25 Fun Things To Do in Rockland and Camden
Eat Lobster, Drink Wine, Sail Penobscot Bay, Visit Lighthouses and Be Merry!
As summer comes to Maine, so do carloads of travelers who are visiting for the first time, or old salts who return again and again for the many charms and fun activities that await on the coast of Maine. This territory once belonged to sailors, shipbuilders, lobstermen and craftsmen who embraced a working life by the sea. Come enjoy the eternal beauty of towns nestled along the coves and harbors of Penobscot Bay. You’ll find plenty of things to do in Midcoast Maine to entertain you whether you’re visiting for a few days or a few weeks.
Play in The Sunshine
Walk on Water To The Rockland Breakwater Light
There are few Maine sites more photographed than the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse and the granite jetty that leads out to the lighthouse. Plan your visit according to the tides and you should have several hours for the 7/8th mile walk along the granite jetty to the lighthouse. Flat heeled shoes (like sneakers) are essential and mind the winds if it’s a blustery day! Don’t forget to tell your friends to watch the webcam at the end of the breakwater so you can give them a wave.
Climb Mount Battie For Panoramic Views of Camden
A short 1/2 mile paved hike just off the town square in Camden will lead you to the summit of Mount Battie with spectacular aerial views of the entire town and Penobscot Bay beyond – well worth the climb! (Or you can drive up through the park road if you like – fee applies.) If you still have energy to spare, Camden Hills State Park, where Mt. Battie is located, has over 30 miles of hiking trails to choose from.
Hit The Beach
Most of the coastline in midcoast Maine is made up of jagged granite outcroppings and rock strewn beaches. While these are great for playing in tide pools, skipping rocks and climbing on boulders, they do not offer the soft sand of southern Maine beaches. One lovely white sand beach stands out however. Birth Point Beach State Park is located in the town of Owls Head and offers a scenic view over distant islands from the crescent shaped beach. Be aware though….. the ocean temperatures in Maine even in August are downright cold. You may spend more time walking through the waves lapping the shore than diving in!
Climb to the Top of a Lighthouse
The Owls Head Lighthouse is one of the most scenic and easily accessible lighthouses in Maine. Enter through the Owls Head Light State Park, park nearby and take a short hike to the lighthouse. Volunteer staff is on hand during summer months to relate the history of the lighthouse and answer questions. Need I say that the views are exhilarating.
Play a Round of Golf
One of New England’s premier golf courses is located at the Samoset Resort in Rockland. The scenic course has holes right on the ocean for maximum views. This upscale resort is known for it’s family friendly atmosphere and top notch amenities. In addition, you’ll find the Goose River Golf Course located strategically between Camden and Rockland.
Visit Aldermere Farm and Meet Some Very Adorable Cows
Located between Rockland and Camden you will find Aldermere Farm, where a unique breed of cattle graze in 136 acres of scenic fields. Galloway Belted Cows, sometimes called Belties, or “Oreo cows” by kids, were originally brought to America from southern Scotland. Know for the ability to thrive in cold and blustery weather conditions in winter, they adapted well to life in coastal Maine. Today, this is the the oldest continually-operated herd of Belted Galloway cattle in the United States. The visitor center is open from July 1 – September 29 from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm Monday through Friday. Saturday hours are 1:00-4:00 pm. Don’t miss the Free Friday Farm Tours!
Stroll and Shop
Maine small towns are a treasure trove of small boutique shops selling local crafts and Maine themed wares. Camden is the picture perfect coastal town with bright flowers in window boxes and nautical shops galore. Rockland is a touch more authentic ‘old Maine’ with many shops owned by locals.
The Island Institute, Archipelago Store and Gallery is a must visit shop in Rockland. The Island Institute is an advocacy organization that promotes and supports communities on Maine offshore islands. In their eclectic shop you’ll find artwork by local artists, potters and jewelers, original paintings, and a wide range of unique collectables.
For a totally unique shopping experience, stop by the Maine State Prison Store on Route 1 in Thomaston (just before Rockland). This store features wooden crafts that are handcrafted by inmates in the Maine prison system. They learn woodworking, marketable job skills, work ethics and responsibility in the process . From cutting boards, to lamps, to wooden ships, you’ll find an eclectic array of merchandise.
Sail The Bay – You really haven’t seen Maine until you’ve been out on the water.
Maine Windjammer Fleet
For centuries, wooden ship builders have worked the docks of Rockland, Rockport and Camden, producing magnificent trade schooners to deliver Maine lumber, granite and trade goods across the globe. Today this area is home to the Maine Windjammer Association and more historic wooden tall ships than anywhere else in America. The site of these magnificent vessels under sail is awe-inspiring. Even better, plan a 3, 4 or 5 day sail through the calm waters of Penobscot Bay onboard one of these magnificent ships. The views are mesmerizing, camaraderie exceptional, food down-home delicious, and it is arguable the best ‘unplugged’ all-inclusive vacation in America!
