This year I found lots of amazing things in Maine that you might want to know about—from stuff to buy to stuff to eat to places to go. My kids go to summer camp there, but there are lots of reasons to travel to Maine in the summer (especially since it’s nice and cool!). We always come home loaded with good stuff and great ideas. This year’s “home base” was at the Camden Harbor Inn. I highly recommend it and got an amazing massage from a woman named Bridget, who told me about number #8 on this list.
#1: All-natural citronella candles made from recycled wax, in recycled cans from Mainemountain.com. I bought ours in one of those gift shops on Freeport’s Main Street (between Bow and Mechanic Streets), and they were only $13 each. Very heavy to carry, however, so unless you are driving, it’s better to order them from the website and have them shipped. (Though I didn’t see them on the website, I’m sure you can email the company and ask for them.)
# 2: Pickled fiddleheads, from Spruce Bush Farm in Jefferson, Maine. I bought them at a local farm stand outside of Freeport (see #3). They are absolutely, fabulously delicious!
# 3: Wheaton Farms farm stand. I found out about this farm at the Freeport farmer’s market (Fridays from 3 to 7). But I ended up driving a mile or two out of town to see their whole stand. I came back with really cool T-shirts, pickled fiddleheads, interesting plants for my garden, and the freshest, most eye-popping red strawberries I’ve ever seen.
#4: Gryffon Ridge Spice Merchants, where you can get really interesting all-organic spice mixtures from around the world; also at the Freeport farmer’s market and now online.
# 5: Maine Bat Houses. OK, this is one of those things we have passed 19 times and never stopped; finally, we stopped and bought two bat houses (by putting the cash in the can in their front yard). It’s on Route 3, about 20 minutes west of Belfast.
# 6: At a store called Starbird in Camden, I found these amazing cotton pillows and throws from a company called Dash and Albert. The colors are beautiful and the fabrics are totally soft. The woman at Starbird said the cotton is organic, and I sort of believe it since they are so soft, and that is usually a sign of organic cotton—but I could not find evidence on their website.
# 7: Sugartools—also in Camden, a new store on Bayview Street. Suffice it to say I loved so many things in that store that I had to have my purchases delivered to the hotel.
# 8: Megunticook Lake, right outside of Camden. It’s cool, calm, empty, misty, mystical, beautiful, free (!), and right next to this beautiful cliff called Virgin’s Ledge or some such dramatic name, a rock climbers’ route. We brought a picnic and ate it by the lake. Lovely!
# 9: The Owl and Turtle Bookstore, also in Camden, is one of those great independent bookstores that have lots of local information and work by local authors. They also carry my book, Organic Manifesto, but were SOLD OUT AND HAD ALREADY ORDERED MORE! Bless them. So I signed some bookplates. Head on over and you might get one.
# 10: Paolina’s Way Restaurant, down by the water in Camden. If you are a little tired of lobster, try amazingly simple and delicious food grown fresh from their farm in Searsport…or the BEST pizza I have found to date ANYWHERE (thin crust, wood-fired, all organic toppings, totally yummiful). What I love about Paolina’s Way is that it’s not fancy, and it’s not trying to get on any fancy restaurant list, but it’s so good we ate there two nights in a row. That doesn’t happen very often. But it’s one of the reasons I didn’t get enough lobster for the first time ever, so I had to deconstruct the perfect lobster roll to make at home, which you can find the recipe for on my blog soon.
Do you have favorite hidden gems from your vacation spots? Where else have you found in Maine? I’m going back again next year to drop off my campers, so let me know.