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Maine

Maine

By mfitzpatrick
Destinations: 
Acadia National Park,
Boothbay,
Freeport,
Kennebunkport,
Maine,
North America,
Portland,
United States

This is a trip I am taking with my sister, my travel companion. We have never been to Maine, NH or Vermont and are looking forward to exploring the New England Coast and surrounding area. We look forward to enjoying lots of seafood, lighthouses, beaches and more!

ITEMS

Nightlife

Gritty McDuff's, Maine

396 Fore Street
Portland, Maine 04101
Tel: 207 772 2739
Website: www.grittys.com

Gritty McDuff's is Maine's original microbrewery and a Portland institution. It opened in 1988, but with its copper-topped brick bar and wood-beam ceiling, you'd think it had been around at least a century. Gritty's Best Brown, Black Fly Stout, and six other home brews are mainlined from the tanks in the basement. Live bands play on the weekends—mostly original bluegrass or rock 'n' roll covers—and draw a boisterous crowd of locals and out-of-towners. For a little breathing room, head downstairs, past the brewing quarters, to the basement bar and its barrel tables for a more intimate communion with your handcrafted ale.

Open daily 11:30 am to 1 am.

White Heart

Nightlife

J's Oyster Bar, Maine

5 Portland Pier
Portland, Maine 04101
Tel: 207 772 4828

Want to drink like a sailor? Look no further than this perennial favorite where lobstering and fish-hauling captains—along with a few local landlubbers—come to slurp fresh oysters and down pints of Allagash and dirty martinis. From the outside, the harborside shack isn't much to look at, but the shiplike interior is all polished mahogany, antique nautical maps, and a beautiful brass bar. Tourists sometimes get the ugly eye when they step through the door, but after your fifth drink, a round of oysters, and a few rambling tales of the open water from the surly lobsterman seated beside you, you'll feel as if you're part of the crew. Arrive early if you want a seat on the patio.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 1 am, Sundays noon to midnight.

See + Do

The Lighthouse Route, Maine

Route 1
, Maine

For lighthouse aficionados, driving the 400-mile length of Route 1 between Kittery (at the southern tip of Maine) and Fort Kent (at the Canadian border) is a rite of passage. The two-lane road follows the rugged, rock-strewn coast and delivers beacon hunters to four of the state's most iconic lighthouses. The first stop is Cape Neddick in York, just north of the New Hampshire border. Better known as Nubble Lighthouse, the 40-foot tower was built in 1878 and is still in operation. A 45-mile drive north and a short detour into picturesque Cape Elizabeth brings you to Portland Headlight. Commissioned by George Washington in 1791, it is Maine's oldest lighthouse, and it may look familiar if you've seen Edward Hopper's 1927 watercolor portrait of it in Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Another 60-mile jaunt north, in Bristol, is Pemaquid Point, a quaint lighthouse of whitewashed brick. And one last 100-mile haul brings you to Acadia National Park, where Harbor Bass Light is located on a cliff on Mount Desert Island. In the heat of summer, Route 1 is notoriously jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, particularly around popular vacation towns like Ogunquit and Old Orchard Beach. Use I-95 or I-295 to speed along your journey.

ALT HERE

See + Do

Brews & Blue(Berries) in Maine

We're not sure what it is about cities called Portland, but the name seems to inspire superior microbreweries. The Maine version has at least seven. Take a tour and taste free samples at Allagash (18 Industrial Way; 207-878-5385; www.allagash.com), Casco Bay (57 Industrial Way; 207-797-2020; www.cascobaybrewing.com), and Shipyard (86 Newbury St.; 207-761-0807; www.shipyard.com). To sample microbrews as they were meant to be sampled, try the handcrafted pints at Gritty McDuff's and Sebago Brewing Company (164 Middle St.: 207.775.2337; www.sebagobrewing.com), two brewpubs in the Old Port District that double as local hangouts.

Maine also produces 99 percent of all wild blueberries in the country. East of Bethel, the Wilton Blueberry Festival in August has blueberry pancake breakfasts, blueberry pop, and blueberry muffins—plus road races to burn it all off. For details, talk to the organizer, Shannon Smith (207-778-4726). And the Maine Wild Blueberry Festival takes place during August's Union Fair, one of Maine's oldest. Find it in the town of Union, off coastal Route 1 between Boothbay Harbor and Bar Harbor (207-785-3281; www.unionfair.org/Blueberry.cfm).

ALT HERE

See + Do

Beaches of Maine


Website: www.visitmaine.net/beaches.htm

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.

ALT HERE

See + Do

Acadia National Park, Maine

, Maine
Tel: 207 288 3338
Website: www.nps.gov/acad

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).

