Searching for a spot to cool off? You don't necessarily need to drive to the coast for a beach day.

When most people think beaches, they think of beaches on the ocean and with more than 200 miles of coastline Maine has tons of beach options. But what about lake and river beaches? Maine has some of the best that are often overlooked.

Summertime in Maine means busy beaches. Southern Maine is known for its oceanside beaches, most popular being Old Orchard, Wells, and Ogunquit. But what about us "northern" Mainers?

We've assembled a list of some great beach options near Bangor.

1. Jenkins Beach: About 21 miles from Bangor, Jenkins Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the area. The beach on Green Lake in Ellsworth has a wide stretch of fine sand good for sunbathing and beach sports. Everything from party boats to kayaks are permissible, so visitors can choose to fish, water ski, relax or exercise. A snack bar is also on location. It's also worth noting it is a pet free beach.

2. Jackson Beach: About 14 miles from Bangor in Hermon, Jackson Beach is a small-town beach with a quiet atmosphere when there are no local events. Activities other than swimming include kayaking and canoeing. Many find that the picnic facilities are the highlight of this beach. The town keeps grills and picnic tables on the beach so visitors can have mealtime gatherings. The beach is also a great spot for fishing.

3. Swan Lake State Park: About 20 miles from Bangor. It's a beach edged with tall pine trees on Swan Lake near Belfast. A lifeguard watches over swimmers during the summer. The beach has restrooms, space for sunbathing and a picnic area. Visitors can rent a group shelter with a volleyball net and horseshoes. Nearby activities include canoeing, fishing, hiking and hunting. Children can play on the beach's playground.

4. Branch Lake: About 20 Miles from Bangor. Located on the Orland/ Ellsworth line, it's quaint, quiet, and is popular among locals but still somewhat unknown to visitors. The beach is sand surrounded by large boulders and a great spot to catch frogs! A public boat access is in the works for the future. Branch Lake also features great fishing opportunities. Landlocked salmon are stocked annually, and also features healthy smallmouth bass, brown, brook and lake trout populations.

5. Sandy Point Beach: About 25 miles from Bangor in Stockton Springs. Sandy Point Beach is situated along the Penobscot River. While it may not be the best for swimming due to the strong river current, the beach is a quiet, and scenic. This is again, not the best swimming beach, but dog owners and scenic view seekers are frequent visitors here. At high tide a small stream forms cutting the beach in half, so be careful you don't get stranded on the wrong side. At low tide you can walk among the old pier posts, one of which is topped with a large Peregrine Falcon nest often full of baby birds and the mother. Don't get too close or they will get territorial, the daddy falcon is usually watching your every move from atop a nearby tree.

6. Schoodic Beach: About 50 miles from Bangor, near Sullivan. Schoodic Beach, located within the Donnell Pond Public Lands Unit, is a popular summer destination. If you're looking for a unique beach day with a beautiful hike, this could be a perfect option. Schoodic Mountain offers stunning views from the summit. On a warm day hike the mountain, then cool off at the beach. Or simply walk the .5 mile trail down to the beach for fun in the sun. For a more in-depth look at Schoodic Beach and Mountain, check-out our article.

Bonus: Morgan's Beach: About 40 miles from Bangor. Morgan's Beach is located in the town of Enfield, on Cold Stream Pond. The sandy beach features a snack shack, picnic area with grills, changing rooms and restrooms. The beach is not pet friendly. The beach opens June 18.


Bonus: Newbury Neck Beach: About 37 Miles from Bangor. Newbury Neck Beach is located in the town of Surry. The parking area is now accessible to the public again. According to the Ellsworth American, the land was sold to the town for $215,000.

NEXT UP: More Maine Beaches We Love

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