48 Hours in Belgrade
The chain of seven lakes and ponds surrounding Belgrade is the area’s biggest draw, especially during the summer months, when the town’s population doubles with seasonal residents who have discovered its quiet beauty.
Before my husband, Erik, and I arrive in town, we head to the Blueberry Hill scenic overlook for panoramic views of Great and Long Ponds. We take photographs and breathe in the fresh mountain air as we start our relaxing weekend.
As the sun begins to set, we head to The Village Inn and Tavern on the shore of Great Pond, our home for the weekend. One of the owners, Kate Beales, greets us and shows us around the property. She leads us to a beautifully appointed country-village-style room that has a balcony overlooking Great and Long Ponds.
The Tavern’s dining room is modern, but it still has a lodge-like feel that gives us a sense of its long history. The Village Inn first opened in 1921 as the Locusts House. We are seated by the water, and we order rhubarb martinis and almond-crusted duck tenders to start. We heard that the Village Inn and Tavern is known for its 12-hour roast duck, which was introduced to the menu in 1962. I order one with a wild Maine blueberry sauce, and Erik orders the skillet-crusted diver scallops. After dinner we walk down to the water and listen to the waves and tree frogs.
Morning hike and village walks
We wake up and walk to Hello Good Pie for fresh Maine blueberry muffins and breakfast sandwiches. Outside the bakery, we sit and listen to the birds on the first real summer day of the season. After breakfast we visit the 7 Lakes Alliance at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. We meet Laura Rose Day, president and CEO of the Alliance, and Amy Soper, director of the Milfoil Courtesy Boat Inspection Program, which aims to reduce the spread of invasive aquatic plants by inspecting boats, trailers, and other equipment before they enter and after they leave the water. Day and Soper lead us on an hour-and- a-half hike up French Mountain, which features breathtaking views of the well-preserved lakes and forestland.
As we head back into town, we decide to explore the village. We stop by the Belgrade Lakes Cotton Company and buy two comfy sweatshirts to commemorate our weekend. We make a quick stop into Lakepoint Real Estate to meet Dan McCarron and his team while we admire the cozy log-cabin style offices. We learned that they offer amazing homes for purchase or rent around the region, and we dream about having a lakeside cottage of our own. We then make our way over to Happy Girl. This cute boutique shop has a mix of vintage clothing and furniture, lake-themed souvenirs, and crafts made by local female artisans. I purchase a hat that reads “Lake Girl” and wear it all day.
Lunch and boating
Hungry for lunch, we stop by Sunset Grille and take a seat on the back deck under the shade of an umbrella. We sip on iced tea and take in the summer breeze while noshing on fried scallops and a fresh summer salad topped with Maine lobster. We learn that no visit to the village of Belgrade is complete until you walk through Day’s Store and grab an ice cream cone from Lakeside Scoops on the backside of the store. Stepping into Day’s Store, with its general-store old-time charm, is like entering a time capsule. It carries everything from baking soda and fishing worms to camp decor and fresh-made pizzas and sandwiches. We leave with two traditional, over-stuffed Maine whoopie pies.
We spend the rest of the afternoon out on Great Pond. Shawn Grant, the owner at Brightside Marina, sets us up with a beautiful pontoon boat. He greets us like family and makes sure we have everything we need for a perfect afternoon cruising on the lake. As we leave the marina, we can’t help but stop to look at the boathouses that line the shores of Great Pond. It is a calm day on the water as we make our way around the shoreline and admire the beautiful homes and natural charm of this quintessential Maine lake.
Sunset dinner on the lake
Dinner on the lake is a popular activity in Belgrade. We reserve a table at Sadie’s Boathouse Restaurant. Named after a golden retriever, Sadie’s is located at the Great Pond Marina. When we arrive, Sadie herself is jumping off the docks for tennis balls. Owners Scott and Sharon Horne are more than welcoming, greeting everyone personally at each table. We take photos from our table as the sun begins to set over the lake.
We start with a lobster and artichoke dip and a brioche crostini that leave us wanting more. Erik orders the Gratina alla Sadie, which is a family-favorite recipe, with orecchiette pasta baked in a creamy herb sauce and topped with chicken, shrimp, and prosciutto. I choose the salmon, haddock, and lobster roulade accompanied by a ratatouille of roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and asparagus. We top off our evening with desserts made by the owners’ Uncle Wally, who is in his 80s and loves to engage with the guests.
Golf and lobster rolls
We wake up early and drive to Mount Vernon for breakfast at The Olde Post Office Cafe, where we sip our coffee in the sun and enjoy the still waters of Minnehonk Lake. After breakfast we drive to Castle Island Camps for some early-morning photos of Long Pond. This picturesque area offers the quiet charm of lakeside cottages and boathouses.
Belgrade has one of the most spectacular and beautifully designed golf courses in Maine. Clive Clark, an English professional golfer and golf course architect, designed the Belgrade Lakes Golf Club, which was recently listed as one of Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.” Erik and I are avid golfers, and we reserve an 11 a.m. tee time. When we make the turn on the ninth hole, we stop at Tonka’s Deck and Snack Bar for one of the best lobster rolls and lobster BLTs in the area.
We end our 48 hours surrounded by mountains, panoramic views of the Belgrade Lakes region, and the smell of fresh-cut grass on the summer breeze.