Eating

Fore Street, Maine

288 Fore Street
Portland, Maine 04101
Tel: 207 775 2717
Website: www.forestreet.biz

When people who don't have a date with the bingo table start lining up for dinner at 5 pm, you've probably found a first-rate restaurant. Fore Street is a superpopular Old Port joint steered by superstar chef Sam Hayward, who has earned acclaim from the James Beard Foundation and Gourmet, among others. A discreet metal sign outside marks the brick-and-wood façade; inside, an open kitchen with an 800-degree oven and a glassed-in cooler brimming with organic salad greens is the focal point. Hayward designs a new menu every day, but it's a good bet there'll be mussels roasted in almond-and-garlic butter, and dry-rubbed pork loin with tangy sauerkraut. As for that oven, he uses it to cook specialty dishes such as a whole-roasted Atlantic sea bass stuffed with herbs. Finish things off with the cheese course of New England triple-cream and Maine Caprino. And leave the finery in your hotel room: The servers wear jeans and you should, too. Sister restaurant Street & Company is another good bet, where Hayward's fellow chef and business partner Dana Street prepares what is arguably the city's best local catch (33 Wharf St.; 207-775-0887).

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

Eating

Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster, Maine

36 Main Street
Freeport, Maine 04078
Tel: 207 865 4888

Let's face it: Racing around among Freeport's outlets can be exhausting. Heck, even just stepping foot into L.L. Bean's gargantuan headquarters after finding a parking place can zap the calories. And while there are plenty of places to eat around town, few restore both body and soul like Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster. At this low-key lobster shack with picnic tables for decor, diners get to drink in views of South Freeport Harbor while cracking open crustaceans that were swimming just minutes before. Fresh lobster is best followed with the signature whoopie pies, round disks of chocolate cake filled with cream.

Open daily 11 am to 7:45 pm, May 1 through June 15 and Labor Day through Columbus Day; 11 am to 8:45 pm, June 16 through Labor Day.

Eating

Phil's Route 27 Lobster Shop, Maine

788 Wiscasset Road
Boothbay, Maine 04537
Tel: 207 633 5189

Phil "the Baker" McLellan is a man of few words, and those that he does mutter might seem unintelligible unless you're a Maine-ah yourself. No matter: His lobster pies and blueberry pies at this roadside hut near the Five Gables Inn do the speaking for him. There's no menu here, just pieces of paper taped to the counter that present what Phil feels like making for you. Go for the $10.95 lobster roll—meaty chunks on a freshly baked homemade hero roll—and a $1 can of soda. After one bite while sitting at the outdoor picnic table, you won't be doing much talking, either.

Open May to October.

Eating

Becky's Diner, Maine

390 Commercial Street
Portland, Maine 04101
Tel: 207 773 7070
Website: www.beckysdiner.com

Fishermen, lobstermen, and little kids watching cartoons on TV sit elbow-to-elbow along the counter on Saturday mornings at Becky's Diner. Although zoning laws on Hobson's Wharf (just south of Old Port) ban all nonfishery businesses, owner Becky Rand successfully argued in 1991 that the boatmen needed a place to eat. The diner does not suffer fools, charging extra for fancy substitutions and serving eggs Benedict only as an occasional special. Instead, this is the place for thick blueberry pancakes, fresh haddock, hash, hamburger patties, and omelets made 14 ways. There's lunch and dinner, too, but don't miss breakfast. In warm weather, ask for a table on the rooftop patio for the harbor views.

Open daily 4 am to 9 pm.

Eating

The Clam Shack, Maine

Route 9 (at the bridge)
Kennebunkport, Maine 04046
Tel: 207 967 2560
Website: www.theclamshack.net

C'mon, bickering over the best seafood stand in Maine is a bore: There are many fine finger-food establishments strung like Christmas lights up the coast. But if you're in the Kennebunks, staying at the White Barn Inn or Captain Lord Mansion, walk the five minutes to the Clam Shack. You can't miss it on Route 9 at the bridge. The fried clams are summer in a paper pint, and the lobster rolls could move the heavens. Owner Steve Kingston plucks the meat from a one-pound lobster and piles it onto a lightly crisped roll. Your choice of mayo, butter, or both. Want a fork? Bring your own—it's utensil-free here.

Open May to October.

Eating

Duckfat, Maine

43 Middle Street
Portland, Maine 04101
Tel: 207 774 8080
Website: www.duckfat.com

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.

Eating

Dimillo's Floating Restaurant, Maine

25 Long Wharf
Portland, Maine 04101
Tel: 207 772 2216
Website: www.dimillos.com

A total tourist trap—but who cares? DiMillo's is an old Rhode Island car ferry that is now permanently docked in Portland Harbor as a seafood and Italian restaurant. Burgundy-and-brass decor and flickering lanterns make for a tony (if boisterous, as birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated here) atmosphere. The seasonal opening of the second-floor outdoor Bow Deck, which juts over the harbor, is a big event around town: It's simply the best view around. The other big draw is the scrumptious lobster—served steamed, sautéed, stuffed, fried or Fra Diavolo. The Fisherman's Platter is also the perfect storm of fried haddock, scallops, shrimp, clams, and onion rings. Top it off with a couple of drinks at DiMillo's Port Side Lounge, and you can blame your wobbliness on the water.

Lunch and dinner daily.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.