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, a picturesque lighthouse, or a 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 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.)
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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, and casually 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 neglect them. I currently have a bag of cute, variously colored radishes sprouting in our 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. It was such a fun day!
Portland, we’ll be back!