or cantilevered decks, but the canvas walls of this glamping tent provide a cozy and warm shelter from the elements without separating you from them altogether. Hang out and take in the water views at this sweet set-up on the banks of the Saco River, complete with a queen-size bed, linens, fire pit, and picnic area with food storage for a camp cookout under the stars. The river itself is great for kayaking, fishing and other activities. This kind of glampsite is best enjoyed when shared, so bring a few friends, why don’t ya?