Past the bustling streets, we drove, watching the concrete city fade along Route 1. We were off on our four day adventure traveling to Maine. We had finally escaped the confines of our tiny, two-bedroom apartment and the oppressive heat that had seeped into every crevice. With an action-packed adventure planned we were able to see the best of what Maine has to offer and fall in love with the harbor towns. From Portland to Acadia National Park, the varying landscapes amazed us. Follow this guidebook to explore the beautiful towns and cities throughout Maine and gorge yourself on lobster.
Explore Freeport, Maine
Although an incredibly charming town, the real treasure of this town lies in the national landmark that is the L.L. Bean Flagship Store. Weave among the buildings as you walk upon an incredibly large replica of their iconic duck boot and several buildings housed with everything from adventure gear to home furnishings and clothing.
Open 24/7, 365 days a year, the L.L. Bean also offers free scheduled actives in its Discovery Park. I’ve walked past hundreds of L.L. Bean’s in my life and never knew what I was missing until I discovered this play-land while traveling tooMaine. Freeport is also home to outlet stores such as Ralph Lauren, Cole Haan, and The North Face. Spend a few hours or simply stop for a quick selfie in front of their famous boot.
Eat Red’s Eats
41 Water St, Wisacasset, ME
35 minutes up the road you’ll find Red’s Eats, a little lobster roll shack deemed as the best by the 2015 Readers’ Choice vote in DownEast magazine. After passing this place once before due to the line, we knew we couldn’t pass it up again. (Quick tip: When taking a trip and hitting popular restaurants try to go at off times to try and offset the wait) After about a 30-minute wait including ordering and getting our food, two buns arrived spilling over with lobster meat and a cup of butter on the side. Although a little pricier at $62.00 for two local sodas, two lobster rolls and a side of fries, if you’re looking to try a great Maine lobster roll, this is your place.
Explore Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Take a few hours to walk around this charming harbor town and enjoy a great introduction to the lobster fishing community. Many proclaim it’s “The Boating Capital of New England,” boasting the largest boating harbor north of Boston. Pick up a souvenir from the many shops and a whoopee pie from Wicked Whoopies. (There’s a lot of debate on which state actually started the whoopee pie, but Maine is in the race and proud.) Don’t forget to walk the footbridge connecting the two sides of town to explore more shops and restaurants. Take time to enjoy the beautiful New England homes as you imagine living in this quaint town.
Eat Boathouse Bistro Tapas Bar & Restaurant
12 By-Way, Boothbay Harbor, ME
We stumbled upon this restaurant when looking at the town from the footbridge and saw a rooftop bar in the distance. We stopped for drinks, but when we saw a steak come out still cooking on a stone, we knew we had to order more. Our dedication to eating only seafood in Maine was strong so we decided on a risotto dish mixed with the best of what the sea has to offer, from mussels to clams to lobster. With each bite, we relaxed into the ever-changing flavors as our taste buds explored and the sun from the open deck warmed our skin. While traveling to Maine come here for the views overlooking the quiet harbor, but stay for the food and drinks.
Sleep Megunticook Campground by the Sea
620 Commercial St, Rockport, ME
While traveling to Maine we opted out of an expensive chain hotel and instead enjoyed two nights at a campground and one night in a bed and breakfast. We didn’t stay long, but Megunticook offered clean private showers for each guest and an ocean view, which we walked up to in the morning to look out over the fog rolling in and waves crashing up on the rocks.
Explore Rockland, Maine
The idea of attending Lobster Fest in Rockland Maine had hooked its claws in us a few months back, but this art-savvy town would make a great day trip. With a picturesque harbor featuring a ferry to nearby islands and unique shops and restaurants, there’s plenty to explore in this boutique town which prides itself on its art scene. Take some time to drive 10 minutes up the road to walk the one-mile granite stretch to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse.
Shop Curated Consignment
383 Main St, Rockland, ME
This men’s consignment shop is a small town hipster-haven worth a stop to find hand-picked quality pieces. No need to sift for hours to find one great piece. A women’s rack was up when we visited, and I snagged a pale-pink, oversized, silk blouse. I also stumbled upon a women’s white pinstripe Giorgio Armani suit, which I still dream of.
Eat Gelato Rose
483 Main St, Rockland, ME
Co-owned by a 16-year-old and her mom, this gelato shop is both inspired and delicious. Each bite, left a deep cream filling my taste buds settling in and remaining for hours. Freshly picked wildflowers served on the Italian ice cream from a local farm elevated this handcrafted, artisan gelato.
Eat Maine Lobster Festival
August 2nd-6th Rockland, Maine
This quirky festival dedicated to the multi-colored crustacean makes you realize that in Maine, lobster isn’t just a delicious dish, it’s a way of life. The industry has landed fisherman more than 130 million pounds of lobster valued at $533.1 million in 2016, according to the Portland Press Herald. Take time to worship this delicious creature and eat as much lobster as possible either straight from the body or cooked into macaroni and cheese with a side of dumplings. Events are held all week including parades, a carnival, and artisan booths. Take this unique chance to learn more about lobsters and other sea life from the many volunteers.
