Marvellous MidCoast Maine
Pristine coastline and vibrant towns make this region a must-see.
There’s something about Maine that keeps me coming back.
Perhaps it’s the delicious steamed lobster we often stop to enjoy at the state’s many roadside shacks; maybe it’s the blueberry pie, the sailboats and schooners or the handsome old buildings. Maybe it’s the beaches and bargain shopping, or the joy of watching the sun rise on an early morning over the rocky shoreline—when we know we really should be up and on the road.
Whatever the reason, my family and I regularly return to this rugged coast.
On our last trip, we hit Bar Harbor, the little resort town on Mount Desert Island, before swinging through Maine’s MidCoast region, an oceanside stretch down Route 1 to Brunswick. Here, then, is my family’s advice for a terrific tour through MidCoast Maine.
Plan at least a day or two to explore Acadia National Park. Start early and drive (bike if you’re eager) up Cadillac Mountain, the tallest mountain on the US Atlantic coast, to see the sun rise. Spend the day hiking, biking, or taking a horse-drawn carriage ride along the park’s carriage trails, originally constructed by John D. Rockefeller. Don’t miss tea and popovers and the amazing views from Jordan Pond House, a tradition that dates back more than a century.
In Bar Harbor itself, shop at the fashionable Macey’s, eat surf and turf served by a wise-cracking waitress at La Bella Vita at the Harborside Hotel and take a sightseeing cruise on the LuLu—a traditional lobster boat.
Coastal villages and classic harbour towns will fill your view as you wend into the MidCoast region, to places like Camden and Rockland—chock-a-block with antique shops, boutiques and sailing sloops, and perfect for picnics by the ocean.
Stay at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, overlooking Penobscot Bay. The 230-acre resort offers upscale and casual dining, championship golf, a spa, cottages overlooking the ocean and a kids’ club. Our swank two-bedroom room had a private outdoor hot tub right on our deck. The resort’s outdoor pool allows swimmers to walk right in—great for toddlers—and swimmers have a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean. Deck chairs are scattered around the perimeter and visitors can order a cocktail or meal from the outdoor restaurant.
Equally impressive is the Sebasco Harbor Resort, about an hour’s drive down the road in Phippsburg. It’s the complete deal, with quintessential Maine coastal views. The property offers dining, an outdoor saltwater pool, a full-service spa, cottages; the resort even rents out a lighthouse for overnight stays. We opted for a family budget-saving room, complete with a kitchenette.
There’s hardly a need to leave this property, given the full slate of daily activities. My daughter preened like a peacock when she won $10 playing bingo. We had a blast bowling, and were belting out “Somewhere over the Rainbow” at the campfire singalong when the sky suddenly opened and a downpour drove us back to our room.
Tour the Maine Maritime Museum in nearby Bath, and take the Bath Iron Works Trolley, which will take you to the shipyard to see how the US Navy’s destroyers are built. East of Bath, the Phippsburg Peninsula offers a scenic drive that takes you to beautiful Popham Beach State Park, where you can go kayaking, birdwatching or swimming.
The town of Wiscasset’s motto is “Maine’s Prettiest Village,” and here you’ll find Red’s Eats. At first blush, it doesn’t look like much: a humble red and white take-out on the riverbank, but the line stretching down the sidewalk will be your first clue: some say it’s home to the state’s best lobster roll—a full pound of lobster stuffed into a toasted hot dog bun.
Be prepared for a wait in the often-lengthy lineup, but that’s part of the allure. “Nice to meet you! Enjoy your vacation,” are the words often overheard as newly-introduced diners—now friends—part company in search of more MidCoast adventures.
Readers of Saltscapes Food and Travel have occasionally asked why we devote several pages of our annual “Guide to Canada’s East Coast” to the US state of Maine. The answer is straightforward: Atlantic Canadians have long had close ties to our American cousins in that state—especially when it comes to travel and tourism. It’s a relationship that we value highly and a tradition we’d like to continue.