Boothbay

48 HOURS-August 2012
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Susan Grisanti, Leanne Ouimet + Mali Welch

Susan Grisanti, Editor-in-Chief

Friday

2:30 p.m.
On a bright Friday afternoon, I head north on Route 1 with my daughters, Cara and Casey, and their friend Mya. We spot license plates from different parts of the country during the drive. When we make the turn down Route 27, lupines are blooming along both sides of the road. We make a quick stop at the roadside trailer called Coon's Grill, where co-owner Mary Lewis informs us that she attracts a steady stream of theater-camp kids from the Boothbay Playhouse who have become addicted to her lobster rolls.

4:00 p.m. @ Bet's Famous Fish Fry 
We've heard that Bet's is a must-try, but unfortunately our timing is off. We're greeted with a "Sea Ya @ 5" sign.

4:30 p.m. @ Coco Vivo
We make our way down Commercial Street, where we discover a true gem: Coco Vivo. Two floors filled with antique and contemporary furnishings, fabrics, and works of art from nine represented artists. We learn that the gallery and shop will be putting on a sidewalk sale tomorrow, so we make a plan to return.

5:00 p.m. @ Calypso
Browsing through the appealing clothing and jewelry is made all the more pleasurable by the setting: a 120-year-old converted livery with open beam ceilings and wide plank floors. I am especially drawn to a soft-as-silk cotton and bamboo top.

5:30 p.m. @ Spruce Point Inn Resort and Spa
The dazzling drive from town to the resort winds through a residential part of town. Hugging the rocky coastline, we pass stately homes, colorful gardens, and double-mast nautical flagpoles with fluttering flags on nearly every lawn. When we arrive at the inn, I feel that we have stepped back in time—it's quintessential summertime Maine. Blue umbrellas and striped-cushion lounge chairs circle a saltwater pool. We enter the main inn lobby outfitted with pale yellow beadboard walls and wicker furniture. The staff describes the amenities available on the sprawling grounds: clay tennis courts, a spa and wellness center, a second freshwater pool, lawn games, bikes, kayaks, and three restaurants. We check into our spacious rooms in the Evergreen Lodge and quickly change for dinner.

6:00 p.m. @ Bogie's Casual Bistro 
We enjoy a feast of lobsters, oysters, fried clams, and salads at the inn's bright and casual bistro.

7:30 p.m. @ The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor 
Our friend Steve Malcom of the Knickerbocker Group told us that tonight's show, Brent McCoy's one-man act, is a must see. With my girls by my side, I take in the sweetness of grandparents laughing with their grandchildren, and I feel like I'm finally taking some time out to savor summer moments, and remind myself that there is still a world that moves just a little slower.

9:30 p.m. @ Spruce Point Inn's S'more Station 
On our way back to our room, we see that the fire is going. We stop to roast marshmallows for a sweet treat before bed.

Saturday

7:30 a.m. @ Mama D's
Mercantile  I wake earlier than the girls and decide to let them get their rest while I head out on one of the inn's bikes. It feels so great to pedal along in the crisp morning air. I take a seat at the counter and strike up a conversation with the waitress, Cody, who grew up in the area. She fills me in on her favorite spots, and it isn't long before a group of local patrons, start chiming in: turkey dinners at Brown's Wharf, a secret swimming hole near Barrett's Park on Linekin Bay, Barter's Island and Sawyer's Island preserves, Sprucewold Beach. By this time, I have moved from the counter to join a group of elderly gentlemen at a table. I feel so fortunate to be so warmly accepted into their fold this morning.

10:00 a.m. @ Spruce Point Inn Doc
The girls have had breakfast at the inn and we've made a plan to meet at the boat launch. Captain Shawn is taking us out on Bright Line, the inn's boat. As we head out into the harbor, we see lobster boats everywhere, hailing from North Haven and Owls Head, Peaks Island and Cape Elizabeth. Many are tied to one another and sharing an anchor, and seemingly all of them are filled with smiling lobstermen and lobsterwomen and their families. While the atmosphere doesn't feel competitive, announcements inform us that we are in the midst of the twenty-sixth annual Lobster Boat Race. We float in the middle of the festive atmosphere for some time, and watch several of the races before we decide to get moving.