Not everyone can sail away on a multi-day Windjammer adventure, so for those with time constraints, The Schooner Olad is the perfect solution. Visit their storefront on Main Street in Camden to book a morning, afternoon or sunset sail (or book online). Climb aboard this traditional two-masted wooden schooner and enjoy gliding past lighthouses, pine studded coves and bobbing lobster buoys, while Captain Lincoln tells you about seafaring on the Maine coast. Ask about their special Lobster Bake cruises!
Port Clyde Outfitters Kayak and Paddle Board Excursions
Located at the very tip of the St. George Peninsula is an exceptional boating outfitter, Port Clyde Kayaks, who offers kayak and paddle board rentals, all equipment, lessons, and wonderful guided tours or independent paddles. This is the perfect spot to launch off to explore the waters surrounding Marshall Point. When we visited last June, we were the only kayaks in the bay. We spent a delightful 2 hours with our guide (owner) Brian, learning all about the area, seeing an abundance of sea life, secluded homes and beautiful scenery. Ask about their popular Bioluminescent Starlight Tours!
Visit Famed Monhegan Island
Artists have proclaimed the light that shines on Monhegan Island to be like no other, which explains why it draws painters of all ability to its shores. Monhegan island is a small rocky island located about 10 miles from the nearest shore and is reachable only by boat. It takes a certain grit to live on a small island, and you’ll surely enjoy meeting the local characters that call Monhegan Island home. There is a charming village, miles of hiking trails, art and history museum, lighthouse and several inns including the historic Monhegan Inn. Don’t miss one of the recent additions, the Monhegan Brewing Company! To reach the island you will need to take the Monhegan Boat Line from Port Clyde, or the Hardy Boat Ferry from New Harbor.
Rockland is home to a truly amazing number of world-class museums, making Rockland a great place to head on a rainy day or when the fog rolls in. But whether visiting in rain or shine, you be fascinated by these great museums.
The Farnsworth Art Museum
The Farnsworth, located on Main Street in Rockland, has a wonderful collection of America’s greatest artists including Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe and many, many more. The museum has a relaxed atmosphere with muted interior colors and is a wonderful place to relax and appreciate outstanding works of art, master crafts and sculpture.
Just around the corner from (and associated with) the Farnsworth, is the relatively new Wyeth Center that celebrates the life and works of famed artistic family, N.C., Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth. Many of their works portray scenes from the surrounding area and capture the essence of simple life in New England.
General Henry Knox Homestead Museum
Who knows their early American history? You may well know the names John Adams, Paul Revere and John Hancock, but your eduction is incomplete unless you also know the pivotal roles that General Henry Knox played American Revolution. He served beside George Washington as first as Chief Artillery Officer; later a General in the United States Army; and ultimately, the first Secretary of War in President Washington’s cabinet. He was a brilliant and loyal officer who served from the very first day of the revolution to the last. After leaving Washington DC, he built a magnificent mansion, Montpelier, perched high on a hill in Thomaston. Today the Knox Museum is housed in the re-creation building is of 1929, a replica of the original Montpelier, built in 1794, and well worth seeing.
Owls Head Transportation Museum
You could easily spend the whole day in the expansive Owls Head Transportation Museum that celebrates all manor of transport made prior to 1940. What is so remarkable, is that the collection of vehicles, airplanes, bicycles, and exhibits are accessible, just an arms-length away from visitors. In fact, on a sunny day you may just see one of their vintage cars gliding down Route 1 or a biplane doing loops overhead, as many of their collection are kept in tip top operating condition. This museum “blew our minds” with the scope and completeness of it’s collection – simply amazing. It has every mode of transportation you’ve thought of and many you never knew existed. Anyone who is fascinated by vintage race cars, early airplanes and the development of wheeled transportation, should not miss this very entertaining museum. Their summer calendar is full of fascinating events, so check their website.
Maine Lighthouse Museum
In a prominent location beside the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center in downtown Rockland, the Maine Lighthouse Museum celebrates the many iconic lighthouses that dot the rugged coast of Maine, as well as life saving and Coast Guard services. With 65 lighthouses still standing in Maine, there are lots of interest artifacts to view and stories to learn about the lights, the lighthouse keepers and their families, and the bravery of those in maritime lifesaving services. This museum has jaw-dropping number of beautiful and intricate lighthouse lenses, considered to be the jewels of the coast.
