November 2014 Heidi Kirn, Art Director, Maine Home + Design
I sweep my kids, Lily and Charlie, swiftly off the school bus and we hit the highway. We have never spent time in Bangor before, so we are all looking forward to exploring this historic city. As we cruise north, we are quickly enveloped in bright fall foliage that gets more electric the farther we go.
6:30 p.m. @ Blaze
I am anxious to see the recently renovated space of the 133-year- old building—I have seen photos that Ervin Architecture submitted to Maine Home+Design’s upcoming architecture issue. The bar itself is reclaimed wood with an amazing hand-cut floral pattern that is against a glowing red wall, which creates an instantly cozy vibe. The restaurant is hopping on this Friday evening, and we are hit with the intoxicating smell of wood-fired pizza that spills out of the open kitchen. The menu features everything from salads to duck fat fries. The kids order a crispy gourmet pizza and a panini with fries. My crab risotto is topped with perfectly grilled scallops. Everything is delightful.
8:00 [email protected] Penobscot Theatre
The historic opera house, built around 1920, is just a quick walk up the street from Blaze. The façade was restored in the winter of 2008 and a replica of the original marquee was put in place. It is magnificently lit and sets the stage for the treat we have in store. The show, a country musical called Honky Tonk Angels, was a real hoot!
11:00 [email protected] The Lucerne Inn
We had called ahead to let them know we would be arriving late (and tired). We are delighted to find our comfortable suite awaiting us and do not waste any time falling asleep.
8:00 a.m. @ The Lucerne Inn
We wake up to a surprise; we had no idea what a treat it would be to look out of our window to a stunning view of layered mountains in the distance behind Phillips Lake. We walk over to the 200-year- old main building and enjoy a continental breakfast of fruit, cereal, and yogurt. The inn is the original structure from the 1800s and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We take a short walk on the Lake Path behind the inn and enjoy the mountain views and fall air.
10:30 [email protected] Raegamuffin’s Bakery
We are delighted to discover that there is a gluten and nut-free bakery in Veazie, a short drive from downtown Bangor. The moment we enter, I’m struck by the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread. The choices are overwhelming: French bread, bagels, pastries, doughnuts, and cookies. We decide to order some doughnuts. Qualey Granite & Quartz showroom is next door, offering hundreds of granite slabs. Owner Matt Qualey has offered us a tour of the showroom and a ride in the 18-wheeler that they use to transport slabs of granite tomorrow. Sadly, we have to take a rain check. Next time!
11:30a.m. @ University of Maine Museum of Art
The museum is located in an historical building in downtown Bangor—plus, it has free admission. Lily and Charlie are given scavenger hunt clues. They head off to explore and find pieces of artwork, including Marc Chagall and Rene Magritte, while I enjoy the last day of the Maya Brodsky exhibit.
12:30 p.m. @ BookMarcs Bookstore
This locally owned bookstore is in a beautifully curved historic building on the corner of Harlow Street. They have a great selection of both new and used books, including a large section of Maine authors and local history.
1:00p.m. @Verve + the Maine Discovery Museum
We stop to get some lunch in Verve, a fresh-looking burrito shop in a renovated nineteenth- century building downtown. They have bagels from Bagel Central, which Charlie enjoys with a freshly made fruit smoothie. Lily and I decide on burrito bowls with brown rice, vegetarian black beans, and housemade pineapple salsa. We sit in front of the large windows and watch as streams of children enter the Maine Discovery Museum across the street. We stop in after lunch and learn that they offer eight major exhibits, including an animal exhibit and a dino dig, as well as daily education programs.
2:00 p.m. in Downtown Bangor
After lunch we are ready to stroll through town and do some shopping. First we stop in Antique Marketplace and Cafe. It is huge with two floors of organized collectibles and antiques. Next we hit Epic Sports, which has everything you would need for camping, sports, and outdoor adventures like SUP or running. The kids enjoy crawling into the tents as I try on backpacks. We wander across the street to Mexicali Blues, where some Grateful Dead is pumping through the speakers. We peruse through bohemian clothing, incense, jewelry, and gifts. On the way back to the car we make a stop in The Briar Patch, a darling little children’s toy and bookshop. Charlie has his eye on some hand puppets.
3:30 p.m. @ the Bangor Public Library
We stop at the impressive brick and stone neoclassical building for a photo and to marvel at the amazing architecture.
4:00p.m. @ Stephen King’s house
We admire the architecture as we wind through some residential streets on the way to author Stephen King’s house. When we arrive at the Victorian home we see the famous spider web gates with bats on top of the fence posts.
4:45 p.m. @ State St. Wine Cellar
I never know what kind ofwinetobuysoIstop in here hoping they can recommend a bottle to have on hand to enjoy with an impromptu cheese platter when guests stop by. The staff is fantastic and patient, and I leave with great selections.
5:30 p.m. @ 11 Central
The comfortable and friendly atmosphere are just what we need after a long day of sightseeing. Lily and I enjoy a delicious Caesar salad with shaved Parmesan cheese and lovely garlicky dressing. Our server, Meghan, informs me that any of the entrees can be served over a bed of kale or rice to make them gluten- free. Generally we skip dessert at restaurants due to the severity of allergies, but Meghan has alerted owner Ann Marie, who comes out from the kitchen to explain that she makes all of the desserts herself. Reassured, we order a tasty carrot cake to share.
8:00 a.m. @ Lucerne Inn
Lily is feeling a bit under the weather, so we take the morning to relax, read, and enjoy our room with a view. There is a wedding setting up on the lawn below. We had planned a walk in the 680 acres of Bangor City Forest, but that will have to wait until next time we are in the area.
11:00 a.m. @ Bagel Central
We are told this is a local favorite on Sunday mornings. Known for great bagels, this casual eatery also offers breakfast, prepared salads, and many gluten- free options, including sandwiches that can be made on gluten-free bread.
12:30p.m. @ Rock and Art Shop
Lily and Charlie both fall in love with this unique store, where you can find all manner of things bizarre and beautiful. Curiosities like scorpion necklaces, beetles in tubes, and taxidermy animals are displayed next to beautiful precious rocks, art, and gifts.
1:00p.m. @ Bangor Wine and Cheese Co.
There is an amazing selection of wine, beer, and cheese, as well a tasting bar with Fiore olive oils and vinegars. The staff is eager to help me on my mission of stocking up on wine for impromptu gatherings. As we leave, I spot Massimo’s Cucina Italiana next door. I’ve heard that this Italian restaurant is a must-visit. They are closed today, so no gelato for us.
2:00p.m. @Paul Bunyan Statue
No trip to Bangor would be complete without a drive by of the giant statue! We wave goodbye as we hit the highway home.