11:00 a.m. @ Burnt Island
The Department of Marine Resources, under the direction of education director Elaine Jones, restored the lighthouse and light keeper's home and created a trail system around the five-acre island. The lighthouse has been converted into an education center that offers learning opportunities to students from around the state. We walk through the historic buildings, taking in the portraits of all the lightkeepers who served over the course of a century at the lighthouse. The house is filled with original items that take us back in time—the girls are especially curious about an antique typewriter that they are invited to try. We wander the grounds of the island and walk along the beach before we head back to the boat.

12:15 p.m. @ Downtown Boothbay Harbor
We dock in town and head to Red Cup Coffeehouse for coffee and blueberry pie. We toot around town a bit, stopping at Casual Interiors to browse the gorgeous home furnishings: pillows, throws, rugs, linens, pottery, and—a special find—chandeliers made with vintage buoys. Our next stop, Abacus, offers bright, colorful artwork and imaginative items, including a fantastic pinball coffee table. At A Silver Lining, the girls search for a few special additions to their charm bracelets to commemorate the weekend, before they remember the Coco Vivo sidewalk sale. While the girls pick out a few vintage items at the sale, Shawn gets the boat and meets us at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard dock.

2:00 p.m. @ The Maine State Aquarium 
I watch the girls grow wide-eyed at the interactive tidepool touch tank, where they gather their courage, reach in, and touch a host of invertebrates. We all really enjoy this special stop.

3:00 p.m. @ Robinson's Wharf and Tug's Pub 
Shawn directs us to one of his favorite spots: a working waterfront restaurant and market. We find a spot in the sun on the upper deck overlooking the wharf. After lunch, only Cara has saved room for a scoop of locally made Round Top Ice Cream.

4:45 p.m. @ Squirrel Island
Back on the boat, we decide to take a spin by Squirrel Island and gaze at the picturesque homes along the shore before heading back to the inn to rest before dinner.

7:45 p.m. @ Ports of Italy
We have repeatedly heard that Ports of Italy is one of the best places in town for dinner. The owner Sante Calandri helps us with our menu selections. We share a beautiful roasted-vegetable antipasto, the girls each choose a homemade pasta dish, and I have the Branzino al Forno, a whole Mediterranean striped bass roasted with fresh herbs and lemon. We then stuff ourselves on scrumptious tiramisu and panna cotta.

Sunday

7:30 a.m. @ East Boothbay General Store 
Shawn and I cruise over from the inn to meet his wife and their precious daughter for breakfast. We order an assortment of delicious things, including breakfast sandwiches, breakfast pizza, and homemade doughnuts. I wander through the beautifully restored building and the splendid assortment of specialty foods, wines, and gift items.

9:30 a.m. @ Spruce Point Inn Spa 
After breakfast at the inn, the girls make their way over to the spa for facials. I sit in the sun at the spa's tranquil deck while I wait for them. Half of me is green with envy, the other half incredibly grateful that they have had this wonderful pampering experience. I make a promise to myself to return soon for some pampering of my own.

10:00 a.m. @ Gleason Fine Art
The girls are due back home for their summer lacrosse league, but I fit in one last stop to check out the current show. I linger over works by William Irvine, Henry Isaacs, Karen Tusinski, Gayle Fraas and Duncan Slade. For a passionate art lover, it's the perfect ending to a fantastic weekend away.

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Leanne Ouimet, Director of Events + Sponsorships

Friday

4:30 p.m. @ The Hodgdon Island Inn 
I arrive at the Hodgdon Island Inn under sunny skies. My drive from Portland to Boothbay was a breeze. After listening to the Will Smith Pandora radio station all the way here, I could not be in a better mood to start my weekend. Innkeepers Pam and Richard Riley greet me at the front door and show me to my room. I grab my book and head down to the sprawling front lawn, where Adirondack chairs and the glistening water await.

5:45 p.m. @ Trevett Country Store 
My cousin Nicole is joining me this weekend and to prepare for her arrival, I walk across the street to the Trevett Country Store for a bottle of wine and some happy hour snacks. I decide on a chilled bottle of pinot grigio, cashews, chips, and salsa, and head back to my room—lucky number seven—to wait for Nicole.

7:30 p.m. @ The Thistle Inn 
After a great gossip session, Nicole and I visit the Thistle Inn on Oak Street and sidle up to the bar. Sasha, the bartender, doesn't waste any time mixing our drinks—a pomegranate martini for me and a blueberry-lemonade martini for Nicole. We strike up a conversation with Eric Fischer who lives in Washington, D.C. He's in town to open the cottage that's been in his family since the 1960s, the same cottage his mom would rent to artists in exchange for paintings. The three of us talk about his experience spending summers with no cell phones, no Internet, and no television, and the challenges and joys involved in continuing that tradition. 8:30 p.m. @ McSeagull's  One of my best friends has a summer home off the coast of Boothbay Harbor, and we never miss an opportunity to have dinner on the waterfront deck while listening to live music. The perfect first night in Boothbay. Cheers!

