Touring the Maine Coast - What To See

northeast stays

All play and a little work...

I live and work in Portland, Maine but am sometimes called up north along the mid-coast for meetings with clients. My extended family has been vacationing all up the mid-coast for years, so I am familiar with all the trappings Maine coast has to offer. Yet, no matter how many times I make the trip north, I am always astounded by the grandeur of this lovely state.

This particular visit to Bar Harbor had me traveling through Rockland, Camden and Belfast during one of the best parts of the year, Fall. The leaves really start to transform in late September and peak right around the second week in October. I have visited the mid-coast area at this time in years past for the annual film festival in Camden, apple picking at Hope Farms, and the occasional attempt at the corn maze at Beth’s Farm in Warren. However, leaf peeping still stands as one of my favorite things to do on my trips. I really do enjoy a scenic drive and this year’s trip up north goes down as one of the best. Though taking highway 95 to Belfast is much more convenient, I decided instead to take highway 1 beginning in Freeport. I was not sorry. The timing of my drive was perfect as the majority of the trees had just turned a palette of vibrant oranges, reds and yellows and the winds had yet to free them to the ground.

By the time I reached Camden it was time to stop for brunch, as my eyes were full, but not my stomach. One of my favorite places to eat is Boyton Mckay’s. It has the best vibe with the casual seat-your-self atmosphere and the food is exceptional. While enjoying the huevos rancheros and some Rock City coffee, I had a chance to browse the local newspaper and was amazed at all the things to do in the area out of season. There is still plenty of opportunity to kayak, enjoy whale watching on a windjammer cruise and there are even festivals to be enjoyed! I was hoping my obligations in Bar Harbor might just leave me enough free time to enjoy Boothbay’s Annual Fall Foliage Festival on my way back. 

I arrived in Bar Harbor in the late afternoon and checked into my hotel. My visits to Bar Harbor usually have me staying overnight, and though I have stayed at multiple places in the area, I favor Bayview Hotel for the proximity to the ocean. It’s a quaint hotel and it serves my needs well. This trip however, I stayed at the newly renovated Inn on Mount Desert and was impressed with the knowledgeable staff and the simplicity of the new decor. My brunch was quite filling, so I had a light dinner at Side Street Cafe. Their fish tacos are to die for.

Thankfully my meetings on the first day in Bar Harbor ran short and I was able to enjoy downtown in the late afternoon. Most of the shops were still open and the atmosphere was pleasant. Being out of season, the crowds were smaller making a leisurely stroll through the shops very enjoyable. After purchasing some local wood crafts at In the Woods, I made sure to have an early dinner at Leary’s Landing—their steak frites is the best in the area. Back in my room, I decided it was a good time to start looking into my families next vacation. Though I have vacationed all over Maine, my extended stays around the abundant lakes and on the coast have been some of my favorite. There is nothing like renting a beautiful home or cottage for a few weeks and completely disconnecting from my work life. There are a few companies that offer an exceptional range of homes to enjoy. My family have rented through Summer Maine, On the Water in Maine and Camden Accommodations and all have provided outstanding service. Booking direct through their web sites was hassle-free and when you have questions, it’s really nice to talk with someone who works and lives in the area. With so many houses and locations to choose from, it was hard to narrow it down. It was time to get the wife involved! 

After my second round of meetings, to my delight, I had plenty of time to stop in at the Fall Foliage Festival hosted by the Boothbay Railway Village. One of my favorite places, the museum has an authentic steam locomotive that runs through a recreated village of aged and vintage buildings. The fairs in Maine are always a joy, with local crafts, art and good eats, they never fail to be interesting. At this particular fair, my favorite attraction was the vintage car show. There were around 50-60 cars of all different vintage, makes and models. Amazing the detail these hobbyists put into their cars.

The last leg of my trip was filled more the leaf peeping. The colors intensified in the dusk light and I was reminded that winter was soon approaching as fallen leaves swirled in my wake. Traveling in Maine is always a pleasure, but I was eager to get home and plan my next vacation. There is nothing like having a summer vacation on the horizon to warm you up during the cold winter months.