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Fall Foliage in Maine: Acadia National Park & Beyond

Author: soliteyah (More Trip Reviews by soliteyah)
Date of Trip: October 2010

There were several restaurants within walking distance. We ended up at what the Boyce's staffer called the "healthiest" option of the three (and probably the most expensive): The Seasons at Stonington. All I wanted was a good salad. I ended up ordering a house salad and the vegetarian soup of the day, which was some sort of parsnip thing (delicious!). SO ordered the curry dish of the week. And then, even though we'd said no dessert, well ... we had dessert. (I blame SO.) Blueberry crisp with peach ice cream -- scrumptious.

We woke up early and wandered around Stonington to snap a few pictures, then drove to Barred Island Preserve on the western side of Deer Isle. We were the only ones in the parking lot and saw no one else the whole time we spent on the trail, which ran about a mile through the woods out to a rocky shoreline. The waves were really pounding on the rocks, and the sun was shining -- beautiful. Apparently you can walk out to Barred Island itself at low tide, but the path was definitely ocean'd out when we showed up, so we just followed the loop back around to the parking lot.

Then it was time to leave Deer Isle and the Blue Hill Peninsula to head to Camden. On the way out we had such a gorgeous drive -- fall colors, blue skies, cute little hamlets and lots of water views. We stopped a few times to snap photos -- along the causeway between Deer Isle and Little Deer Isle, and at Caterpillar Hill, an absolutely stunning overlook at the south end of the Blue Hill Peninsula. The foliage was in full color there.

Back on Route 1, we stopped for sandwiches and then headed down to Camden Hills State Park, about a mile north of Camden. We paid the entrance fee and drove to the top of Mount Battie, where we saw perhaps our best views yet.  The mountain overlooks Camden's pretty harbor as well as the coastline and islands in both directions. There was a stone tower up there that you could climb for slightly higher views (and a heck of a lot more wind). We ate our sandwiches and sat at the summit for a while to soak it all in. We'd planned on doing another hike while we were there, but SO put his foot down and decided that he was through with climbing mountains, and that any view we got from another hike couldn't possibly match the one we were looking at just then. So that was that!

We left the park and drove down into the town of Camden, where traffic was sluggish along Main Street -- but we found a parking spot easily as soon as we turned onto a side street. The town is really touristy, so there were lots of galleries and shops to help me get my last-minute souvenir shopping done. There was the usual junky stuff -- T-shirts and lobster pillows and whatever -- but there was some lovely art, pottery, etc. too.

Then it was on to Rockland, which while only 15 minutes south of Camden had a very different feel to it. (When you approach on Route 1, you're greeted by Home Depot and Burger King.) It seemed less picturesque and more working class, though the main street had some nice historic buildings and galleries. We were there to visit the Farnsworth Museum, which is right in the center of town. It has a couple of buildings: the main one and the Wyeth Center next door. I was expecting a lot of Andrew Wyeth paintings, but there actually weren't that many (the Wyeth Center has more N.C. and Jamie Wyeth work). New England artists were well represented, and there were also some interesting exhibitions. My favorite was a black and white photography exhibit by Emily Schiffer: "Youth on the Cheyenne River Reservation," striking images of Native American kids at play or in portraits. Altogether a good museum of manageable size.

We had dinner and spent the night at the East Wind Inn in Tenants Harbor, which had the feel of a 1900's rooming house or something -- a big, drafty old building with a sweeping front porch and an old-fashioned parlor furnished with a grand piano and a big old RCA television. Our small room on the third floor had a dormer ceiling (so low in places that SO had to duck), antique furniture, and rose-print wallpaper EVERYWHERE, even the door! There was no TV in our room, but the wi-fi was free. Bathrooms were down the hall.

The dining room at the East Wind Inn looked out over the harbor, which was nice, but the meal was a tad overpriced. The service was a little uneven, and I thought SO's stuffed haddock was a too heavy on the dill. (To be fair, I'm not a huge fan of dill, so perhaps I'm biased!) My scallops were good, and they added extra asparagus and a couple of strips of carrot to take the place of a starchy side. Dessert was blueberry buckle topped with vanilla ice cream, which was fantastic -- one of the best of the week.

Our room rate at the East Wind included full breakfast cooked to order. SO got a Belgian waffle topped with blueberries that he said was pretty good. I had a cheese and veggie omelet that was unfortunately too heavy on the former and too light on the latter.

We checked out a couple of nearby lighthouses before we started our long drive home. The first was Marshall's Point -- very pretty! -- and the other was Owl's Head, a state park that actually allowed us to climb into the lighthouse and take a peek. (We left a donation.) Both spots were incredibly windy, not to mention cold.

lobster roll reds eats wiscasset maineThen we hopped on Route 1 to Wiscasset, where we wanted to sample the famous lobster rolls at Red's Eats. We waited 45 minutes in an extremely slow-moving line, which included several dogs. (There was a huge sheepdog whose owner told a little kid who wanted to pet him, "He loves children -- ate one for breakfast this morning!") When we got to the front of the line, we made our order: two lobster rolls with drawn butter on the side, a small portion of fries, and a bottled water. It was pricey at $37, but the lobster rolls were incredibly generous -- apparently each sandwich has more than a whole lobster in it. I pretty much had to pick the bigger pieces off the top before I could even begin to manage it as a sandwich. The drawn butter on top was so delicious, mmm.

And from there it was a straight shot back to the Philadelphia area after a lovely, relaxing week filled with lots of hiking and foliage, and WAY too much food! Obviously we only saw a small portion of a big state, but we really enjoyed it. For outdoorsy types there is a ton of stuff to do in Maine -- more mountains and trails than you can shake a stick at, a lovely coastline, fresh air and unspoiled lakes. The food is fantastic too, provided you like seafood and blueberries.

A few bests:

Best meal: Ruth and Wimpy's.
Best views: Mount Battle or Cadillac Mountain.
Best place we stayed: Bluff House Inn.
Best towns: Southeast Harbor and Blue Hill.
Best hike: Hmmmm. They were all pretty nice! The Flying Mountain trail had a good variety of views for not too much effort, and the trail around Jordan Pond was very scenic.

Overall a great trip!

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