The Mid Coast Region of Maine is known for its craggy coastline, beautiful harbors, and picture perfect small towns. It is a perfect place to spend a weekend relaxing, visiting galleries and museums, and eating great food which is exactly what we did recently.
After a short two hour drive from the cottage, we arrived in Camden, Maine. As it was lunchtime, we headed directly The Waterfront Restaurant and had lunch outside on their deck. We enjoyed looking out at the fleet of windjammers (4, 5, or 6 masted sailing vessels), schooners and other boats moored in the harbor.
We had a light lunch of mussels mariniere and a lobster and orange salad which were both excellent. We skipped the delicious looking blueberry pie as we had dinner reservations in Rockland.
After lunch, we went for a long walk through town. It seems that no matter where you walked, Penobscot bay was within view. In the opposite direction were the nearby mountains. The sidewalks were lined with boutiques, galleries, antique and gift shops.
We later headed to Rockland, Maine to visit the Farnsworth Art Museum that is known for its large collection of paintings by three generations of Wyeths; N. C., his son Andrew and his grandson James. The three artists have painted subjects of everyday life…landscapes, animals and people of Pennsylvania and Maine. After touring the museum, my husband and I headed to dinner. We had made reservations at Primo Restaurant, the ultimate farm to table experience. Produce is grown in gardens and greenhouses on the property along with chickens and pigs. You will find vegetables, fruits, honey, eggs, house cured and smoked meats on the menu that come directly from the property. The chef, Melissa Kelly, is a James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef in the Northeast.
We enjoyed a wonderful meal that evening from an ever changing menu. Our starters were corn oyster fritters and Hudson Valley foie gras two ways. Our main courses were wood grilled duck breast and pan roasted day boat scallops.
The next morning we headed out to the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum which is just two miles away from Rockland and 8 miles from Camden. They were having a car show of hot rods, customs and muscle cars and an antique airplane show. The museum has an extraordinary collection of antique aircraft, automobiles, bicycles, carriages and motorcycles. They also have a full size replica of the Wright Flyer 1. The original was the first successful motor driven airplane. It was flown by Wilbur and Orville Wright from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This is a museum for people of all ages…from children to the elderly. Everyone will really enjoy the experience.
The best part of the visit was a ride in an open air cockpit, 1933 Waco biplane. The pilot explained the does and don’ts of riding in the front cockpit. He kept explaining to me to please watch where if kept my feet as I would be sitting in front of the rudder pedals. After a few more instructions, it was time to climb in.
The hard part was getting two people into the front cockpit of that small red biplane which was designed for one. All I can say is that it is a good thing that I’m small. After putting on snoopy type leather helmets, we were up, up and away into the wild blue yonder. As you can see, the pilot was sitting behind the two of us. How he manage to know where we were going, I will never know.
The bird’s eye view of the rocky shoreline, beaches, lighthouses, hills and lakes were incredible. We took photos of the breathtaking views with our little point and shoot camera. There was no way to know what we were getting photos of…my husband just held the camera outside the cockpit and snapped. I was constantly wiping tears from my eyes from the rush of wind. I wish I had goggles like the pilot.
Our 30 minute ride in that antique open cockpit biplane will go down as one of the most fun and memorable things my husband and I have ever done together. This is something that I know you will enjoy if you ever visit this area.
The day ended with another good dining experience. We had a reservation at Francine on a quite residential street in Camden. It is a small, cozy bistro with a couple of small tables outside.
The interior had a friendly atmosphere with an open kitchen right across from the bar and a small number of bare wooden tables simply set. They have a small menu that changes daily. We had corn soup with chanterelle mushrooms and chilled oysters for starters. Our main dishes were pan roasted day boat halibut and steak frites. The food and service couldn’t have been better. I can see why the restaurant has been written up so many times.
On our third and last day, we went a couple of miles to Rockport. It is hard to believe that Maine has so many towns loaded with charm. Rockport was named as one of the prettiest towns in America by Forbes.com. It has a reputation as an artists’ community. After a nice walk around town, we headed to the end of a pier jutting out into the harbor to a restaurant with large windows looking out to the water.
We just ordered some fresh seafood appetizers… lobster fritters, smoked fish dip, and oysters on the half shell.
If you ever get a chance to visit Maine, I would suggest that you think about heading to the mid coast. Everyone wants a lobster roll and blueberry pie on their Maine vacation but you should also think about a night out in one of Maine’s better restaurants as well. You too, will have a rewarding and fun packed adventure.