Last week Jeffrey and I kicked off the start of summer with a road trip and traveled down the coast of Maine. Neither of us had been before and were eager to explore the state, plus Jeffrey is obsessed with sail boats (and planning to build one!). So we worked our way down the coast via car (and an old fashioned atlas) and ended our trip with a wedding at the Cape. We explored mountains and lighthouses, saw a lot of boats, ate our weight in seafood and celebrated our 10th anniversary. Since we covered a lot of distance, I thought I’d put together a guide of where we stayed, ate, and played along the stunningly beautiful coast of Maine.
Road trips have been some of my favorite vacations over the years (remember this cross country one we did a few years back?), and since Jeffrey loves to drive, I can sit and take it all in. We started this road trip crossing Vermont and New Hampshire, and then headed into Maine. We followed the coast south until we arrived in Cape Cod for the wedding of one of our close friends.
About halfway between our place in the Hudson Valley and our first stop in Maine, is Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, and the drive up is not to be missed (or the hike for those intrepid travelers with a little more time on their hands). The weather is known to be unpredictable year round, and some of the lowest ever recorded temperatures were clocked at the peak. On this particular day, the clouds were low, so while we weren't treated to the sweeping views that are sometimes on offer, the scenery was still very beautiful.
You can't drive down the coast of Maine without seeing a boat. Mainers know fishing boats as well as anyone and craft many of their vessels themselves. Jeffrey loves sailing and is in the early stages of building his own sailboat, so we visited the Nirvana for wooden boat lovers, the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin. Started in 1981, this center teaches you boatbuilding, repair, design, woodworking, metalworking, sailing, kayaking and so much more.
Tucked in from the coast, through woods and farmland is the critically acclaimed restaurant, The Lost Kitchen. It's known as one of the nation's hardest-to-book restaurants – you have to mail in a postcard to enter a lottery to get a table. So despite not having dinner reservations, Jeffrey and I still wanted to check it out. We went at lunchtime, walked the beautiful property, had a drink and enjoyed their store... and their outhouse toilet... which, while still being an outhouse, is probably one of the best decorated in the country.
The coast of Maine is made up of a series of small, quaint towns settled into the nooks and crannies of the bays and inlets, which is one of the reasons it's so charming. Deer Isle is an island reachable by bridge and made up of a small cluster of communities. It's the kind of place where everyone knows each other and the pace slows way down. One of our favorite stops was at 44 North Coffee, which custom roasts organic, fair trade coffee and brews local teas too.
Hundreds of years ago, Maine's coastal shores were literally littered with lobsters. People didn't even need to go fishing, they would just visit the shoreline. Today may be a little different, but lobster is still Maine's choice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For some of the best, visit Young's Lobster Pound & Seafood Restaurant in Belfast. It overlooks the Penobscot Bay and you can pick your very own crustacean and bring your own bottle of rose and salad and picnic right there.
On the Pemaquid Peninsula, we stumbled upon Round Pond – one of many great, small quiet villages. I loved the old architecture, farms and overgrown greenery.
Maine is home to 65 lighthouses, many of which are open to the public. Jeffrey and I visited the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, one of the state's most popular. It has the Fisherman's Museum on the first floor, and, if you book ahead, you can rent the apartment on the second floor. The skies were clear that day and we got some amazing views. The Seagull Restaurant, right next door, has some of the best blueberry pancakes in town.
We took advantage of the warmer weather that day and stopped at Pemaquid Beach, a beautiful, small coastline with white sandy beaches. We brought a picnic, felt the sun on our faces, and felt the full effect of a summer vacation without leaving the country. Don't miss the ice cream shack on your way out... and order the blueberry flavor, it's scrumptious. Turns out blueberries are as ubiquitous as lobster in Maine.
This road trip also landed on Jeffrey and my ten year wedding anniversary, so an extra celebration was in order. We stayed at the East Wind Inn on Penobscot Bay, one of the most beautiful stretches of the Maine coastline, complete with lobstermen heading out to and coming in from the sea.
I now understand the lure of Maine... it reminded me a lot of the coastline in Northumberland heading up towards Scotland - very small towns and villages where fishing and farming merge and the living is slow and the weather is always a big part of the show. It was impossible to visit all the spots on my list, but these were definitely the highlights. If any of you have been, would love to hear your highlights!
Sending lots of love,
Thank you for sharing the details of your fascinating Maine road trip. I love that you used a paper atlas… and the reservation via postcard is so fun! Beautiful photography!
Loved reading about your trip for your 10th anniversary!