In such an odd time for travel, I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to escape to Maine for a week getaway this summer. I absolutely love this state – I’ve visited twice before – and thought we could have the best socially-distanced trip in this outdoorsy vacationland. I shared a bit of our experience traveling during a pandemic here, but today I’m excited to share more about how we spent our week in Maine!
Like I mentioned, I visited Maine with my family twice before – once on a cruise with stops in Kennebunkport and Bar Harbor, and then the following summer to Spruce Head Island and the surrounding areas. Once we decided that we wanted to escape to Maine, I knew immediately that I wanted to head back to the Mid-Coast. There were so many little towns to visit and places to spend time outdoors, plus the rocky coastline is the perfect place to sit and take in the scenery should everything be closed. Despite the ten hours drive, we were so excited for this road trip adventure.
Early Sunday morning, we packed our car and cooler and hit the road. We only stopped twice between our home and Maine’s state boarder – once at Starbucks and once at one of the turnpike rest stops to switch drivers. We made incredible time, so much so that we decided to make a brief stop in Freeport, Maine at the L.L. Bean campus, before finishing the last hour and a half of our journey.
We arrived at our little cottage around dinnertime and were immediately infatuated with the breathtaking view of Penobscot Bay. When looking for a place to book, all I wanted was a place with a view. That way, at the very least, we would spend our week on waterfront property, soaking in all of the beauty within Maine. Since we booked so last minute, I was worried we were going to be able to find one but we lucked out with our cabin, affectionately known as “Little Red”.
While we were at first surprised at how little our little red cabin was (to be fair, the neighboring houses were large rental properties that you would see on HGTV!), we came to love its quaint and intimate vibe. We had a full kitchen, electric, running water and the most beautiful easterly view of the Bay. It also had the most perfect cross breeze that ran from the head of the bed, out to the windows overlooking the bay – a much welcomed amenity when we were used to the heat and humidity of August!
After we met our hosts and unloaded the car, Jody and I headed to nearby Belfast for an evening stroll around town and dinner before calling it a night. We ended up at Delvinos, an upscale Italian cafe, right in the heart of Belfast. Since it was getting late and we were tired from our day of travel, we split a salad, ravioli and eggplant fries before returning to the cabin for the evening.
Our first morning in Maine was overcast and foggy, but I still throughly enjoyed my coffee on the deck, listening to the waves roll onto the beach below. We had decided to spend the day exploring the nearby towns, but before we did that, we opted to get brunch at The Hoot, a farm-to-table restaurant that came highly recommended from our cabin hosts. True to their recommendation, it was better than we imagined. I ordered the Swiss and Mushroom scramble (served with the most delicious toast, I must add!) and Jody opted for the Blueberry Crisp Pancake – y’all this pancake tasted just like blueberry muffin batter. It was full of local Maine blueberries and topped with maple flavored granola. Jody would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Breakfast Beer he also enjoyed. I can’t think of a better way to kick off our first day!
After brunch, we stopped in the little village of Bayside before continuing on to Camden. Bayside reminded me of the resort in Dirty Dancing, if it was lifted up and moved to the rocky coastline of Maine. Everyone we passed was nice and smiling, the bright colors of the kayaks lined the beach and the boats bobbed up and down in the cove. This village screamed vacation, in the most coastal way possible.
About 20 minutes down the road was Camden, one of the most popular towns in the Mid-Coast area. In addition to all of the shops, restaurants, and boutique hotels, Camden is bordered by the trails of Camden Hills State Park and Penobscot Bay. Lobster boats, kayaks and schooners tours all sail in and out of the harbor, so there truly is a lot to do in this little town. We enjoyed stretching our legs by strolling through the shops, grassy parks and, of course, soaking in the views by the harbor. We did look into the schooner tours and sea kayaking for possibly doing later in the week before we heading to the neighboring town of Rockport.
