Mid-coast epitomizes the “rocky coast of Maine”. With its endlessly indented shoreline of peninsulas, bays, and tidal rivers, and thousands of islands, large and small, the region has thrived on marine occupations of all kinds since its discovery by Europeans in the 16th century. Now its inexhaustible vistas of natural beauty, both ocean and woodland, draw myriads of vacationers and retirees. This is the perfect place to slow down and relax in gorgeous surroundings, shift into low gear, and appreciate “Maine – the way life ought to be”.
Think lobsters! Maine lobsters are synonymous with the ultimate in fine seafood, and mid-coast Maine is a center of lobster fishing and dining. To emphasize the point, Rockland hosts the Maine Lobster Festival the first weekend of August each year. Other iconic foods for which the region is famous include wild blueberries and fried clams.
Pemaquid Light, 12 miles south of Damariscotta, is called the “most-photographed lighthouse in the United States”. The iconic view, with the dramatic rocky point extending hundreds of feet into the ocean, has been adopted as the very symbol of Maine on its version of the US quarter dollar coin as well as on countless wall calendars. Pemaquid also has one of the few public ocean beaches in the mid-coast region, and its Lighthouse Park includes a gallery of fine art by local artists. Nearby is the restored 18th century Fort William Henry and excavations of the 16th century Pemaquid Harbor settlement.
Boothbay Harbor and Camden are major centers for yachting and coastal cruises, harbors where pleasure boats with every luxury share the crowded harbor with workingmen’s lobster, shrimp, and herring fishing boats. From these and many other harbors you can take ferries to many of the larger islands such as Monhegan, long an artists’ mecca. From the Camden Hills, you have a fabulous view of Penobscot Bay and the Rockland region. Anyone whose children have grown up on the books of Robert McCloskey (e.g. Blueberries for Sal) is already in love with Penobscot Bay. You can also enjoy whale-watching or deep sea fishing cruises, or learn lobster fishing hands-on with a lobsterman out of New Harbor.
The Wyeth family of artists has long been associated with mid-coast Maine, particularly Cushing, where Andrew Wyeth’s famous Christina’s World was painted. The Olsen house there, and the Fogg Gallery in Rockland, feature their long and close association with the Wyeths.
Nature lovers will appreciate the Audubon Society’s center in Maine, the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary on Hog Island. Each summer the Sanctuary conducts a variety of educational programs on birds and other nature subjects by the day or week, including boat excursions to many other islands to view seabirds in their wild habitat.
Local shopping is particularly good for fine art, antiques, ceramics, and natural crafts. Freeport, near the western part of this region, is home of L. L. Bean, where the shopping for outdoor sports, activities, and casual wear is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Portland International Jetport is the natural choice if you are arriving by air; many airlines have frequent flights in and out. You can also take bus or Amtrak train from Boston, about 1 hour. From Portland continue northeast by car, train, or bus. Route 295 gets you as far as Brunswick, from where you will follow Route 1 the rest of the way “down east”.