Sip and Savor Craft Beverages
Midcoast Maine is home to some outstanding vineyards. Here are four top wine producers to seek out during your vacation.
Breakwater Vineyards in Thomaston Perched on a knoll with sweeping views down to Rockland Harbor, this is elegant vineyard is a wonderful spot for sampling very fine wines and cider produced by Breakwater Vineyards. From a lively unoaked Chardonnay, to their popular Black Cap Cider that is slightly effervescent and dry, to smooth full-bodied and satisfying reds, Breakwater produces a wide array of outstanding wines. Blueberries also make an appearance with Breakwater Blues, a wine made exclusively from berries and no grapes. After sipping their wines and cider take a stroll out to the comfortable patio and perhaps meet the goats!
Cellardoor Vineyards Just north of Camden, in Lincolnville you will find Cellardoor Vineyards overlooking rolling vistas of green. Here is a vineyard, event center, and state-of-the-art winery. They produce a variety of wines from cold-hardy hybrid grapes grown on their property, as well as many varieties crafted from grapes imported from the finest vineyards in America.
Savage Oaks Vineyard and Winery A 20 minute ride inland along Route 17 from Rockland will bring you to this traditional farm and vineyard. Buddy and Holly have a diverse operation, from picturesque belted Galway cows, to vineyards and wild blueberry fields. They produce over 17 varieties of wines ranging from dry whites and blushes, to full bodied reds and smooth dessert wines, including a gold medal winning oak-aged port. You can also purchase farm raised beef and pork. And be sure to check their website for very popular music in the fields concert series.
Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery Owners Keith and Constance Bodine, have been producing craft spirits here since 2005. With degrees in engineering and after Keith earned his Masters in wine making from UC Davis, this energetic couple returned to Maine to open Maine’s first winery/distillery. Their production includes a wide variety of wines from dry to sweet, spirits from brandy to “smashes”, Three Crow Rum and Back River Gin. Their hard cider is dry and delicious, reminiscent of a slightly fruity, effervescent Pinot Grigio. With acres of apple orchards, they also produce a wonderful Apple Brandy and their signature Maple Smash for fall.
Best Dining Experiences
There are just so many wonderful restaurants to choose from, you really can’t go wrong. But, here’s a small sampling of some unique experiences.
McLoon’s Lobster Shack on Spruce Head Island
McLoon’s Lobstah Shack has arguably the most beautiful setting of all the seafood shacks in Maine. This cheerful spot came about as a result of the family’s wholesale lobster business; sending fresh Maine lobsters to restaurants along America’s Atlantic coast. McLoon’s is truly a trap-to-table operation, as it’s common to see local lobstermen pulling up to the dock and unloading their morning’s catch. Come for the lobster, come for the view, you’ll hate to leave. Be sure to download the directions off their website as the journey to McLoon’s is a long, winding and scenic road!
Marriner’s Restaurant Camden Marriner’s Seafood Restaurant on Main Street in downtown Camden is a perfectly nice casual restaurant for breakfast or lunch with ample portions of delicious down-home cuisine. BUT, what sets them apart is the chance to eat on the upstairs outside deck overlooking the Camden harbor. This is the only place I know of where you can sit right on top of an active waterfall! Marriner’s deck is built over Megunticook Falls that flows from upper Main Street to the harbor waters below. The force of the water (and sound of rushing water will vary depending on recent snow melt and summer rain.
The Brass Compass in Rockland Located on Main Street in Rockland, this is THE place to head for breakfast or lunch. If you have a hankering for seafood for breakfast, no problem, you’ll find lots of delicious options here and the portions are huge! And yes, the rumor is true, Lynn did slapped down Bobbie Flay in a Lobster Club Sandwich challenge. Trust me, it’s totally delicious and big enough to share.
Primo Restaurant For fine dining make your reservation well in advance at Primo in Rockland. This restaurant has reached cult-like status in Maine. When Martha stops by on her drive north, you know the food is fresh, imaginative and delicious. Chef Kelly was a pioneer in farm-to-table settings long before it became a fad. Arrive early and tour the farm – it’s amazing (as is the food here). If you don’t have luck making a reservation, try the casual upstairs Counter Room and Bar for a light dinner.
A Detour Well Worth Taking! – Thomaston, Owls Head, St. Georges & Port Clyde
It is simply astounding how many wonderful things there are to do on this small peninsula stretching off Route 1 at Thomaston. Turn off Rt 1 at Buttermilk Lane and follow to Rt 73. Spend the day visiting the Knox Museum, Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head Lighthouse, Breakwater Winery, McLoon’s Lobster Shack and Port Clyde Outfitters. Wow!
Images Unless Otherwise Designated by WickedGoodTravelTips.com