South of Portland is day-trip distance from Boston, and the Down East towns like Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Blue Hill are well-known destinations for perennial summer visitors. An often over-looked part of the coast is Mid-Coast Maine.
The Mid-Coast has SO much to offer that if you’re thinking of a short vacation, we urge you to check it out. There is enough to see and do that in 3 days you will only cover “the tip of the iceberg”. We’re highlighting our favorites here. If yours aren’t mentioned, please tell us about them, and we’ll write a sequel. We’re starting in Portland and heading east through ten towns.
Starting in Portland:
- Fore Street at 288 Fore St. – Maybe the best restaurant in Portland. Make reservations. 207-775-2717
- Street & Co. at 33 Wharf St. – Mediterranean/fish, delicious. – Make reservations. 207-775-0887
- The Flatbread Company at 72 Commercial St. Bakes its own organic flatbread pizzas in clay ovens. Great for a snack or lunch. 207-772-8777
- Duck Fat for the best fries you’ve ever had. OK, and sandwiches and salads if you’re a balanced kind of eater. Open 7 days a week. 207-774-8080
- Standard Baking Company is a great bakery, especially the gingerbread, scones and breads. 75 Commercial St., 207-773-2112.
- Union Restaurant is in the Press Hotel and is great. It is open for lunch and dinner and is located in the midst of the best shopping area. 207-808-8700. Make reservations.
- Scales Restaurant is delicious and right on the water. Open for dinner seven days a week. 68 Commercial Street. Valet parking available. Make reservations.
- Portland Old Port area: Exchange Street down to Commercial St., and all the streets that run in between and perpendicular. There are tons of events, shops and boutiques.
- Nelson Rarities at 2 Monument Square, 7th floor – Carefully selected estate jewelry. 207-775-3150
- South Street Linen is relatively new and has wonderful linen clothes for women.
- Folly 101 at 101 Exchange Street is a delightful housewares store.
- Blanche & Mimi is another fabulous housewares & textile shop, with a baby section, and vintage items. 184 Middle St.
- Jill McGowan has just opened a clothing store with her fabulous shirts at 107 Exchange Street.
- Portland Trading Co. – Clothes for men & women, interesting books and many other items. 83 Market Street.
- David Wood Clothiers – for men. 229 Commercial St.
- Pomegranate Inn at 49 Neal St. is a charming bed & breakfast. 207-772-1006 or 800-356-0408
- The Hilton Garden Inn at 65 Commercial St. is a good downtown hotel 207-780-0780.
- The brand new Press Hotel at 119 Exchange St. is already wildly popular. It is in the former Gannett building, the offices and printing plant of the Portland Press. (877) 890-5641.
Take a walking tour of Portland. You can hire a guide or go on your own with the help of Portland Landmarks.
- Moving east, right outside of Portland, stop at Simply Home – a fantastic home furnishings store. Linda Banks, the owner, has a great eye for relaxed, chic living. 172 Route 1, 207-781-5651.
- Port N’ Starboard Gallery at 53 Falmouth Rd. is a favorite gallery selling all things nautical. 207-781-4214.
- Have lunch at a great lobster/clam shack called Harraseeket Lunch – 36 Main St. 207-865-4888
- The original L.L.Bean is magnificent and sprawling, selling everything from clothes, boots & shoes, outdoor equipment to home furnishings and everything in between. Open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day!
- Georgetown Pottery– made by local Maine potters. 148 Main St. 207-865-0060
- Outlets: You’ll find Ralph Lauren, Patagonia, Coach, Burberry, GAP and zillions of others.
- This is the home of Bowdoin College. The college has a wonderful Museum of Art.
- One of my favorite restaurants anywhere is Tao Yuan. It’s at 22 Pleasant St, Brunswick, ME 04011.
- Salt Pine Social is relatively new and wonderful! It is open every day except Tuesday for dinner, served 5PM – 9PM. The food is delicious and the interior is great. (207) 442-8345
- Beale Street Barbecue at 215 Water St. 207-442-9514
- The Cabin is a must- stop if you like pizza! 522 Washington St. Open 10am-9pm seven days a week.
- Halcyon Yarns at 12 School St. If you have ever thought about knitting, you will be in paradise! 800-341-028
- Now You’re Cooking at 49 Front St. An entire city block filled with all things to do with cooking. Open 7 days a week. 207-443-1402
- Maine Maritime Museum at 243 Washington St. Learn about the state’s seaside history and industry. 207-443-1316
- Bath Iron Works: Take a trolley tour of the Bath Iron Works, which designs and builds “complex surface combatants” for the U.S. Navy. Summer hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:30, Saturdays 10 AM. Make reservations.
- Chocolate Church Arts Center at 798 Washington St. 207-442-8455
On the way to Wiscasset, along Route 1:
- Stop at Wiscasset Antiques. You’ll find three floors filled with dealers. Open 7 days a week. 536 Bath Rd (Rt.1) 207-882-4029.
- Further along Route 1, Sea Basket is a good choice for Lobster chowder and fried clams – but you are only ten miles from Red’s Eats and they make the best lobster roll in Maine – tough choice. 303 Bath Rd. (Rt.1) 207-882-6581
- Reds Eats if there’s no line at 41 Water St. (U.S.1) 207-882-6128
- Little Village Bistro is a new addition that we LOVE! It’s at 65 Gardiner Rd. It is open Tuesday – Saturday for dinners only. (207) 687-8232
The main street is not large, so cruise up one side and down the other. Make sure to stop into:
- In The Clover 85 Main St. 207-882-9435
- Rock Paper Scissors at 78 Main St. 207-882-9930.