For more information check out the event page here!
Sleep Bar Harbor/ Woodland KOA
1453 State Highway 102, Bar Harbor, ME
Once again, we didn’t have much time to explore the surrounding area of camp KOA with all of our adventures, but it offered a quiet space to pitch a tent for the night. There were private restrooms for each guest complete with shower and toilet. KOA can also keep kids and young adults entertained with activities and a pool. Make sure to check out the various outings.
Explore Acadia National Park
From full day hikes across 47,000 acres to a 27-mile-long scenic drive along the park, I can guarantee you’ve never seen Maine like this. With Acadia being one of the first places in the country to see the sun, wake up early for a once in a lifetime experience. Take a walk along the forty-five miles of rustic carriage roads that were gifted by John D. Rockefeller. This park offers so many breath-taking experiences waiting to be explored.
Explore Bar Harbor, Maine
This is a large town with numerous options to eat and shop. I mention it’s size because it was larger than I was expecting Reel Pizza Cinerama, a single-screen movie house offering delicious pizza and mismatched couches, and the historic, 1932 Criterion Theater were a couple of places we didn’t get to experience, but heard from the locals are amazing. If you run into a rainy day, these could be great options.
Drink Atlantic Brewing Company
15 Knox Rd, Bar Harbor, ME
After enjoying the scenery and doing some hiking, take a well-earned rest at Atlantic Brewing Company, which offers a variety of beers. For almost 30 years, this brewing company has worked towards perfecting their offerings. Can’t decide on which beer to pick up? Stop by their tasting bar to try all six beers on tap for free. If beer is not your thing or you have children with you, try out their root beer or blueberry soda.
Shop In the Woods
160 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME
I was mesmerized by the handmade wood pieces in this interesting shop. Olive-wood kitchen items would be a beautiful addition to any home for a unique statement. Take a moment to be a kid again and take a ride on the supersized rocking horse.
Shop Bar Harbor Tea Company
150 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME
Take the taste of Maine home with you in a deliciously warm cup of tea from this small batch, local blender. Pick from several flavors to create your own ensemble. We chose the New England Maple to enjoy a warm cup and the Peachtree to blend with lemon for an ice tea.
Eat Pascone’s Ristorante
194 Main St, Bar Harbor, ME
Looking for a romantic night out or just to treat yourself? Enjoy a night under the twinkling lights at the Ivy Manor Inn’s Ristorante, which serves the only lobster thermidor in Bar Harbor, Maine. Perfectly prepared with gruyère cheese and mushrooms, this accomplished dish will satisfy two. Order a glass of wine and indulge.
Sleep Inn at Bay Ledge
150 Sand Rd, Bar Harbor, ME
After reading about the private beach and the views of the Ovens and Cathedral Rock at a reasonable price we were sold. As we drove along the winding roads outside of the city, civilization became sparse and the fields began rolling. We finally found our weekend New England hideaway tucked back behind the trees, perched atop cliffs, overlooking Frenchman Bay.
Upon arrival at the Inn at Bay Ledge, we were greeted by the owner’s daughter, who showed us around the charming inn consisting of lush gardens that greet you immediately along with the four Adirondack chairs looking out over the bay. We stayed in the Garden Room, although a little small, it was the perfect amount of space for one night and had a swing door which led to a small patio.
Relaxation is a top priority at this enchanting inn
With an onsite sauna, 24-hour outdoor pool, and Jacuzzi tub, we slept like rocks as we slid into some of the coziest, breathable sheets I’ve ever felt. (Quick tip: I asked the owner what kind of sheets she has. She told me she gets them from TJ Maxx mostly, with a high thread count and loves when they’re worn in.)
When we woke up the next morning, our noses were greeted by mini individual quiches in ramekins, with a side of fruit drizzled with honey and a peach and cinnamon muffin. I took a cup of coffee out to the Adirondack chairs as the owners made the rounds to the guests to say a quick hello. If you’re looking for a weekend away from the constant noise, the Inn at Bay Ledge will not disappoint.
Explore Portland, Maine
Head three hours south for a trip to Portland, Maine and spend any extra time enjoying this large city. Being from the Midwest, I expected to find a small town when visiting Portland, but this is certainly a large city centered around Harbor culture with a diverse range of people.
Energize Bard Coffee
185 Middle St, Portland, ME
This indie spot is perfect to grab a pick-me-up before heading out for a day around Portland. They offer a variety of caffeine from tea to iced chai, including my favorite, a nitro cold brew. You can also pick up beans from this roaster.
