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Coastal Maine

Few places compare to coastal Maine’s wild beauty. It’s where mountains meet the ocean, marine animals have island retreats, and the air comes perfectly salted. It’s known as summer vacationland. And yet for its residents, it’s a year-long effort to create art, iconic tastes and experiences both past and present. Its coastline stretches over 3,400 miles, punctuated with lighthouses, schooners, and fabulous lobster shacks. Throw in a foggy sunrise at Cadillac Mountain and boom—you’ll see why Maine has captured so many hearts. Here’s why Maine is a place to love.

PLACES AND STORIES TO LOVE

Places To Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

Acadia National Park

National Park ranger Christie Anastasia joined me atop the highest point on the East Coast: Cadillac Mountain. With perfect views of the Porcupine Islands and Schoodic Peninsula, it’s no wonder this spot tops every Acadia visitor’s list. Best part? It’s accessible to all, with both hiking trails to the top, as well as a close and convenient parking lot. For a completely different vantage point, head to Jordan Pond, a mile-long glacial lake on Mount Desert. Lace up those hiking boots and hit the full-loop hiking trail, which includes wooden walkways. After your hike, stop at the lakeside Jordan Pond House, famous for afternoon tea and popovers.

If you go

Attention early birds: Bundle up, with your coffee and camera in tow, and head to the top of Cadillac Mountain. It’s the first place to experience sunrise in the US.

Learn more

Acadia National Park
Hulls Cove Visitor Center
Route 3
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Places To Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

Exploring the Coast with Eli Strauss

The Maine coastline begs to be explored from the water. There’s no better person to lead the way than Captain Eli Strauss of Bass Harbor Tours. The son of founder Kim Strauss, Eli’s been sharing the beauty and bustle of Bass Harbor for 20 years. This navy and merchant marine vet brought me out on the harbor aboard Fifinella, the boat he’s owned since he was sixteen! It’s no surprise that Bass Harbor, an active fishing village, is one of the premier places for Maine Lobster. But did you know it’s also a gathering spot for a pod, or bob, or herd (all correct names I learned!) of seals? I couldn’t resist an audible awww as we floated past weeks-old seal pups, who are just as cute as can be.

If you go

Whether it’s sight-seeing or fishing you’re after, Eli’s Bass Harbor Tours is a must. Opt for a six or 49 passenger boat experience.

More Info

Bass Harbor Island Cruises
12 Little Island Way
Bass Harbor, Maine 04653
(207) 244-5785

Places To Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

Visit the Bass Harbor Lighthouse

I love a lighthouse, and I’m not alone. The cautionary horn or bell and steady light of the world’s lighthouses have captured the imagination of mariners and landlubbers since the 17th century. Certainly no ship’s captain would deny their critical service along the rocky 1,300 miles of Maine coast. As we approached the Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Eli explained the reasoning behind the red color and duration of the 162-year-old Bass Harbor lighthouse lamp. Did you know each lighthouse lamp has its own unique calling card, and the color and timing of the light helps mariners figure out which specific light they’re seeing? I found it comforting to learn the value of this seemingly old fashioned technology in today’s world of satellites and GPS.

If you go

The Bass Harbor Head lighthouse is the only lighthouse in Acadia National Park that can be accessed by car, allowing a diverse mix of adventurers and sightseers to enjoy one of these historic and still functioning traditions of the sea. It’s just one of the delights in Acadia National Park.

ADDRESS

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Bass Harbor, ME 04653
(207) 288-3338

Places To Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

Ernie’s Steampunk Sculpture

Ernie Abdelnour was steampunk before steampunk was cool. The thing is, even he didn’t know his artistic creations were steampunk until a shopper at his store told him so. Now in his mid-80s, Ernie doesn’t seem to be slowing down when it comes to creating sculpture from plastic bottles, oxidized copper, scrap metal and other found items. He doesn’t consider himself an artist, but more of a sculptor of junk. From whimsical frog sculptures and pelicans, to unique riffs on the ubiquitous New England lighthouse art you see everywhere, his flavor for fun will leave any visitors to his studio with a smile on their face.

If You Go

Treat yourself to breakfast or dinner at the nearby Reading Room in the Bar Harbor Inn. The hotel has been there since 1887. You can dress up a bit and enjoy the spectacular panoramic harbor view with your 5-star meal and service.

ADDRESS

Ernie Abdelnour Steampunk Sculptures
Route 102
Bar Harbor, ME 04609
(207) 288-5337

Marshall Point Lighthouse

Marshall Point Lighthouse

At the end of St. George Peninsula in Port Clyde, you’ll find the Marshall Point Lighthouse. Originally built in 1858, visitors will love exploring the lighthouse and its surroundings. A museum highlighting the peninsula’s history now lives in what used to be the keeper’s house. A well-stocked research room allows visitors to view photographs and documents pertaining to the area’s history. Lots of neat stuff in there, including a menu from yesteryear featuring lobster stew for 60 cents! Movie buffs may recall this locale as the finale of Forrest Gump’s epic journey across the country. Run, Forrest! Run!

IF YOU GO

Pick from three or four seafood venues for a Maine seafood treat. Dip Net, Drift Inn Canteen and Port Clyde General Store are among them. All get rave reviews and most have outside ocean view seating. Fresh caught daily seafood, and blueberry everything!