- Damariscotta River Grill– Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. Delicious.They take reservations. 155 Main St. 207-563-2992
- Metcalf’s– great sandwiches at 49 Main St. (in back of building). 207-563-7827
- The new doughnut place is fantastic! Old Time Donuts at 748 Main Street.
- River House is brand new this summer and we LOVE it! Only open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday. It is farm to table, all sourced from mid-coast Maine. 27 Main St. Make reservations.
- Reny’s– A small discount store with great loot!
- Weatherbird – Great selection of accessories, food, wine, and house wares. 72 Courtyard 207-563-8993
- Weatherbird clothing is at 132 Maine St.
- Damariscotta Pottery – Fantastic porcelain pottery, beautiful hand-painted designs, words fail me. A must stop. Tell Rhonda A Sharp Eye sent you! We have been collecting the work of this group of women for years. Courtyard St. 207-563-8843
- Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shops – Open 7 days a week, great for browsing. Maine Coast gets most major newspapers and there is a café to provide sustenance as you browse. Not that it ever rains in Maine, but this is a great sanctuary. 158 Main St. 207-563-3207
- Gifts at 136 is a wonderful gift shop carrying the products from over 50 Maine artists and craftsmen. They also carry Maine-made artisan chocolate that is delicious! 136 Main St. (207)563-1011
- Mid Coast Kayak – sea kayaking on the Damariscotta River and Muscongus Bay.
- Damariscotta River Cruises – 888-635-4309
- Take a quick one-stop detour off Rt. 1 to visit The Walpole Barn on Rt. 129. This is a unique shopping experience featuring fantastic house wares, gardening items, toys, fresh oysters, a fantastic selection of the best affordable wines and much more. You will be warmly received by the friendly and knowledgeable owners, Debora and Warren Storch. 135 State Route 129. 207-563-7050
- From the Walpole Barn, go back to Route 130 to Pemaquid and visit The Good Supply, a store that carries only Maine-made crafts and art. It’s delightful.2106 Bristol Road. 207-607-3121.
- Moody’s Diner – A real landmark. Try the 4-berry pie. 1885 Atlantic Highway 207-832-7785
- Sara Hotchkiss– Gorgeous hand-woven rugs. 28 Pitcher Rd. Waldoboro 207-832-8133
- Nobleboro Antiques Exchange – On your way from Waldoboro to Rockland. A collection of dealers, fun browsing. 104 Atlantic Highway(U.S. 1) 207-563-6800
- Cafe Miranda – 15 Oak St. 207-594-2034. Dinner 7 days a week, plus Sunday brunch. Eclectic and fun
- Primo Restaurant – set in a farmhouse with working gardens, it’s just mouthwatering. Reservations are a must, and call well in advance. 2 South Main St. 207-596-0770
- Cruise the main street. Lots of shops. The Museum Shop at the FarnsworthMuseum is great.
- The Eric Hopkins Gallery is behind the Strand Theatre, off the main street. Eric Hopkins does beautiful huge canvasses of Maine seascapes. The gallery also sells wonderful belts and dog leashes with the artist’s scenes. 21 Winter St. 207-594-1996.
- For those of you traveling by boat, visit his gallery on the island of North Haven at 69 Pulpit Harbor Rd.
- Rockland Antiques Marketplace – over 80 dealers 25 Rankin St. 207-596-9972. Open everyday from 9 – 5.
- FourTwelve is one of our favorite women’s clothing and accessories shop. 412 Main St. 207-596-8212
- Strand Theatre – newly restored, great venue for film and live music 345 Main St. 207-594-0070
- Farnsworth Museum – lots of N.C., Andrew, & Jamie Wyeths, and a special Jamie Wyeth show until 8/30. A fantastic museum. 16 Museum St. 207-596-6457
- The Center for Maine Contemporary Art recently opened their newly built museum and it’s fantastic!
- 4-mile public footpath from the harbor to the lighthouse.
- Long Grain serves delicious Asian food. 31 Elm Street. (207) 236-9001
- Natalie’s – dinner only, 43 Mechanic St. 207-236-7008
- Camden’s shopping is all in town, so cruise the main and side streets. There are many unique boutiques. Make sure to stop in at:
- Planet for a huge selection of eclectic books, toys, clothes and house wares at 31 Main Street, 207- 236-9022.
- Stonewall Kitchen– a Maine company specializing in pantry-stocking items such as jams, sauces, mustards and other specialty foods, as well as cooking equipment. at 13 Elm Street, 207-236-8979
Camden is a hive of activity in the summer. Go to the Chamber of Commerce for a list of festivals and shows.
- Hike to the summit of Mt. Battie for outstanding views.
- Swim or kayak in Lake Meguntacook
- Camden library is a great place to spend a few hours
- Get out on the water – Go to the Public Landing to find schooners and windjammers for day sails, or just to look at the boats.
- For a luxurious experience, try The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, a few miles outside of Camden.
- Their sister property is the Inn at Camden Place which is right in town.
In Maine, pedestrians have the right of way!!
Weather – Expect warm, blue-sky days and cool nights by the water. Maine offers an informal, outdoor life. You can go almost anywhere in khaki shorts and flip-flops. Bring sweaters for evening chill. Clean up and put on a little jewelry for dinner – but nothing showy. Less is more in Maine.
Foods – Maine is famous for lobster in any form, steamed clams, wild blueberry anything, and Whoopie Pies.
Books about Maine – we like include Colony by Anne Rivers Siddons, Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert, The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw (fiction), and The Maine Woods by Henry David Thoreau, and anything by Barbara Cooney or Robert McCloskey for children. Some of our favorite writers from Maine are E.B.White, Richard Russo, David Rosenfelt and Stephen King.
Need more ideas for traveling in Maine? See our article on the Coastal Botanical Garden.