- Acadia National Park,
- North America,
- United States
My fella and I stayed three nights on the mid-coast of Maine over July 4th weekend, 2009. Rain and fog notwithstanding, we ate, hiked, and chillaxed like kings. Maine is my new Place I Dream of Moving To Someday.
Portland, Maine 04101
Tel: 207 774 8080
If you're going to eat fries, you might as well eat twice-fried-in-duck-fat Belgian frites that come in a paper cone. That's what you'll find at Duckfat, a tucked-away counter-service and take-out spot with only a few tables that's been expanding Portland's belts since 2005. Condiments include truffle-laced ketchup, duck gravy, and curry mayo whipped with Maine eggs. Want to go whole hog? Pair the fries with a malted milk shake. There's also a short menu of panini, such as meat loaf with red onions, horseradish mayonnaise, and Cheddar. But if you want to tuck into a full dinner, head down the street to sister restaurant Hugo's, where chef Rob Evans (formerly of the French Laundry) cooks up Gallic dishes using locally sourced ingredients (88 Middle St.; 207-774-8538; www.hugos.net).
Open Mondays through Thursdays 11 am to 8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to 9 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 5 pm.
See + Do
Maine's biggest city leavens its Norman Rockwell charm with a cosmopolitan edge. Stroll through downtown (known as the Old Port District) and you'll find cobblestone streets and turn-of-the-century brick buildings that now house clothing boutiques, art galleries, coffee shops, and stores selling the requisite Maine kitsch: blueberry jam and lobster hats. Restaurants such as DiMillo's Floating Restaurant line the fishing wharves, which are still active with lobster boats and ferries. By night, a dynamic bar scene, fueled by live music and locally crafted beers, takes over Fore Street in the Old Port, while clans of young artists congregate in the lounges of the Arts District. As for the art itself, the Portland Museum of Art hosts rotating exhibits and has an impressive permanent collection that emphasizes Maine paintings and photography (7 Congress Square; 207-775-6148; www.portlandmuseum.org). To appreciate the breadth of Portland's underground arts scene, check out the First Friday Art Walk, held the first Friday of every month, when 50 or so independent galleries open their doors for wine-and-cheese receptions and the chance to gab with the artists (www.firstfridayartwalk.com). If you want to blend in with the local hipsters, swing by Rogues Gallery's flagship store to pick up one of their nautical-meets-naughty handprinted shirts and hoodies (41 Wharf St.; 207-553-1999; www.roguesgallery.com).
See + Do
Beaches of Maine
Yes, Maine's known for its rocky coves, but there are enough beaches to keep even a Bain de Soleil addict happy on a warm summer day. Thirty minutes south of Portland, you'll find the most famous: Old Orchard Beach (not far from the Portland Harbor Hotel and the Pomegranate Inn), which is seven miles long and filled with old-fashioned amusement rides and food stands. Be aware, though, that it's often crowded and frat-boy boisterous. Quieter options nearby are Scarborough Beach off Route 207 (it has rough surf, but the lifeguards make it popular with families) and Ferry Beach, off Route 9 in Saco (a mile of white sand and dunes).
Around Kennebunkport are six separate public beaches, including Gooch's Beach and kid-friendly Mother's Beach, with soft sand, lifeguards, and gentle waves (about a 20-minute walk from the White Barn Inn and Captain Lord Mansion). Beachgoers join runners and even surfers at six-mile Popham Beach (pictured), near Bath, where you'll find the Rock Gardens Inn and the Inn at Bath. Acadia's Sand Beach, a five-minute drive from the Bar Harbor Inn, is the park's only soft strip.
See + Do
Hiking, Mountain Biking and Rock Climbing in Maine
Get this, Vermont and New Hampshire: Maine is as big as all five other New England states combined, which makes for boffo backcountry opportunities. Join the mile-high club (not that one) by hiking up hulking Mount Katahdin, the 5,271-foot terminus of the Appalachian Trail, located in north-central Maine. It's a tough climb and should never be tried on an iffy day, but lower-key alternatives can be found in the surrounding Baxter State Park, which contains 200 miles of other trails (207-723-5140; www.baxterstateparkauthority.com). Near the mountain town of Bethel, the 43-mile Grafton Loop, off the Appalachian Trail, is one of the newest major trails in the Northeast, and an ideal destination for a weekend camping trip or shorter day hikes to bald, blueberry-strewn summits. Every October, the area is also home to Sunday River's North American Wife-Carrying Championships (207-824-5243; www.sundayriver.com/summer/wifecarry.html), when, for a change, hubbies are asking their spouses to get on their backs.
See + Do
Acadia National Park, Maine
Tel: 207 288 3338
In the 1800s, "rusticators" like Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, and other Hudson River School painters fled to Maine's Mount Desert Island, dotted with 26 mountains and surrounded by azure seas. In the early 1900s, a large parcel of the island became Acadia National Park. Today, the park is 47,000 acres, or two thirds of Mount Desert Island. One of the best ways to see Acadia is by kayak; you'll share the shoreline with puffins, whales, and peregrine falcons. Acadia Bike & Kayak rents kayaks and canoes (207-288-9605; www.acadiafun.com). From October to March, you can be the first person in the country to see the sun rise, with a before-dawn hike up 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the U.S. Eastern seaboard. It's a 7.5-mile loop and a moderately challenging hike. (Also note that the popular Precipice Trail up Champlain Mountain is closed until further notice because of minor earthquake damage.) If you're looking for scarier stuff, you can scale Acadia's granite sea cliffs with an instructor from Acadia Mountain Guides (198 Main St.; 888-232-9559; www.acadiamountainguides.com). Fat-tire friends can hop on a mountain bike to explore the 45-mile web of carriage roads that roll through the park. Rent bikes at Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop in downtown Bar Harbor (141 Cottage St.; 207-288-3886; www.barharborbike.com).