Maine in the off-season. Winter’s winding down and mud season is fast approaching. The question is, what to do? It may seem as though there is not much to do this time of year down east in Maine … except eat and drink! There’s nothing wrong with that. Come plan a long weekend in Camden, Maine, destination the Camden Harbour Inn. Some of the best Maine restaurants, breweries, and or wineries are located in Midcoast Maine. Here, we offer a short list for your visit, but there’s plenty more for the adventure-minded to discover.
Local Beer is Fresh Beer
Craft beer is all the rage these days, and fortunately, the area boasts several breweries to visit during your stay in Midcoast Maine. Your only choice will be in deciding where to go and how many to visit. There are many throughout the region, here are three local choices:
First up, voted Best Brewery in the 2017 Best of the Best competition, Rock Harbor Brewing in Rockland offers a wide selection of freshly brewed, craft beer. The taproom features an assortment of pale ales, IPAs, and stouts, among other brews. You can check out how the beer is made by taking part in a brewery tour, too. Or pair your beer with Rock Harbor restaurant’s diverse selection of pub fare.
You will find Sea Dog Brewing right in the heart of downtown Camden. Sea Dog is noted for their award-winning signature craft brews. Following traditional English style of brewing, Sea Dog offers an assortment of refreshing, handcrafted sea-faring ales, porters, and stouts. Along with Sea Dog’s signature craft beers, their menu includes a huge seafood selection or creative pub fare. As you dine and drink, chill harbor-side and enjoy the view.
Fifteen miles north of Camden, up in Searsmont, you’ll find Threshers Brewing Company, and freshly brewed batches of amber, wheat, and brown ales, porters, and IPAs. Searsmont is not a big town, but it’s a friendly one, and you’ll be welcome at Threshers. The brewmeisters there, craft quality beer in small batches that will satisfy any thirst. Sample a flight, a pint, or purchase a growler for your return home.
On the Vine
In the past, in considering Maine’s wine scene, if there was a consideration at all, most was associated with its fruit harvest. Maine wine went in the direction of an assortment of apple, blueberry and blackberry wines. Nevertheless, Maine’s moderate ocean climate, combined with its fertile soil, has proven favorable to growing grapes. Because of its unique terroir, over the past couple of decades, varietals such as Shiraz, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon blanc have been successfully developed. Wineries have sprung up and down the coast. In fact, the biggest challenge vintners face these days down east is the local fauna. Black bear, moose, and deer, and groundhogs, squirrels, and birds, have taken as much of a liking to the vineyards as the tens of thousands who have become devoted patrons of Maine wines.
In Lincolnville, just up the coast from Camden, nestled in a valley between Levenseller and Cameron Mountains, is Cellardoor Winery. They offer a wide range of wines, palatable for all and any occasion. Come spring, the winery offers complimentary tasting in their beautifully renovated 200-year-old barn. It’s off the beaten path, but worth the trip. Enjoy a glass of wine and a local cheese plate, shop from an assortment of 20 wines, all the while overlooking the vineyard across the valley.
Twelve miles west of Camden is Savage Oaks Vineyard & Winery. Located up on Barrett Hill in Union, it is home the state’s largest selection of Maine grown grape wines. Savage Oaks has a nice selection of award-winning white, red, and rosé wines to choose from. Tours and tastings are offered daily in season. However, in the offseason, be sure to call ahead (207.785.2828) for special hours and events.
Out to Dine: The Best Maine Restaurants
Choosing the best restaurant in Midcoast Maine might be a tougher decision than picking a favorite one. Away from the main flow of traffic in Camden is Fresh & Co. Restaurant. Elegant without pretension, it’s the perfect environment for the diverse, globally-inspired, locally sourced cuisine you’ll find on the menu. This downtown Camden gem is a standout.
Located near Camden’s harbor, Francine’s offers a unique dining experience. Its menu changes daily and consists of local organic produce, meats, cheeses, and seafood from coastal Maine. Artisanal bread, desserts, and even the ice cream are created on site. Looking for a romantic night out? FlipKey by Travel Advisor voted Francine’s as the top romantic restaurant in Maine worth traveling for in 2016.
However, gourmands need to go no further than the award-winning Natalie’s to experience the best in Midcoast Maine restaurants, if not the entire region. Locally sourced foods, an eclectic menu, the ambiance, service, atmosphere, and above all, fantastic food, make Natalie’s the culinary destination for your trip.