Rockport was small, but we enjoyed learning about its industrial history through the plaques along the harbor. We also found a little sandy beach and a scenic walking trail that lead us around the town. The town was quiet and not much was opened, which I’m not sure was because of the current climate or not. Not much later, we headed back toward Camden in search of drink and dinner.
Once back in Camden, we headed to the rooftop of 16 Bay View, a luxury Maine boutique hotel, with a rooftop bar overlooking the harbor. All of the lounging seats along the outside were full, but we enjoyed our hightop in the middle of the roof. We sipped our drinks while chatting and watching the boats sail back into the harbor for the evening. We began looking for dinner options to soon learn that most places to eat in Camden were closed on Mondays. I’m not totally sure, but I think this scheduling was due to COVID restrictions and needing time for restaurants to restock and sanitize. The bar was one of the places that was open for dining, but their options were limited. After a round or two, we decided to check out a nearby restaurant that looked to be open, but quickly learned that they were not.
Thinking of the restaurants options we found the day before in Belfast, we headed back towards our cabin, when we came across the Lobster Pound at Lincolnville Beach. I was excited to finally order a lobster, so we placed our order at the counter and found a picnic table to dine at behind the restaurant, overlooking the water. Jody had never had lobster, so he opted for a cheeseburger over Maine’s seafood delicacy, which naturally, I ordered. I shared a bit of mine so he could try it, and he was pleasantly surprised by its light and sweet taste. We were full and happy as we headed back to the cabin for the night as the sun set behind the hills.
The next morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the cabin before heading out for another day of explore Mid-Coast Maine. Our first stop was at Marshall Point Lighthouse, also known in our family as the Forrest Gump Lighthouse This lighthouse happens to be the place where Tom Hanks filmed the clip of the movie while Forrest was on his running adventure from coast to coast. While there were a few groups of people around when we arrived, they all ended up leaving so we ended up having the place to ourselves, which was nice! The museum and gift shop were understandably closed, but we enjoyed the seclusion of the grounds and watching the sailboats off in the distance.
At this point, we actually weren’t too far from Spruce Head Island where my family stayed before. I was more than ready for a fresh lobster roll so we took a detour to the island and to McLoon’s Lobster Shack. Funny enough, this lobster shake was literally three buildings away from where I had previously stayed, but I never ate there! As it was lunch time, they were quite busy, but we were lucky to have a set of Adirondack chairs open up that were right on the edge of the water. Jody continued his venture into the lobster world by agreeing to split a lobster roll with me. I had been telling him for weeks about the best lobster roll I ever had in Maine, so he was ready to see what the excitement was all about. True to Maine spirit, we ordered a side of Cape Cod chips and a Blueberry Soda. Admittedly, trying to split, share and eat a lobster roll on a breezy day was more challenging than its perfect image, but it was so worth it.
Next on our tour of Mid-Coast Maine, was the coastal town of Rockland. I remembered Rockland for its restaurants and views of the harbor, but it also has a big art scene. However, what I remembered was nothing like what we saw. Disappointedly, most shops and restaurants were closed and it honestly seemed like a bit of a ghost town. We figured most of the galleries and museums were closed due to the pandemic, but there just weren’t as many people out and about like there was in Camden. Granted, it was the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, which I’m sure is not their most popular hour.
We strolled in and out of a few of the open shops, including Fiore, before making our way to the Rockland Breakwater. This lighthouse sits one mile out into the Rockland Harbor and features a walkway to it on the granite stone wall. It is such a neat experience to be complete surrounded by water that far out into the bay. It was a little more crowded here, but we still had plenty of space to stop for pictures and to soak in the view.
After our (read: surefooted) walk back over the granite wall, we decided to have a low-key night at the cabin. We brought hot dogs, chips, corn and pasta salad and enjoyed wine all out on the deck before sunset. It was a great way to spend the evening before the adventure that was ahead the following day. More on that and the rest of our week soon!