Midcoast Maine: Boothbay Harbor

It’s peak tourist season here in Maine, with many vacationers traveling to the midcoast area. Here you’ll find charming little fishing villages, small towns with a mix of funky shops and luxurious boutiques, and of course plenty of swimming, kayaking, whale-watching and other fun in the sun. Let’s meander up the midcoast area starting with Boothbay Harbor.

Located on the Cape Newagen Peninsula, the year-round population of Boothbay Harbor is about 2500 people. At this time of year the streets are alive with the laughter and chatter of tourists, who vastly expand the population from May through mid-October.  Once a fishing camp for English sailors, today Boothbay Harbor is one of Maine’s most popular tourist stops.

Among the attractions are several lighthouses, including Burnt Island Light, the Cuckolds, and Ram Island Light, all of which can be seen on one of the many boat trips offered from downtown Boothbay Harbor. You can also catch a ferry out to Monhegan Island, well worth the trip to see this magical “artists” island.”  I’ll write more about Monhegan in a later post.

Fine seafood restaurants are also a draw here, but for gardeners the primary reason to visit Boothbay Harbor may be the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, the largest in New England. I’ve escorted dozens of boatloads of tourists to the gardens, many of whom were hesitant about spending time here because they’ve seen botanical gardens in other parts of the country or around the world. To a person, far from being disappointed, they are always enthralled. If you have any interest at all in gardening, you should make the gardens part of your itinerary.

Midcoast Maine awaits, and I hope you’ll  find time to visit soon.  We’ll be making stops at other midcoast villages, so stop back here when you can.  Happy summer!

The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay Harbor welcomes visitors from all over the world. Photo (c) Karen Hammond





Cruising the Maine Coast

While it’s fun to visit Maine by car, locals will tell you that the best way to see the state is by water.  As someone who lives on a small island with water views from every window, I have to agree. And when I’m not on the island I’m often either on our own small boat, a canoe, or lecturing on a cruise ship traveling up and down the coast. One of these coastal Maine trips might be just right for you, whether you choose one of the mega-cruise ships or a smaller, more intimate one. Both have their advantages. Large ships have something going on 24/7, while smaller ones have the advantage of being able to dock in smaller ports and exploring venues that the big ships can’t get to. Whichever you choose, a Maine coastal trip is a great way to wind up the summer or early fall season.

Midcoast Maine is especially popular right now, with ships docking at, or mooring just outside of, beautiful towns like Camden and Rockland, famous for their handsome downtowns and windjammer fleets; funky Belfast with its art galleries and unusual stores; Castine, tiny in size and huge in history; and Boothbay Harbor with its attractive stores and shops and nearby Botanical Gardens. Some cruise ships bracket these stops with visits to larger towns and cities, such as Bar Harbor and Portland, giving passengers a good overview of the Maine coast.

The weather has been especially beautiful this summer and our fall season is always lovely. Much as I enjoy looking at the water from my island home, being out on it is even better. Hope to see you along the way!

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse at Sunrise
Photo (c) Nathaniel Hammond


Maine….Spring Vacationland

Here on the island things are finally greening up, the crocuses are in full bloom, deer are eyeing the emerging tulips and the sound of the lobsterboats is heard in the land. A few of the very first summer residents have arrived to open up their seasonal homes. They may not be here for the season just yet and will travel back and forth to their winter homes, but they are getting things ready for summer. It’s always fun to see the island come alive again after a long Maine winter.
What we do when we leave the island? There’s plenty going on in Maine at this time of year, and it’s a great time to visit if you’re looking for an early vacation. Check out the Portland Science Center, for example. “Space: A Journey to Our Future: and “The Robot Zoo” are the current exhibits and fun for the whole family. (Educational, too, but you don’t have to tell the kids that!)
Or maybe you’d prefer a leisurely drive along the coast, visiting villages like Boothbay Harbor, Belfast, Rockland, and Camden, staying at some charming inns along the way. Whatever you choose to do, springtime in Vacationland can’t be beat!

Crocuses bloom at last after a cold Maine winter. (c) Karen Hammond
Crocuses bloom at last after a cold Maine winter. (c) Karen Hammond

August on a Small Maine Island

Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine.  Photo (c) Karen Hammond
Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. Photo (c) Karen Hammond
August and July are, to my mind, Maine’s most beautiful months. Everything is lush and green, the ocean is cerulean, white clouds skitter across the sky, and outside, little summer creatures buzz and chatter all day long. Butterflies and hummingbirds visit my window boxes every day and it’s impossible not to slow down and take in the show. Maybe that’s what I like most about summer in Maine…it’s all so gorgeous that it’s impossible not to slow down, take it all in, and unwind.
I just returned from a long sail along the coast of Maine from Portland to Bar Harbor with lots of stops at small villages in between, among them, Boothbay Harbor, Bucksport, Castine, Rockland, Rockport, and Belfast. Each place has its own charm, so it would be impossible to pick a favorite.
All too soon summer people here on the island will be packing up for the trip back to wherever they spend the rest of their lives and the island will turn back into a quiet village of 100 souls who will start preparing for the fall holidays and then for a long winter ahead. But there’s time to think of that later. Right now it’s time to finish up the day’s work in my office, do a little weeding in the garden, pack a picnic, and head for the beach for a late-day swim.
Enjoy the fleeting days of summer, and if you have a favorite Maine vacation spot, please let me know and we can share it with other readers.