“I want to eat a lobster roll from Maine” my boyfriend Brad stated as we talked about the places we wanted to visit, sights we wanted to see, and good eats we wanted to savor.
For Brad, exploring Maine and experiencing his first authentic lobster roll were high on his list. Having never been to Maine nor eaten a lobster roll myself, it sounded pretty good to me, too.
“Then let’s go!”
With a little bit of planning and recommendations from friends, we made our way up the cost of Maine for amazing views (hello fall and your gorgeous foliage!), a lobster roll or two, and quite a few adventures!
We spent a lot of time in downtown Portland exploring the local lighthouses and eateries. We were pleasantly surprised that there was so much more to see (and really good places to eat) in Portland than we expected.
Below are a bunch of photos from some of our favorite places. We enjoyed Maine so much that we know we’ll go back! Is there somewhere in Maine that you love that we missed and need to add to our list for next time? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments!
Use to the much larger lighthouses dotting the North Carolina Outerbanks, Bug Light was definitely the smallest lighthouse we’d even seen! Despite its small stature, this little guy allowed for a great view of Casco Bay with a variety of boats passing by. It was also a quick 15 min drive from downtown Portland.
Brad’s mom is into painting rocks so we picked up a few “souvenirs” to bring back with us. 🙂
Just outside of downtown Portland is Smiling Hill Farms, a cute dairy farm that’s been family-owned for 12 generations! We decided to stop by for a change of scenery from downtown and to eat ice cream. Well, mostly to eat ice cream. 😉
The baby cows were so cute!
We made friends during our visit to the farm, too, which was no surprise since we were willing to share our ice cream. HAHA!
How awesome is that Stop sign?? HA!
We learned about Peaks Island while dining next to a group who had just finished their bicycle tour of the small island. Intrigued, we decided to check it out ourselves! With surprisingly lovely weather for a fall day, we boarded a ferry and took a 20min ride across Casco Bay to the quaint, small-town-feel island.
Since we didn’t have a lot of time to explore, we decided to rent a golf cart to check out the island vs. renting bikes. For $20 we rented a golf cart and we were off!
There are cute handmade signs on the roads directing you where to go as you make a big loop around the island.
Can we just talk about this view for a minute? So amazing! I highly recommend a picnic lunch and taking time to soak up the scenery!
Someone was selling honey on the honor system. Does it get any more charming than that?! 🙂
Along the shore of one of the beaches are hundreds of stone sculptures built by visitors and island residents.
Another stop on our trip was Fort Williams and the Portland Head Light. First lit in 1791, the Portland Head Light offers spectacular views of the Casco Bay and is next door to Fort Williams. We had a gorgeous and sunny day to explore both!
The forts at Fort Williams reminded us of the forts and barracks of our very own beloved Fort Monroe in Hampton, VA.
When I say the views of Casco Bay were amazing, I wasn’t kidding! The coastlines that we came across were rocky unlike the sandy beaches back home in VA.
Since the initial purpose of our visit to Maine was to sink our teeth into our first lobster roll, we set our sights on three highly-rated restaurants based on recommendations from the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” as well as the recommendations from Eater for the “17 Essential Maine Lobster Rolls.” Throughout our trip, we checked out The Clam Shack, Bob’s Clam Hut, and Susan’s Fish and Chips. We also squeezed in a visit to the local’s favorite spot for donuts. Suffice it to say we weren’t disappointed. 🙂
From what we learned, there are two main types of lobster rolls: Those served on a hamburger bun or roll with mayo and/or butter and the lobster is in large, whole pieces or the lobster roll is on a hotdog style roll cut down the middle and the lobster is cut into pieces and tossed in a light mayo-type dressing. The Clam Shack served their lobster rolls in the former style, with large chunks of lobster, butter, and mayo on a delicious roll.
We ordered two lobster rolls and clam strips. At $20 a roll it was a splurge for lunch, which was understandable since it was lobster. The lobster was sweet and tender, and the locally-baked roll was so good I could have eaten it all by itself! After we enjoyed our lunch by the Kennebunk River, and with a constant line to order the entire time we were there, we understood why it was such a popular place!
Our second lobster roll was at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine. Also boasting a line to order, the cashier at Bob’s warmly welcomed us as we ordered a lobster roll and fried whole-belly clams.
Our lobster roll was served hot dog bun style, with the lobster cut into smaller pieces and tossed in a light, sweet dressing. Definitely different from the lobster roll we ate at The Clam Shack, it was good and we enjoyed it.
Even better than the lobster roll was our basket of fried whole-belly clams. Back in VA we’re use to eating clam strips, which are slices of clam fried golden brown without the belly. A whole-belly clam is just as it sounds: the whole clam is fried including its belly. Whole-belly clams are a bit more chewy and squishy than clam strips and have more of a sea taste to them. We ate the entire basket of whole-belly clams and would order them again!
Unassuming and unpretentious was our last stop for seafood at Susan’s Fish and Chips in Portland, Maine. Definitely a hole-in-the-wall, Susan’s may not be much on the eyes but more than makes up for it in its dishes! This time we skipped the lobster roll and opted for the seafood platter. With fried haddock, scallops, shrimp, and clams the seafood platter was more than enough for two people to split and was deliciously good! This was easily one of our favorite meals during our entire trip.
Known for its donuts made out of Maine potatoes, we stopped in for our daily dose of sugar and carbs at The Holy Donut! Our favorite was the bacon cheddar filled donut. 🙂
We planned a day at Acadia National Park in Ann Arbor and on our way there came across this neat bridge and observatory (and amazing views!).
If you’re ever in Maine and are planning your itinerary, add Acadia National Park to your list and budget AT LEAST an entire day there! A pass is $25 to access the Park and that pass is good for 7 days. There is plenty to see and it’s worth it to take your time! We planned to spend the entire day there, but due to issues with our hot water at our AirBnB, we got a late start and rushed to see as much as we could in half a day. We’ll be back, Acadia, that’s for sure! 🙂
One of our favorite spots in Acadia was Jordan Pond. The views were spectacular and it’s a perfect location for a picnic lunch and photo op!
Right next to Jordan Pond is the Jordan Pond House Restaurant where you can sample their famous popovers, which are light and airy rolls served with butter and jam. If you’re tight for time, we’d recommend skipping the Pond House and just exploring the Pond. You won’t be disappointed!
Our first trip to eastern Maine was one for the books and we’ll definitely be back!
Is there somewhere in Maine that you love that we missed and need to add to our list for next time? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments!