New England’s Charmer: Main Street in Camden
L.L. Bean goulashes, doe piss (fuh huntin’), and fly rods are not the only things that mark Maine’s personality, though not to acknowledge that some of its old time life-longers might be insulted to hear otherwise would be oblivious at best. Nope, not in Camden though – a jewel within the great state of pine trees and antler life lives this little hotspot for the foodie/wine-tasting/used-book-junkie; a refined nirvana of sorts.
Not completely lost of Maine’s quintessential nature surroundings, Camden boasts a favorite for hikers – the sweepingly brilliant lookouts of Camden Hills, but for those who are looking more for a little culture and quaint New England charm, Camden’s Main Street is the place to be.
Flowers and Fineries
Lined with one specialty shop after another, a collection of colors splashes off the face of Camden’s Main Street storefronts. Yellow striped awnings frame cheese shops, chalkboards with the daily specials on fine wines and spreads boast, “Best cup of coffee in town,” along with their prices for fresh spring tulips and other seasonal treats. That particular shop, Lily, Lupine & Fern (11 Maine Street; 207-236-9600) started out 23 years ago selling antiques and flowers but because of customer demand, the owners, Bunni and her husband Gary, a leather-vest wearing, long-haired biker type with a voice full of friendly gruff, have evolved into offering fine spirits, specialty food items, and New England sourced coffee claimed to be so delectable, a cost of $14.50 a pound stands justified.
The smell of herbs and cheeses, glass cases of cigars, walls lined with hundreds of bottles of imported wines, and ribbon-tied displays of wicker baskets full to the brim with glass jars of whole figs in syrup, wine-ripened sauces, and chocolate cookies “made in the California wine country,” define the character of this tiny, two room shop. The exceptional quality of flower arrangements offered in the second room’s cooler warns on their website (www.lilylupine.com) that though the shop is sorry, they “do not stock carnations.” Fruit baskets, artisan cheeses, and specialty crackers are also a prize of this retail gem, open 10:00am – 5:30pm, Mon-Sat. during the winter, and then also on Sundays, 12:00pm – 5:00pm during the warm season.
For the used-book junkie looking for thrills in a quaint, literature-soaked, nook size reading niche, the nearly hidden, second story shop, Stone Soup (33 Main Street; 207-763-3354) exists to please. Located at the top of a set of stairs tucked between the doors of two unrelated establishments, Stone Soup gives something of the feeling of the book store in the fabled film, The Neverending Story, complete with the sweet aroma of “old book smell” and brimming with entire wall lengths, from floor to ceiling, of piles upon piles of newer and antiquated used books. In addition to the seemingly endless supply of old paperbacks ranging from genres of Mystery and General Fiction to Women’s Studies, Aviation, and Gonzo Journalism there is also a tiny “music room” (generously titled here considering the capacity of said “room” is at best a single patron) that holds two deep drawers full of vintage record albums; a glass-encased Edison Original Record from 1919 hangs solo on the wall.
Since 1985, Paul Joy, a congenial if not chatty older gentleman, along with wife Agnes, have owned Stone Soup, fashioning it to offer “a little something for everyone.” Made up of two rooms no bigger when combined than the size of a large bedroom, a person can walk out with an armful of books for about half the price they would have paid retail. The shop offers its eclectic selections as a compilation made up mostly from patrons who wish instead of buying to trade or sell their collections, which Joy says inspired the shop’s folk-tale influenced name. During the off-season no set hours exist, “a part of the ambiance,” according to Joy. During the on season Stone Soup is open 10:00am – 5:00pm, Mon-Sat., and 11:00am – 4:00pm on Sundays. As a rule, if it’s cold season, you’re better off calling first.
Camden Harbor Eateries
A New England charmer begging to satisfy the amateur foodie in all of us, Camden Deli (37 Main Street; 207-236-8343) one of coastal Maine’s premier delicatessens goes beyond the run of the mill roast beast sandwich, and instead ventures into the realm of jazz-laced radio tunes and the dishing up of grilled portabella melts served on sourdough with creamy garlic mayo; and gourmet grilled cheeses made with Muenster, Mozzarella, and Monterey Jack, dressed with tomato and fresh herbs. The menu, much of which is written in chalk on an enormous, quarter-wall size chalkboard behind the counter also includes baked and distinguished goodies ranging from good old fashioned blueberry pies to English gingerbreads, chocolate covered strawberries, and specialty quiches full of broccoli, cheddar, and lobster. Barista inspired beverages also find a place on the board with wide variety.
