Mid-coast Maine (roughly Brunswick to Belfast) is a relaxed, casual, laid-back place that’s just perfect for a weekend trip. Leave your suit jacket at home, and stroll from lobster shack to lobster shack in your boat shoes, with Maine’s always cool coastal breezes blowing through your hair.
One of the larger towns in mid-coast Maine, and the perfect place to call “home” during your weekend, is Camden. Less famous than its neighbor to the north, Rockland (home of the Maine Lobster Festival), Camden has a vibrant harbor full of lobster boats, row boats… and multi-million-dollar yachts. Accommodations range from the luxurious Grand Harbor Inn to the comfortable, but more basic, Inn at Camden Place.
Blueberries, Lobster, and Ice Cream
During your stay in Camden, start your day with huge blueberry pancakes and fresh blueberry muffins the size of your fist at Marriners Restaurant. Arrive extra early to beat the crowds and dine with the locals. Spend the day strolling the quiet streets of Camden, popping in and out of shops (make sure to stop by Sherman’s Books and Stationary) and spending some time at the harbor.
For lunch or a light dinner, stop by Cappy’s Chowder House for a cup of their famous chowder — you can’t miss it, right in the heart of downtown Camden on the corner of Main and Bay View. For dinner, make a reservation at Fresh, located right on the Camden waterfront. Grab one of the booths on the quiet side street and nosh on lobster spring rolls and a huge pot of New England Cioppino.
Grab dessert at one of Camden’s many ice cream shops; the Camden Cone is the most authentic and located right on the main drag. If you’re really hungry, go crazy, and try the Belted Cow sundae.
Hiking, Bicycling, and Kayaking
Feeling adventurous? Head just north of Camden to Rockland and try your hand at sea kayaking with Breakwater Kayak. If you’re new to kayaking, Mark, your guide, will show you the ropes before taking you on a guided tour where you’ll spot sea lions, eagles, and lots of birds as you paddle through the calm, cool water. Take a quick detour after your kayak excursion to grab homemade, hand-dipped ice cream from Lulu’s in Rockland. If you’re still feeling adventurous but don’t want to be on the water, Maine Sport Outfitters rents bicycles by the hour and can direct you on routes for everyone from the novice to the budding pro.
A short drive away is Camden Hills State Park, home to the largest hill around: Mt. Battie. Hike or drive up to the summit, where you’ll get a birds-eye view of downtown Camden, the surrounding hills, and, on a clear day, all the way up to Bar Harbor.
Head to Hartstone Inn spa, one of Mid-Coast Maine’s best spas. A massage will only set you back $85 and round out your weekend feeling relaxed, energized, and reconnected. Post-spa, grab your sweetie, as evenings in Camden are meant for a stroll hand-in-hand along the harbor, enjoying the boats.
Getting There: The best airport for getting to Mid-Coast, Maine is Portland – there are reasonably priced, direct flights from several places on the east coast. Here’s a tip: if you’re renting a car, rent from the Enterprise location in downtown rather than at the airport to save big bucks. Also, since Portland Maine was a 9/11 airport, security is tight, so give yourself extra time going home. If you’re driving, you’re about 7 hours from New York City or 3.5 hours from Boston. The best time of year is summer – it’s a little bit more crowded, but the weather is still warm enough during the day to enjoy yourself (bring a sweatshirt for the evening though). If you go in the off-season, make sure and do some research, since many restaurants and some hotels close down in the fall.
All photos are courtesy of the author.