Is it too early to see the fall leaves?
August 31, 2006 7:21 AM   Subscribe

What should we do on our family vacation to Camden, Maine?

My wife, 19 month-old daughter, and me are driving from GA to Camden in about a week for a stay at The Lodge at Camden Hills. We plan to take at least one day trip to Acadia NP and I'm sure we will eat some lobster rolls, but would like any other suggestions. We tend to like quirky little museums and are not really into shopping unless it is something different. Bonus points for anything particularly photogenic (although my wife, who has been there before, says everything in that area is photogenic). I have already perused these other Maine threads, but there wasn't too much about Camden specifically. Thanks in advance.
posted by TedW to Travel & Transportation around Camden, ME (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Visit the Children's Chapel in Rockport (here's the best link I could find). It's such a peaceful spot, and the roads/paths around the chapel are good for walking (scenic, flat, low traffic).

The Breakwater is also a really nice walk. It might not work for your daugher unless you can carry her (gaps between rocks, no railings), but there's a pretty beach at the head of the breakwater you could also visit, just to see/photograph.

Mout Battie is a great place to visit. You can climb up or drive, and there are stunning views of Penobscot Bay.

The Penobscot Marine Museum up the road in Searsport is lots of fun.
posted by robinpME at 7:52 AM on August 31, 2006

There's a little maritime museum just up the road in Searsport. You'll see it on the left as you drive through town on your way to Acadia. Also in the Acadia area, if you like gardens, this one and this one are good. Another idea is to drive just south to Rockland and take the ferry over to Vinalhaven. You might also see if there's anything going on at the Opera House. My favorite photogenic thing in Camden is the view from the top of Mount Battie, but I expect your wife knows about that if she's been in the area before. You are too early for leaves, sorry.
posted by JanetLand at 7:56 AM on August 31, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far; the place we are staying is right next to Mount Battie, so we will definitely go to the summit (probably via car). If we don't overdo it our daughter will handle being in a stroller pretty well for some of the sights. Any suggestions on where to eat?
posted by TedW at 8:05 AM on August 31, 2006

When I was in Camden I took a moonrise schooner trip in the bay. It was very lovely, and you can oggle the multi-million dollar yachts on the trip through the harbor. I don't remember the name of the boat/company that I went on (this was quite a few years ago), but a google search for Camden Schooner brings up a few boat options.

I also went to a wicked good ice cream shop, but again, don't know the name. As I remember it was pretty renowned, I'm sure the innkeeper would know where it is.

Ocean kayaking is also popular (look under midcoast).
posted by effigy at 8:16 AM on August 31, 2006

For breakfast I like Boyton-McKay, just because.

For lunch or packing a picnic the Camden Deli has great sandwiches.

For dinner: Francine has eclectic food and a funkier atmosphere than a lot of local places. It attracts a younger set of people than some of the more traditional restaurants (although there's nothing wrong with Cappy's for a Dark and Stormy and some seafood).

Prism Glass Gallery is a little pricey, but the food is great (and rich!). The restaurant is located at their glass studio, so you can browse the gallery of glass pieces for sale, and maybe even catch them blowing glass (call first and I bet they'll tell you what time they'll be glass blowing -- the studio has big windows and you can sit and watch).
posted by robinpME at 8:25 AM on August 31, 2006

At Searsport, a nice hike out to Sears Island. Park on the causeway, hike to the other side of the island, or around it at low tide.

In Lincolnville, visit Cellar Door Winery -- surprisingly good grape wines, especially the whites.

And don't miss Fort Henry Knox, up route 1 just before Bucksport. And a very cool bridge under construction there.
posted by beagle at 10:02 AM on August 31, 2006

Best answer: In Rockland, there is The Farnsworth Museum ...Lovely museum...lots of Wyeths there.

In Owl's Head, there is The Owl's Head Transportation Museum ...Fun place

On MDI, there is The Wendall Gilley Museum ...Great bird carvings.

and The Abbe Museum ...Wonderful Native American displays.

Last, but not least, The Mt. Desert Oceanarium

Enjoy your trip !!
posted by lobstah at 11:21 AM on August 31, 2006

Best answer: As far as your question about the foliage goes -- you'll be too early for "peak" foliage, but you might see a few leaves turning, especially if you drive away from the coast.

The view of Camden and Passamaquoddy Bay from the top of the tower at Mt. Battie when the leaves are in full color is one of the most beautiful sights you can ever hope to see in New England.

I will second lobstah's recommendations of the Owl's Head Transport Museum and the Farnsworth Museum. Just remember that the art museum in Rockland, not Rockport, even though Rockport is better known for its art community.
posted by briank at 11:38 AM on August 31, 2006

I spent 13 autumn-winter weeks in Camden at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in 2001-2002. I no longer have the details about my time there on my website and looking at the archive I see that specifics are scarce. I was there again last summer but still names elude me.

Have the blueberry pancakes on the terrace of the little diner on main street.

Have the pumpkin pancakes at the diner in Rockport. Coffee is self-serve. Don't go when the temperature is more than 10 degrees below zero -- the grill is on an outside wall and the pancakes will not be the same. The port in Rockport is a delightful spot.

There's surprising Japanese restaurant tucked away in Rockland. (Although I should not be too surprised since my Sino-Japanese aunt lives in Fort Kent.)

Good pizza can be found in Camden at Zaddik's.

Visit the belted Galloways on the way to Rockport. (Or are they between Rockport and Rockland?) This is nothing more than stopping at the roadside but if your 19 month old will enjoy seeing cows that resemble Oreos then find them.

There's a nature preserve on a penisula in a lake to the west whose path is quite flat for the area. We walked it with freshly fallen snow.

Stop at Moody's diner for pie on the way. It's on Route 1. Can't miss it.

Wisscasset (again on 1 on the way) might still have a mummy in one of the antique shops but the last time we walked by it looked closed -- for good maybe.

There's a bowling alley on the road to Rockland. Try the duck pin.

Take home some grade "b" maple syrup at the small organic grocer on the road to Rockland.

If you stop in Portland and need lunch go to Becky's. Sit at the counter if you can.

And if you're interested in wood furniture making, stop by the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. They love visitors, have a small gallery and if you see Peter Korn, the Director, tell him hi for Richard, Antoinette and Joseph.

Otherwise, just walk about. It's gentrefied but still chock full of interesting details. Your wife is right: it never disappoints in the scenery department -- no matter the season.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:30 PM on August 31, 2006

I used to spend a week every summer near Camden, ME when I was younger. We used to go to Mount Battie, Fort Knox, Perry's Nut House (which isn't the same anymore I understand), and to see the belted galloways (oreo cookie cows as well called them). We went across the ferry from Lincolnville over to Ilseboro which was nice. I haven't been up there in 10 years though, so I'm sure things have changed.
posted by disaster77 at 9:56 PM on August 31, 2006

Response by poster: Just back from the trip and thanks for all the suggestions. We were there four days and didn't have time for everything, but we did see Acadia and Mt. Battie and were suitably impressed. We also went to the Farnsworth and Owl's Head museums, and took a brief visit to the Prism glassworks that was cut short by a toddler temper tantrum in the midst of thousands and thousands of dollars worth of art glass. The Childrens' Chapel and nearby Belted Galloways were big hits. Good meals were had at Cappy's Chowder House, Atlantica, and the Lincolnville beach Lobster Pound, as well as the Bar Harbor Inn. It was definitely a successful trip, and we look forward to returning in a few years. Perhaps then we will see the things we missed this time.
posted by TedW at 4:47 PM on September 20, 2006

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