Photographs + stories by Maine + Maine Home+Design magazine staff
Growing up, my family took off to Prince Edward Island, Canada, every summer for our one-week, back-to-the-land camping trip. We would pack up the van the night before, not sleep a wink out of anticipation, and hit the road early to make the ten-hour drive through Maine up to the island. Bangor was always our first or last stop on those long road trips. It quickly became a destination in itself.For this trip, I pick up my good friend, Heidi, with a familiar feeling of excitement about reaching Bangor. This time, though, Bangor is our final destination.
Friday 3:00 p.m. Heidi’s house
Heidi says goodbye to Dobby, her adorable golden retriever puppy. Heidi is especially excited to visit Bangor for two reasons. The first is that she’s newly engaged, so every meal, trip, and shop will inspire her wedding. The second is that she’s originally from Minnesota, so she’s well versed in the ongoing debate between her home and adopted states about the true birthplace of Paul Bunyan.
5:00 p.m. @ Four Points by Sheraton Bangor Airport
We arrive to a kind note from director of sales Jana May, who wishes us an enjoyable time in Bangor. We freshen up and head downstairs to Godfrey’s Grille and Lounge to toast our weekend.
8:00 p.m. @ the Fiddlehead Restaurant
We arrive at the Fiddlehead Restaurant, and the dining room is warmly lit, humming with low conversations, and without an empty seat. The restaurant feels like a neighborhood spot, welcoming and familiar. Laura, the manager, has a lot to do with that. She greets and seats us, explaining a bit about how chef Mel Chaiken prepares the menu and from where the food is sourced. We order two cocktails and share the marinated and grilled asparagus and the crepes with mushrooms, gruyere, and truffle oil, savoring every flavor. Our meal lasts hours as we slowly work through our plates and catch up. We treat ourselves to dessert: the house ice cream of the day, chocolate oreo, and the torta di noci. The bar is full with what looks and sounds like friends gathering to celebrate the end of the workweekandthecompany of one another.
10:30 p.m. @ Nocturnem Draft Haus
After dinner, we walk down to Main Street to check out the Nocturnem Draft Haus. The bar is celebrating its fourth anniversary and is packed. Live music and dancing fill one room, and in the other, the bar is at least three people deep. This place is partying. We stay for the music until Monday- through-Friday exhaustion hits us. We grab a cab and head back to the hotel.
Saturday 8:00 a.m. @ Giacomo’s
We head to Giacomo’s for breakfast, more specifically, for the breakfast pizza highly recommended to us by a friend with a palate worth trusting. We share a hefty slice of the day’s special with mozzarella, egg, and ham, and order coffee. Heidi says it’s the best breakfast pizza she has ever had. If this place were open on Sundays, we would certainly be back.
10:00 a.m. @ University of Maine Museum of Art
Our visit to Bangor coincides with the University of Maine Museum of Art’s exhibition, Andy Warhol: Photographs and Screenprints. My art- historian and fan flags fly highwhenIseeafewof Warhol’s pieces that I have never seen before, including the silkscreen print Grapes, 1979.
11:30 a.m. @ Antique Marketplace & Cafe
Although we are still too full to grab a counter stool for a bite, Heidi and I wander through the aisles full of decades-old home furnishings, books, and jewelry. We emerge almost an hour later, fatigued from our trip through history and in need of an energy boost.
12:30 p.m. @ the Juice Cellar
Across the street, we spot the Juice Cellar, which is exactly what we need to refresh and recharge. Heidi and I order smoothies. While we wait, we notice they serve salads with a variety of options. We know we’re almost ready for lunch, but next up is the Maine Discovery Museum next door.
1:00 p.m. @ Maine Discovery Museum
Although Niles Parker, executive director of the Maine Discovery Museum, is away this weekend, we stop by to meet the rest of the team. Maine magazine and Love Maine Radio frequently partner with the museum to promote its events and programming. We meet Niles’s colleagues at the front desk and they wave us on to explore. Heidi and I have a blast, experiencing firsthand the quality and accessibility of the exhibitions. I should note that we used our manners and shared all the toys.
2:00 p.m. @ Blaze
We grab two seats at the bar, and Jake, the restaurant manager, welcomes us. I’m especially excited for lunch here as Blaze participated for the first time in this year’s Grand Tapas Party at the Kennebunkport Festival. We order the Winter Harvest pizza, a white ricotta pizza with baby spinach, roasted butternut squash, roasted apples, and goat cheese. We are in pure lunch bliss.
3:30 p.m. in downtown Bangor
Wanting to walk off our lunch, we set out to stroll. We stop into Blue Heron, a fine home design and gifts shop. Admiring their products, I decide on a canvas cosmetic bag for a friend’s birthday gift and a scented candle for my new apartment. We continue to pop in and out of shops, enjoying a quick rest in the Norumbega Parkway. At the Rock and Art Shop, Heidi finds a unique set of whiskey stones for her fiancé, and we both stock up on quirky greeting cards.
6:00 p.m. @ Five Points by Sheraton Bangor Airport
We regroup back at the hotel, take a quick break, and get ready for dinner. It’s raining now, and we are grateful it held off for our full day of sightseeing.
7:30 p.m. @ 11 Central
We jump out of the cab and open the doors to 11 Central. The restaurant is full. We squeeze in at the bar to enjoy a cocktail before our dinner reservation nearby. The energy in the restaurant is high as people continue to pour in to an already full house.
8:15 p.m. @ Massimo’s Cucina Italiana
The kitchen features Roman cooking, which tastes like home to me. Husband and wife duo Massimo and Anne Marie Ranni take their time with each guest, Anne Marie at the front of the restaurant, and Massimo at the tables. After dinner, Heidi and I move to the bar for dessert and stay until after the restaurant closes. Tonight is special for me as I get to speak Italian with Massimo and reminisce about living in Italy, all while enjoying his and Anne Marie’s generous hospitality.
Sunday 9:30 a.m. @ the Paul Bunyan statue
We take our bagels and coffees from Bagel Central and head out to find Paul Bunyan. When we see it, we’re shocked— the statue is enormous. I walk back to the edge of the curb to take Heidi’s photo, hoping to get Paul, in his entirety, in the frame with Heidi. I am not very successful. He stands too tall in all his woodsman glory.
11:00 a.m. @ the Bangor Farmers’ Market at the Sea Dog Brewing Co.
We are a few weeks early for Bangor’s outdoor farmers’ market, but Heidi and I don’t mind since this gives us an excuse to head to Sea Dog Brewing Co. We take our time walking through the fresh produce, baked goods, cheeses, meats, and teas from over a dozen local farmers and vendors.
12:00 p.m. on the waterfront
The waterfront is bustling with people walking their dogs and soaking up the sunshine. Heidi and I join them on the lawn. We hope to make it back up for a concert at Darling ’s Waterfront Pavilion.
2:00 p.m. @ Dysart’s
I pull out my phone and send a photo of just the corner of the iconic green and white sign to my sisters with the message, “Where am I?” Their responses are immediate. “Get pie!” “I’m so jealous!” and “DYSART’S!” Dysart’s was often our Bangor stop on the return trip from Prince Edward Island each summer. Inside, the memories from summers past flood over me. I wish I could pluck my sisters from each of their adult lives and drop them at the table with me for one last summer camping trip, ending at Dysart’s. For now, I introduce Heidi to its famous pie, creating a new memory at Dysart’s and 48 hours worth of memories from Bangor.