10 Fabulous Finds in Maine

This year I found lots of amazing things in Maine that you might want to know about—from stuff to buy to stuff to eat to places to go. My kids go to summer camp there, but there are lots of reasons to travel to Maine in the summer (especially since it’s nice and cool!). We always come home loaded with good stuff and great ideas. This year’s “home base” was at the Camden Harbor Inn. I highly recommend it and got an amazing massage from a woman named Bridget, who told me about number #8 on this list.

#1: All-natural citronella candles made from recycled wax, in recycled cans from Mainemountain.com. I bought ours in one of those gift shops on Freeport’s Main Street (between Bow and Mechanic Streets), and they were only $13 each. Very heavy to carry, however, so unless you are driving, it’s better to order them from the website and have them shipped. (Though I didn’t see them on the website, I’m sure you can email the company and ask for them.)

# 2: Pickled fiddleheads, from Spruce Bush Farm in Jefferson, Maine. I bought them at a local farm stand outside of Freeport (see #3). They are absolutely, fabulously delicious!

# 3: Wheaton Farms farm stand. I found out about this farm at the Freeport farmer’s market (Fridays from 3 to 7). But I ended up driving a mile or two out of town to see their whole stand. I came back with really cool T-shirts, pickled fiddleheads, interesting plants for my garden, and the freshest, most eye-popping red strawberries I’ve ever seen.

#4: Gryffon Ridge Spice Merchants, where you can get really interesting all-organic spice mixtures from around the world; also at the Freeport farmer’s market and now online.

# 5: Maine Bat Houses. OK, this is one of those things we have passed 19 times and never stopped; finally, we stopped and bought two bat houses (by putting the cash in the can in their front yard). It’s on Route 3, about 20 minutes west of Belfast.

# 6: At a store called Starbird in Camden, I found these amazing cotton pillows and throws from a company called Dash and Albert. The colors are beautiful and the fabrics are totally soft. The woman at Starbird said the cotton is organic, and I sort of believe it since they are so soft, and that is usually a sign of organic cotton—but I could not find evidence on their website.

# 7: Sugartools—also in Camden, a new store on Bayview Street. Suffice it to say I loved so many things in that store that I had to have my purchases delivered to the hotel.

# 8: Megunticook Lake, right outside of Camden. It’s cool, calm, empty, misty, mystical, beautiful, free (!), and right next to this beautiful cliff called Virgin’s Ledge or some such dramatic name, a rock climbers’ route. We brought a picnic and ate it by the lake. Lovely!

# 9: The Owl and Turtle Bookstore, also in Camden, is one of those great independent bookstores that have lots of local information and work by local authors. They also carry my book, Organic Manifesto, but were SOLD OUT AND HAD ALREADY ORDERED MORE! Bless them. So I signed some bookplates. Head on over and you might get one.

# 10: Paolina’s Way Restaurant, down by the water in Camden. If you are a little tired of lobster, try amazingly simple and delicious food grown fresh from their farm in Searsport…or the BEST pizza I have found to date ANYWHERE (thin crust, wood-fired, all organic toppings, totally yummiful). What I love about Paolina’s Way is that it’s not fancy, and it’s not trying to get on any fancy restaurant list, but it’s so good we ate there two nights in a row. That doesn’t happen very often. But it’s one of the reasons I didn’t get enough lobster for the first time ever, so I had to deconstruct the perfect lobster roll to make at home, which you can find the recipe for on my blog soon.

Do you have favorite hidden gems from your vacation spots? Where else have you found in Maine? I’m going back again next year to drop off my campers, so let me know.


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11 Responses to 10 Fabulous Finds in Maine

  1. Ed Bruske says:

    You should also check out Morse’s fresh sauerkraut factory and store in Waldoboro. Some go there just to buy the sauerkraut brine.


  2. Laura K. says:

    I love Maine although have only been there once and it was on a girl’s trip with my best friend several years ago. A place with wonderful housemade goat cheese at a restaurant outside of Bar Harbor. Like your pizza place (the best pizza in Maine? wow!) we ate there a few times. They also had their own not-sickeningly-sweet blueberry ale. I can’t remember the name of it, which is no help, but that’s why I’m posting this, to see if anyone else knows the place.

    Another Maine recommendation: York Beach. Cute, kind of retro, awesome ice cream place near a classic Maine lighthouse. Your campers would love it there, too.

    Sounds like you had fun.

  3. Kristin says:

    Brown’s Ice Cream at York Beach! mmmmm

  4. Meg Wolff says:

    Hi Maria,

    Very cool that you have a Maine connection. I’m a native.

