[Travel Advice] Maine
Random Observation/Comment #551: Let’s all live in Maine. Simpler fashion, delicious seafood, and hiking to your heart’s content.
TL;DR: Maine is really beautiful and an unexpected foodie scene. We now want to visit every national park and come back here for more Fore Street.
Things Maine Does Well
- Lobstah — whether you’re getting full 1 1/2 lb hard shells, hot lobster rolls, or cold lobster rolls with mayo and old bay, you’re going to have a good time. Sorry (but not sorry) to those who have shellfish allergies.
- Bar Harbor BnBs — we stayed at the Saltair Inn, which I highly recommend, but other places in the area all looked amazingly beautiful. Bar Harbor is definitely a place I’d rather do a traditional bed and breakfast over an Airbnb rental (unless I had a large group)
- LLBeans — we went to their main store in Falmouth outlet and totally got lost; they even had nature displays with stuffed moose and other woodland creatures you’d discover in Maine.
- Blueberries (in Atlantic Brewing company’s Bar Harbor blueberry ale) — it tastes and smells much better than I imagined. I think I’ll just eat the blueberries separately though.
- Acadia National Park — Wowww. This will be the first of many national park adventures to come, but I can personally spend weeks here and still want more. I think the only down side is that everyone else knows this so you’ll have some fierce competition and slightly crowded trails and summits during the summer. Luckily, there are no shortage of trails.
- Hiking — I love the all-granite mountain and it provides different styles of hiking from Hudson Valley/Catskills. In many ways, I missed hiking with Dave from Destination Backcountry Adventures, but this one was pretty incredible.
- Maine Uniform — Think: Fleece, Khakis, and Hiking shoes. I’m a big fan of simplicity and no one will judge you for just wearing all LLBean hiking wear everyday. Male and female alike, you’ll fit right in.
- Top notch restaurant choices: I didn’t think this would be a foodie’s paradise, but it is. Here is the order of Vinessa’s and my top meal picks
- Fore Street — Everything about this place was incredible. Just let the wait staff order for you and you won’t be disappointed
- Side Street Cafe — the perfect lobster roll with the spicy ghost pepper special soup and blueberry ale really made it
- Galyn’s — Prime Rib tenderness, lobster tails, crab cakes, and specialty cocktails
- Young’s Lobster Shore Pound — lobster bucket list for 2 with the freshest picks
- Hot Suppa — corned beef hash with cheese grits
- Red Eats — haddock sandwich and lobster roll (the only reason it’s lower on the list is because of the supposed wait, but we lucked out with the rainy weather)
- Gorgeous Gelato — best gelato break and super creamy texture
- Provision’s Home — Reuben sandwich — what a random surprise! this isn’t even on the map yet, but it’s mainly a catering company
Things Maine can improve
- Diversity — This is the only nitpicking thing I could find. I think I met 2 other Asians vacationing and you’ll probably just see a lot of old white people
- Inaccurate weather forecasts — weather in general is a stab in the dark, but we were pleasantly surprised with some clear skies. The weather tends to fluctuate more greatly, so pack accordingly. Think: sweater and shorts.
Lessons Learned / What we did Well
- Upgraded car — I think it’s because I love driving, but the upgrade was a really nice comfort with the 3–4 hour drives between Portland and Bar Harbor
- Visitor Center/Local advice — We should have done this, but asking locals and bed and breakfast owners were just as useful.
- Pack snack/lunch — If you’re going into the park, remember to prepare lunch so you can stay in the park. The nearest food is 20 minutes back in town.
- Make reservations — specifically to Galyn’s in Bar Harbor (reservations guarantee a better view) and Fore Street in Portland
- Drive Route 1 — Take your time driving between Portland and Acadia. It’s really beautiful and there are tons of great eats from the lobster pounds along the way. If the line isn’t around the restaurant, eat at Red Eats in Wiscasset and Young’s Lobster Shore Pound in Belfast
Fly in by noon
Car rental and drive from Portland to Acadia bar harbor with stops in Falmouth for outlet shopping
Stopped in Belfast for Young’s Lobster Shore Pound — Get the lobster bucket list for 2 (it’s a fantastic deal)
Stayed at Saltair Inn
Walk around downtown at night and bought two bottles of wine for the weekend
4am — woke up to drive to Cadillac mountain and literally journeyed through a cloud
5am — decided to take a nice drive down to Bass Harbor Lighthouse (Don’t go here, btw). All we saw was the light since it was so foggy. Nice drive though.
6:30am — back to sleep
8am — bed and breakfast breakfast and got some great suggestions for hiking spots
10am start our hiking trip to Beehive and Bowl
10:30am — drove to Sand Beach to park our car for the entrance to Beehive. Saw how steep Beehive was and decided we didn’t want to die. The rickety bridge looked too much. We found another way up the summit and enjoyed the view and photos.
Walked over to Bowl and hung out by the lake Beautiful and casual walk for 1.5 hours overall. Very mild and a bit of scrambling, but very nice.
Across from the mountain by the Sand Beach is an ocean trail that was worth a short visit. The inlet beach made the waves smaller and the side hiking more beautiful.
Park loop road Along the coast — I highly recommend stopping along the way and enjoying the different views of the coast. The drive took us 2 hours because we kept stopping, but each turn had another beautiful view and outlook opportunity
We parked in Thunderhole, but crossed the street to climb some of those huge rocks in Otter Cliff. It was perfect. There are enough rocks and picture perfect scenes for everyone.
Cadillac Mountain again — within 30 minutes, the sun came out to greet us and the whole mountain changed. We drove up to Cadillac Mountain once more to soak in the view. The pictures speak for themselves, but now I know why it’s amazing for sunrise and sunset.
Side street cafe — the best lobster roll I’ve ever had. Just get it. Worth the $20.
Bar Island walk — We mainly did this to skip stones along the water. The stones are perfectly shaped and it looks like a great spot for kayaking.
Took a nap and then went to Galyn’s for dinner. Get the prime rib Lou’s cut.
We wish we had more time, but we wanted to spend some time in Portland as well. On our way back, we went to Bass Harbor Lighthouse again, which was terrible.
Rockland for the Farnsworth Museum — it’s a nice little stop with some nice Wyeth paintings, but probably not worth the price.
Red Eats — we lucked out for the weather and short line. lobster roll and haddock sandwich amazingness. Vinessa preferred the Side Street Cafe lobster roll.
Portland arrival and staying at an awesome Airbnb
Fore Street deliciousness — Full review. We will be back here again.
Hot Suppa! for brunch — get the corned beef hash with the cheesy grits
Walk around Portland — Congress Street towards the East Promenade and then back down south along Fore Street.
Allagash Beer Tour — yesssss definitely do this. It’s a free one-hour tour (starting on the hour) and they bring you through the full process while giving you 4 tastes of beer. You won’t get drunk, but it’s a great taste. Pints can’t be served at the brewery. Allagash Sixteen Counties all the way.
For Next Time in Bar Harbor:
We didn’t have enough time, but we spoke with a lot of people and collected a great list of other places to visit in Maine:
- Sunset at Blue Hill overlook (a small spot right before the parking lot for Cadillac mountain) — we were warned that everyone does this so go early and bring a blanket
- Whale and puffin watching
- Carriage ride around the park
- Biking on carriage roads (45 miles of it where cars can’t go)
- Hike the South Ridge up Cadillac mountain
- Hike Gorham mountain
- Hike Dorr’s Ladder Trail for a strenuous but enjoyable hike
- Emory Elliot path
~See Lemons Love Maine and Lobstah
Originally published at seelemonslive.com on June 6, 2016.