Help Me Have a Lovely Southern Maine Experience
April 24, 2014 3:15 PM   Subscribe

O MeFites of a Maine Persuasion, please recommend to me things and places in Southern Maine in mid-May.

I have never been to Maine, but I have a 24 hour window, a car, and a yen for a very Maine-ly experience. Because this will be part of a larger driving excursion, I will be restricted to Maine south of Portland.

I'm hoping to find rock reefs with assorted critters and plants, rocky beaches, classic Maine fare, and awesome classic Maine sites that I may not know are classic Maine. My research into back AskMe questions, guidebooks, oddball Americana, and the AAA Guidebook to Maine for Great Aunts has been particularly unenlightening about the first two (the better the sand, the better the beach coverage seems to be the rule of thumb, which doesn't help someone who is interested in the rockiness!).
posted by julen to Travel & Transportation around Maine, ME (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Some parks you might like in the South Portland/ Cape Elizabeth area:
Two Lights- Rocky, beachy, beware of falling into the ocean, two lighthouses, one made famous by Hopper painting.
Fort Williams small sandy beach, rocky areas, very good looking lighthouse, cool burned out mansion and old fort you can explore. Probably will not fall into ocean. Has picnic areas.
Spring Point Lighthouse- walk out the rock jetty to the lighthouse, cool brick wall fort thing, might fall into ocean. Be careful on the jetty, it's not really made for walking on.
posted by Adridne at 3:25 PM on April 24, 2014

Best answer: Freeport and Farmingdale (where the stores are located)are north of Portland, but you should be able to find Wicked Whoopies at a Hannaford market.

The Lobster Shack in Cape Eizabeth.

Too bad the Sarah Orne Jewett house doesn't open until June
posted by brujita at 4:23 PM on April 24, 2014

I highly recommend two lights and there's a lobster shack near there as well. (as also linked above)

A little early for a beach but Crescent Beach is sandy and in the same area.
posted by selfnoise at 5:02 PM on April 24, 2014

Oh and in the same area as Spring Point is Bug Light park which has a very cute little lighthouse and a big park where you can watch people fly kites. Also a great view of Casco Bay and Portland.
posted by selfnoise at 5:04 PM on April 24, 2014

Best answer: If you're looking for rocks and tidal pools, you won't be disappointed by Two Lights. For maximum impressive surf crashing against the rocks, go when the tide is coming in.

The best lobster roll I've ever had was from Rising Tide Restaurant on Pine Point, which is about 20 minutes further south. If you wind up down that way you might as well check out Old Orchard Beach in all of its honky tonk, touristy glory.
posted by usonian at 6:40 AM on April 25, 2014

I know the geology dept at Bowdoin used to take students to Ogunquit for them to take a particular trek along the sea that was interest to geologists. Google Ogunquit cliff walk or marginal way.
posted by SemiSalt at 8:12 AM on April 25, 2014

Nthing Two Lights. One of my favorite places to be on a nice sunny day. I also really like Crescent Beach State Park. The Marginal Way walk in Ogunquit sounds lovely but I've never done it.
posted by that's candlepin at 11:21 AM on April 25, 2014

Best answer: ...rocky beaches...

This is the part of the Maine coast that’s relatively unrocky; Old Orchard Beach in particular is the ‘Jersey Shore’ of the state. This weekend of Earth Day celebrations, it seems more appropriate to mention the salt marshes and migratory bird shoreline of the Rachel Carson NWR, established two years after Carson died in 1964.

p.s. Two Lights is fine, but the classic light in that area is the Nubble at Cape Neddick, a photo of which was included with the Voyager 2 space probe that’s now somewhere out beyond Neptune.
posted by LeLiLo at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2014

Seconding Nubble Lighthouse. It's my favorite lighthouse of any I've visited.
posted by tckma at 1:49 PM on April 25, 2014

Best answer: The Lobster Shack combines rocky coast, crashing waves and great lobster, so don't miss it. Also, there used to be beach glass in the little beach to the left. You should go to LL Bean at midnight or after, so you can note that there are no locks on the door, as they really don't ever close, and it's quite pleasant to shop in solitude. Buy a balsam pillow or some maple candy. Admire the trout. Once in Freeport, Wolfe's Neck State Park is a nice visit - a short hike through woods to the shore. Last time I was there, there was a great view of an eagle's nest. Have breakfast at Becky's Diner in Portland very early in the morning. Despite attempts at cutification, Portland is a port and fishing town with working fishermen and women. Portland also has fabulous restaurants, several brew pubs, and beer joints with serious selections. Add a trip to Town Landing Market in Falmouth, get a crab roll, BLT, or Italian sandwich, then go to the actual town landing and eat on the rocks. Portland Head Light, and Two Lights State Park, in Cape Elizabeth, are well worth visiting. Just west of Freeport, you can also climb the 'mountain' at Bradbury Mountain State Park; easy climb, pleasant views.

For the real climbing on granite experience, you can't beat Acadia National Park, but I think you don't have time; it adds 3+ hours of driving, and it's worth more than a quick visit, esp. because you'll want to stop in Rockland, Camden, etc.

Any chance you'd be up for a meetup? I got back to Maine too late for the last one.
posted by theora55 at 2:47 PM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bowdoin College has a beautiful campus and a great art museum.
posted by hworth at 3:07 PM on April 25, 2014

Response by poster: This is great information! Thank you! I have lots of options and strong recommendations here, which I love since I like to super-research my road trips and then decide what I'm going to do that day based on whim, weather, and spur-of-the-moment yens. I particularly liked the little details (beach glass, chances of falling into the ocean, carrying out to eat on the rocks - which is one of my favorite things to do in many other places) folks provided. That is information worth its weight in gold. I'll definitely be marking best answers after my trip!

(I'm not really a meetup-type person, but thanks for thinking of me!)
posted by julen at 12:14 PM on April 26, 2014

Response by poster: I had a great time! I managed to hit the tide coming in one day and going out the next morning, which was fabulous for the disparity of beachy experiences. I almost didn't go up to Nubble, but am so glad I did because those planes of rock are wonderful for bounding around and clambering (within safe limits) and getting slightly splashed and making friends with dogs and sitting and thinking. And the rocks themselves are gorgeous.

I had dinner at Two Lights, and it was fantastic with the surf coming in and rain clouds threatening and gulls swooping and everything crisp and gorgeous. (And the lobster roll was great!). I sat and stared at the ocean at the rocky ends of multiple beaches (York, Wells, Ogunquit, one even more north whose name I forget) and at the rocky bases of the lighthouses and thought and it was glorious. GLORIOUS.

I also antiqued and found a cheese and wine shop shaped like a giant wheel of cheese with a drunken mouse on top and explored back roads and neighborhoods and just really fell in love with Maine. I'm simply going to have to go back and for a much longer time.
posted by julen at 4:43 PM on May 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

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