Maine Must Do's




Acadia National Park - Maine
Acadia National Park - Maine
If you are planning a trip to Maine, you will have a long list of things to do. Certainly everyone's list is different. You may be the type to stay in a charming B&B and cozy up to a fire. Or maybe you are an adventure angler whose top priority is finding the perfect fishing spot. Your top ten to-do's in Maine will have to represent you. But if you need some direction here is my top-ten list of can't-miss Maine activities (and food) - all achieved in a three day visit to New England's Vacationland.


#1 Crack Your Own Maine Lobster

Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, Bar Harbor Maine
Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, Bar Harbor Maine
When I say Maine, You think ....? Atlantic Ocean Coastal Scenery, right? Probably not. You probably first thought of the lovely and charming sea critters that we affectionately know as Maine lobsters.

There is no shortage of lobster pounds in New England. The prices are reasonable at most of them. So ... how to choose the right lobster pound? For the best flavor find a pound that boils their critters in salt-water.

For our creature of the sea festival and feast we opted for the very popular Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound. It is conveniently located on your way into Bar Harbor.

Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, Bar Harbor Maine
Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, Bar Harbor Maine
When you arrive you will have to choose the weight of your lobster. You can tell them small or large if you are not familiar with the weights. 1.5 lbs. is typical for one person.

Next, you will grab a pencil and a form where you can check boxes next to fixings. There is a long list of dipping sauces, and they are not much extra - so try something traditional like warm butter - but also try a few extra out-of -the box picks. Our table ordered up a variety of dipping sauces and one of the surprise favorites was vinegar & oil.

You will hand your form to the cashier, and a chef will write a number on your lobster and give you a numbered receipt. If you are squeemish - don't worry - you won't have intimate contact with you lobster (yet) - or even have to watch it cook or hear it scream.

If you are new to cracking your own lobster ask for an instruction sheet. Trenton Bridge knows their customer base - they have a great set of illustrated instructions that work.

After you get your order in ... well you are on your own from there. You will have to maneuver for a table, listen for your order number (which they will only call one time - no exceptions), you will only eat what you can fanagle out of your lobster claw and tail, and then you will have to clean up your table and discard any left over sea creature remains. Try not to throw away the cracker and other surgical instruments when you dump your tray.

This is the one Maine ritual you will not be able to dispense with. Your friends and family are counting on you. The first question you will be asked upon your return from ME is 'how was the lobster'. And, if your story is that you opted for deep fried chicken fingers instead - you will be disowned, and your friends will be forced to invent a new reason each week to explain why they cannot attend your parties. Don't do this to your friends & family. You owe them a Maine lobster experience.

Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound on Urbanspoon



# 2 Maine Blueberry Pie


Maine Blueberry Pie
Maine Blueberry Pie
Now that you have worked up a hunger by cracking you own lobster, you can head over to the bakery for some Maine blueberry pie.

I don't even like blueberry pie - but I ate some, and it was really good...too good almost. One of my traveling companions actually had blueberry pie for 2nd breakfast and then another slice later for pre-dinner snack. If you haven't noticed the trend here - there is alot of good food to try - so don't plan on a diet during your Main vacation.

We hit Morning Glory Bakery in Bar Harbor. We picked up a good loaf of sourdough bread for lunch in addition to slices of pie and sassafras.

And, may the force be with you in your quest to find parking in Bar Harbor. 


#3 Go Hiking

 

Beehive Trail , Acadia National Park, Mt Desert Island, Bar Harbor Maine
Beehive Trail , Acadia National Park, Mt Desert Island, Bar Harbor Maine


Beehive Trail, Acadia, Maine
Beehive Trail, Acadia, Maine

Now to work off some of those sweets.There is wilderness everywhere in Maine - and so naturally there are hiking trails no matter where you are. The mother of all trails - The Appalachian Trail has its beginning (or end) here.

If you are like us, you are a day hiker whose legs are not up for an overnight backpacking trip. Lucky there are plenty of short hikes that can be strung into day hikes depending on your preference. In Acadia National Park you will not want to miss The Beehive Trail. It is aptly named for the appearance of the geological feature that the trail climbs up, over, and around. It is a short trail, and not for those who have a fear of heights. The trail
Acadia MTN
Acadia MTN
navigates a series of ledges with commanding views. To help you overcome the fear of plummeting to certain death, steel handrails, grates, and ladders are strategically positioned.

But, there are other trails in Acadia that are still adventurous ... sans falling hazards. Acadia Mountain provides views of the only Fjord in the USA. Also, Gorham Mountain is an all-around fulfilling hike, requiring moderate hiking abilities. 

Looking at Sand Beach, Acadia National Park
Looking at Sand Beach, Acadia National Park
It will be difficult to choose a trail in Acadia with all of your options. The three I have mentioned are all park favorites and are well traveled. It might be a bit too busy if you are in search of seclusion. But, there plenty of quiet corners in the park if you study the park map closely.

