Things to Do in Midcoast Maine
Known as “the village where the mountains meet the sea,” Camden has been described by scores of travel writers as the most beautiful village in Maine. During your relaxing vacation here, you will discover a destination with no shopping malls, fast food restaurants or multi-level parking garages to detract from this extremely picturesque waterside community. Instead, the focus is on white-steepled churches; narrow streets lined with quaint shops and restaurants, ample parks and common greens, stately old homes, and one of the most photographed harbors in the world.
There are three things that nobody should miss when visiting Camden: sail on a windjammer, meander through the park to enjoy the waterfall and the enchanting harbor, and see the incredible view from the top of Mt Battie. A young girl from the village took great inspiration by this vista and she wrote a poem, which marked the beginning of her literary career. At the peak of Mt Battie there is a plaque that marks the spot where Edna St. Vincent Millay used to sit for hours. This is where she wrote “Renascence,” her best-known poem.
Less well known but equally spectacular is the view from Maiden Cliff. In order to get there, you should take Route 52, out of Route 1, and, after 3 miles, you will find a sign pointing to a parking area. The trail climbs through rock ledges and woods on an old logging road, and brings you to the summit of an 800-foot cliff. Here you will be rewarded by a great view of Lake Megunticook and the mountains to the west. A tall wooden cross stands near the place where 11-year-old Elenora French fell to her death in 1862.
A grand bike ride is the seven-mile trip around Beauchamp Point, which takes you through woods and farmland — most of the way just a few yards from the ocean. You will pass a herd of Belted Galloways (very unusual cattle — the kids call them “Oreo cookie cows” because they are black on both ends and white in the middle), the Children’s Chapel, and Anne Kilham’s art gallery. Anne is a well-known Maine artist whose work has received national acclaim.
When you reach Rockport harbor take a walk around Marine Park, which has a lovely view of Indian Island light and an antique narrow gauge steam engine that once hauled lime to the trio of old kilns. A free large-scale map for this trip is available at Camden Maine Stay Inn.
If you like old homes, a walk through the High Street Historic District is a must. The rectangular shaped area of approximately 65 acres is bisected by High Street and includes portions of several crossing streets. The predominantly residential district contains 65 buildings, 61 of them are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With the Camden Hills State Park to the west and Penobscot Bay to the east, this group of lovely homes is indeed nestled between the mountains and the sea.
If you would rather row than walk, Curtis Island is waiting for you! It is located in the mouth of Camden harbor, one mile from the public landing. This is a small island open to public use and owned by the town. Boats with motors are not allowed to put ashore. There is no dock on the island. This is good for the strong ones who row or paddle out to enjoy a quiet time. Take a picnic lunch with you! You can sit beside the lighthouse and contemplate life or search for interesting shells along the shore. No stores, no cars, not much of anything — except for the rocks and waves, the pines and wild flowers, sea birds and seals. By the way, if it is a cloudy day, don’t sit next to the foghorn…
Winter brings a quiet time to Camden — or at least to people from away, it seems to. The truth of the matter is that when the last of the leaf peepers depart the local folks get ready for a host of cold weather activities. First some of the inside activities. Over a century old, our local Opera House has been lovingly restored and is the venue for plays, concerts and some mighty lively town meetings. Nearby Rockport Opera House is also a home for the performing arts. The Bay Chamber Concerts present a series of afternoon and evening concerts each year. Every February the Center for Global Ethics hosts “The Camden Conference,” which brings together leaders from academia, business and governmental agencies to discuss public policy and foreign affairs.
Outdoor activities are also plentiful. The Camden Snow Bowl has plenty of activities to offer you. Located on the Ragged Mountain, it features the only community toboggan chute in the State of Maine. It is 400-foot-long and flashes down the side of the mountain onto Hosmer Pond for a long slide on the ice. There you can find a ski school and ski equipment for sale or rent. You can also enjoy night skiing, an attractive lodge and nine well-groomed trails. Last, but not least, the only chair lift in the United States with a view of the Atlantic. Ice-skating, ice fishing and cross-country skiing are also very popular.