Camden + Rockport
Charming and quintessential—whether you are a native of Maine or from afar—Camden and Rockport offer breathtaking views, memorable dining, and enjoyment in all areas of interest.
Evening: Dining and accommodations
The scenic drive through downtown Rockport into Camden treats us to an early sunset over Rockport Harbor. We drive under Camden’s iconic archway, welcoming us to a snow-dusted town. With a full moon rising, we arrive at the Camden Harbour Inn and are immediately made to feel at home. This picturesque inn and the warm staff do not miss a detail in making your stay
Camden is bustling, with the U.S. National Toboggan Championships in town. With time to spare before dinner, we hop over to Francine Bistro to ease into the evening. Chef-owner Brian Hill changes his menu daily to suit Maine’s seasonal offerings. In the warmth of the dimly lit atmosphere and full house, we enjoy wine with lovely Maine rope-grown mussels and the evening’s special, organic local beef carpaccio.
Within the pristine and historic Camden Harbour Inn, Natalie’s restaurant wows from the moment one enters the space. We select from the chef’s menu to build our own four-course dinner. The service is impeccable and the palate sophisticated. After lobster consommé and squab and flounder with celery root risotto, three hours later we are in bliss, finishing with a flight of house made sorbetto.
Morning: A little relaxation and rejuvenation
We wake and walk downstairs to have coffee, tea, and a small bite. On our way, we are welcomed by the coziness of the fireplace and views of the snow heavily falling outside. Inside Natalie’s is a stunning buffet with artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, granola, yogurt, and more. Diners can supplement the buffet with menu items, such as cocoa nib pancakes or Maine lobster eggs benedict.
We make our way to High Mountain Hall, owned by Meg Sideris and located in a beautifully restored 1848 church. The facility offers fitness and yoga classes and serves as an event and concert venue. Our morning yoga class is with Denyse Robinson in the upstairs space. Beautiful exposed beams and fine architectural lines create the ultimate sanctuary. Robinson balances the class perfectly—an ideal Saturday morning of exertion and relaxation.
We skip over to Nina June in downtown Rockport. The restaurant is exquisite, and chef-owner Sara Jenkins is a delight. We sip freshly squeezed blood orange juice and sample each other’s delicacies. As we eat, my two children are enthralled as they watch one chef make fresh pasta for the evening’s menu.
Afternoon: Art and play
I arranged with my friends, Jess and Austin Smith, to visit their studio and showroom at Camden Clay Co. Each time I go, I am enamored by yet another piece of their work. From the color palette of the glaze to the nautical charts on some of the creations, look no further for one-of-a-kind ceramics for your home or that perfect Maine gift. The Smiths are usually at the studio Thursdays through Saturdays, but call or email ahead if you plan to visit.
From art to the snowy outdoors, we head over to the Camden Snow Bowl for a taste of this year’s U.S. National Toboggan Championships. If you have yet to go, it is a must—an epic adventure for the entire family, whether you are racing or not. From fun costumes to the extremely serious racers, this event has it all during winter in the midcoast.
Evening: Dining, Valentine’s Day and leisure
After an eventful, snowy day, we remember that we need a few odds and ends as we head back into town before our dinner reservation. Art supplies for my son’s Valentine’s Day cards are one of them. Rockport Blueprint sells everything an artist or craftsperson desires.
No matter the holiday, Lily, Lupine, and Fern is an ideal gift stop and has been for over 20 years. With an abundant selection of fine wines and cheeses, flowers, chocolates, and more, owner Gary Anderson will be able to suggest the right special something. Last but not least, we visit Owl and Turtle Bookshop Cafe, which, along with books, offers a lovely chai tea to warm us up.
Feeling the chill of the day, we are glad to have made an early dinner reservation at one of our all-time favorites, Long Grain. We go over the top ordering dishes to share: steamed local pork dumplings, daily house-made noodles with spicy stir-fried Thai basil, organic farmer greens and mushrooms, Maine crab fried rice, stir-fried ginger chicken and mushrooms with rice, and more. It is a heavenly dining experience each and every time.
Morning: coffee, breakfast and strolling in Camden
Zoot Coffee satisfies our caffeine craving and a taste for homemade Maine blueberry vegan muffins. Our first cup of coffee is followed by a delicious breakfast at Boynton-McKay Food Co., another place we never miss when in Camden. Owners Brian Beggarly and Molly Eddy have turned this special spot into a local favorite. Baked goods are made in-house and sprawl deliciously on the counter. Breakfast and lunch options include huevos rancheros, homemade French toast, slow-roast pork tacos, and a melt with bacon, arugula, and local goat cheese.
The annual Winterfest sculptures are still on display in the Camden Amphitheater and Village Green. Soon shops begin to open despite the snowy weather. I can’t help but pass time in Surroundings, a home goods and gift shop; Once a Tree, a fine woodworking store; Maine Sport Outfitters; and Glendarragh Lavender Farm’s retail store.
Afternoon: Lunch, provisions and treats
What is better than a bowl of chowder and a sandwich on an overcast, snowy day? The Camden Deli not only nails such a craving, but the view from the dining area is unmatched. Before making our way to Rockport, we stop at Megunticook Market for a few provisions. I have stopped countless times before—whether on my way to a picnic at Shirt Tail Point or prior to hitting the Camden Hills for a hike. The market offers beverages, snacks, cheese, in-house deli options, and more.
We are drawn to a post-lunch treat and tea at 3 Dogs Cafe in Rockport. The variety of the baked goods is endless—cakes, pastries, and cookies. We take note to return for one of the signature island sandwiches, like the North Haven. We pop into another favorite Route 1, family-owned business, Fresh Off the Farm. Since I was a girl, shoppers have been able to find organic produce and all-natural beauty products here. In the summer, the pies are a hit.
It is nearing dinnertime and comfort food is calling our names. Flatbread Company offers gluten-free pizza options in addition to its regular menu. We enjoy a Punctuated Equilibrium—a pizza with Kalamata olives, fresh organic rosemary, Sunset Acres goat cheese, herbs, and garlic\ oil. As we dine, we reflect on our 48 Hours not only being a fulfilled, epic, snowy weekend, but one that gave us the calm and rejuvenation we needed. Midcoast Maine delivered exactly what we were craving for a winter weekend getaway.