At the inn our guests often ask us for recommendations about the “must see places” and “must do activities” during their visit here in midcoast Maine. Receiving these questions made me realize that while traveling is an exciting and enjoyable experience, it can also be stressful at times. Traveling is often the result of years of hard work and saving up hard-earned cash for these coveted experiences. When on vacation and spending this money tourists want to make sure they are going to enjoy these experiences and don’t have any regrets with how they spent their time. Living in the area for many years now and having the opportunity to do some traveling around the Boothbay Harbor area ourselves, we thought we would provide some suggestions for your trip to the area. This article will give you an agenda for 4 days worth of activities in the Boothbay Harbor Region. Whether all of the activities sound of interest to you or just a couple, we hope you find some ideas for your trip to Maine this summer!
Day 1: A Day Downtown Boothbay Harbor
With so much to do in downtown Boothbay Harbor you could easily find a few days worth of activities, but with all of the other great areas to visit while you are here, we will give you the top destinations to see and activities to partake in during your visit to this scenic harbor area.
Boat Cruise/Kayak/Lobster Cruise, Just Get Out On the Ocean!
The harbor itself is beautiful. Kayakers, paddle-boarders, and boats can be seen slowly cruising by. Whether you want to go for a peaceful cruise out on the ocean, a fishing trip, lobster trip, puffin watch, or rent a couple of kayaks, there is something for everyone.
Grab a Bite to Eat
There are a lot of great local places to eat right at the harbor. Walk off the boat and right in to one of the many places to eat in downtown Boothbay Harbor. Whether you want the fresh Maine seafood you’ve heard so much about, Italian cuisine, or just a bite of pizza there are plenty of options to choose from in the area.
If you want seafood, McSeagull’s Restaurant, Andrew’s Harborside Restaurant, and Kaler’s Crab & Lobster House all offer fresh Maine seafood you are sure to enjoy. Boathouse Bistro Tapas Bar & Restaurant boasts fresh Maine seafood along with a little something for everyone on the menu. Both Boathouse Bistro and McSeagull’s have decks overlooking the harbor if you are lucky enough to get a table! If you are looking for a fine dining experience Ports of Italy offers gourmet Italian cuisine that is sure to impress. Finally, if you just want a bite of pizza and continue to walk around the area look no further than Pier 1 Pizza.
Visit the Local Shops & Explore the Harbor
After you’re done with your first Boothbay Harbor dining experience, take the opportunity to explore the area. There are many great local craftsmen, artists, and small shops selling fun, unique Maine trinquettes.
While you’re walking around don’t forget to stop and enjoy the view. The ocean, soaring birds, and boats cruising to and from the harbor is truly a sight to see. Take in the sunset over the harbor and enjoy the true beauty of Maine.
Day 2: Popham Beach State Park
Some of the most popular tourist attractions when anyone visits Maine are the beaches, wildlife, hikes, and historical forts & lighthouses. At Popham Beach State Park, you get to experience it all and it’s only an hour drive from Boothbay. Pack a picnic for the day and enjoy all that this beautiful area has to offer.
The tide pools around the beach are always fun to explore and you never know what wildlife you will find. Snails, crabs, hermit crabs, starfish, and other sea critters can be found hanging around these small pools of water. Popham Beach also has many sand dunes during low tide, which are always fun to venture out to. And of course there all of the usual beach activities that we all love: swimming in the water, boogie boarding, wiffle-ball, bocce ball, and etc.
While a day resting on the beach can be a great day in itself, for the adventurous and active type there are nature trails that can be taken around the coast of the ocean. These trails lead to some gorgeous views, wildlife spottings, and offer a dose of peaceful relaxation.
If you’re a history buff or just enjoy exploring old forts, then you have to check out Popham Fort during your visit to this state park. This fort has beautiful architecture and is a great place to explore. Children love to probe the fort, especially with all of the chambers to venture through and stairs to climb.
Dinner at the Squire Tarbox Inn
If your not staying with us, call and reserve your table for dinner after your long day at the beach. We have world-class chefs with culinary experience in high-class restaurants in New York City, Italy, and Switzerland, just to name a few locations. They will prepare you a delicious gourmet meal you are sure to remember. We source our food locally as much as possible and most of our vegetables come from our son’s organic farm. Eat dinner out on the patio and enjoy the view of the field, gardens, and flowers. While you’re here, feel free to explore the field, gardens, and farm area. We grow a variety of vegetables and flowers and even raise chicken and goats!
Day 3: Maine at It’s Best!
The last couple of days have been pretty laid back, staying in one location and enjoying the area, but who are we kidding, you’re on vacation and you want to be out and about!
