With 3,478-miles of tidal shoreline, it would take months to investigate all of the nooks and crannies of the craggy coast of Maine. At every bend, there’s a quaint coastal village, picturesque lighthouse, or beautiful little harbor begging to be visited. We contented ourselves with three nights in Boothbay to explore the mid-coastal region, followed by a week in the fabulous little metropolis of Portland.
At just 100 miles from our last stop in Acadia, we rolled into Boothbay Craft Brewery for three nights. The tiny campground offers full hookups, and is a good location for exploring the nearby hamlets of Boothbay, Camden and Rockport.
But the primary reason to stay here is the inviting tavern and brewery, just a couple hundred feet from the campground. The Watershed Tavern serves up the excellent craft beer made on site, along with some of the BEST pizza (including gluten-free options!) that we’ve ever had. Adding to the ambiance are the friendly owners/chefs/and bartenders. (Thanks to our traveling friends Jodee and Bill for telling us about this great little campground.)
We spent several hours walking around the charming town of Boothbay and picked up a few fresh items at the sweet little Boothbay Farmers’ Market, including radishes. 😆 (Keep reading; you’ll understand the irony of this purchase.)
Click on photos for a larger image
Camden, Rockport, & Rockland, Maine
On another day, we headed out to explore the nearby towns of Camden, Rockport, and Rockland. Our time in this area was far too brief, but we made the most of it by exploring the pretty harbors, walking the beautiful breakwater trail to the Rockland Lighthouse (watch out for the big cracks between the rocks), and enjoying a leisurely lunch at the creative and excellent Thai restaurant Long Grain in Camden. (I think our fellow gourmet food-loving friend Laura alerted us to this restaurant; but if not, it’s a place she would have alerted us to if she had been there.)
Another 50 miles delivered us to Portland, Maine. We set up camp for a week at the delightful Wild Duck Campground in Scarborough, just 7 miles from Portland. What a great find! Peaceful, convenient, and with a view of the marsh from our site. The grasses were golden in early fall, and it was beautiful. (Fortunately, fall is also a bug-free time of year. Can you imagine backing up to a salt marsh in bug season? I can. We have. It’s terrible.)
Because it was bug-free, we loved having the Scarborough Marsh right outside of our back door. It’s the largest salt marsh in Maine, and trails link up to 62-miles of the multi-use Eastern Trail. We enjoyed biking and walking the trails several times during our week-long stay.
Exploring And Loving Portland, Maine
Portland is the very definition of cool. But not contrived cool. Just delicious, interesting, picturesque, casual cool. We loved our week exploring the town. We could easily see ourselves spending a summer in Portland, and now that we’re living on the East Coast, it’s within the realm of possibility.
We spent hours just walking around the town and exploring. It’s one of our favorite things to do.
We visited the excellent Portland Museum of Art, and took an interesting tour of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, built in 1785. This is where Longfellow grew up, wrote his first poetry, and lived until his early 30s. More than 90 percent of the furnishings are original, including Henry’s childhood rocking horse.
On a foggy late afternoon, we hopped on the commuter ferry to Peaks Island. It’s just a 15-minute ride each way, but it gave us the opportunity to get out onto the water and offered a view of Portland’s waterfront.
We also, of course, had to make a stop at the L.L. Bean in Freeport, just 17 miles from Portland. We’ve been ordering hiking gear from L.L. Bean for decades, and it was fun to visit the mothership.
Portland’s Local Food Scene
The food in Portland is some of the best and most creative we’ve encountered anywhere in our travels. We really outdid ourselves in Portland, LOL. Every day was a culinary adventure, whether we were shopping at the farmers’ market and the exceptional seafood market or sampling the restaurants, breweries, and bakeries. It would take an entire summer to work through the vast repertoire of culinary offerings in Portland.
We chose two dozen oysters from the seafood market for an “oyster tasting” extravaganza back at camp.
We enjoyed an excellent assortment of small plates at Central Provisions, where sitting at the bar and watching the chefs prepare delicious food in an orchestrated dance is part of the entertainment.
We met up for a fun few hours with our good friend Laurie, who spends summers at her family home in Portland. We started off our day with brunch at the excellent Terlingua Restaurant. Eggs Benedict made with smoked haddock cakes. Yum.
What is it about radishes? I really like them when they’re served in certain salads—they add just the right peppery-sweet bite when they’re sliced paper thin. But I consistently buy them, and consistently neglect them. I currently have a bag of cute various colored radishes sprouting in my refrigerator. Note to self: Remember the radishes.
