By Bob Curley
Connected by scenic U.S. 1, these twin towns on the central Maine coast neatly capture much of what earns the state its Vacationland nickname — classic New England lodging, the allure of sand and surf, small-town charm, year-round outdoor activities … and, of course, lots of “lobstah.” Here are some of the ‘Maine’ attractions of beautiful Rockport and Camden:
The hike to the top of 1,300-foot Mount Megunticook in Camden Hills State Park isn’t overly long or strenuous, but the rewards are outstanding — from the summit, you’ll have an eagle-eye view of downtown Camden and its picture-postcard harbor. The Camden Snow Bowl ski area has two mountain-biking trail networks, 60 acres of ski trails overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and an old-school toboggan run that ends with a slide across Hosmer Pond. Whether you’re an old salt or a sailing newbie, a cruise with the Maine Windjammer Association is the best way to explore the islands of mid-coast Maine. You can lend a hand with the sails or just sit back and enjoy the six-hour trip on a yacht, schooner or windjammer.
One of the true giants of Rockport history was Andre the Seal, who served as honorary harbormaster for two decades after being released from the New England Aquarium in Boston and taking up residence in Rockport Harbor. The inspiration for the book A Seal Called Andre and the 1994 movie Andre is memorialized with a statue in Rockport Marine Park. “Oreo cookie cows” are the stars at Rockport’s Aldermere Farm, where the Maine Coast Heritage Trust raises Belted Galloway cattle (a heritage breed from Scotland) and offers educational programs on sustainable agriculture (as well as delicious farm-raised beef for sale).
Dining options are endless in Rockport, which still supports an active fleet of lobster boats, and Camden, whose adorable downtown is evenly split between waterfront restaurants and boutique shops. James Beard award winner Melissa Kelly helms Primo, a “full-circle” Rockport restaurant that sources much of its fresh meat and produce from its own farm. Graffam Bros. Seafood Market in downtown Rockport is a no-nonsense fish market selling fresh lobsters to take home or eat now. If you’re among those who believe the best lobsters come from roadside shacks, try Claws on Route 1. In Camden, Sea Dog Brewing Co. lines up flights of fresh-brewed beer alongside fish and chips and chowder. (Note: Claws and Sea Dog Brewing Co. open seasonally beginning in May.)
The AAA Four Diamond-rated Samoset Resort blends the spirit of a Victorian-era seaside resort with every amenity 21st–century travelers expect from a high-end hotel. This includes a compact but charming spa, a freeform, zero-entry pool that’s a huge hit with families and al fresco dining at the Italian eatery La Bella Vita. A century-old 18-hole championship golf course is laid out along the shoreline and a walkway takes guests to the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, where a mile-long sunset stroll on the breakwater reveals unforgettable views of Rockland Harbor.
(Photos: Janet Watts; Claws)
(Go Magazine Spring 21)