Where to go in Maine
It’s been a while since I’ve posted and it’s because life has gotten crazy in Boston - work, life outside of work, and travel has kept me busy and unable to devote the time to this project that I would like. With that said, I just returned from three straight weekend trips to New England, including two in Maine - one to Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor and then one further south in Portland, Kennebunkport, and Bath. By no means am I a Maine expert (I have only lived on the East Coast for three and a half months, even though it’s felt like much longer than that) but I did want to share some of my favorite things I did to help you plan your own trips to this beautiful state.
Well of course I have to start with food! Maine is well-known for its great food. It’s well-known for having great fresh lobster but perhaps less well-known is that Portland was named Bon Appetit’s 2018 Restaurant City of the Year. To say that I “ate well” during both my trips to Maine would be an understatement. Very little was “healthy” but when you Maine, you treat yo’self. Here are some of my favorites by city:
Eventide - perhaps the most famous restaurant in town, Eventide serves fresh seafood and is most well-known for their oysters and their brown butter lobster rolls. They recently opened up a fast-casual format in Boston’s Fenway Neighborhood but if you want to go to the original one, prepare to wait. I would put your name in and then grab a drink or snack nearby. It’s well-worth the wait.
The Honey Paw – right next to Eventide and owned by the same group, the Honey Paw was actually my favorite meal in all of Maine. It’s Asian Fusion cuisine done very well. Two favorite dishes of mine: the smoked lamb khao soi and the honey soft serve ice cream with caramelized honey and chocolate shell. I am still dreaming about both of those.
Duck Fat – Just a block from Eventide and The Honey Paw is this small restaurant serving delicious sandwiches and fries fried in duckfat. It reminded me of my summer abroad in Belgium. My favorite thing was the special blueberry buttermilk milkshake which tasted like a creamsicle but with blueberries instead of orange. Maine is also known for their blueberries so they were very fresh.
Portland Hunt and Alpine Club – Great place for a drink. Great soundtrack.
Tandem Coffee and Bakery – For breakfast, stop at this gas station converted into a cute coffeehouse. We shared breakfast sandwiches made with homemade biscuits plus some black sesame banana bread. I’m not a coffee drinker so I can’t speak to the quality but it sure smelled good.
Earth at Hidden Pond – This rivals The Honey Paw for my favorite meal in Maine, though this one is definitely on the fancier side. 15 minutes from Kennebunkport is Earth at Hidden Pond, a restaurant and B&B secluded in the woods. Our favorites were the Porterhouse steak and the shrimp and scallops over cheesy grits. You feel like you are in a log cabin as you eat dinner, and you can have a drink or dessert by the fire, which we of course did.
Rococo – Great homemade ice cream with unique flavors. I had Spicy Rocky Road (which had some cayenne in there) with honey vanilla to cool the palette. They also have a location in Ogunquit (further south in Maine).
The Ramp – Just north of Kennebunkport is Bickford island where there are three restaurants. One is The Ramp which is an eclectic bar with low ceilings covered in old sports and political memorabilia. I had a delicious Corned Beef Reuben which filled me up.
Thurston’s Lobster Pound – If you are up north visiting Acadia, it’s worth stopping in Thurston’s Lobster Pound for dinner. It’s about a 20-minute ride from Bar Harbor on the southwest tip of Mount Desert Island, where Acadia is. You get to pick out whatever lobster you want and then you sit outside overlooking the harbor. We went at sunset and it was beautiful.
Acadia National Park – This become one of my favorite national parks because it’s not too big (doable in a weekend) and it has both the mountains and the ocean. The hikes aren’t quite as strenuous as other ones I’ve done in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon so it’s manageable. Some things in Acadia I highly-recommend doing:
· Waking up early to catch the sunrise on top of Cadillac Mountain. Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain on the eastern seaboard and if you stand there at sunrise, you will be the first person in the US to see the sunrise that day – well you and the other hundreds of people who do it. You don’t need to hike up it, there is a road that takes you directly to the top if you don’t want to hike it in the morning. Sunrise depends on the time of year but I would highly recommend getting there 45 minutes to an hour before sunrise to get a parking spot and a good spot to watch before the clouds arrive.
· Precipice Trail to Champlain Mountain and Down the South Ridge Trail – This was the main hike we did. The Precipice trail is not for faint of heart. You will have to climb on iron rungs on the side of the mountain to climb up but the views are well worth it. The South Ride trail down is more of a stroll and then when you get to the bottom, you have to walk a mile down the road to get back to your starting place (assuming you parked)
· Other beautiful points: Thunder Hole, Otter Point, Beech Mountain Fire Tower
· Jordan Pond House is the only place for food in the park. It’s a huge lodge overlooking Jordan Pond. They are known for their popovers (big hallow muffins) and it was a great reward after an early morning wake-up for sunrise and a long morning of hiking. We also loved the blueberry crisp topped with vanilla ice cream and honey.
Reid State Park – If you are near Bath, Maine (in between Portland and Acadia), Reid State Park is worth a visit. It’s not too big but has a beautiful beach and beautiful rocks. It’s where I took the picture above. It’s on the island of Georgetown which was incorporated in 1716 (60 years before America was founded). On the way out, we stopped at an old cemetery with grave stones from the mid-1800s.
Portland Head Lighthouse – This is the lighthouse that everyone takes a picture with when they go to Portland. It’s in Cape Elizabeth, just 15 minutes south of Portland. The lighthouse actually has some historical significance (it’s the oldest lighthouse in Maine, completed in 1791) but it’s also just beautiful.
Best of all is that Portland and Kennebunkport are only a 2 hour drive from Boston so I hope this motivates my Boston friends and friends from across the country to come check out the beautiful state of Maine.
L.L. Bean Big Duck Boot – If you are a big L.L. Bean fan like me, you have to go check out the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine (where L.L. Bean is Headquartered) and take a picture with the big boot. I did it while wearing my L.L. Bean duck boots.