Mount Battie is one of the must-see places in Camden Hills State Park, whether you hike a rugged trail to the top or drive up the mountain road. Atop the mountain is a historic stone tower and one of the best outlooks in the Midcoast region. For information and a video of this hike, click here.
- If looking for a hike with an interesting story, consider Maiden Cliff, which rises 800 feet above Megunticook Lake. A steep trail leads to the cliff, where a large steel cross stands in memorial of Elenora French, who died in 1864. Her story is engraved in stone at the foot of the cross. For information and a video of the hike, click here.
- A local favorite hike in the Camden area is Bald Mountain, which rises 1,260 feet above sea level and offers stunning views of the area. The Bald Mountain Trail is a part of the region’s Georges Highland Path system. For information and a video of the hike, click here.
- The Camden Snow Bowl offers a network of trails for hikers and mountain bikers, a pond for boaters, and it only gains popularity in the winter, when skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers visit. This is the ultimate family friendly outdoor destination year round. For information, click here.
Eat & Drink
- Camden and neighboring Rockport offer a wide variety of dining options. For seafood and pub grub, check out Marriner’s Restaurant, right on Main Street in Camden — reasonably priced lobster rolls, chowder and burgers, in a family setting. Same goes for Cappy’s Chowder House, also on the main drag, and the Camden Deli has great panini and desserts for eat-in or take out. Zoot’s Coffee has the best java in town.
- Some of the best Thai food in New England can be found right in Camden — the tiny Long Grain, located on Main Street, is top shelf excellent, blending street-style Thai food with Vietnamese and Korean influences. Make a reservation.
- In Rockport, Salt Water Farm offers up elegant local cuisine in a spacious, sunny dining room that overlooks the beautiful harbor. For something truly decadent, Natalie’s at the Camden Harbor Inn offers up four-star hotel dining hospitality. The Hartstone Inn also offers a charming hotel dining experience, with a more casual, welcoming atmosphere.
- Brian Hill, a multiple-nominee for a regional James Beard Award, owns three restaurants in the area. Shepard’s Pie in Rockport is a gastro-pub in the truest sense of the word; Seabright Pizza right on the harbor in Camden offers up gourmet wood-fired flatbread pizza; and Francine Bistro, also in Camden, is his original restaurant, romantic and intimate with an imaginative menu.
- For drinks, you can party with the locals and a local band at the Smokestack Grill, or you can have a gorgeous cocktail at 40 Paper — all located in the Knox Mill compound, just off the main drag.
Shop & See
- The Center for Maine Contemporary Art in downtown Rockport offers up a revolving selection of moving, challenging, progressive art from both Maine and national and international artists. Each summer, there are at least three unique exhibits, as well as other programming including artist’s talks, film screenings and presentations. Visit cmcanow.org for more information. In 2016 the museum will move from Rockport to neighboring Rockland.
- The shopping in downtown Camden ranges from the enchanting toy store Planet to the wonderful local bookstore the Owl & Turtle; from the fabulous wine and cheese at Lily, Lupine & Fern to the timeless tourist trap the Smiling Cow. Goose River Exchange is full of fun antique books, posters and other items, there’s a Stonewall Kitchen outlet, and you absolutely must visit Reny’s, because it’s Reny’s. It’s a Maine institution.
Places to stay
Camden Harbour Inn strives to be “Maine’s most refined luxurious boutique hotel,” according to its website. Atop a hill, the inn overlooks the village, harbor and nearby mountains. In addition to the most elegant rooms, the inn also includes a spa and the award-winning Natalie’s Restaurant. The staff there will help you plan activities, such as lobster cruises and kayak tours, to keep you busy while visiting the area. This special place doesn’t come cheap. Rates to range from $375-$700 per night.
- Camden is home to a dizzying selection of bed & breakfasts that vary in size, accommodations and cost. If looking for a mid-range B&B with great reviews, consider the Hartstone Inn & Hideaway, which has 21 rooms with rates of $125-$280 a night. At the heart of Camden village, Hartstone is a Mansard-style Victorian built in 1835, and the style of the rooms reflect this history while providing many modern luxuries.
- Megunticook Campground by the Sea is located about 5 miles from downtown Camden in the town of Rockport and features 87 spacious RV and tent sites with stone fire rings and picnic tables. On site amenities include a large heated swimming pool, bathhouse, 24-hour laundry room, full-stocked camp store, children’s playground, arcade room, WiFi access, sand volleyball court and recreation field. To top it off, kayaks and bicycles are available to rent. Nightly rates for sites are $28-$58, and you can stay in a cabin for $52-$93 per night.
- Bay Leaf Cottages in Lincolnville, just a few minutes from downtown Camden, is a great option for those looking for private, comfortable and inexpensive lodging. Also, several of the cottages and motel rooms are dog-friendly. In addition, the staff are prepared to help you plan activities in the area. Cottages range from $90-$220; motel rooms, $90-$110.
Special times to visit
- The US National Toboggan Championships are held for three days each February at the Camden Snow Bowl. Register early and get your four-person team together, and get ready to rocket down the toboggan chute. Costumes encouraged. It’s a hoot. For more information on how to register, visit the Camden Snow Bowl website.
- The Windjammer Festival is always held Labor Day weekend, kicking off with the stunning arrival of the windjammer ships. The next few days are chock a block with fun, including a maritime heritage fair, contra dance, fireworks, auction, pancake breakfast, lobster crate race, chowder challenge, music, boat race, family scavenger hunt and outdoor movies. The festival wraps up with a boat parade.
- Those interested in classical music, jazz and Latin would do well to check out at least one event during the world-renowned Bay Chamber Festival, held in and around Rockport in July and August. There’s jazz on the harbor, breakfasts with Bach, candlelit cocktail hour chamber music concerts, and silent movies with live musical accompaniment. Visit baychamberconcerts.org for a full schedule.