One of the most delicious meals (out of all of our delicious meals in Portland) was at Duckfat Frites Shack. Fries are not part of our food pyramid. But we had cones of those crispy, perfectly cooked fries served with an assortment of dipping sauces (truffle ketchup, curry mayo, Thai chili mayo). All I can say is it’s a good thing this place is not right around the corner from our house.
Portland is known for its craft brewery scene, and we sampled several during our week. I don’t think you can go wrong with any brewery in Portland.
The small craft bakeries are excellent, too. Have I mentioned that Portland is a food-lover’s paradise?
Meeting Up With Friends For A Special Day
On a chilly Maine fall day, we drove ten miles to the charming town of Cape Elizabeth to see my childhood friend Marti and her husband Tom. They showed us a great time, taking us on an adventure in their vintage, immaculately restored International Harvester Travelall.
We got a special tour of the adorable Bug Park Light lighthouse, walked the trails at Fort Williams Park to see the iconic Portland Head Lighthouse, and had a picnic lunch of excellent lobster rolls from the Bite Into Maine food truck. Such a fun day!
Portland, we’ll be back!
Your posts are making us really miss the travels. So now we’re looking for a small trailer that we can hit the road again for short periods…
What a great life you have. Lucky you💙💛
Thank you, Kathryn. We do feel fortunate and very grateful. I hope you’re doing well.
Yes!!! You need a little travel rig, and you can come visit us in Florida. :-)
You know how much I loved this, Laurel! Of course, I linked it in my calendar for when we will be on the Maine Coast…camped at Wild Duck Campground, thanks to you. I do wish we could spend more time there, but we still have to get back all the way across the country before October does its thing. I’ll be watching the calendar as we move west and north and checking in with you. Who knows if our paths will cross again, but I hope they do.
Sue, I’m so glad you were able to get a reservation at Wild Duck! I think you’re going to love Portland. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do while you’re there. I hope our paths cross in October as we head back to Florida and you head back to Oregon.
Looks like the perfect spot to spend a summer! I was drooling….
Sue, we could easily spend an entire summer in Maine!
I want to hook up the RV and go to Portland after reading this blog post. My mouth is watering, my tastebuds are in overload, the scenery is breathtaking! Thanks so much for the tour and lovely photos. Radishes are one veggie Mike will eat raw–so they go on all his salads and I sometimes just give him a dish of radishes to eat–got to get vegetables into the guy some way! :)
What a fabulous post! again! I was thru Maine, but not those cute little towns, and I skipped Portland thinking it would be just another city, but gee, I’m so so wrong!!! I will definitely re-visit the Maine coast, thx for a wonderful show and tell.
Thanks, Terri! Portland is definitely worth visiting. It’s a laid-back little city with a rich culture and lots of fun places to explore. We would really like to spend an entire summer on the coast of Maine. I hope you’re doing well.
Haha!!! Janna, that is hilarious that radishes are one of Mike’s favorite vegetables! I’m so glad you enjoyed the tour of Portland. We absolutely loved that little city and would happily return.
Eric’s photos are always stunning, but he really outdid himself this time with the colors! (Unless you took some yourself? If so, take a bow.) Also, thanks for that glimpse of the Peaks Island ferry dock. We actually lived on Peaks for 5 months back in 2004, and our boys rode the ferry to school every day. Memories!!! Such a special place. Thank you, thank you.
I’m glad you liked the photos, Gretchen. I actually took all of these, LOL. Eric is usually focused on taking photos of birds, and I end up taking the vast majority of our “daily life” photos. But sometimes I make him take other photos, haha. How cool that you lived on Peaks Island! That little ferry landing looks so much like Lopez. Made me miss Lopez.
that was truly wonderful to share my family home stomping grounds! feels so long ago too
let’s do it again this summer?!
Laurie, we had such a great time in Portland, and we were SO happy to meet up with you there! I can understand why you love it so much. We’re hoping to get back there to meet up with you…this summer we’ll be in Michigan, but maybe next summer? I’m happy to hear from you, my friend. Hope all is well in Ashland.
So glad you loved the brewery stop in Boothbay! And you were lucky to be there when the brewery was open and had pizza – it’s such a great little place. Beautiful photos, bummed we missed Portland. That header pic is pure magic! Bet you can’t wait to get back out there in a few weeks!!
Jodee, that Boothbay Brewery stop was excellent. You know the kinds of things we like…thanks again for the recommendation! Portland is well worth visiting. I hope you’ll make it back there someday. And you would like Wild Duck Campground. :-)
While we have visited Acadia twice in more recent years, we haven’t enjoyed the coast of Maine like you and Eric did for more than 25 years. As I recall, Portland was a foodie’s paradise even back then.
It seems like the restaurant and brewery scene there has exploded – in a good way! Your post brought back some great memories – thanks for that! I love your header photo of Portland Head and envy your friends their Travelall – it’s in amazing condition!
