Maine is the perfect destination for those who enjoy natural beauty, and great food and beer. We flew into Boston and drove 2 hours to Portland, which is a fantastic city for restaurants and breweries.
Bissell Brothers – Expect a line out the door to get into this brewery on a Saturday which is the only day you can buy cans of their beer to take home. Mark, who is an IPA connoisseur, said their Substance Ale was one of the best IPAs he’s had. Check their weekly release schedule to see what beer they have for sale each Saturday. My favorite was their Apothecary which was a Kolsch brewed with hibiscus flowers.
Allagash Brewing Company – This popular brewery distributes all over the US. The brewery does free tastings only, you can’t order a pint. They have interesting Belgian-style beers we weren’t overly impressed with it but worth it to try and it was nice sitting on their covered patio to enjoy the weather.
Across from Allagash, there’s a few smaller breweries clustered together that are all worth a tasting. Austin Street Brewery, Foundation Brewing Company (LOVED the Burnside Brown Ale!), and Battery Steele Brewing.
Street and Co. – This is a great seafood restaurant on an old cobblestone street. The grilled octopus was the most tender we’ve ever had. When you come to Maine you have to eat as much lobster as possible, and Street and Co.’s grilled lobster on linguine is a must. It’s a whole lobster split in half, swimming in a pan of linguine with garlic butter sauce.
Duck Fat – This place has almost 1500 reviews and 4 stars on yelp and now we know why. We split a Cuban sandwich and fries (fried in duck fat of course) and both were ridiculously good. The fries come with dipping sauces of your choosing such as garlic mayo and truffle ketchup. A must-do in Portland but beware, they don’t take reservations and there is usually a long wait. We went when it opened and got sat immediately.
East Ender – Right next door to Duck Fat (good for the Duck Fat overflow), this had global fare that didn’t disappoint. We went for lunch and had the charred escarole salad and fish and chips.
Red’s Dairy Freeze – Classic ice cream stand that’s been around since the 1950’s. Soft serve in a cone was a perfect end to a summer night.
Central Provisions – we didn’t have time to go here but it was on our list
After 1 night in Portland, we drove 3 hours to Bar Harbor on Mt. Desert Island. Prior to Bar Harbor, just as you enter the island, you must stop at Atlantic Brewing Company and Mainely Meat, which is a BBQ restaurant connected to the brewery. We had the sampler platter consisting of smoked meats (chicken, sausage, ribs, and pulled pork) and it was honestly out-of-this-world good. Rivaled any BBQ we’ve had down south or in Texas. Beers were also worth the stop. They brewed the original Blueberry Ale back in 1993. Other notable beers were the Island Ginger Wheat Ale and the Coffee Stout.
The Maples Inn B&B – Cozy B&B right in the middle of town with the nicest owners. The breakfasts and service was outstanding and the owners were super nice; we will definitely be back. We would recommend staying at a location in town and walking to explore as parking can be very difficult in the summer months.
Side Street Café – A local café with an extensive menu with lobster prepared in several different ways. It’s very popular and while they don’t take reservations, they have call ahead seating 60 minutes prior. The lobster roll and lobster mac and cheese were decent.
Downeast Deli – This place always has a line out the door so it’s best to call ahead for takeout. Lobster roll and lobster salad were both good and had a lot of succulent lobster meat.
The Thirsty Whale – We tried going here twice but it didn’t work out. But, we hear they have the best lobster roll in town.
Project Social – We came here two nights in a row it was so good. Tapas place so small plates to share, with a good beer and cocktail list. Notable dishes: mussels & pepperoni, meatballs, boquerones, and the scallops.
Drydock Café (Southwest Harbor) – While driving the island we stopped in Southwest Harbor for lunch. Nice local pub where we had mussels, blackened haddock sandwich and a few local pints of course.
Mt. Desert Island holds Acadia National Park which offer fantastic hiking trails and scenic views. We recommend downloading the All Trails App which provides user reviews of all trails, detailed descriptions of hikes, and maps.
Hiking day 1 – 6 miles
Entering the park on a Sunday 4th of July weekend was super busy. After sitting in traffic we found a parking spot along the road and walked to Sand Beach. Recommend to come early during summer months. We then walked Ocean Path to Gorham Mountain Trail which also connects to Cadillac Cliffs and Bowl Trail. This was a moderate hike, nothing too strenuous but definitely not easy as you are climbing up rocks for the first half.
After the hike we went to Thunder Hole which is a alcove of rocks where the water crashes in during high tide creating thunder-like sound. We laid on the rocks for over an hour around “high tide” but left disappointed as the ocean was just too calm that day. We finished the evening by driving to Otter Cliffs for sunset photos.
Hiking day 2 – 8 miles
One evening we tried driving to the top of Cadillac Mountain to see the sunset view, we were turned away because they were over capacity with cars (con of going 4th of July weekend). So we decided to drive up there the next morning. There’s parking right at the overlook and is a beautiful photo-op spot.
Next we drove and parked at the Jordan Pond House for our next hike. We started with the moderate Penobscot Mountain trail which was 3 miles up 1200’. It was tricky to find so I recommend speaking with someone at the Jordan Pond House information center. The top of the mountain was some of the most beautiful panoramic views. You then go down Deer Brook Trail that then connects to the easy Jordan Pond path. This is a nice recovery walk along the pond and you end up back at the Jordan Pond House. The combination of woods with streams and scenic mountain top views made this the best day hike we’ve ever been on. Highly recommend doing Penobscot.
After lunch at Drydock Café in Southwest harbor, we drove to Bass Harbor Lighthouse for a perfect photo opp. Recommend going early if you want a shot uninhibited by others
Later in the day we hiked the Western Mountain Ridge trail near Bass Harbor. Would not recommend this trail. A lot of bugs and fallen trees, scenery just ok.
Overall we loved Maine and will definitely be back, most likely in the fall when the leaves are changed and the tourists not as abundant.