48 Hours in Sebago Lake

A summertime paradise for boaters, fishermen, and campers, Maine’s second-largest lake offers myriad opportunities for fun and relaxation on and off the water.

Lakefront living and local seafood

Mainers and visitors to our state tend to fall into two camps: ocean people and lake people. I have long been one of the former, so I am excited to be exploring unfamiliar territory this weekend. Pulling into the driveway at Sebago Lake Lodge and Cottages in Standish, I’m pleased to discover that even though the idyllic, old-fashioned resort is just a short distance from busy Route 302, it feels remote. My friend Connie (also an ocean person) and I check into our lakefront, white clapboard cottage, appropriately named the Lakehouse, and decide that the two rockers on the screened front porch overlooking the resort’s boat docks will make a perfect spot for coffee in the morning. The cottage has a full kitchen, and we’ve already stocked up on coffee, wine, and snacks at the Good Life Market in Raymond.

It’s a little early for dinner, so we stop for a drink at A La Mexicana, a lively Mexican restaurant housed in a shiny silver diner in Raymond. On stools at the counter we sip huge, delicious margaritas and nibble on warm tortilla chips with salsa, tempted to stay but also wanting to try the new taproom at Bob’s Seafood in Windham. The recently opened addition to the longtime seafood market has an industrial-rustic look, and our fried oyster platter and fish tacos are excellent.

Back at the lake, other guests have lit a fire in the big outdoor fireplace; they invite us to join them for s’mores. The full moon shining on the water and the call of the loons make it an especially memorable night.

Breakfasting like locals and inspiring shopping

Steaming mugs of coffee in our hands, Connie and I watch early-morning boat traffic on the lake while we plan our day. The first stop, heartily recommended by my colleague, online editor Shelbi Wassick, is Chute’s Family Restaurant in Windham. The cheerful, homey place, owned by Maila Stevens for 35 years, is clearly a local favorite. Soon we’re tucking into an overflowing plate of Hobo Hash—hash browns, broccoli, and bacon—topped with two poached eggs, plus an order of Finnish French toast scented with cardamom and almond. All the breads are homemade, and the raspberry butter that comes with our French toast is a delicious bonus.

Well fueled for the day, we stop in next at Half Moon Home Decor and Design Studio. Owner Mindy Zink offers classes in painting furniture with Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan, which she stocks along with a charming mix of vintage and new items. Our next stop is My Sister’s Garage in Windham, where Jennifer and Sarah Tringali creatively display salvaged and repurposed furniture and home decor, as well as clothing and jewelry. We wander through the curated rooms finding lots of inspiration for our own homes.

Outdoor adventures and ice cream

Wanting to get outside, we check out Sebago Lake State Park, where families have set up camp for the day along the narrow beach. We drive up to the top of Hacker’s Hill Preserve in Casco, which has a 360-degree view of Sebago Lake and the White Mountains, including still-snowcapped Mount Washington. Owned by Loon Echo Land Trust, the 27-acre property is perfect for picnicking, but we are still stuffed from breakfast. Instead, we head to the lakeside campus of Saint Joseph’s College in Standish to take one of the bucolic trails down to the waterfront, where a circle of Adirondack chairs invites us to sit for a moment by the breeze-ruffled water. We think we just might be able to find a little room for ice cream, and The Mosquito in Raymond has been highly recommended. My lemon meringue pie in a sugar cone is delightful, and Connie is just as over the moon with her mint chocolate chip.

Party time on the lake

It’s the annual Maine Blues Festival weekend in fun-loving Naples, but we’ve managed to snag a reservation at Freedom Cafe and Pub, recommended by my colleague, director of finance and administration Melissa Olander, who lives near the lake. First, we take a seat at the upstairs bar for rum punches at Rick’s Cafe, a rollicking Naples hangout since 1985. From our perch on the restaurant’s second-floor porch, we watch the red and white Songo River Queen II, a replica of a Mississippi River paddle wheeler, pull away from her berth.

It’s an easy stroll to Freedom Cafe, where the post-and-beam bar is packed with festival attendees listening to a blues band. Owner Darryl Murray has kindly reserved us a table on the quieter back deck overlooking the water. We start with roasted Brussels sprouts drizzled with balsamic glaze; Connie opts for the lobster Cobb salad while I can’t resist a juicy cut of prime rib. We end another beautiful Sebago Lake night back at our cottage, sipping chilled rosé on the porch.

A quiet paddle and a noteworthy brunch

With little boat traffic this morning, the lake is like glass, making it a good time to take the resort’s sit-on-top kayaks out for a paddle. We glide across to the other side of the basin and explore a quiet inlet ringed with high-end lake homes; the only sound is our paddles dipping in and out of the water.

It’s hard to leave Sebago Lake Lodge and Cottages, but we’re hungry for brunch. For most of the weekend, we have roamed the eastern side of the lake; now we’re headed to the quieter western side. Sportsman’s Kitchen and Keg in Sebago is tucked into Long Beach, a lakeside community of small cottages and camps. The Severino family owns both the restaurant, now in its second season, and Sebago West Shore Cottages. The cottages, located behind the restaurant, are arranged around a lawn with a firepit and corn hole. It’s started to drizzle, so we forgo a table on the front deck for a seat inside the warm and rustic restaurant. The breakfast pizza—scrambled eggs, a creamy blend of cheeses, spinach, and grape tomatoes—is excellent, as is the Sportsman’s Benedict, with lobster, spinach, tomato, and perfect hollandaise sauce. The rain is a good indicator that it’s time to head home, but having dipped a toe into the water of Sebago Lake, I’m leaving with the knowledge that there’s more to explore in this freshwater paradise.