    The first thing that comes to mind- Black Crow Bakery Bread. The best, made in a barn in Litchfield: http://blackcrowbread.com/

    Commercial Street in Portland, Maine, on the waterfront. Take a boat ride around Casco Bay or take a ferry to one of the Islands and walk around.

    Go to Cape Elizabeth, about 10-15 minute drive from Portland on 77, see Portland Headlight, or keep south on 77 to Kettle Cove (a working beach with lobster boats), or 2 minutes from there to Cresent Beach (a larger white sandy beach). The Headlight & Kettle Cove are free.

    Or, continue south on 77 go to Scarborough Beach, walk the beach to the right and take the rocky path around the point and on the ocean (where Winslow Homer painted). Scenic and breath taking. End up at the Black Point Inn. Go back to Portland and go to the Portland Museum of Art, see Winslow Homer paintings. Also breath taking!

    In Portland go to eat at Fore Street, Street & Co. or the Pepper Club (for the best vegetarian food). If you go to the Pepper Club, stop at Rabelais book store (only cookbook book store!).

    If you are in Portland during the day on a Wednesday or a Friday go to the Portland Farmers’ Market. Wednesday is in Monument Square (cross the street and visit the Longfellow House), Saturday in Deering Oaks Park.

    If you’re staying in Camden, visit The Maine Media Workshops, in Rockport, or take a class there with Joyce Tenneson or other famous photographers!


  5. Susan says:

    The cliff overlooking Megunticook Lake is “Maiden’s Cliff”. The legend is that a young girl fell to her death while tending sheep on top of the mountain. Beautiful spot in spite of the tale.

  6. Bethany Legenhausen says:

    Lobster Barn Restaurant in York, and the York Wild Animal Kingdom — both are so great.

  7. Heather Roche says:

    CARPE DIEM COFFEE!!! Bread and Roses Bakery in Oqunquit serves Carpe Diem coffee plus really good bake goods. Then, if you get up to Mount Desert Island(we really hope to retire there…) there’s the Alternative Market(Organic market/Benbow’s coffee roaster!) and Bill and Bob’s Chocolate Emporium(really good home made ice cream)AND you can’t leave MDI without eating at 2 Cats(they serve Equal Exchange coffee)….as you can see – good coffee is a must. Enjoy Maine, I’ll be there in October

  8. Donna in Delaware says:

    You all are making me sooooo jealous! I would love to go to Maine and explore all of the places mentioned, and eat wonderful, fresh, local organic food. I keep asking my husband if he would like to go there, for some reason he’s hesitant. The farthest I’ve ever gotten was Vermont. I just can’t seem to get to Maine. One of these days, and very soon, I’m going to leave my husband home and go with a girlfriend or two or more. Just thinking about the natural beauty gets me all dreamy and feeling calm inside. I would love to go just before the end of summer, when the weather is starting to change and before things close down for winter. Does anyone know when that should be? Late August, early September?

  9. Stan Yonkauski says:

    Maine is more than L.L.Bean’s, Freeport and Portland and there’s more to the state than the very thin veneer of tourist joints and eateries crowding life along the shoreline. Get off US-1 and the places lining that road that close when the New York and Massachusetts tourists go south in the fall to tell stories of the quaintness that they saw “in Maine.” Go inland. There are interesting finds in Bangor, Brewer, East Millinocket, Patton and Ashland and all the small towns away from the coast where you can still hear a Mainer’s accent; where you can get an honest meal and a ‘souvenir’ or maybe a memory made by the woman or man standing right in front of you.

  10. Christina says:

    Hi there!
    This is Christina at PAolinas way, I just found your blog on line, while I was looking to see how people felt about us and I was thrilled thrilled by what you wrote. Thank you so much, it means the world to us, and it’s such hard work having a restaurant and we work each day to make our patrons happy and keep it local and organic! Thank you!!!!!!!

  11. David says:

    Stan is right. Staying away from Rt. 1 and the common tourist traps is the way to go unless you want to be trapped and just shop and spend money. Camden is nice but is, like Ogunquit, Boothbay Harbor, Bar Harbor, Freeport, etc., not hugely representative of what Maine is about. In these places many of the people running businesses are not from Maine. Every place previously mentioned has places nearby that are more genuine. Stonington, Rockland, Waldoboro, Scarboro, Tenant’s Harbor, Monhegan, Pemaquid/New Harbor, various islands, numerous places in western and northern Maine. Too many to list.

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