Talk to just about anyone about the state of Maine and you’ll usually hear them rave about one of two places: the South Coast (York, Wells, Ogunquit, Old Orchard) or the area normally referred to as “Downeast” (Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, for example). (Though, because of sailing terms in previous centuries, the term downeast is sometimes used to reference the whole state.) But the Maine coastline is long and intricate with all of its islands and craggy “fingers” jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean. And while ¾ of all visitors to the Pine Tree State only get as far as the South Coast, a short ride north of Portland reveals what is referred to as Mid-coast. Roughly extending from Brunswick to Belfast, this region has a lot for tourists to do and see.
First and foremost, natural beauty abounds in this area of the coast. Quaint towns like Camden and Boothbay Harbor have picturesque waterfronts and the ubiquitous rocky peninsulas. Camden’s attractive setting has drawn film crews since the mid-fifties (with Carousel and Peyton Place) to the twenty-first century (In the Bedroom in 2001). Boothbay offers visitors lighthouse tours as well as boat trips to see whales, puffins, and seals. Another terrific thing to do around town is to visit its 250-acre Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. Further south near the charming city of Bath on Georgetown Island one finds Reid State Park. This six-hundred-acre park offers wide sandy beaches, large dunes, and rocky promontories; it serves as a nesting area for least terns and piping plovers as well.
But Mid-coast offers more than seascapes and other encounters with Mother Nature. There are arts festivals, theaters, and plenty of shopping opportunities for every taste. One favorite of ours is Georgetown Pottery, which has three outlets on the coast. Here, beautiful handcrafted items—plates, cups, clocks, vases, sinks, and more—can be purchased, many featuring blueberry, lighthouse, fish, tree, and flower motifs. Very lovely and not your run-of-the-mill pottery.
Finally, it wouldn’t be right (and wouldn’t be me!) not to talk about the food that you find here. Of course, you can get lobster just about everywhere: lobster dinners, lobster rolls, lobster bisque. You name it! And there are dishes featuring, mussels, clams, crabmeat, and fish. Other than seafood, however, there is a wide range of possibilities from burgers and fries at Fat Boy Drive In to Pho at Lemongrass Vietnamese restaurant, both in Brunswick. In Bath we’ve enjoyed meals at the upscale Solo Bistro on Front Street and a more modest but equally delicious lunch at Best Thai II. A unique chocolate shop in Georgetown, MainSweets, run by Patty Mains, has a variety of tasty confections. The most original is her Needhams which are made from coconut and mashed potatoes! I know, it sounds weird, but Mains, who was trained in chocolate making in Quebec, uses her grandfather’s recipe, envelops it in Belgian chocolate, and produces a delightful candy.
So, the next time you're headed downeast, drop in to see a town or two in the Mid-coast area. You can't go wrong in this part of Maine.