Road trip through coastal Maine + hiking and lake time + boat ride to port towns

After our visit to New York, Joe and I headed up to Maine for 5 days where we visited Joe’s good friend Neal. Joe actually lived in Maine for a few years, so it was nice to have him and Neal take us around the local sites – it felt special to see Joe’s old stomping grounds and to finally meet Neal who I’ve heard so much about and who eventually became my buddy too. Our days in Maine were filled with lots of outdoors time and soaking in the beautiful nature in the remote towns. We saw so many beautiful things and did a variety of activities, and I’m still glowing from the wonderful time we had. 🙂

Day 1: Coastal road trip along Southern Maine

The first day was dedicated to driving up to Maine. We already covered half the drive from NY earlier in the week, which meant we could focus on road tripping through the coastal towns of Maine.

Our first stop was Kennebunkport, a picturesque beach town where George Bush Sr’s summer home is (we drove past the compound and it was HUGE). We stopped for lobster rolls for lunch, of course. I wanted to get in all the seafood I could on this trip.

lobster rolls in Kennebunkport

We got our food from Port Lobster Co, a small wholesale shack that also sold prepared rolls, and we ate them on a bench overlooking the coast. It was the perfect stop for fresh air to break up our drive.

Eating lobster rolls along the coast

I tried a whoopie pie for the first time (they are popular in Maine)…oh my, it was DELICIOUS! Joe said he wished he filmed me taking that first bite because my whole face lit up. 😉

Eating a whoopie pie for the first time

After lunch, we went on a hike. We walked on the Timber Point trail which was a flat 1.5 mile out-and-back. The trail had a good mix of shady wooded areas…

Hiking Timber Point trail

…To the waterfront views. 🙂 It was the perfect detour to stretch our legs.

Beach on Timber Point trail

Afterwards, we continued the drive up north. Along the way, we stopped by the Portland Head Light, a lighthouse that looks straight out of a postcard (it also reminds me of Cape Cod chips 😛 ). The lighthouse was at an open park with waterfront trails, picnic tables, and food trucks. We took photos, grabbed ice cream, and walked around before continuing our drive.

Portland Head Light
In front of the Portland Head Light

We were figuring out where to go next and spotted a small beach on the map, and so we decided to check it out. It was a cloudy day so the beach was a little underwhelming, but we still enjoyed the fresh sea air and being by the water.

Small beach in Portland
Selfie on the beach

We continued driving north and as we got close to our final destination, Joe said “we have to check out the boot!” I was confused but rolled with it. We arrived at the L.L. Bean headquarters in Freeport, and there it was – a giant L.L. bean boot! It was actually pretty funny. Turns out this was a good stop as the flagship store had a bunch of interesting things like an aquarium and giant taxidermy moose – we enjoyed walking around like it was Disney Land.

L.L. Bean giant boot

There was also a giant backpack next to the boot.

We strolled around Freeport and stopped by this chocolate store to buy some fudge. Another Maine specialty.

Fudge shop in Freeport

Finally we made it to Augusta and dropped off the rental car, and we met up with Neal for dinner in town. It was heart-warming to finally meet Neal as he and Joe were so excited to see each other after many years. During our dinner, I found out we have a lot in common and it was easy to chat away. I was excited for the next few days together as Neal had a bunch of ideas planned for us.

After dinner, we drove a little further to Neal’s home in Belfast. A total of 12 hours on the road!

Day 2: Chill day + exploring Belfast + lobster dinner

After a long day yesterday, Joe and I wanted nothing more than to chill today. We spent the morning watching Netflix and made it out to town for lunch.

Belfast is a small coastal town, with some tourism but mostly locals living there (unlike some other popular towns nearby that are flooded with tourists). I’m really glad we stayed in Belfast – it probably wouldn’t have been on my radar if Neal weren’t living there – but I quickly found it was underrated and had everything we were looking for: nature, good food, and quaint local vibes.

Belfast street
Belfast street

We stopped by Tracy’s Diner for lunch. It was straight-forward, delicious diner food, with colorful murals throughout the restaurant.

Tracy's diner

We walked around town more and enjoyed the cute touches like this big red chair (can you tell we like giant things?)

Giant red chair in Belfast

The Belfast harbor was gorgeous. There was a walking path along the water, and it reminded me of my old apartment in the Marina in SF – lots of people walking/running around enjoying the waterfront views.

Belfast harbor

We spent the rest of the afternoon being lazy at the house. After Neal was done with work, the three of us set out for dinner. First we stopped at the grocery store to buy sides, and then we headed to Young’s Lobster Pound, a casual BYOB spot serving seafood with waterfront picnic tables. It was a neat spot as we ordered lobster from the tank, and we could see the cooks taking out the live lobster and cooking it right in front of us. Talk about farm-to-table. 🙂

Young's Lobster Pound

Dinner was just delicious. I loved the local vibes of this spot, and it was the best lobster I had on this trip.

Eating lobster in Young's Lobster Pound

Day 3: Hiking Mount Battie + lunch in Camden + evening in the cabin

The sun finally came out on the third day! After a chill day yesterday, we were rested up and wanted to be active today. Neal and Joe picked out Mount Battie, a pretty vertical hike that had sweeping views of the towns below.