Lucky for the frugal traveler, not a single sandwich on the menu costs more than $8.50, with the exception of their crab and lobster rolls, both assigned to market price. The best aspect of this place, however, isn’t even its delicious array of food stuffs – it’s the view while you eat your vittles and sip your espressos. An entire wall lined with floor to ceiling windows exposes a classic, New England, coastline scene replete with a small waterfall spilling into an Atlantic harbor, sea gulls circling; windjammers anchored. Serving up fresh, tasty ingredients since 1985, Camden Deli is open daily, 7:00am – 7:00pm; Sundays included, and offer their menu online (www.camdendeli.com).
The Rest of Main Street-eries
Retail shops selling antique silverware sets and hand-hooked rugs, hand-sewn dolls and wood inspired cutlery continue to line Camden’s Main Street. From chowder houses to shops selling Maine sourced products like jarred blueberries called, “The Caviar of Maine,” this street has an opportunity for just about anyone with a taste for culture. The best part about it? Even in the starkest cold of a frigid Maine winter at least half its shops continue year round to offer warmth through comforts rarely found.
Wicked Beautiful View Bub!
If you’re in the Midcoast region of vacationland U.S.A, digging for a spectacularly beautiful view of the ocean, small Maine towns and seemingly endless woods you must make your rounds to Camden Maine!
Located in Knox County, Camden is a typical small Mainer town. Like most towns on the coast of Maine, there is a great abundance of sea food restaurants, shops of all shapes and sizes and plenty of woods to explore. If you’re familiar with the woods of Maine then you know that you can’t go wrong with where you choose to knock your boot into. The woods of Camden State Park don’t prove any different.
If walking in and out of shop after shop isn’t your thing (I don’t blame you) then perhaps Camden Hills State Park is right up your alley. Located at 280 Belfast Road in Camden, it’s located roughly 3 miles from town and right off route 1. Once at the park you can choose from over a hundred camp sites to sleep at after a day’s hike of Mt. Megunticook. The phone number for the park is 207-236-0849 and the website is www.camdenmainevacation.com/camden-hills-state-park.
The trail’s length ranges from 3 miles all the way up to 30 miles of connected trails; be sure to have a trail map at the ready, snacks, a flashlight and a cell phone because the service is very good from the peak! Although, we recommend you press the off button and get on your way!
The experience level required for the trails depend on the season. If you plan on hiking during snow melt, which is highly recommended, you’ll need a good pair of boots, hiking poles and a careful footing. Trail conditions range from muddy to icy in the blink of an eye. My choice of boot for the trip was tall rubber boots; walking through the ice cold snow melt waterfalls was simply amazing! There are endless crystal clear waterfalls flowing down the trail especially as you make your way to the peak.
The hike will take approximately two and a half hours to complete not including your stay at the top, and trust me you’ll stay a while! Pack a lunch and a picnic blanket and enjoy the beautiful crisp (but still t-shirt acceptable) breeze overlooking the ocean and town of Camden. No matter how long you stay at the peak, you’re guaranteed a great experience in the woods of Camden Maine, well unless it’s raining of course!
Enjoying Camden, on a Budget
Camden, Maine sparkles with natural beauty and local character year-round, but as with most of Maine towns that thrive on tourism, it tends to be expensive. It can be a challenge spending an afternoon there with a limited budget if you’re not familiar with the area, but there are many options for inexpensive food and shopping if you know where to go. Also, be sure to make time to walk around and enjoy the beauty of the area. There are remarkable views of the ocean and historic landmarks that make Camden a town to not be missed.