INFO

Marshall Point Lighthouse
178A Marshall Point Rd
Port Clyde, ME 04855
207-372-6450

Places To Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

The Bread Box Bakery

A common theme up and down the Maine coast? Blueberries. Becky Alley and her sister Tanja have run the Bread Box Bakery for over 25 years. This off-the-beaten-path gem fits so nicely into the low-key, heart-filled rhythm of the Maine coast. Their scones, pies and cookies rely heavily on the natural flavors of their fillings and ingredients, and less on sugar and shortening. Customers have been coming back for years, not only for unique baked goods, but an excellent lunch menu. I was overwhelmed by the wonderful smells upon entering. It was so apparent that this is a from-scratch, proprietary authentic enterprise. Not a hint of franchise or corporate influence in the delicious offerings or these wonderful sister owners.

IF YOU GO

Since you’re in the neighborhood, check out Stubborn Cow Glass Stained Glass Gallery and Studio. Located in a stately old bank building in Buckhead, you’ll be in awe of the beautiful stained glass panels created by the owners and their students.

ADDRESS

The Bread Box Bakery
40 Back Ridge Rd
Orland, ME 04472
207-469-0015

Places To Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

Flo’s Hot Dogs

I first visited Flo’s 37 years ago, and a summer without stopping here is really no summer at all. Originally opened by the aforementioned Flo, it’s her daughter-in-law Gail Stacy that’s been at the helm for 46 years. Gail and daughter Kim continue this simple but special legacy, serving up the classic steamed hot dogs topped with Flo’s famous relish and smeared with mayo. Sounds weird, but the legions of customers visiting this place for decades prove otherwise. In fact, I personally love these hot dogs so much that I served them at my wedding!

If you go

Nearby, you’ll find the The Shops at Cape Neddick, a renovated 5,000 square foot barn converted into a unique shopping destination, featuring lots of individually owned businesses.

Contact

Flo’s Hot Dogs
359 US-1
Neddick, ME 03902
800.255.8401

Places To Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

Maine Maritime Museum

My visit with Kurt Spiridakis got us really to the heart and soul of the coast of Maine: shipbuilding. The showpiece of the Maine Maritime Museum has to be the 425’ sculpture that memorializes the largest wooden schooner ever built in the world. The Wyoming, built in 1906, was built to ship coal to Maine and take other goods back out for its return voyages. The grounds are part of the former Percy and Small Shipyard. I stood next to an operating two-masted schooner, the Mary E., which has its own unique story. In the museum Kurt explains photos that illustrate the toughness of the mariners and builders who worked here. On the shore of the Kennebec River, these New Englanders built ships in the outdoors 12 months a year– including during Maine’s fierce, cold damp winters. Today, over 250 volunteers work in the shipyard with the same spirit and grit of their forbearers from the 1800’s

If you go

Five Islands Lobster Co. On a Maine trip you gotta go to an authentic lobster shack. Located at the very tip of a long road to the seaside, this place is as casual and fresh as it gets. My friend Andrew Zimmern recommends the lobster rolls.

Contact

Maine Maritime Museum
243 Washington Street
Bath, ME 04530
(207) 443.1316

Places To Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

Tributary Brewing Co

Tod Mott, a legend in Maine and US brewing, gave me a primer on how beer is made. Tod’s explanation of the chemistry of brewing makes rocket science seem straightforward. Good news for me (and likely you): you don’t need to be a brewer to understand these guys make delicious beer. Tod’s been in the brewery world for over 30 years, and is known for developing the recipe for the sales success of Harpoon IPA. Today, he’s crafting his own brews at Tributary Brewing. I sampled his namesake brew: Mott the Lesser Russian Imperial Stout. It looks good as good as it sounds! Enjoy samples of their brews in their taproom—and on a sunny day, it doesn’t get much better than their deck.

If you go

Want to try Mott the Lesser Russian Imperial Stout? Better start planning your trip to Kittery. Tod only brews two small batches of this stout every year (in April and October), and it sells out in days.

Contact

Tributary Brewing
10 Shapleigh Road
Kittery, ME 03904
207.703.0093

Places To Love - Maine - Samantha Brown

Chauncey Creek

Could it get better than my extended family of 12, sitting at an outside picnic table with lobsters, lobster bibs, adults, kids and sunshine? A trip to coastal Maine isn’t complete without lobster. The place I keep returning to? Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier. They provide the lobster, and you bring your own adults beverages, tablecloths and other items (they even let my sister bring her ambrosia salad… though I almost wish they wouldn’t). Chauncey Creek has been a tradition for generations and it’s easy to see why. It’s an open, easy atmosphere. I brought the Tributary Brewing Gose at my pal Tod’s suggestion. It’s the perfect place for an evening outside relishing the sounds, tastes, smells and weather of a perfect coastal Maine experience.

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I love Maine’s wild beauty. It's where mountains meet ocean, punctuated with lighthouses & salted air. But there's so much more to love in Coastal Maine.

If you go

The Strawbery Banke Museum is a fascinating stop just a couple miles away in New Hampshire. The complex of houses, gardens and exhibits dates back to the 1600s! One of the oldest settlements in New England. Docents dressed in period clothing add to the authenticity.

Contact

Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier
16 Chauncey Creek Road
Kittery Point ME  03905
207-439-1090

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