To be clear, I am only talking about coastal/southern Maine. I have never ventured North of Wiscasset aside from a drive to Quebec City so this is primarily about towns like Kittery, Ogunquit, Freeport, Portland, and Brunswick. So you know, I went to college in Brunswick, Maine so I actually have a long-standing love affair with the coastal area and this weekend I went back for my 10 year reunion and was reminded on some of the best stuff it has to offer. Why is it so great? Well, there are great trails, beaches, outlets, lighthouses, lobster, and the air quality is ON POINT. I also like wearing a fleece and shorts from time to time. Call me crazy.
Outlets? Kittery and Freeport both have good shopping. The normal outlets you see everywhere else: From places like J. Crew, Gap, Ralph Lauren, Coach, Cole Haan to, of course, LL Bean’s flagship store. If you are coming from an up all night city, you can hang out at the LL Bean, which is open 24 hours. Who said coastal Maine doesn’t have good nightlife? And only in Freeport, Maine will you find an olive oil store in the middle of the outlets. Fiore Aristan Olive Oils and Vinegars is one of my favorite places to visit in Freeport. They have the best flavored olive oils and I love it so much I order their stuff regularly. I know, #teamextra. Freeport is also just a fun town. Like seemingly every town around it, there are great trails and the bikes are cheap.
Beaches? Yes, there are great beaches in coastal Maine. While the water is always cold, coastal Maine has some of my favorite spots for lying around in the sun. The beaches run the gambit: Reid State Park (quiet and scenic), Popham (beautiful and surf-friendly), Old Orchard (lively and well…a touch turned up so beware) and my favorite, Footbridge Beach in Ogunquit, Maine. Footbridge has all the lively feel of Old Orchard but without the drunk people. Sorry, Old Orchard. In addition, Ogunquit is a super cute town, has great restaurants, and the beach is big and spacious. Intense tides, but oh well. Also, there is an awesome trail surrounding Footbridge called the Marginal Way with scenic views of the ocean.
So yes, there’s a lot to do in Maine. And one of my favorite things to do besides being outdoors is eating. Surprised? I bet.
You wouldn’t be surprised to know that the area has great seafood but which places are the best? I’ve selflessly tried many and here are some of the best:
Street and Company – Portland, Maine
Hype level: 4 Actual score: 5
Street and Co. is my favorite place to have dinner in Portland by a long shot. If you want classic seafood and a nice ambiance, this is it. Their menu is super simple which I can appreciate. It’s basically “do you want your seafood grilled or blackened and do you want it on top of pasta?” Get the lobster diavolo and thank me later.
Eventide Oyster Co. – Portland, Maine
Hype level: 5 Actual score: 3.5
Sorry guys, this wasn’t it. The stress alone was enough to send me elsewhere. Let me explain, Eventide doesn’t take reservations and is probably the most popular restaurant in Portland. So, when you enter, there is hysteria and the hostesses and short and stern. “Three hour wait” without looking up, she says. Ugh. I finally snagged a table this past weekend during lunch and they were still short and stern. Once you get past this, the restaurant is cute. And if the weather’s nice, it’s a great place to do some outdoor dining. I tried the infamous brown butter lobster roll. It was good. Not much lobster but plenty of brown butter. I also had the clam chowder which had an interesting taste but was too thin for my taste. Overall, it was good but does it live up to the hype? For me, not quite.
Footbridge Lobster – Ogunquit, Maine
Hype level: 4 Actual score: 5
One of my favorite lobster rolls of ALL TIME. Maybe the sea air helps make this so great, but this is a place I want to hit every summer. Even if I’m just going to be in Boston, I gotta make the trip up. I also heard that they have a BOGO on lobsters! Two for $18. I don’t know if this is a true but it sounds unfair to the other lobster places nearby.
Cameron’s Lobster House – Brunswick, Maine
Hype level: 4 Actual score: 5!
OK, this might be my new everything. I LOVED Cameron’s. The lobster roll and lobster BLT were both things I could eat on a daily basis. They were also both extremely affordable. The lobster roll was around $15 for a lot of chunky lobster and fries. The lobster BLT was similarly $16. Cameron’s also had the best dessert I have had in months! No faux puff pastry leaving me unfulfilled. Instead, a strawberry short-cake on a biscuit. Did you hear me say biscuit?! I have only had strawberry shortcake on a sad angel food sponge cake. This was pure deliciousness.