Boynton-McKay Food Co. Open Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm (but the kitchen closes every day at 3:00). Serving breakfast and lunch, Boynton-McKay offers a wide variety of delicious dishes such as sandwiches, wraps, French toast and baked goods, all at reasonable prices. The space it occupies on Main Street was once a pharmacy, and the walls are decorated with antique tins for herbs and old photographs. There is also a coffee bar that was once a soda fountain, and 1950s music plays in the background under the sound of conversation. You may have to wait for a booth, but the staff ensures that the wait is never too long. The best deal is the vegetable flatbread pizza ($3.50), but the black bean and avocado quesadilla is big enough to serve two people and is wonderfully messy and gooey with cheese ($6.50).
Cappy’s Chowder House, open Sunday through Thursday 11:30 am to 9:00, Friday and Saturday 11:30 to 10:00, serves ‘Maine’ food such as chowders, crab cakes, and fish sandwiches, and is a great place to take children (the atmosphere is relaxed, the staff is friendly, and the paper placemats can be colored in – crayons are at every table), as well as being reasonably priced.
Zoot Coffee, though mysterious about their hours of operation (they seem to be open most of the time) is the best place in to go in town if you want coffee. Don’t be put off by the unassuming exterior – inside, the café has a quirky, modern vibe, with photographs by local artists on the walls and jazz playing softly. Zoot serves an excellent cappuccino.
Stone Soup – This bookshop has no set hours, and is one of the best things about Camden’s downtown area. On the second story of a building on Main Street, two tiny rooms house a collection of used books that are arranged in stacks, on shelves, and in piles. This is not a shop to stop at for a few minutes – once you’re there, it will be a while before you want to leave.
Serendipity – open Monday through Friday 10:00 to 5:00 and Saturday 10:00 to 4:00. This attractive consignment shop is a little pricier than some used clothing stores, but everything is clean, like new, and in many cases have designer labels. Sunny and welcoming, Serendipity is a classy, reasonable alternative to some of Camden’s high-end boutiques.
Stonewall Kitchen – open Wednesday through Saturday 9:00 – 5:00, Sunday 10:00 to 5:00. Stonewall Kitchen sells its own locally-made jams and preserves, as well as kitchen wares. It can be expensive to shop there, but it’s absolutely worth stopping by just to enjoy the warm, inviting atmosphere of the high-ceilinged, bright space; to try some samples of jams and mustards, and maybe to buy a miniature jar of their famous wild Maine blueberry jam (3.75 ounces for $3.50).
No visit to Camden would be complete without a stop at Camden’s beautiful public library, which was recently designated as a National Historic Landmark along with its amphitheater. The library building has three levels: the first is home to books, computers, a children’s room, and a stunning domed ceiling decorated by the first few lines of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Renascence”; the next level houses the Edward J. Walsh History Center, which is really a town historical museum. The third story is home to one large, open reading room, the walls covered with historical books, paintings of majestic sailboats, and antique clocks.
Outdoors, the amphitheater park is grassy and protected by trees on three sides, an ideal place to sit and read or for children to play hide-and-seek. Across the street, there is a beautiful park that overlooks Camden’s famous harbor, where walking, running, kite-flying, and people-watching are all perfect ideas.
A Trip to Camden Maine
Nestled under the peak of Mount Battie lays a quaint little town known as Camden Maine. It was founded in 1791 and has since sprouted into a bustling tourist town. Its various locally owned shops add to the town’s quaint charm. Colorful awnings decorate brick store fronts inviting customers to buy Maine theme products. Promises of the best sea food in town adorn chalkboard signs outside restaurants accompanied by the pleasant aroma of meats and breads. Book store displays scream Maine, with puffin themed children books and lobster cook books. Gift shops, restaurants, book stores, and clothing stores all add to the cultural identity of Camden Maine. Going for a visit, there are some places that must be visited and enjoyed.
Camden Public Library: No one should leave Camden without visiting the Camden Public Library. It can be found on Maine Street; right next to Harbor Park. The Library was opened for the first time in 1928 and has just recently been pronounced a National Historical Landmark along with the amphitheater next to it. The outside of the building has dramatic columns and an amazing view of the harbor. The inside of the building rivals the outside with its own drastic architectural feats. The three floors of the library all have something a little different and a little special.
Walking into the first floor is like walking into the Parthenon. In the middle of the room columns lead to a circular skylight. A line from Edna St. Vincent Mallay’s poem, “Renascence” sprawls across the top of the dome. This area becomes a perfect place to read or do work on a sunny afternoon as daylight streams through the ceiling. To the very left of this area “The Jean Picker Room” is proudly displayed above the door of a room set between books and computers. A giant screen television sits on display at the front of the room with a piano off to the side. The room lacks adornments except a few item such as these, because on the walls are photographs depicting the Maine fishing industry. These pictures beautifully depict Maine’s fishing culture. Giant skeletal boats arranged next to small lobster vessels cling to the walls. People with smiles plastered on their faces peer out from photos across the room at iced covered boats and large hauls of sea creatures.
Back in the main room of the library the stairs wind up to the second and third floors of the library. Leading to the second floor on the wall is a timeline of different events in Camden’s History. This gets visitors in the mood for historical facts and ready to visit the Edward J. Walsh History Center. Unlike the first floor this one has little to look at beside some historical memorabilia. The third floor on the other hand is perhaps just as grand as the first.
At one end of the third floor fireplace welcomes visitors and at the other a giant window climbs high up on the wall up letting in sunlight. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling and comfy red chairs with coffee tables are scattered here and there. The walls are adorned with paintings of stormy oceans and ships trying to stay afloat. The window seats set along the walls look out onto Camden and give patrons a glimpse of the harbor and the ocean that lies beyond. This beautiful place seems to fit better in a Jane Austin novel than in this modern era.
The Village Shop: The oldest gift shop on Maine Street is the Village Shop. It offers a variety of moose and lobster themed products to the wandering traveler. It’s one of the best places to acquire souvenirs for friends and family back home. And, if a moose themed rug just doesn’t cut it for your special someone, they offer embroidery in the back of the store.
Serendipity: One of the more popular places in town is Serendipity: Fine Consignment. The inside of the store is very bright and color blossoms up in random patches to add to the décor. For example hats of different neon colors decorate the front window promising a jubilant atmosphere. In this second hand store, prices range dramatically, anywhere from $59.99 for a sweater to $6.00 for a shirt in the bargain section. Their wares tend to be on the less fashionable side with floral print shirts and blander designs; however, it is possible to find something both flattering and affordable. A cute brown sundress can be purchased for $16.99, and in the sales rack a silver vest can be bought for $10.00. These items are what Serendipity is all about, trying to find that diamond in the ruff.
Fresh Bakery and Market: For a delicious treat go to the Fresh Bakery and Market located at 1 Bay View Landing which is a slight turn off of Main Street. This duel restaurant and bakery powerhouse offers many delectable treats at reasonable prices. The restaurant portion doesn’t open on Tuesdays or Wednesdays so enjoy the wonderful baked treats from the bakery on these days. The pastel colors really brighten up the room and make up for the lake of scenery outside the window. The blueberry muffins ($2.25) are incredible moist on the inside with a slight crunch on the outside. Wash it all down with a creamy espresso ($2.00) that will help keep the chill of the ocean air at bay.
Stone Soup: To enjoy a nice book at discounted prices go to Stone Soup located on Maine Street. This hidden gem is located on the second floor and can be easily overlooked. The store has a tranquil ambiance brought on by the numerous books lining every corner of the two roomed layout and the gentle hum of bluesy music drifting about. The store’s clerk greets customers warmly before receding behind a wall of books and leaving them to explore the shelves undisturbed. Every type of book ranging from cooking and gardening to science fiction and religion can be found shelves or piled up on the floor. The prices differ between books, but usually the inside cover reveals them to be half price.
Harbor Park: For a nice short stroll, go to Harbor Park which overlooks Penobscot Bay. In the entrance of the park a statue dedicated to those Camden breed soldiers who died in the Civil War stands proudly against a wall of foliage. The most striking aspect of Harbor Park is its proximity to the Smiling Cow; because behind this gift shop and the three or so shops next to it, a drop off creates a miniature waterfall that flows into the harbor. The sound of the rushing water makes a nice backdrop for strollers and the people lounging on the benches near the walkways. Near the water’s edge, looking down, fishing nets and various seaweeds can be seen scattered about. Out across the bay Windjammer masts thrust high into the sky and beyond them the vast expanse of ocean tempts fishermen and lobstermen alike. This is the perfect place settle down on a bench to read a book or enjoy a muffin. Occasionally pigeons will show up to eat the birdseed scattered on the ground, so the place is never lonely.
