My husband and I just spent a full week visiting his parents in New Harbor, Maine (pictured above), where they happily retired last summer. We hadn’t been on a weeklong vacation in a while, and it felt so good to unplug a bit, read books, play games, eat tons of ice cream, and do a little sightseeing. We also went on a cruise out to sea in search of puffins and to a cheeky 4th of July parade in the tiny town of Round Pond. When in Rome! Below are some photos and tips from our visit, in case you find yourself in this little slice of paradise sometime soon.
We stayed at my husband’s parents’ house in New Harbor, but just down the road are two adorable options for out-of-towners. The Hotel Pemaquid is tucked away a matter of feet from the famous Pemaquid Lighthouse Park. Hotel Pemaquid’s rooms are quaint and country-inspired (claw-foot tubs, floral upholstery, stained glass), and a wraparound porch with rocking chairs overlooks the neatly trimmed lawn. The best part is that the hotel hosts painting and photography workshops throughout the year, which incorporate tours of the local landscape and group sessions in the hotel’s carriage house, across the street. In the same beautiful, quiet neighborhood, The Bradley Inn has 16 romantic guest rooms and impeccably groomed gardens. (My in-laws went to the Inn’s restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner last year and reported back with rave reviews.)
This part of Maine—we mainly stuck to New Harbor and Damariscotta—is rife with good restaurants, and not all of them seafood. At the Pemaquid Lobster Co-op Restaurant, we had fresh fish and chips, lobster rolls, and fried clams while overlooking the Pemaquid River from our picnic table on top of a hill. On the 4th of July, we opted for dinner at the Damariscotta River Grill before heading outside to watch fireworks go off over the water. The quinoa salad with grilled Scottish salmon = So. Good. My Mr. and I went back again the next morning, this time for breakfast with friends who were staying nearby. As the previous night’s meal predicted it would be, my veggie-stuffed omelet was excellent. Throughout the rest of the week, in Damariscotta we also hit Best Thai, King Eider’s Pub (I could not force my fork away from the garlic mashed potatoes), and Salt Bay Cafe, which oozes with old-time coastal New England quirkiness. And while we didn’t go ourselves, every time we passed by the Harbor Room, in New Harbor, en route to another destination, its parking lot was packed.
Stock up on beach-picnic food—fruit, veggies, locally made cheese, and fresh bread—at a local farmers’ market (I didn’t get the name of the one we went to, but check out a directory to see which ones are nearby); take a ride out on the water with Hardy Boat Cruises to look for puffins or seals (they also operate ferries to Monhegan Island); visit the botanical gardens in Boothbay; grab coffee and breakfast at the Seagull Shop before climbing out onto the rocks below Pemaquid Point Light; and head to Round Pond to shop for antiques. There’s plenty more to do in the area, and I admit we didn’t even get to the botanical gardens this time around, but we packed a lot in during our week in town, and it was nice to devote some time to pure R&R. I can’t wait to go back and scratch a few more things off our to-do list.
Have you been to this part of Maine? What are some of your favorite things to see, eat, and do?