Mary, the food offerings in Portland really are extraordinary. We love places that focus on local, sustainable foods. And we also like supporting small restaurants, craft breweries, and other local businesses. We had so much fun meeting up with friends in Portland. Isn’t that Travelall fantastic? Tom restored it. He’s a retired Coast Guard Commander and he’s very talented.
Posts like this one make me wish we had visited the east coast during our RVing days! Portland looks amazing and tasty!
Lisa, I know you would enjoy Portland and so many of the places we explored on the east coast. We put off RVing the east coast for years because we thought it was going to be ridiculously crowded. But surprisingly, it wasn’t. I think it may be because we were there in the fall after spending the summer in the Maritimes (which also was not crowded). Anyway, we loved it, and will happily return!
I sure got hungry reading this post! I have to laugh. We lived one hour away from Portland for 34 years and only saw about one tenth of what you did! Thanks for the tour!
Sometimes it’s easier to explore a place when you know you have limited time there, right? I’m glad you enjoyed the tour, Susie. We loved Maine and are looking forward to another trip there.
Note to self: do not read Laurel’s blog when hungry.
The Maine Coast is obviously packed with charm but it’s also packed with people during the short summer season. It’s good to know that there is a very viable fall visitation window. Although I see plenty of hats and long sleeves in your photos, you were able to spend plenty of time outside and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. I’ll obviously be filing that bit of information away for future reference.
PS No one likes radishes enough to eat a whole bunch. They are the quintessential garnish vegetable.
Shannon, I think you’re right about radishes! But you would think I could use up a bunch before they sprout (which takes approximately three months), LOL. I know you and Ken will love Maine and all of New England. There are soooo many breweries for you to sample. I definitely recommend going in the fall. We had great weather and it seemed like we were the only tourists around.
P.S. I get hungry looking through our photos, too. And it makes me wish we had restaurants like that here on the Forgotten Coast.
I love Maine!! I can so understand how you could find yourselves there for extended time one summer. The perfect get away from the heat. What’s not to love with fresh produce, fresh seafood…aka lobster, craft beer and bakeries, biking, hiking, etc. It’s too bad it is so far from us now. I feel the same way about Michigan. I read through your post with a big smile on my face looking at the beautiful photos. What a sport Eric was to stand in the rain for your LL Bean photo:)
Pam, I agree! Maine really does seem to have the best of everything for a perfect summer. I wish it wasn’t so far away from you, because it would be so much fun to meet up with you and John there. We had so much fun with you guys on the Olympic Peninsula and other west coast adventures. We need an east coast adventure with you two. :-)) Thank you for your sweet comment. We miss you guys! (Haha, and yes, Eric was a good sport…but it wasn’t raining too much.)
I LOVE Maine, and I LOVED this post for all the information. On our first trip to Maine, we stayed in a B&B in Camden, visited Rockport, and loved our time there. Now, we have a campground to visit next summer. Would Boothbay Craft Brewery hold a 34-foot fifth-wheel? I’m printing this post because I think we could spend several weeks (if not months) in that area, and this is good information. Thanks for sharing–Cones of fries!?!–OMG! I’m out before I pass out! Have a great weekend! Joe
Joe, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, and I trust it will be helpful for you when you and Helen make your trip to Maine next year. Yes, your rig will definitely fit at Boothbay Craft Brewery. It’s such a unique, fun place to stay. And check out Wild Duck RV Park if you’re heading to Portland (and you HAVE to, because you have to indulge in those duck fat fries!!). That was a great campground, too. I appreciate your enthusiastic comment. :-)
Radishes! You know of all the foods, radishes are one TBG doesn’t like. I’ve never liked them, either, but they’ve been on my list of vegetables to roast. Once I have an oven again, I’m definitely doing that. They’re said to be delicious roasted. And L.L. Bean. It’s weird that in all the outdoorsy stuff we do, we’ve never shopped with them. The fleece jackets they gave us for volunteering in Gila are from L.L. Bean, though, and I really like mine. (the sleeves on TBG’s are, of course, a bit short :D ) Speaking of not having an oven in forever, I miss making a tray of fries for the occasional treat. Of course, that’s nothing compared to what must’ve been total, unadulterated FRY HEAVEN with those Duck Frites. And the flight of sauces? Oh. Em. Gee.
The photos are fabulous, and even though they’re of the opposite coast, they’re making me happy and eager to get to our new (almost) coastal home <3
p.s. I'm very proud of you for sticking to the plan and getting your blog caught up!
Joodie, the coast of Maine reminded me so much of the Olympic Peninsula! All of the cool maritime culture, great restaurants, and a strong local food movement. You have made an excellent choice in locale for your new home. (Plus lavender farms!!)
