Summer Staycation Guide
Summer in Maine is short and sweet. Get out there and enjoy it.
Warmer days and nights, evenings spent around the fire sipping drinks with friends and sharing a few laughs, day trips and weekend getaways filled with discovery—that’s a perfect way to spend summer in Maine.
Yet with so many incredible opportunities for enjoyment that are just around every corner in Maine, it can be a challenge to choose the right place to go and the perfect things to do when you get there. So we decided to a little research in order to help you get the most out of the halcyon days of summer in Maine, with a suggestion for what to do and where to eat in six noteworthy destinations. We hope you’ll refer to this mini staycation guide as you explore the magic that waits for you just down the road.
Marginal Way is a beloved local landmark that winds along Ogunquit’s craggy shoreline, connecting the quaint enclave of Perkins Cove to Ogunquit Beach. No visit to this summertime destination is complete without a stroll along the mile-long path, which was donated to the town in 1925 and maintained through the generosity of locals and visitors. Another must is a visit to the Ogunquit Museum of America Art, where the permanent collection includes works by artists associated with the area’s early twentieth-century art colonies. Of special interest this season are an exhibit of drawings and paintings by celebrated American artist Lois Dodd, and “This Side of Paradise: American Artists of the Paris Salon,” which features paintings, books, and archival materials. The grounds of the museum offer ocean views and lush gardens to explore.
Northern Union | 261 Shore Rd. This wine-focused restaurant is a dream come true for owners Matt and Lauren Wickert. They’ve created a chic and welcoming space within an old house, providing a convivial atmosphere for drinks and seasonally inspired small plates, snacks, and entrees from chef Romann Dumorne, who brings creativity and passion to every dish. Experienced staff can guide you through the lengthy and well-curated wine list, but the cocktails are outstanding, too
For more than 50 years, the Yarmouth Clam Festival has drawn thousands of people to this community on the third weekend of July. It begins on Friday with a memorable parade (this year’s theme is “Totally 80’s”) and includes a craft show, juried fine art show, live music, carnival rides and games, firefighters’ muster, a clam-shucking contest, and a five-mile road race. The biggest attraction, however, is the food. From booths set up in front of the municipal building and elsewhere in town, volunteers serve fried clams, shore dinners, lobster and crab rolls, strawberry shortcake, and the signature drink of the festival, lime rickeys. It’s a small town tradition and a quintessential Maine experience.
Gather | 189 Main St. Gather offers a warm welcome to all who seek great food in a friendly, casual atmosphere. There’s something for everyone on the farm-to-table menu that includes pizza with unusual toppings, seasonal salads, burgers with crispy fries, seafood preparations, and inspired vegetarian options. A large communal table in the center of the room invites socializing for larger groups. Sunday brunch at Gather is a delicious way to catch up with friends.
The drive down the Boothbay peninsula is well worth it for the myriad activities this scenic region has to offer in the summertime. Fan favorites include browsing the specialty shops, going for a boat ride, visiting the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and taking in a show at the Opera House. We like to get off the well-traveled path by exploring the trails of the Boothbay Region Land Trust. The more than 30 miles of trails are free and pet-friendly, and most are easy to moderate to navigate. The Porter Preserve trail winds along the southern tip of Barters Island, passing through old-growth forest. There are several spots with benches for taking in scenic views of the Sheepscot and Back Rivers, and even a small beach for a cooling dip on a hot day.
The Thistle Inn | 55 Oak St. A local institution, the Thistle Inn is today better than ever. The rustic, coastal ambiance is comfortable, and the updated menu includes expertly prepared dishes such as scallops with risotto and grilled Caesar salad. The historic inn houses a cozy pub with a lighter menu, and the big patio, shaded by trees strung with lights, is everyone’s favorite spot in warmer weather.
Belfast is still a working-harbor town, but it has come a long way from the days when chicken and sardines were processed along the waterfront. Now the Belfast Harbor Walk extends from the Armistice footbridge at one end of the harbor to the Belfast Boathouse, passing parks and waterside event venues along its half-mile length. Follow a Harbor Walk stroll with a stop at the funky beer garden behind Three Tides and Marshall Wharf Brewing Company. Furnished with a mix of flea-market finds and warmed by an industrial furnace repurposed as an outdoor fireplace, the waterside spot is ideal for slurping down a few Pemaquid oysters, accompanied by one of Marshall Wharf’s distinctive brews.
Chase’s Daily | 96 Main St. Chase’s Daily is a landmark restaurant, bakery, market, and art gallery with a genuine farm-to-plate method, owned and run by multiple generations of the Chase clan. Dinner is served only on Friday nights, so be sure to reserve your place at the table early. The menu is vegetarian, but customers reportedly have eaten whole meals without realizing this, because the flavors are so full and fresh.
At the tip of Deer Isle, picturesque Stonington was named for the granite that is still quarried here. Home to the largest lobster fishing fleet in Maine, Stonington also draws artists and visitors who appreciate its remote beauty and relative quiet. Just outside of town is the 100-acre Crockett Cove Woods Preserve, donated to the Nature Conservancy by the late architect, artist, and environmentalist Emily Muir. The dense tree cover of the preserve traps the ocean mist, creating a magical “fog forest” lushly carpeted with moss, ferns, and lichen.
Aragosta | 27 Main St. Dining at Aragosta is an ultimate Maine experience in food and ambiance. Chef and owner Devin Finigan showcases the freshest ingredients from the harbor and nearby farms, changing the menu on a whim. We highly recommend the signature butter-poached lobster ravioli when it’s available. Mirroring the attention to detail present in all of Finigan’s cooking is the wine list, the result of collaboration between her and the front-of-the-house staff.