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
This extensive garden occupies 270 acres of land and over 75 different types of plants and flowers that bloom throughout the year. There is more to the Botanical Gardens than just the plants and flowers though. The gardens also have beautiful nature trails taking you along the coastline with one of these passing a small waterfall along the way. They have beautiful birdbaths, unique huts and bridges, small ponds, and even a kid’s section of the garden. There are many benches and chairs around the park to rest and take in the sights and smells of the garden.
The Kitchen Garden
While you’re here why not enjoy some of their fresh food while sitting outside enjoying the view and aromas of the garden. They use local and organic foods whenever possible and because of this their menu varies throughout the course of the season. They have fresh soup, salads, sandwiches, and more. Between the food, the atmosphere, and the friendly customer service, it is a great place to dine.
(If however, this doesn’t sound appealing, the Botanical Gardens are just 10 minutes from Boothbay Harbor where you are right next to all of the local restaurants!)
The Maine State Aquarium
While the Maine State Aquarium may be smaller (just one large room) than some of the larger aquariums you may find in Boston and other large cities, it still has a lot to offer, especially if you want to see some of Maine’s sea critters up close and personal. The aquarium showcases many local Maine lobster with some as big as 23 pounds. The aquarium has local sportfish, bottom-dwellers, sea anenomies, sharks, skates, and more. If you’re crazy enough you can even have the opportunity to pet your first shark! They also have a touch tank where guests have the chance to see and touch sea cucumbers, sea stars, scallops, sea urchins and moon snails. Children love the aquarium and it is definitely worth the trip for them. Even if you don’t have children it is good for a short visit, most people say they enjoy roaming around for about an hour.
Downeast Ice Cream
After observing some of Maine’s very own sea critters venture 10 minutes to Downeast Ice Cream for some Maine homemade ice cream. They have many delicious flavors to choose from and you can even make your own sundae. They have reasonable prices and very generous portions.
If you’re still up for another adventure after your long day, take a cruise down Ocean Point in Boothbay Harbor. If you are tired from the long day or just ate too much ice cream, you can cruise slowly along the road and enjoy the view of the coast of Maine. If you are up for some more physical activity you can park your car and explore the coast and beach. There are trails that go along the rocky coast of Maine and lead to some great views.
Day 4: Bradbury Mountain/Freeport
Over the last three days you have had the chance to see some of the beautiful sights and scenes that the coast of Maine has to offer. There is only one problem: as great as the coast is, you are missing the other half of Maine! As much we all love the Maine beaches, lighthouses, and seafood, we can’t forget about all of the beautiful mountains trails, and landlocked wildlife that Maine has to offer.
Bradbury Mountain State Park
Wake up early this morning and venture to Bradbury Mountain State Park to enjoy all of their hiking and biking trails. Take the short family friendly hike to the top of Bradbury Mountain and enjoy the gorgeous view or bring the bikes along to explore some of their bike paths. After trekking through some of their trails enjoy a picnic in their park or embark on your journey to Freeport where there are activities to fill the rest of your afternoon and evening.
Freeport, just 20 minutes from Bradbury Mountain, is a must visit for anyone that has not had an opportunity to visit this beautiful town before. Filled with local shops, outlet stores, and of course the L.L. Bean flagship store, there are plenty of shops to visit. The area has a nice small, hometown feeling. It is a beautiful area with friendly people, so take a minute to take in the sights as you are walking around the area and from shop to shop.
Events & Festivals
L.L. Bean has a “Summer in the Park” series that features many fun events and free concerts. They usually have 4 or 5 events a month so plan your trip accordingly. They feature live musicians and not just local one’s either! They have fun events including: a road race, kidsfest, and a circus show. These events and concerts are all free of charge, so take advantage!
During your visit to downtown Freeport there are a multitude of restaurants to choose from. All of these local restaurants bring their own unique offering and many of them offer outside dining, which is always a great summer experience.
Linda Beans Maine Kitchen Top & Tavern offers delicious Maine food with a vast array of options to choose from. They offer many seafood dishes and there are many different lobster dishes to choose from. They also have traditional American dishes as well for those of you that have already had your fair share of seafood during the course of your stay.
The Azure Café, while a little on the pricey side, is well worth the money if you are looking for a fine dining experience. This Italian restaurant serves delicious Italian dishes, while incorporating Maine seafood and tradition into their menu and meals. They serve gourmet cuisine, have a beautiful outdoor patio, and top-of-the-line customer service.
Tuscan Brick Oven Bistro provides an experience that is one in it’s own. With a beautiful and one of a kind inside dining area and serving local food from sustainable farmers and fishers you are in for a treat. They make their food from scratch everyday and it is of the highest quality. While it is rather expensive, you will not be disappointed if you decide to dine there.