Maine Lodging: Beach Cottage Inn
LINCOLNVILLE – Nestled between the Camden Hills and Ducktrap Harbor, Lincolnville is a picturesque up-and-comer with that Maine small-town feel so many of us crave.
Located in downtown Lincolnville on Lincolnville Beach is a cozy little inn called the Beach Cottage Inn. Offering several rooms as well as a balcony overlooking the small harbor, this charming inn is not to be missed.
Entering the inn is like entering an elegant home. Surrounding the first few rooms is a sunroom, perfect for enjoying winter, spring, summer, or fall. The other rooms are located on decks, there is both a lower and upper deck providing seating. These decks make it worth sticking around to watch the sunset, as well as getting up early enough to watch the sun rise over the harbor. The inn overall creates a quaint, homey feel and is both cute and clean.
Each of the rooms are rather different with ranging prices, yet they all have a country-feel, making one feel right at home. The rooms are all very clean and provide space and seating areas. The two cheapest rooms do not have television, but all the rooms provide Wi-Fi connection. The more expensive suites contain kitchens and appliances, while the cheaper ones provide a fridge. All the rooms have a different ambiance but all are full of books and beautiful photographs of the sea and shore.
Owners, Dorothee and Rob Newcombee have a combined background of fifty-five years in the hospitality industry and are both friendly and welcoming. Opening first the Whale’s Tooth Pub and Restaurant fifteen years ago as a chance to scale down, this power couple soon opened the Beach Cottage Inn offering an inn that is not only ideally located, but also very well kept.
On a regular stay at the inn, one can expect fair prices, a comfortable stay, and a friendly welcoming. The inn offers considerably low prices in the off-season, as well as breakfast coupons to Dot’s, a quaint yet worthy bakery up the street. If rooms are available, one can be optimistic about being upgraded to a larger room.
The Whale’s Tooth Pub and Restaurant, next door to the inn, is where you check in. The restaurant has a very calm feel and offers both indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the ocean. The servers have chalkboards, showing the specials, which they move around in order to show you all the delicious meals the restaurant has to offer.
There is a wide range of food at the Whale’s Tooth Pub and Restaurant. It is a mix between various ethnic foods and comfort foods. One can order anything from nachos or buffalo chicken wings to fresh lobster. The pub offers local beer and wine from Andrew’s Brewery and the Cellardoor Winery, both located in Lincolnville. The Whale’s Tooth Pub really captures the essence of Lincolnville, and is one of the locals’ favorite hubs.
The Newcombees will never fail to make you feel welcome and you will be left yearning to return. Whether looking for a couple’s retreat or looking for an affordable, yet delightful break, the Beach Cottage Inn is the place to go, relax, and enjoy.
If You Go:
The Beach Cottage Inn 2533 Atlantic Highway, U.S. Route 1, Lincolnville Beach, Maine 04849; 207.789.5200 http://beachcottageinn.com/introduction.html.
What we liked most: The overall friendly and calm atmosphere that both the owners and the inn created.
What we liked least: Leaving so soon.
What surprised us: The quality and cleanliness of the rooms for the price we were paying. You know you’re at The Beach Cottage Inn when: You don’t know whether you want to enjoy the inn itself or its beautiful surroundings.
Rates: The cheapest room has a full bed for $85 during high season, $75 low, the rates run between this and the most expensive room the “Maine Stay,” which is a combination of 3 of the rooms and includes 3 queen beds and a futon for $405 during high season and $345 during low season; most rooms are between $100 and $200. High season is June 20th to October 17th.
By: Anna Mueller
Younity Winery, a Taste of Maine in Every Glass
To those who have a passion for unique and local wines, there is good news for you. Younity Winery in Unity, Maine, has a selection of some of the best alternative wines that you can get and for a great price. The wine which comes from a variety of grapes: La Crosse, Prairie Star, Reliance, Niagara, or Mars, are grown on the property to produce flavors that aren’t traditionally seen in wine. Younity wine has made a name for itself in the wine business of Maine.
