A Weekend on the Boothbay Peninsula
A trip to the villages of Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, and Southport gives weekend visitors a taste of the best that the coast has to offer.
Garden trolls and ocean preserves
Kick off your trip to the Boothbay region by stopping at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, a 148-acre property where visitors can walk along manicured trails, see special sections like the Children’s Garden, or wander through the woods to find the Guardians of the Seeds, giant wooden forest trolls built by Danish artist Thomas Dambø. As you continue south down the peninsula, make a pit stop at Oak Point Farm, a 32-acre preserve on Hodgdon Cove and the sole remaining undeveloped saltwater farm in Boothbay Harbor, which serves as the headquarters for the Boothbay Region Land Trust. The one-mile loop trail circumnavigates a freshwater pond while hugging the coastline and is dotted with numerous benches for relaxing and taking in the sights.
From there, make the short trip over to your lodging destination for the weekend, Powder Hill Farm Cottage, a chic getaway on the property of J Schatz Studio, ceramic studio and gallery owned and managed by Peter Souza and Jim Schatz. Settle in for the weekend in the refreshingly minimalist cottage filled with art from the couple’s personal collection, featuring an impressive book selection, and outfitted with incredible lamps and dinnerware from J Schatz.
After you head into town for dinner, be sure to order a cocktail on the deck at Coastal Prime, the restaurant at Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort. Make a point to take a quick walk down the road to snap a photo of the famous fisherman statue outside Brown’s Wharf Inn. It’s just a short drive over to East Boothbay for dinner at the Carriage House Restaurant, which has charming nautical decor and a friendly staff. If you are in the mood for a more casual meal, get provisions from the East Boothbay General Store and find a nice quiet spot next to the water to enjoy an evening picnic. Finish off the night by attending a show at the Opera House at Boothbay Harbor or a screening at Harbor Theater, a single-screen cinema known for showing independent and art house films.
Kayak excursions and craft beer
Enjoy a quick but delicious breakfast from bakery Farm 23, then head into downtown Boothbay Harbor to explore the waterfront and shops. Browse the extensive shelves at Sherman’s Maine Coast Bookshop, stop by Gimbel and Sons Country Store to find tasteful Maine gifts for family and friends, and let your eyes devour the extensive and whimsical wares of Enchantments, a shop where you can purchase everything from crystals to tarot cards to dragon statues. If you are looking to expand your garden or succulent collection, a visit to the Boothbay Region Greenhouses will set you up for success.
Now that you’re all shopped out, make your way to the Boothbay Harbor Footbridge to rent a kayak from Tidal Transit Kayak Company. Owner Travis Journagan and his staff will set you up with everything you need for a successful ocean excursion, from waterproof maps to personal flotation devices. Once you’re deemed seaworthy, paddle through Boothbay Harbor past McFarland and Tumbler Islands, and alight on the beach at Burnt Island, home to plenty of walking trails and the historic Burnt Island Light. If paddling isn’t your style but you still want to get out on the water, book a trip with Cabbage Island Clambakes, which takes you on a boat ride from Boothbay Harbor and to Cabbage Island for a traditional downeast clambake. Or, if you want to make a habit of boating around Boothbay Harbor, consider becoming a member of the Carefree Boat Club, which allows you to rent a boat from the member-only fleet whenever you’re in town.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, grab an overstuffed lobster roll from Shannon’s Unshelled lobster shack, order a beer from the Footbridge Brewery, and then wash it all down with a Belgian waffle treat from Wannawaf or something frozen from Downeast Ice Cream Factory. If you’re craving more nature walks, drive to Porter Preserve on Barters Island (accessible via bridge) for views of the Sheepscot River, or wander through Ovens Mouth Preserve, a 5.3-mile trail network on the shores of the Back River. Take in the intensely green, roiling tidal waters of the Back River from the pedestrian bridge over the narrow section of the river that connects the eastern and western sections of Oven’s Mouth Preserve.
Hungry again? Lucky for you it’s a short drive over to Boothbay Craft Brewery, where you can grab appetizers like a flaming artichoke dip or try their award-winning New England IPA, Thirsty Botanist. Now that your appetite is warmed up again, make a reservation for dinner at the Thistle Inn, a historic, upscale hotel in downtown Boothbay Harbor with four elegant dining rooms. Try the fresh herb salad followed by a plate of sirloin steak tips, paired with a bottle from the extensive wine menu. Other dinner options include casual favorites Brady’s and Ports Pizzeria, where you’re likely to rub elbows with numerous locals, or if you are in the mood for something a little more upscale, Ports of Italy or Taka Mediterranean Bar and Grill are sure to do the trick.
Coastal views and lighthouses
Enjoy your last morning in Boothbay with a hearty breakfast from local favorite Mama D’s Cafe, then set out to take in as many coastal views as possible before leaving town. Walk the trails at the Linekin and Burley Preserves in East Boothbay to catch a glimpse of the Damariscotta River, or drive all the way to the end of the peninsula to Ocean Point to do the famous Ocean Point Walk. Marked by a path along the rocky coastline that passes numerous gorgeous summer mansions, the walk provides some of the best ocean vistas in the entire Boothbay area, including dramatic waves crashing against the shore and a view of Ram Island and the Ram Island Ledge Light on the horizon.
If you want to learn more about the coast of Maine and the many creatures it’s home to, pay a visit to the Maine State Aquarium, which has two interactive touch tanks for petting and observing numerous species of fish and crustaceans. Just over the bridge in Southport, Robinson’s Wharf is a favorite among locals for its pub food and seafood market, which you can browse while looking out at the water. Make sure to drive down to the end of the peninsula to visit the Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm and Gift Shop for a farm tour and to purchase yarn made from alpaca wool. Drive up the west side of the island to the Southport General Store to buy locally made jewelry and art or pick up a snack before you head to Hendricks Head Light. Nearby, the Hendricks Head Hiking Trail is a short trek in the woods marked by incredibly lush, vibrant moss that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into Narnia.
On your way out of the Boothbay area, stop by Pinkham’s Gourmet Market or popular seafood shack Bet’s Fish Fry (which consistently sells out) for lunch. Consider paying a visit to the Railway Village Museum to see the extensive model railroad portraying Maine’s rail system from the 1950s and ’60s, or take a ride in a vintage train car pulled by a 100-year-old steam locomotive. Once you leave the peninsula, take the scenic route home, capping off the weekend with a visit to Oxbow Brewing Company in Newcastle to walk the trails while you sip a beer and reminisce about your jam-packed coastal adventures.