Saturday

7:45 a.m. @ Ovens Mouth East Trail 
Nicole and I get an early start to our day so that we can fit in a hike around Ovens Mouth Preserve. The Boothbay Region Land Trust manages the preserve and more than 1,700 acres of land in the region, including six islands. We try the 1.1-mile loop trail around the eastern side of the preserve.

10:00 a.m. @ Moosehead Coffee Shop + Tidal Transit Kayak Company 
After refueling on breakfast sandwiches, homefries, and iced coffee at the Moosehead Coffee Shop, Nicole and I wander along the waterfront until we find Tidal Transit, a kayak tour and rental company. We're greeted by Mandee, a local guide and instructor. Nicole and I are both a little nervous about heading out into the open ocean, but we are quickly put at ease after Mandee gives us a thorough tutorial.

11:00 a.m. @ Burnt Island
We make it to Burnt Island without mishap, and we are excited to begin exploring the island's lighthouse, trails, and beaches. We find historic buildings and education centers, even a wooden pirate ship. We're the only ones on the island, or so it seems, until we see a boat docked on the far side. We soon run into Susan, the editor-in-chief, and her girls, who are on their own boat tour of Boothbay Harbor.

1:00 p.m. @ Boothbay Region Boatyard 
After a quick change out of our damp clothes, we take a detour to Southport. My co-worker Katie Gable, our resident boat expert, mentioned the boatyard so Nicole and I decide to make a stop there. We wander around the docks and peek our heads in the store window.

1:30  p.m. @ Coastal Maine Popcorn 
We head to Coastal Maine Popcorn so I can get a Father's Day gift for my dad. All the popcorn is made fresh right at this location almost every day. I mix the Buffalo XX with the Blue Cheese popcorn for my dear old dad and only hope that it's spicy enough for him.

1:45 p.m. @ Blue Moon Cafe
Tucked away on Boothbay Harbor's waterfront is the Blue Moon Cafe, which boasts an impressive breakfast and lunch menu, and—more recently—a dinner service on Fridays and Saturdays through Labor Day. Owner Fred Munro points out his favorite items, such as the grilled crab and cheese sandwich.

2:45 p.m. @ Eventide  
Eventide offers specialty olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and more. Owners Denise and Kim give us a tour of the store and show us how to operate the "fusti" vessels that hold dozens of different products. I'm drawn to the infused balsamic vinegars and purchase a bottle of Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Condimento.

3:15 p.m. @ Abacus Gallery, Casual Interiors + Sherman's Books and Stationery 
Abacus Gallery has five locations around the state, but the Boothbay Harbor location is the original. There are so many unique and beautiful things to look at, from artwork and jewelry to stuffed toys and wine racks. Nicole and I learn that there are more than 500 artists represented at the different Abacus locations. I find a ring engraved with the phrase "forever grateful" made by artist Amy Peters. Nicole has to head back to Portland soon, so we check out the home decor and beautiful rugs at Casual Interiors and peruse the new releases at Sherman's before she leaves for home.

5:30 p.m. @ Oak Street Provisions
Owner Doug Roberts helps me decide on crackers and homemade crab dip, made from locally fished crab from Mill Cove, cream cheese, sea salt, pepper, and a few secret ingredients. He also hand selects a bottle of Big Claw white wine that he says goes perfectly with any seafood. Doug also strongly suggests that I take a drive along Ocean Point Road before I leave. I do just that.

6:30 p.m. @ Ocean Point Road
This scenic drive, which winds around Ocean Point in East Boothbay, is stunning. There are no obstructions—just wide-open views of the ocean dotted with islands, lobster boats, and buoys. I park in one of the spots reserved for onlookers to spend time with my book and nibble on crab dip and crackers.

8:25 p.m. @ Sunset on Ocean Point Road 
A crowd has gathered at the lookout to watch the sunset. Tourists emerge from their cars and local residents from their homes with blankets, beverages, and loved ones as the sky turns gorgeous shades of pink and orange.