The climb up was a fun one as we were climbing rocks on all fours.

Hiking up Mount Battie

The hike up was 1 mile but very steep, and the views from the top were gorgeous. We could see the vast forestry and the town of Camden below.

View from Mount Battie

There was a fort at the top which we climbed up for even higher views.

Tower on Mount Battie

After the hike, we headed to Camden for lunch. Camden was a cute and picturesque town. It had very New England vibes and was full of tourists enjoying the last of the season (apparently Camden is a ghost town in the winter). We stopped by Camden Deli for toasted sandwiches and whoopie pies (of course).

Camden, Maine
Camden harbor

The sun felt so good as we lied on the grass for a food coma nap.

After our active morning, the boys headed to Neal’s cabin to do some maintenance, and I hung back in Belfast to rest. I took another walk along the harbor – the views never got old. ❤

Walk along waterfront in Belfast

For dinner, we made homemade pizza! It was so yummy and simple to make as we used store-bought crust. It makes me want to try this back in SF. 🙂

Homemade pizza

Joe was raving about Neal’s awesome cabin from earlier, and I wanted to check it out. So after dinner, we packed our stuff and drove to the cabin to spend the night. At first I was a bit freaked out arriving to the cabin in pitch black (it felt like the start of a horror movie), but Joe assured me it would be worth it once I saw the surrounding land in daylight. Joe lit a fire and we enjoyed a quiet night together.

Wood fire in cabin

Day 4: Lake time

Waking up in the cabin was just wonderful. I finally understood the magic Joe was talking about, as the cabin was right beside the lake in the middle of the forest. It felt so special to have this beautiful spot all to ourselves.

Rustic cabin in Maine
Lake side views

We had a slow morning, sipping our coffee, making a fire, taking walks, and enjoying the scenery.

Coffee outside the cabin

Joe got restless and finished up some chores from yesterday.

Chores outside the cabin

Time flew by and before we knew it, it was lunch time. We went back into town to meet Neal, his daughter, and her mom for lunch. Joe has known all of them for over a decade so it felt like a sweet reunion, catching up over their lives and introducing me. 🙂

After lunch, we wanted nothing more than to enjoy the lake, and so we spent the rest of the day there. We even checked out the camp site next door that Neal rents out on Airbnb. It’s a super cool tipi created by hand (every piece of wood was picked out from the forest). You can check our @phoenix.landing.maine if you’re interested!

Tipi campsite

Joe and I took a canoe out on the lake. Being out on the water was beyond peaceful. The water and sky were clear blue which made a lovely sight.

Lake with kayaks
Canoeing on the lake

We stopped on some islands on the lake. The islands were small and fun to walk and climb around.

Exploring islands on the lake
Couple selfie

In the evening, we lit a fire and grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, and veggies for dinner. We even used special cherry wood to give the food a nice smokey taste. We all did our part to contribute to dinner and it turned out to be quite the feast.

Grilling over the fire

Apparently hot dogs in Maine have this hot pink color. I was kind of weirded out but it tasted delicious. 😛

Grilling over the fire with maine pink hot dogs

The final feast. 🙂 We made so much food that Neal invited his neighbors to join us too.

Overall this was probably my favorite day as we just relaxed on this beautiful lake with no plans. I live for days like these. ❤

Day 5: Boat ride to port cities

Our time in Maine was packed with adventure up to the last day. Neal’s friend had a boat and so we drove to Camden to meet up and go for a ride. The boat was a decent size as it fit the four of us comfortably. I had never been on a personal boat before (just one for tours) so this was pretty cool to have one to ourselves and take it wherever we wanted.

Small boat in Maine

View from Camden from the water.

Camden harbor with boats

It got a little chilly outside so it was nice to have the indoor cabin space too.

Inside boat cabin
boating in Maine

We saw so many seals. They were so cute and reminded me of our cats 🙂

Seals

We rode through a few other port cities, seeing the islands and lighthouses along the way. Then we docked the boat at a city called Rockland and went off to explore. It was a unique experience parking the boat and hopping off the dock like it was a parking lot. 😛

In Rockland, we got dinner at an outdoor restaurant which seemed to be the hot spot in town. The food hit the spot as we enjoyed each other’s company.

After dinner, we rode back to Camden, this time a night ride. Riding the boat at night was neat as the lights of the port town illuminated the dark horizon. An unforgettable sight.

Night boat ride

Then we headed home and enjoyed our last evening by the fireplace. I loved ending our days winding down by the cozy fire.

Fireplace

And just like that, our amazing time in Maine was over. Joe and I agreed we didn’t want to leave as it truly started to feel like home on those last days. It was so nice having Neal spend time with us and take us around all these special spots. The three of us had a great time joking around together and I’m really grateful for our little trio.

It’s surreal being back in SF after basically a whole summer of travel between Mexico, New York, and Maine. I’m so grateful for all these adventures and being able to see my family, meet new friends, and share it all with Joe. I feel like the end of this trip also marks the end of summer and now there’s a blank slate for the rest of the year. As much as I love to have a million things planned, all this time away has made me appreciate coming back home to California. 🙂


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