Coastal Maine

I don't even know where to start. I was going to break this up into a few posts because there are so many photos. But, I wanted to have it all in one post not just to share, but also to be able to reference later when I forgot all of the details and it all starts to swirl together more in my head. If you want to see all of the photos, including the not-so-perfect-but-I-still-love-them, you can see them all in the Flickr gallery.  Some of these are from my phone, some from the big camera, it wound up depending how motivated I felt to carry the camera around on any given day, phones are so much easier!

At the end of July we headed to Maine with my parents.  It was our first visit and we stayed in Boothbay Harbor and it was fantastic.  The whole area looked exactly how I pictured.  You know how sometimes photos are beautiful, but you wonder what places really look like and how they could possibly be that way in real life?  These really looked just how you'd picture the coast of Maine.  The woods and the lake and the trees and the rocky coasts and beaches and the lobster and the cedar shingles and the little spots on the water to eat: it was all there and all so great.
On our list of favorites if you're thinking of visiting the area:

Pemaquid Lighthouse - So much to see here, including a beautiful gallery full of local art. We were excited to go because we heard that it was a great drive from Boothbay Harbor and it was our first day of exploring.  We didn't really know what to expect, other than a lighthouse.  Then, right after we got there, John took the kids over to an overlook (where he has Nick on his shoulders  in the pics above) and I noticed people going down dunes and walked over to check it out.  I had NO idea that the views were quite how they were.  There are unbelievable rock formations along the shore that we could have explored for hours more.  There's also a great Fisherman's Museum right next to the lighthouse that was fun to check out.  Bonus: The volunteers were so great.  Because the steps up to the lighthouse are so narrow and spaced differently than standard stairs, you have to be a certain height to go up the lighthouse.  Nick was seriously disappointed that he was too smal, but the volunteer at the entrance took him into the museum for a special "job" to distract him, ringing the huge bell to scare pirates away.  It didn't rank as high as the lighthouse, but it served to distract him enough and it was really thoughtful and kind of her to do for little ones who are disappointed and we appreciated it. 

Reid State Park - It was one of two beaches that I seemed to find coming up in reviews as I was researching before the trip (Popham Beach was the other.) I'm so glad that we visited both.  Reid State Park was especially great for a hot day because there are a bunch of spots all close together.  There's the normal beach on the ocean, where we headed first.  The water was C-O-L-D and there were some serious rip-tides going on, but it was a sandy beach and fun for digging and playing.  We happened to notice people with little kids just under a bridge as we entered the park, so we decided to check it out.  Just after you enter the park, you'll go over a bridge to the parking lot and to the left as you go over the bridge is a small inlet.  We got there as the tide was coming in, so we had to pay close attention to the water rising quickly.  There are trails that connect all of the different spots in the park and one ends here at picnic tables.  We carefully climbed down the rocks and at the bottom, the water was shallow, there were small tide pools all over the rocks, sea weed, snails, rocks, shells, all sorts of fun.  After this, we headed to one last spot: The Lagoon.  When this inlet goes under the bridge, it curves back around and just on the other side of the sand dunes from the main beach is a lagoon that's shallow and calm and great for kids, especially small kids.  As far as they could walk it was only a couple of feet deep.  The tide was coming in, so we lost play-space quickly, but I'd imagine that it's even more fun at low tide when you can walk out further and have shallow water and gather lots of treasures along the shore.  A note: We were here at the end of July and there were a LOT of horseflies because of swamps that surround the area, I'll give you that warning now.  *BUT* it was still well-worth the visit and it's only a few weeks in the summer that they're out.  

Popham Beach State Park - We almost didn't go, but on our last day we decided to head out and get to the beach early for low tide.  SUCH a great decision. At low tide, the beach went out forever.  There's a small island (Fox Island) that you can walk out to at low tide. Our favorite part, though? The tide pools. Everywhere! So perfect with kids.  We were at the beach, on the sand, but without the ocean waves and deepness and freezing coldness of the water in Maine.  We thought it was going to be colder than it was, so we didn't bring swimsuits, but the kids were happy to just get soaked and have fun in their clothes.  Had we not needed to get back to the house to get packed and clean so that we could leave early the next day, we could have stayed and played there for hours.  

Cabbage Island Clambakes -!  You take a boat from Boothbay Harbor to Cabbage Island, with a tour of the harbor along the way, and stay at the island for the clambake.  The island is only 5.5 acres and it has trails running from one end to the other and you're welcome to explore all over.  Not long after you arrive, you pick a table and they serve chowder and drinks, then they ring a bell when it's time for the real deal meal and you get an insane amount of food.  It was A LOT.  I think if (when!) we go again, I could easily share a meal with someone else.  My mom agreed on this one.  It came with chowder, two lobsters, corn, potatoes, steamed clams, onions and a great blueberry cake, so it would be easy to share.  The kid's meal wasn't listed on their site, but we called to ask and they do have one available that was also really generous portions.  I think it was 2 hot dogs each, plus chips and drinks and they wanted to try all of our stuff, too.  We would go back and do this again in a heartbeat, it was such a great experience.  We loved being on the boat back and forth (we even saw dolphins and seals!) and the island was so fun.   

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens - So beautiful and the children's garden alone was worth the visit, even without kids with us! We left them at home with the grandparents, but they would have loved it - there are chickens, a fairy shed full of tiny things, a sweet playhouse, a treehouse, a sculpture from Blueberries for Sal, a veggie garden, a story house with so many great nooks and books and more!

Eats and Other Stuff We Liked:

Pemaquid Lobster Co-op - Our favorite meal of the whole week! Nothing fancy, just fresh seafood with picnic tables overlooking the water.  It's perfect. We also happened to get there early on a Sunday, before noon, so it was an added bonus that we were one of only three groups the whole time we were there.  Reviews online say that it gets really crowded and I absolutely believe it! 

Downeast Ice Cream - SO MANY FLAVORS! And great people-watching right outside. 

Sherman's Book and Stationary Store - The toy selection alone had the kids begging to go daily.  There's an entire bookstore on the upper floor of the building and tons to check out through the store. 

Coastal Maine Popcorn - so many fun flavors! Our favorite was the Marshmallow Krispy Treat.

Boothbay Craft Brewery - I don't even drink beer and I had a great time!  They had already started a tour when we got there, so they added an extra, which was super nice.  John loves all beer, so he loved to hear everything about them.  The restaurant is especially interesting - post and beam construction built from trees that have been donated by supporters locally and cut at their own sawmill.  

We stayed in Boothbay Harbor, ME and rented a house through Cottage Connection and had a GREAT experience.  The house was fantastic and even more than we hoped. Super clean with lots of space and the dock and terrace and little bit on beach on the lake were even more than we thought would be there, especially for the price. 

Ok, this post is more than long enough, I'm going to stop now! 


  1. LOVE Maine and miss it so. Interestingly, another blogger I follow was just there too, and visited some of the very same places! Hmm, maybe a sign that I should plan a trip. :-) This makes it look soooo wonderful! I love the photos of you, Lillian. Such a rare treat. xo

  2. Lillian - LOVE the pictures and the info - this is a trip that we want to make as a family so loving the recommendations!


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