8:45 p.m. @ Boathouse Bistro
All I want is a hot bowl of soup to warm me up after spending over two hours outside enjoying the crisp air and ocean views. The homemade lobster bisque is creamy, flavorful, and filled with huge chunks of lobster.

10:00 p.m. @ Mine Oyster 
I walk just a few steps to Mine Oyster, where I meet Mali and Derek to hear the Jason Spooner Trio play.

Sunday

8:00 a.m. @ The Hodgdon Island Inn 
Pam and Richard are busy in the kitchen when I head downstairs for breakfast in the brightly decorated dining room. I dine on "baked oatmeal" with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and vanilla yogurt on top, and a delicious breakfast entrée.

9:00 a.m. @ Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens 
I'm amazed at how many butterflies are floating among the beautiful pink and red flowers in the Rose and Perennial Garden. I wish I had more time to explore the new Bibby and Harold Alfond Children's Garden or hike along the Huckleberry Cove Trail and see the waterfall, but I make note to come back with family and friends the next time I'm in town.

10:45 a.m. @ Boothbay Harbor + Sheepscot Bay 
Mali, Derek, Susan and I gather at the town dock, where we're meeting Danielle and Brad Betts and their family for an afternoon boat ride. I met Danielle through her work at Knickerbocker Group, and she graciously offered to take us on a tour of Boothbay and the surrounding islands and harbors. Brad's parents, Chris and Betsy, are captains of the lobster boat today, and Brad and Danielle's kids, Sam and Ben, help navigate through buoys and waterways. We pass lighthouses, islands, and stop by Oliver's for an ice cream cone.

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Mali Welch, Production Manager

Friday 

5:00 p.m.
Ripping up Route One on a Friday evening with my fiance Derek at the helm never gets old. We leave the city behind and pick up our lives as weekend warriors, ready for anything. The sun is out, windows are down, and reggae is pumping. As we hook a right on Route 27, the excitement builds. We haven't been here before. Shortly after, we arrive at picturesque Boothbay Harbor.

6:00 p.m. @ Topside Inn 
We traverse the top of a hill and find Topside Inn perched at the summit. An arc of Adirondack chairs spans the lawn, positioned for spectacular panoramic views. We can't help but wonder how many captains' wives have awaited the return of their loved ones from this very spot. The charming innkeepers, Brian and Ed, chat us up and take us to our room. We drop off our bags and head into town.

6:30 p.m. @ Boathouse Bistro 
We climb to the third-floor roof deck, where two seats at a sun-bleached bar await. Derek orders an Allagash White (a summer fave of ours) and I get a Bloody Mary. The couple to our right, fresh off a two-day stint on Monhegan, are raving about the bistro's tuna steaks and lamb lollipops. We are happy with our tapas choices and the friendly chatter.

8:30 p.m. @ Mine Oyster  
We wander into Mine Oyster with a proper happy hour glow, and are loosened up just enough to willingly shoot some oysters. Host Dave Gregg seats us at the bar and fills us in on some of the finer points of oyster cultivation. We select the Glidden Point oysters, which are hand-harvested on a family-owned sea farm just up the road in Edgecomb. They are large, pearly in color, and taste just like the ocean.

Saturday

9:00 a.m. @ Topside Inn
Brian and Ed have laid out a breakfast spread of house-made granola, fresh fruit, muffins, coffee and the entrée of the morning: gypsy benedict (scrambled eggs, ham, spinach, and red pepper hollandaise on an English muffin). Derek is impressed, which is no easy feat.

10:00 a.m. @ The Saucy Contessa 
Just down the hill, we stumble across a little red hut full of hot sauces. We believe you can never have too many bottles of hot sauce around the house so we decide to buy a new one. That makes twelve.

10:15 a.m. @ The Palabra Shop
The nostalgic scent of balsam fills the air and reminds me of the gift shops on North Haven. Though the shop looks small, it rambles from room to room with assorted items from Maine gifts to nautical antiques to artwork. We buy some cube-shaped rocks to freeze and use in drinks in place of ice.

11:00 a.m. @ Harbor Stones, Blue Moon Cafe + Boothbay Harbor Shipyard  
Painted arrows lead us down the road with promises of art, boats, antiques, and hot dogs. At Harbor Stones, we admire Maine's state mineral—tourmaline—and discover all its naturally occurring colors. We grab ice coffee to go at Blue Moon Cafe, and then take a jaunt through the shipyard. The vessel Sherman Z. Wicker is up on pilings and we can see her full hull, prop, and rudder.

