Saco + Biddeford
48HRS, The Online-Only Edition – Februrary 2014
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Sarah Prak, Graphic Designer at The Brand Company
I wait with anticipation in my Portland apartment for my boyfriend Brandon to get home from work so we can beat the 5 o’clock traffic. We quickly pack our bags and hit the road. We’re driving just 20 miles south to a place known as Sunny Saco, or as I like to call it, my hometown. I was born and raised in Saco/Biddeford and I am excited to return to explore the new and revisit the old.
5:30 p.m. @ Hampton Inn
The hotel is conveniently located right off I-95 and we pull in with ease. When we check in we are greeted with a warm welcome. We open the doors to a newly renovated room—perfectly dressed in modern decor, with two comfortable queen sized beds and mountains of soft pillows. I settle in and rest up as Brandon creeps down to the lobby to grab us some hot chocolate and delicious chocolate chip cookies.
6:00 p.m. @ The Run of the Mill
We squeeze through the crowded pub and meet with managers Justin Kurz and Rebecca Lemieux and get a quick tour of the brewery while we wait to be seated. The mill has over 21 different types of housebrews and aims to have seven on tap at all times. The tour ends quickly and we are seated. Brandon and I contemplate ordering “the paddle”, a three-ounce sampler of the seven beers. Instead, we both go for the 20 oz glass, I get the Red Ale and he gets the porter. The beer cheese soup is a must-order item, and it is different every day. Today, they used their cream ale and goat cheese. I order the roasted pumpkin and gorgonzola risotto and Brandon, being the meat lover he is, orders the rib eye steak with veggies. We leave the pub satisfied.
8:00 p.m. @ The Oak + The Ax
“Hi, I’m Greef…I’m from Portland…this is my second show…I hope it’s not annoying,” says opening act artist Pete Sweegart of Butcherboy. Despite Greef’s disclaimer, I loved every moment of the show. The space is a hidden jewel, tucked behind Bebe’s Burritos in Biddeford. It is full of character, equipped with an eclectic ensemble of art and ornaments and Christmas lights. Brandon and I each order one of their sake-infused drinks and enjoy the rest of the show with performances by Herships + Hill and Meaghan Yates.
11:30 p.m. @ Rapid Rays
We hop back into the car and stop by Rapid Ray’s, a 1950’s style burger joint to grab some grub. Brandon orders “The Big One,” a double cheeseburger loaded with the works. I order a simple clam burger with a smear of tartar sauce. We bring our late night goodies back to the hotel and rest up for tomorrow’s adventures.
10:00 a.m. @ Hampton Inn
We wake up to a warm beautiful November morning. I call my high school friend Kenney Dao to see if he’s up to get some brunch at The Chef & The Gardener, but to our dismay they’re not open until noon.
10:30 a.m. @ Elements Coffee, Books, Beer
Kenney suggests that we grab some coffee at Elements in Biddeford while we wait. They serve coffee and tea from Bard, house a great selection of microbrews, and sell lots and lots of books. We get Chai tea lattes and seat ourselves comfortably at the bar.
11:30 a.m. @ Engine Art Gallery
Next door is the Engine Art Gallery. The space is astounding and plays host to many different ventures. They have live music, comedy, art exhibits, classes, house two MakerBots, and much more. We check out the current exhibit: “Past, Present, and Future” featuring the works of Rimer Cardillo, Fritz Drury, and Elinore Hollinshead. Out back an adult printmaking class is in session and we are invited to take a peek. Students looked like they were really enjoying this creative hobby.
12:15 p.m. @ The Chef & The Gardener
We make our way back to Saco for lunch. The restaurant is incredibly cute and cozy. They emphasize on fresh local ingredients and the menu accommodates vegan diets. I start off with the baked brie and fig, followed by the herb gnocchi. Everything was very tasty and we leave happy.
1:30 p.m.@ Diamond Riverside Park
We take a short stroll through Diamond Park. As a child this place felt unsettling to me, as if somebody was always watching me. Now that I am back, things have changed, and I can appreciate this spot more. We go by the park and head towards the trail, ending up at the black bridge, an old railroad bridge that connects Biddeford to Saco. We say our goodbyes to Kenney and part ways.
2:00 p.m. @ Main Street
We continue our adventure back on Main St. Biddeford with a little window-shopping. We pop in Music Plus, a store that specializes in vinyl records and boy, do they have an eclectic selection! We browse the store until it is time for our 2:30 brewery tour. On the way to the Banded Horn, we notice a little hot dog cart with a bright red sign that said Perry’s Sidewalk Cafe. We order an iced tea and make our way to the tour.
2:30 p.m. @ The Banded Horn Brewing Company
The Banded Horn Brewing Company is located in one of the historic Pepperell Mill buildings. We meet with founder Ian McConnell and brewer Ron Graves. This is the first brewery to open up in Biddeford, and I was very excited to see something like this pop up. We get a quick run down of how beer is made and the story of how they started The Banded Horn Brewery and talk graphic design nonsense.
3:00 p.m. @ Motorland
Our next stop was the North Dam Mill and we discover Motorland, a classic car showroom. I didn’t know anything like this existed in Biddeford—this hidden gem is a happy surprise. We take a peek at all the antique cars outside, but we’re hesitant to go inside as we were unsure of their hours. We peek inside and are welcomed in. We walk around the showroom with amazement. This is definitely a unique destination that celebrates American autos, from the antique cars to the collectibles, have a massive collection of 20th century cars. We meet with Tim Stentiford, and he gives us the tour of a lifetime.
4:00 p.m. @ Biddeford Pool
We drive toward Biddeford Pool to catch the sunset and the gibbous moon. At the very tip end of Biddeford Pool, is the East Point Sanctuary, also known as The Bird Sanctuary. The walk is short but breathtaking. We soak up the views of the sunset on one end and the almost-full moon on the other. We did not see any birds but I was not troubled at all.
5:30 p.m. @ Hampton Inn
We make a pit stop at Madden Beverage to grab a bottle of wine to sip on while we rest up at the hotel and get ready for dinner.
7:30 p.m. @ Thai ME
We decide to have thai food at Thai ME in Biddeford. This is my go to place when I crave Thai food. Brandon and I both get the Thai Yellow curry and a few appetizers to settle our cravings.
9:40 p.m. @ Saco Cinemagic IMAX
We catch a movie at the Saco Cinemagic Theater IMAX. It was a perfect and relaxing way to end our busy and exhausting day.
9:30 a.m. @ Saco Heath Preserve
We meet up with Brandon’s mom Lynne for a nice morning hike. This place looks totally different in the fall. I felt like a giant walking through a short scene of Dr.Seuss’s The Loraxwith all the Truffula Trees blooming.
12:00 p.m. @ Way Way Store
“I’m going to the store Way Way out there…” is what folks from the late 20’s used to say when heading out to this formal gas station. That is how the place got its name. Today it is a candy and ice cream shop that was reopened by husband and wife Peter and Bridget Scontras. Inside, it feels like you’ve step back in time. The shelves are stocked with memorabilia from the era. This is a place not to miss when you want penny candy.
2:30 p.m. @ Los Tapatios Mexican Restaurant
After checking out the downtown for lunch options, we end up at Los Tapitios. We start off with giant sangrias and margaritas. For lunch, I order La Favorita, which consists of a tostaguac, special burrito, and enchilada. The entrees are huge and authentic.
3:45 p.m. @ Home
My work for the week in Saco/Biddeford comes to an end, but I can’t leave Saco without visiting my family. We relax and catch up over a cup of coffee and reminisce about my youth here in Sunny Saco.