Belgrade Lakes

A vacation from a vacation. Our time in Belgrade Lakes is a welcome weekend of relaxation after a ten-day whirlwind tour of Spain.

Friday 2:45 p.m. on the road

My husband Byron has to work until the end of the day but this doesn’t stop me from jumping in the car and heading up I-95 north to begin our Belgrade discovery.

4:30 p.m. @ The Village Inn and Tavern

Over the winter, energetic new owners Kate Beales and Heather Pena spent countless hours renovating the public areas and rooms. They say they still have work to do, but I feel instantly at home. Heather shows me to my room, which is a comfortable two- bedroom suite overlooking the water.

5:15 p.m. @ Day’s Store

I take a short walk down Main Street to Day’s Store to pass the time and check out this iconic village market. I walk in and fall in love with the place. The market has everything you need to enjoy your time in Belgrade: gifts, produce, fresh-cut meats, fishing licenses, pizza, and all kinds of Maine- made treats. I strike up a conversation with Diane Oliver and her daughter Melissa, who are third- and fourth-generation owners. Since this is also an agency liquor store I grab a bottle of vodka and Melissa recommends I accompany it with a jar of Cornville- based Ass Over Teakettle’s Bloody Mary mix.

6:30 p.m. @ The Village Inn and Tavern

Byron is stuck in traffic on the interstate. I make good use of the time by mixing up a Bloody, grabbing my book, and sitting on the balcony that overlooks the lake.

8:00 p.m. @ The Village Inn and Tavern

When I emailed Byron that we were staying at the Village Inn, within minutes he called me at the office and asked, “Have you seen their menu?” We are not disappointed. As we’re deciding on our meals Kate and Heather join us for a cocktail. Kate’s family lives in the area and when the inn went on the market she cajoled Heather into running it. Our meals arrive and we are blown away— we start with oysters Rockefeller and lobster and corn fritters, followed by grilled rack of lamb and the 12-hour roast duck, a dish the inn is famous for. After a terrific meal and great conversation, we are ready to call it a night and head back to the room.

Saturday 7:30 a.m. @ Sunset Grill

The sun has risen and so have we. We get dressed and walk ourselves through the still sleepy town to Sunset Grill for breakfast. I eat a gargantuan omelet with homemade raisin bread and Byron tucks into a scrambled egg and ham concoction. We leave fueled for the day.

9:00 a.m. on Great Pond

Kate and Heather offered their canoe to us so we could paddle our way into and around Great Pond. The sun is glistening off the calm waters and we hug the shoreline, touring the many camps that ring the lake. The cries of the loons bring smiles to our faces. We look up to spy a large nest and find ourselves mesmerized by a number of baby osprey spreading their wings and soaring on the gentle breeze. As we watch in wonder we both begin to feel an almost magnetic pull to this place.

11:00 a.m. @ Gagne & Son

We get back to the inn and grab the car keys because I have to take Byron on a trip to Gagne & Son. This family- owned company makes a large variety of hardscape and masonry products and I have a project in mind for our Portland home. We fall for the outdoor pizza oven that’s on display, but leave with dreams and another project on our to-do list.

12:00 p.m. on Route 27

We grab our bikes and head out for a ride along the hills of Route 27—we are training for the Trek Across Maine and need to get our legs in shape. We stop at the “Welcome to Rome” sign and I snap a picture of Byron, who immediately sends it to our daughter Emily, who is in Rome, Italy.

1:45 p.m. @ The Barn Sale

Showered and refreshed, we hop in the car and decide to take a drive around the area to drink in all there is to see. On Route 27, just outside Rome, we stop at the Barn Sale. Owned by Jamie Thomas, this side-of-the- road antiques stand is brimming with all kinds of items—from heirloom teacups and ephemera to newer handcrafted birdhouses. We pick up a birdhouse with a roof made from a Maine license plate for Byron’s mom and head off on our drive.

2:30p.m. @ Olde Post Office Cafe

The road leads us to Mount Vernon, where we stop at the Olde Post Office Cafe. We meet Jay Ducharme, who tells us about the business’s summer plans— live music on the water on a newly built stage just behind the cafe. The menu is perfect for us at this time of day and we grab our wraps—Cobb salad and lemon chicken—and walk around back to eat by the lake.

3:15 p.m. @ Mount Vernon

During our drive to Mount Vernon we noticed a sign that points out Blueberry Hill. We turn in on the drive back and are very glad we do. As we crest the rise we’re absolutely blown away by the view of the lakes. The word spectacular does not do this view justice.

4:30 p.m. @ Pine Bluff Farms Farm Store

Sandy Wiles, daughter of the owner, tells us how the store specializes in local meats, fresh raw milk and eggs, homemade baked goods, and Maine-made crafts and specialty foods. We buy some applewood- smoked Maine sea salt.

5:15p.m. @ Belgrade Lakes Golf Club

While neither of us is a golfer we were told by many friends that no visit to the area is complete without a stop at the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club. We’re greeted by golf pro Andy Sibbald, who introduces us to Kyle Evans, the club’s managing partner. We order up a few martinis and make our way onto the deck to look at the course and phenomenal view. Designed by “Whispering” Clive Clark, this course is a property to behold.

6:15 p.m. @ The Village Inn and Tavern

We make a quick stop back at the inn, where a Kentucky Derby party is in full swing in the newly renovated downstairs bar and lounge. We arrive just in time to watch the race. Afterward we strike up a conversation with Polly Beatie, one of the owners of Among the Lakes Bed and Breakfast, who tells us how happy she is that Kate and Heather are working so hard on the Inn. The excited energy at this party certainly supports her comment.

8:00 p.m. @ Wings Hill Inn and Restaurant

Wings Hill Inn and Restaurant is a short walk from where we’re staying. Chef Chris Anderson, who is also one of the inn’s owners, greets us and hands us our menus as he heads off to open our wine—this is a BYOB establishment and we come prepared with a bottle of red wine from Day’s Store. We make some difficult decisions from the evening’s prix fixe choices. Prepared with skill and joy, our meal is amazing. As he serves us, chef Anderson tells us about the inn and the occasional sighting of a friendly ghost. Afterward we take a leisurely walk back to the Village Inn.

Sunday 8:30 a.m. @ Day’s Store

Since Byron and I are both early risers we feel as though we’ve slept in and leap out of bed. The sun is up, the air is warming, and we have more ground to cover. We head to Day’s and pick up two delicious breakfast sandwiches. As we eat we realize the view of the lake from where we are sitting combines with the crisp morning air to contribute to the deliciousness.

9:30 a.m. @ French Mountain

Melissa from Day’s suggests we hike up French Mountain Trail. Just off Watson Pond Road, this trail leads to the top of French Mountain. We sit several minutes to take it all in and wish we had gotten up early enough to enjoy the sunrise from here. Next time.

10:45 a.m. on the road

We decide to take an old-fashioned Sunday drive along some winding side roads. On this weekend journey, we have felt transported away from the busy pace of daily life into a place where time moves slowly and we are able to relax and savor each moment. We talk about how the best way to enjoy the area is to spend as much time as possible outdoors, hiking, cycling, boating, and visiting the local shops and restaurants. We leave nothing behind but our footprints and take home memories and new friendships.

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