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Weekender: A Perfect Day on the Maine Coast

Weekender: A Perfect Day on the Maine Coast

Rockland’s Breakwater Lighthouse (Photo: Thinkstock)

Even though I’m a lifelong habitué of the Maine coast, when I’m planning my annual getaways there, I waffle between a sweet nostalgia for the traditional Maine and a desire to experience the “New Maine,” a sophisticated yet low-key mix of locavore dining, contemporary art, and chic boutique shopping — all while getting high on the sea air.  

Everything I want comes together in the Camden/Rockland area, where Maine’s varied charms are obvious and plentiful. And best of all: It’s a place where you can have it all in one perfect day.

Windward House Camden Maine

An affordable Maine inn (Photo: Windward House)

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Start off with perfectly brewed (and strong!) coffee, made-to-order breakfast, and a green juice at Camden’s comfy and vegan-friendly Windward House B & B, where rates start at just $130 in high season ($99 the rest of the year). Then set out to explore the spectacular natural beauty of the Penobscot Bay area. 

Related: Best Affordable Beach Hotels for Summer

Camden Harbor Maine

Camden Harbor (Photo: Carolyn Ernst)

Take a Hike

The challenging trails of the Camden Hills State Park reward the motivated hiker with iconic views over the sailboat-dotted Camden Harbor. An easier stroll (and a local favorite) is Beech Hill Preserve, just south of Rockport. This gentle incline leads through sunny organic blueberry fields and pays off with an equally spectacular vista over the bay and the St. George Peninsula.

Mcloons lobster roll in Maine

McLoons, the place for amazing lobster rolls (Photo: Carolyn Ernst)

Eat Lobster

Program your GPS to find your way to the remote McLoons Lobster Shack, hidden on Spruce Head Island. Perched in an idyllic spot overlooking a protected harbor, McLoons lobster rolls are second to none.

lobster roll Maine

lobster roll at McLoons (Photo: Carolyn Ernst)

Order a steamed lobster, and you can select your “bug” from a crate hoisted out of the water using a special pulley. A tip: Ask for mayo and warmed butter.

Related: In Honor of Summer’s Perfect Dish: The Top 10 Most Mouthwatering Lobster Rolls in the US

Maine Birch Point

Maine’s sandy Birch Point (Photo: Camden Maine Vacation)

Go to the Beach

The rocky mid-coast of Maine isn’t exactly known for its beaches. Except for my favorite secret hideaway: Birch Point, south of Owl’s Head. This crescent-shaped sandy beach is fringed by dense pines and broad rocks — and it is made for sunning.

Related: Where to Go When You Want to Get Away — From Everyone

Farnsworth Art Museum Maine

A Robert Indiana sculpture atop the Farnsworth Art Museum (Photo: Farnsworth Art Museum)

Get a Little Culture

Rockland is the place for high-end galleries and the Farnsworth Art Museum, which has a section devoted to Maine artist Andrew Wyeth, as well as works by locally born sculptor Louise Nevelson and long time summer resident Alex Katz. A visit to the rooftop Muir Garden for Contemporary Sculpture — a delightful sanctuary atop the Harbor Square Gallery — is a must. In nearby Rockport, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) showcases more artists with a Maine connection. 

Smiling cow maine kitsch

Maine kitsch at the Smiling Cow (Photo: Smiling Cow)

Shop for Treasures

I always find intriguing handcrafted gifts (and maybe a little something for myself) at Archipelago in Rockland. The Smiling Cow in Camden is a treasure trove of wonderfully touristy Maine-themed souvenirs: How about matching lobster-print flannel pajamas for your family holiday photo?

sushi at Suzuki's

Suzuki’s beautifully prepared herring ceviche (Photo: Carolyn Ernst)

Eat Sushi

Sidle up to the sushi bar at Suzuki’s in Rockland for a catch-of-the-day omakase meal. Don’t miss the Maine shrimp shumai, halibut with lovage, and herring ceviche for a new take on local flavors. Their homemade ice cream is the perfect dessert.

Related: Try These Simple Tips to Maximize Your Vacation Happiness

Maine schooner

A schooner in Penobscot Bay (Photo: Jamie McCaffrey/Flickr)

Go Sailing

Get back to Camden harbor in time to take the last windjammer ride out on a sunset sail with Maine Schooners. As old school and timeless as it gets, the sunset over the mountains will take your breath away. This is Maine the way life should be.

WATCH: Food Porn — Maine Lobster

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