11:30 a.m. @ Coco Vivo, Dunton's Doghouse, Island Teak + Harbor Imports Company 
Coco Vivo has an array of antique furniture and a case of vintage hats out front, all arranged the way an artist would a still life. Inside, I study a tasteful collection of paintings and watercolors. Around the corner, Island Teak's backyard Zen garden captivates us as we listen to the store owner singing sweetly to herself. Derek gazes longingly at Dunton's Doghouse on the way by in hope of a wiener before lunch, but an apologetic sign explains they will reopen after church.

12:10 p.m. @ The Creative Turtle and Circle Stone Designs 
I'm delighted that the lovely Anita Roeltz is in her shop when we arrive. Anita creates one-of-a-kind Maine beach stone necklaces and bracelets adorned with hand-forged silver. I covet every piece. This is the kind of jewelry that, when worn, causes people to stop you on the street to ask where you got it.

12:30 p.m. @ A Silver Lining
I see a bracelet with two anchors linked by chains and a row of thick silver cuffs with fishhook-shaped clasps. As I try them on, the woman working behind the counter smiles and tells me that her daughter designed these pieces.

12:45 p.m. @ Sweet Bay 
I strike up a conversation with shopkeepers Kathy and Ken about the company Sea Bags and how much we love their bags made from old sails. Sweet Bay's retail collection of Sea Bags is the most extensive I've seen, featuring dozens of different colors, designs, and bag types. Pam, if you're reading this, Derek totally wants the Sea Bag shaving kit!

1:00 p.m. @ Linekin Bay Resort
We hop in the car and drive a short distance to Linekin Bay Resort for lunch. This place is a throwback. With all the hallmarks of a classic family summer camp, it has the same feel as Kellerman's in Dirty Dancing. The lodge floors have a patina from years of bare footsteps and the grounds are rich with activity. I can tell that memories are made here.We sit in the bar and order Baxter Brewing Company's Celsius Summer Ale drafts, a Reuben, sliders, and fries with truffle ketchup. The food is so good! The manager, Mark, explains that the resort is all-inclusive and booked by the week, with exceptions made for wedding weekends. Luckily, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Linekin quickly becomes my favorite spot in Boothbay to date.

2:30 p.m. @ Oak Street Provisions
The sun has popped out, so we run in and grab a few cold beers to take with us on our next adventure.

3:00 p.m. @ Tidal Transit Kayak Company 
Travis gives us the option of paddleboards, a tandem kayak or single kayaks. We decide on single kayaks and he sets us a course on a laminated map. We paddle the perimeter of the harbor and weave around an island where we see a fat seal lounging on a rock, dry and fuzzy in the sun. We paddle out to Burnt Island and beachcomb for a while. On the way back, we raft up and let the tide take us in while we sip tallboys of Martens beer. I catch a glimpse of myself in Derek's shades—I am having so much fun!

6:00 p.m. @ The Rocktide Inn
We cross to the other side of the harbor by way of a footbridge and take a shortcut along the shore to Rocktide Inn. Schoolies are jumping nearby. We sit in the light of the setting sun and order jumbo tropical cocktails. Later we move inside to "On the Rocks," the tiki-style lounge that is kind of random but pretty awesome.

9:30 p.m. @ Mine Oyster 
A Portland music scene favorite, the Jason Spooner Trio, is just starting as we arrive. We grab a high-top with Leanne, and Mine Oyster host Dave joins us for his shift beer. The trio is trying out a new keyboard player who just graduated from University of Southern Maine School of Music, and we like how he fills out their sound. We stay until the bar closes, and hang with the band as they pack up their cars.

Sunday

9:00 a.m. @ Topside Inn
An epic breakfast of sweet potato waffles and fruit gets us ready for a day of boating with friends.

10:30 a.m. @ Oliver's at Cozy Harbor Wharf  
We meet on the docks, where we are picked up in the lobster-style boat Harpoon by the awesome Betts family. Danielle Betts, the design manager at Knickerbocker Group, points out some amazing properties the group has worked on. We stop at a new restaurant called Oliver's in Cozy Harbor for ice cream (and of course, Derek gets a hot dog). Amazingly, Oliver's is a town-owned property that was redeveloped by Paul Coulombe as a gift for the town. It just opened this May. I love that this sort of community generosity still happens in Maine. This Sunday afternoon cruise is the perfect way to wrap up our trip, and as we drive south I suggest we trade in our car for a boat.