If this is your first visit, you should include one of the popular trails. There is good reason why they trails have become legendary.

#4 Go Camping

Cooking donuts at Lamoine State Park
Cooking donuts at Lamoine State Park
There is nothing quite like grilling a steak over a crackling fire, and then kicking back with a locally brewed amber ale ... or a glass of wine if you're the type. S'mores anyone? You just can't get the camp fire experience without actually camping. The cool crisp northern air nips at your back, while the fire warms your face (or burns the hair off your legs).

If you are having trouble scoring a site at Acadia, then try one of the State Parks - like Lamoine State Park - just across Frenchman's Bay - with views of Mt. Desert Island included. By camping standards, Maine's state parks offer excellent facilities - with private shower/changing rooms, and clean well kept sites.

#5 Hit the Beach - Build a Sandcastle

Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine
Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine
So, its a sweltering hot summer weekend, and you've been hiking all across Mt. Desert Island. Need to cool down? Just walk towards the beach and you will notice a 20 degree drop in temperature as you approach the water. Sand Beach in Acadia National Park is a hit with kids and adults. Take in the sun, or try your artistic skills and craft a sandcastle. The beach is large, sandy, safe, and there are restrooms and changing rooms in good condition nearby. Just, remember to bring your own lunch or picnic; there aren't any food vendors at Sand Beach. 


#6 Eat a Whoopie Pie

What's a Whoopie Pie? I'll let you discover that for yourself. For the best whoopie pie experience stop in Bangor and visit the Friars Bakehouse . Or, go to the Whoopie Pie Festival in Dover.

Friars' Bakehouse on Urbanspoon


#7 Visit a Goat Farm - mmmmm Fresh Cheese

Seal Cove Goat Farm and Cheese
Seal Cove Goat Farm and Cheese
Yep, a goat farm. Pick up some fresh spread to compliment the sourdough you got at Morning Glory Bakehouse - and you have the beginnings of a very fine European picnic lunch. And, be sure to ask to visit the goats; they're probably the most pleasant of all farm animals. Try Seal Cove Farm if you are in the Acadia area.


#8 Visit a Working Lighthouse

Bass Harbor Light, Acadia National Park
Bass Harbor Light, Acadia National Park

There are so many lighthouse to see - so little time in life. If you are in Acadia and want to get close to a working one, make the drive over to the Bass Harbor Head Light. When you see it initially, the lighthouse may leave something to be desired. So, fulfill that desire and take the Bass Harbor Light Trail (a trail I must admit I did not know about until after leaving.)

Taking the Bass Light trail is the only way to get down to the shore where you can get a picture with an upward 3 point perspective. This view is not shown to your left as I did not hike the trail. oops. A return trip is in order.



#9 Sea Kayak


Sea Kayaking Frenchman's Bay Maine
Sea Kayaking Frenchman's Bay Maine
If you are in the coastal paradise that is Maine, you must get out on the water. No sailboat or motorboat? No problem. Anyone who has basic swimming skills can get into a sea kayak and immediately be off on a nautical adventure within minutes.

We rented two tandem kayaks from Bar Harbor Guide Service. They delivered our kayaks to Lamoine Beach on Frenchman's Bay, and provided charts and instruction. Kayaking with a rudder controlled by foot pedals was new to me. The rudder made navigation very easy - turn on a dime as they say - and that pretty much describes it.

On our three hour trip we hit Thompson Island and Devils Oven Sea Cave. The water was chilly, my hands were coated in lickable sea salt, and my arms and back were mush after that sea trek, but the perspective you get from the water is totally worth it. For me, it was a meditative experience. It is a slow and quiet way to take it all in.

Sea Kayaking Frenchman's Bay Maine, Thomson Island
Sea Kayaking Frenchman's Bay Maine, Thompson Island

Devils Oven Sea Cave, Acadia National Park, Frenchmans Bay Maine
Devils Oven Sea Cave, Acadia National Park, Frenchmans Bay Maine


#10 Drive Over a Cool Bridge


Penobscot Narrows Bridge, Maine
Penobscot Narrows Bridge, Maine
So, we were able to pack a grand tour into three days over the 4th of July weekend. By camping, and taking advantage of natural wonders, and carpooling, we were able to do it all for minimal cost ($250 per person). I have to admit, that the only way to accomplish this much in such a short span is to be a master planner - and that master planner was not I.

I owe this summer vacation plan to the wonderful Miss Jill Collins and her thorough per-trip research.

One thing we did not plan was a trip over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. It was perhaps one of the more amazing bridge experiences I have had - probably because I wasn't expecting to see such enormous architecture in quaint and charming Maine. But, there it was.

I hope you have gotten excited about visiting Maine and Acadia National Park - or maybe reading this just brought back warm memories of a past trip. If you have any Maine must-do's that need to be added to the list please take the time to fill out a comment in the section below.

Enjoy your vacation and travels in Maine.

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