There are many other restaurants to choose from including: The Mediterranean Grill, Thai Garden Restaurant, and The Freeport Chowder House, if the restaurants described above don’t catch your eye!
Hope You Enjoy Your Visit in Midcoast Maine!
After reading this article we hope you have found some fun activities, sights to see, places to visit, and fine culinary endeavors to try on your trip to Midcoast Maine this summer. We hope you are ready to enjoy all of the beaches, wildlife, boats, nature trails, and lobster Maine has to offer!
It’s been a while since we last wrote our blog. We had a very busy summer & fall with wonderful interns helping us as well as delicious produce from the gardens. Now everything lies dormant (as well as us!!) under snow & ice. Since early December we have had frigid temperatures & a lot of snow & ice. It was really tough to heat our old historical Maine Inn when we had guests staying or dining with us but we managed along with cozy wood fires burning. New Year’s eve was our last evening serving dinner & all had a good time.
Now we are closed & doing all the catch up work that got put on the side burner.
This year our Christmas was especially wonderful because we had Mario’s brother & his family here from Switzerland . There were 6 of them plus all our immediate family which kept us busy cooking every night for 10 to 14 people. On Christmas Eve even Santa showed up to talk to our grandsons Elijah & Julian. They were amazed & very much in awe. Then Elijah helped his Dad prepare a delicious fresh salad from The greenhouse at the Tarbox Farm (starting him off at a young age) on Christmas day.
This Year We will be opening on Easter Sunday, April 20th. In the meantime we wish you all a happy & healthy New Year & please do come & see us in 2014.
chicory greens are in full swing and making their way into sides sautéed with
bacon, onions and honey and served with confit duck and homemade black currant
sauce. The currants themselves have just been delivered by a friend visiting from New York, so it’s time to do some
research on currant recipes! Rumor has it that our famous Maine blueberries are
about ready as well.
borage flowers have a sweet cucumber taste that jazz up salads, and our tempura
daylily buds were a big hit.
decided that I would attempt to make French macarons for our little Fourth of
July picnic. In the end the project turned out the worst sort of beginners luck
– wrong enough that there was definite room for improvement, but successful
enough to temp the foolish macaron neophyte into thinking she could get it
day I set out to make more, sure that this time, armed with all of my
“experience,” they would be perfect. Needless to say — that didn’t happen.
Instead they turned out even flatter, sadder, and more impossible.
definitely more of a visual learner. Where written recipes fell short youtube
instruction came through in a big way and third time turned out to be the charm
and produced some respectable looking macaroons – so look out for a dessert
There is a new feature on the inn’s front lawn (and no, it’s not a Swiss
flag). The addition is big, rocky, and really, really hot. Well, wait a few
weeks and it will be really, really hot.
the weekend! After Jay put his rock skills to good use and built the base, we
completed the dome on Sunday.
of mud and straw, there’s a lot of material that must be mixed. And we’re not
talking mixed in a cement truck or KitchenAid. We’re talking about a good old
sand–are measured onto a tarp. Then, KA-BAM! The stomping begins! The job is
very much enjoyable and leaves the stomper with much smoother feet (see the
pampered toes pictured).
dry for a couple weeks. It’s a shame it has to dry for so long, stomping sure
does work up an appetite!
chores. Emily has remained out in the garden doing battle with the cucumber
beetles, and occasionally the swallows, while I have moved into the kitchen (a
dubious improvement in climate with temps in there hitting 95+). Recent projects
have included candying pansies (much harder than it sounds), replenishing sauces
and desserts, experimenting with new flavors of scones and attempting to produce
tabboleh, baba ganoush and a yogurt-mint sauce. But to me this means much more
than just a menu change since I was entrusted with putting together all of these
various elements! Despite some performance jitters my Lebanese heritage pulled
through and I’m quite proud of the results. The first night we put it on the
menu I sat in the back room, not quite biting my nails, but at least imagining
that this was how parents must feel at a child’s first ballet recital. No orders
that night, but we sold two the following night to good reviews!
our goats, a sweet little boy by the name of Bobby, passed away this afternoon.
It’s a reminder to suburbanites like me who turn their rose-tinted sights on
sustainable food production that although the garden is full of new shoots and
buds there is another side to this particular coin. Poor Bobby was off for
about a week, but in the end he didn’t suffer long, had a beautifully sunny and
breezy last morning and he’s now resting peaceful under the cherry trees at the
bottom of the garden. We will miss his antics and goatee (no pun intended) in
the goat barn, but are glad for his sake that he’s no longer in pain.
Today, at our little inn on the Maine coast, I set out to plant sunflowers in the beds by the parking lot. I began
digging holes in the dirt, enjoying its coolness compared to the blazing
sunshine. After completing half a dozen, I noticed some bird-like shadows
circling my head. Birds tend to like gardening because it unearths lots of tasty
bugs and weeds, so I smiled and kept digging.