86 Middle St, Portland, ME
We were recommended this popular spot several times before deciding to bite the bullet and wait in the massive line for this James Beard Award winning restaurant. We went at about 5 pm and had to wait around half an hour. Due to their text system to cut down on lines, we were able to put our phone number down and head over to Duckfat for their famous, duck-fat Belgian fries. Eventide did not disappoint. We ordered the New England Clam Bake, which featured steamers, mussels, lobster tail, potatoes, salt pork, and a hard-boiled egg nestled into a bed of rock seaweed. This is a great option to try almost everything Eventide has to offer and a great dish to split between two.
Relax Nine Stones Spa
185 Fore St, Portland, ME
This is one of the best spas I’ve been to in my life. Each service offered gives you access to their women’s and men’s locker rooms, which each contain an infrared sauna, showers, changing areas, an organic cotton robe, slippers and Naturopathic products. I fell so in love with this skin care line and ended up picking up these products in their shop. After a truly relaxing full-body massage, I took some time to relax in their lounge and rehydrate with their teas and added elixirs. With a variety of services from massages to facials to a simple manicure and pedicure, you will be able to feel truly pampered and let go of everyday stress.
Shop Portland Dry Goods
235 Commercial St, Portland, ME
This high-end boutique is a must if you’re looking for unique pieces in a well-curated location. Enjoy both men and women’s fashion and take a moment to look through boutique designers such as Imogene + Willie and Filson.
Eat J’s Oyster
5 Portland Pier, Portland, ME
This local establishment is so much fun when traveling to Maine. Incredibly fresh seafood will have you eating oysters all night. With indoor and outdoor seating options, there are plenty of choices. Try sitting at the bar and get in a conversation with a few of the local characters. Make sure to ask a couple of the 20-year-veteran bartenders what’s great around Portland and they will point you to a unique experience.
Shop Portland Food Co-Op and Harbor Fish Market
Portland Food Co-Op – 290 Congress St, Portland, ME
Harbor Fish Market – 9 Custom House Wharf, Portland, ME
I’m offering this idea for those of you who will be traveling to Maine from your home base because these are both great options to get truly fantastic produce and seafood for the week. We stopped by with a freezer bag to pick up some local salmon, scallops, and lobster for the freezer to keep our Maine trip going even when we headed home. Don’t forget to grab wild Maine blueberries from Portland Food Co-Op.
Look below to find a recipe for Stuffed Scallops with Thermidor Sauce to inspire you on your upcoming trip
Stuffed Scallops & Thermidor Sauce
Scallops and Stuffing
1/3 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
¼ Tsp. Lemon Zest
½ Tsp. Garlic Chives
2 Tbsp. Salted Butter
¼ Pound Cooked Lobster Tail
1 Tbsp. Minced Cooked Crab
1 ½ Tbsp. Minced Bacon Cooked
1 Medium Egg
½ Tbsp. Fresh Parsley
¼ Tsp. Black Pepper
¼ Tsp. Oregano
¼ Tsp. Basil
Pinch of Salt
6 oz. Gruyere Cheese
8 Jumbo Scallops
½ Tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 small onion diced
½ skinned carrot diced
1 shallot diced
2 cloves of garlic smashed
½ cup brandy
1 cup white wine
1 sprig of tarragon
1 bay leaf
1/8 bunch parsley
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
3 sprigs basil
-In a medium sauce pan place butter, onion, carrot, shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat and cover for 5 min
-Remove lid, stir and replace. Cover for an additional 5 minutes
-Then add the brandy and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated
-Add wine and cook for an additional 10 minutes
-Add tarragon, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, basil, chicken stock and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour
-While the Thermidor sauce is simmering you can prepare the stuffing for the scallops
-Melt 2 Tbsp. of butter in a large bowl. Add lobster, crab, bacon, chives, bread crumbs, egg, parsley pepper, oregano, basil, and salt and mix until evenly distributed. Place in refrigerator until sauce is ready
-After the hour has passed strain liquid and replace in the pan
-Place 1 cup of heavy cream into an additional small pan and simmer until half the original amount is remaining
-Whisk the cream into the Thermidor mixture and continue stirring on low until sauce begins to thicken
-Once it has thickened, remove from heat and set aside for later use
-Take a sharp knife and hollow out the scallops and discard the excess. Sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning and take 2 tsp. of stuffing mix and place into each hollowed scallop giving them a rounded top
-Cover with a layer of shredded gruyere cheese
-Add 2 tsp. of sauce on top and bake in the oven at 385 degrees for 10 minutes
-Remove from oven and add an additional layer of cheese and sauce
-Put back in oven and broil for an additional 5 minutes
-Remove from oven and let them sit for 2 minutes
Traveling to Maine is one of the most beautiful experiences, so take time to enjoy it.
Looking for more inspiration? Head over to the travel section to plan your next adventure