My all-time favorite Gortex rain jacket is from LL Bean. I’ve had it for 25 years (!!) and it still looks as good today as it did way back then. I haven’t found anything better! And p.s. I hear your voice in my head telling me to not stray from getting this blog caught up, LOL!!
p.p.s. the header photo of Portland Head Lighthouse is such a great picture, beautifully framed, quintessential
Awww, thanks!! I worked hard to get that wave crashing just right! :-)
Another post that brings me right back into my feels about “the before times.” Sigh. SOOOOO many pretty photos of idyllic places and delicious food. Sadly, though, I was not the source of the tip re Long Grain, but you are correct, it sounds like I would have loved it. Honestly, I would have loved ANY of the restaurants you visited… the eggs benedict? the duck fat fries? The corn chowder???? Get in my belly!
Interestingly enough, I just recently started buying a bunch of clothes at LL bean. We usually get hiking stuff at REI, but I have been super impressed with LL bean’s clothes – they really hold up well and they hit the mark for me – not too long/not too short/not too big/ not too small. I would have done major damage had I set foot in that store. LOL.
Laura, I’m longing for the “before times,” too….and hoping we’re going to find some of that feeling in our summer travels this year. Maine was idyllic in so many ways, including the food! I truly thought you recommended Long Grain in Camden. It’s definitely the kind of place you would love (along with everything else!!).
We’ve been shopping at LL Bean for years because their clothing is so well made and holds up forever. We also buy a lot of stuff from REI (mostly great), Columbia (pretty solid), and Eddie Bauer (but I’m getting annoyed by their decrease in quality). Visiting the Bean mother ship was fun, and I bought a plaid shirt, one of your favorite styles, haha!!!
Well I’m late to the party obviously But whole heartedly endorse your enthusiastic experience of Maine. I might well be able to spend every summer there. We have been multiple times staying for the summer outside of Acadia, and along the coast further North and inland toward Mount Katadin.
We’ve mostly been there in the summer to get away from the heat everywhere else but it appears to me that the fall may be well the best time to go especially if you want to be near the marshes which sounds wonderful. You just can’t go wrong as your beautiful pictures show. The lighthouse header picture is frameworthy for sure. How many lobster rolls have you had so far?
Sherry, I remember that you and David have spent entire summers in Maine. I can understand why! Fall was a gorgeous time to be there, and I know you would love the campground by the marsh. As far as lobster rolls, I enjoyed my fair share during our summer in the Maritimes and our three weeks in Maine. I’m always limited by finding options that are gluten free, but I’ve had some delicious ones! How many have you had? I’m sure you’ve got me beat, LOL!!
I’m always so hungry (and thirsty for beer) after reading your posts! :)
Camden Harbor reminds me a little bit of Poulsbo, WA.
Wild Duck CG looks like a wonderful spot to hang your hat for several weeks… in the fall. And Portland, Maine is high on my list of places to visit. I used to follow a blogger who lived there and I know I would love spending several weeks exploring the area.
The last photo in this post is perfect for a travel brochure or postcard. BEAUTIFUL!
Les, some of those little Maine coastal towns really reminded us of coastal Oregon and Washington. I know you would absolutely love traveling there—and Portland is definitely worth an extended visit. Wild Duck CG was such a sweet place to stay! I appreciate your kind comment about the photo—it’s kind of hard to take a bad photo in such a beautiful place!
We also stayed at the Boothbay Brewery Campground when we visited there with Steven’s parents! We had a fabulous meal there, lots of fun sitting at a table with other folks. I hope you found the little cafe that served the very best blueberry pancakes in all the lands… ? Bridge Street Cafe, we went there twice!
As I was reading and you were listing places you ate, I was thinking, please, please, please mention Duck Fat!!! It has been on my list forever, but we missed it while in Portland as we had to rush through to get the parents to the airport in Boston for their flight back to Dublin. But I STILL think about those fries… in my mind I already know what they taste like and I want some. :)
So happy that I’ve checked my email and found FOUR posts from you to read. YAY!
Linda, we loved our stay at the brewery in Boothbay. The food, the beer, the atmosphere, and the people were just great…and it was so much fun to just walk a hundred feet to the brewery for dinner! But we didn’t get to the blueberry pancake place. :-(
Duckfat Frites Shack was fantastic!! You have to come back to the States just to go and eat there, LOL. We loved all of our food experiences in Portland, but those fries were out of this world. They were so crispy on the outside, and perfectly cooked. And those dipping sauces…As I said, it’s a good thing that frites shack isn’t around the corner from us.
I’m so glad to hear from you! I’m looking forward to your next report from the trail.