Moments later I
heard the rapid flapping of wings in my ear. The once-distant shadows were now
inches away from my head! Then my hat moved. The birds fluttered wildly around
me and weren’t leaving.
Confused, I looked upwards and the birds
attempted to peck me in the face. I got the message. I ran to take cover under
the nearest tree. The two circled the area again to make sure the threat had
been taken care of. It certainly had, I wasn’t about to go back out there and
mess with two angry parents!
Needless to say I didn’t think a
harmless act like planting sunflowers would result in such a fiasco. Of course,
when I talked with my bosses about the incident, Mario was quick to tell me that
he was behind the whole thing! Just two days ago he attempted to fix the parking
lot light. The light happens to have a bird’s nest on top of it. When he was
messing with the light, he said that the birds, which are tree sparrows, were a
little peeved, but did not attack him. “But they must’ve had enough,” Mario said
about the mother bird.
Let’s hope they give me a break, the sunflowers
aren’t getting any younger!
and double digging — the kind where you tell yourself you’re just going to do
so much and then find yourself in a panic to do twice that just to finish faster
– we have finished the vegetable plot. All that remains is to plant. We put in
our Mung bean sprouts yesterday, and now we have cucumbers, peppers, and French
beans left to go in.
hang-up when we couldn’t find graham flour) with three recipes baked. So far
Alton Brown’s recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/graham-crackers-recipe/index.html) is our taste favorite, but we now have to make the sacrifice of making pies and taste-testing them to see which works best as a crust.
starting to come in. The farmer’s market yesterday was boasting the first summer
squash and some beautiful baby carrots. For us that means it’s time to start
changing up the menu to incorporate all of that fresh veggie goodness, so stop
by and check out our changes!
all of the grass still in place, house-candied oranges, the after: fully
double-dug vegetable plot, graham crackers.
I Double Dog Dare you to Double Dig that Dirt!
As you might have guessed from the title, the last few days have been filled with double digging. The soppy soil that resulted from this last week’s rain gave us a brief respite, but the minute the sun did shine, Victoria, Adam, and I were at it again.
Double digging is a process for preparing beds for plants. If you would like to know the specifics of the process, here’s a video for you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W85QmZgDxFk . If not, all you need to know is double digging requires you to dig into a row more than two times.
While very helpful to the plants, double digging also helps us gardeners get back into tip top shape! Those shovelfuls of dirt aren’t light, you know! I’ll admit that, in a moment of weakness, I was tempted to run to the road, flag over a truck and get one of the shipbuilders on their way to Bath to help us speed up the process a bit. But, alas, I decided the U.S. Navy could have their ships and I could help our garden. Pretty generous, right?
Luckily, this intensive work is all but finished. We have two and a half more rows to dig, compared with the seven we had a few weeks ago. Now if only the summer rain would let us finish…
although it is breaking up our final push to get the vegetables happily situated
in their plot. We settled for making the goats happy instead by giving their
barn its annual de-spidering. Turns out that cobwebs are pretty good at clogging
vacuum cleaners, but in the end we prevailed!
since there is always something to do around the inn, but rainy) day, so I
restocked chocolate chip cookies for the cookie jar – a popular tourist
attraction For the first time in my life I actually hit the recipe yield more
or less on the head, so my venture must have been blessed by the cookie
crackers and to figure out the perfect pizza dough and then a little friendly
competition for best toppings combination, but since we have to taste-test all
of them, everyone is a winner!
Working in any part of the kitchen can be stressful; pans sizzle with scalding oil, knives race up and down skinned onions. All the activity creates a microclimate in the kitchen similar to the deep jungle—only it’s Chef Mario one has to look out for, not big cats.
It’s to be expected that the bustle of so many bodies moving toward the good cause of making delicious food create a pile of not-so-tasty dishes. But that’s what dishwashers are for, right? And by dishwashers, I’m referring to the ten-fingered variety, not the box of chrome. On nights where help is needed, somehow I fit this description.
At first, the mound of metal rounds can be quite intimidating. Sometimes Lara or Mario will rush behind me and yell, “Sharp!” or worse, “Hot” and then I have one more hazard for my ever-hesitant mind to remember. After awhile though, I begin to actually…gasp….enjoy doing the dishes.
This, Mario says, is called the “Zen” of dishwashing. You get into the groove of rinse, wash, rinse, and the whole things feels rather relaxing. In fact, cleaning caked mushrooms out of a pot or scraping greasy pans to a shine (ok, not quite a shine per se, but certainly a nice matte finish) can be more satisfying than a glass of cold water. Some things in life aren’t easy to clean up, but at least we’ve got dishwashing!