The Younity Winery was first started in 2007 by Clem Blakney and his wife Jeri. They moved from Washington and started the vineyard planting grapes in their vineyard off of Albion road. In 2009 they got their license and dove into the winery business. The name Unity winery was already taken so they decided to use Younity winery with their play on words slogan “Because You are our Maine Ingredient.” Clem and Jeri work in the basement with two 120 gallon barrels that the wine ages for production.
Younity Wine, such as Pie-Eyed Spiced Pumpkin Wine, offer a new and different taste to the pallet that to most would not sound like a typical wine to drink with your meal. If asked what pairs well with them the generic answer would be that it is a dessert wine, but that’s where you would be wrong. The wines that come from Younity are good with all different entrees, appetizers, and aren’t just dessert wines at all.
Younity wines are great for special occasions but also are great just for sitting down and relaxing to a rare treat. With a wide variety of flavors from pumpkin pie, rhubarb, elderberry, blueberry, and a big success cranberry there is something for everyone to enjoy. These wines are on the dryer side and contain little to no sulfates in them. What makes these wines a real winner is that they only use organic cane dried sugar so that there is no residual chemicals to mess with the flavors and that can give a weird after taste that fowls the pallet.
In the old fashion Mainer way the ingredients of the wines are as local as can get. Somethin’ Blue uses Maine wild blueberries that haven’t been sprayed with a bunch of pesticides. The elderberries and cranberries are also Maine grown and allow for a fresher and tastier wine. The labels on the bottles are just as unique as the wines flavors. With cute pictures ranging from a hippo in a tutu to a group of ladies having tea they are truly distinguishing bottles.
These wines are a great on their own, but offer fine compliments to summer dishes and anything else that can be thought of. There is no end to the number of combination that can be made with these sophisticated yet truly simple Maine wines.
Pied Eyed Spiced Pumpkin, $12. A pumpkin pie flavored wine that doesn’t over power the taste buds.
The Palmer Sisters, $12. An elderberry wine. Truly a one of a kind.
Somethin’ Blue, $12. A blueberry wine that won’t disappoint. Great for special occasions
‘Tickle Pink’, $12. A cranberry wine. One of the best sellers.
Rhuby Slippers, $12. A rhubarb wine. Not your typical wine, but definitely worth a try.
By: Brett Rouleau
HI-San Francisco Union Square Hostel
Be honest, the first thing you do when you plan a trip to a certain destination is to make sure you’re at the center of all the action. You want to be right smack in the middle of all the major attractions and make sure you don’t miss a thing. Well if you are on the look out for someplace new and San Francisco is on the list, Hostels International has your back.
The building was renovated and remodeled to fit all the requirements of a person in search of modern luxuries. Given you will have to share a room with up to three other people. You also make your own breakfast, but you are aloud the comforts of an entire kitchen in the well maintained dining hall. There is also a blacked out movie room with a huge television, just make sure you read the sign on the door first because there are cameras inside to keep all the riff raff from having too much fun. Another cool thing about hostels is that in each one there is a cozy common room where people are free to relax on the couches, listen to music, talk, or read a magazine.
These things are but trivial matters to those who have come to enjoy the bustle of the city. So why not just leave your things in the room lock the door behind you if you really need to and step out on to the walkway. What will you see? Well the entire downtown district spinning around you. Small three wheeled motorized carts are being rented out across the road and people just go buzzing down Market Street to explore. You could head south and see Haight & Ashbury or continue up over Mob Hill to Chinatown. Union square is only a half hour walk after that and then you’re right next to the Financial District where you can pretty much buy, eat or enjoy anything you desire.
Then after you’ve had your fill of sushi and seen your share of the theater you may head back to the hostel and no matter what time it is their will be an attendant waiting at the front desk to let you back in, just make sure you flash them your key or you might get followed up to your room for security purposes. After you make it in the door though embrace the dorm lifestyle and shower in the resident bathroom. Walk down the hall and tell your French Canadian roommate “Bonne nuit” before you have to wake up in the morning and explore everything else that San Francisco has to offer.
Price: $30 (U.S.)
Any cancelations must be made 24 hours in advance
Any one younger than 18 years of age must check in with an adult
Maximum stay policy will only allow for 14 consecutive nights in a year.
Call ahead to make reservations because these bunks do fill fast
By: Calvin Tague