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Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

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Poconos
posts: 119
reviews: 1
Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

We had an excellent time during our one week stay in Boothbay Harbor -- we judge a vacation successful by whether we start thinking about moving there, and this vacation was highly successful; my husband is now very motivated to buy a cottage and retire here (at least during the summers).

We stayed at Harborfields and the accommodations, while rustic, suited our needs perfectly. If you're looking for luxury, this place is not it. But it's on the waterfront and our kids adored the dock and swam off it almost every day. They made lots of friends with the other kids staying at the other cottages, and spent many hours playing and swimming and rowing in the Harborfields rowboat. We stayed in the Wharf cottage, which is right over the shoreline and has a new deck that gave us stunning sunrises (close the curtains before bed if you don't want to be up at 6 a.m.) One quibble: the window screens were essentially useless; a bug could drive a mosquito-sized Mack truck through the gaps. This made it impossible to read in bed after dark, or even use a computer or other electronic device, as the bugs descended quickly. We didn't really mind going to bed at 9 every night, but it could be an issue for some. Oh -- bug repellent is critically necessary, as Maine has vicious predator bugs that make the bugs of our state (Pennsylvania) look like pikers. :)

We visited Reid and Popham state park beaches and found them both delightful and well worth the trip. Go to Popham at low tide to walk out to the island. There is a memorial marker at the highest point on the island, dedicated to a young man who apparently drowned there; I would love to know that story if anyone can chime in. We were a bit disappointed that we had to pay admission at each park (it was about $15 at each park - can't remember exactly) and couldn't buy some kind of day pass that would cover us at both. Of course, few people like to drive as much as we do, and aren't likely to try for both beaches in a single day. We were just having fun roaming. There is a weekly pass (?) but by the time we figured this out, it was not cost-effective.

We went to Pemaquid lighthouse at sunset. The time to visit this lighthouse, for photography purposes, is really sunrise. But that would have meant getting up at 4... The lighthouse is gorgeous and the kids loved exploring the rocky outcroppings. Definitely worth the drive; there is a fee to enter, but not, apparently, at sunset. The lighthouse was closed then anyway.

Another high point was Barrett Park. This is a municipal park, just around the corner from the landmark Catholic church in downtown Boothbay Harbor. We spent a couple of afternoons there, kayaking and swimming and picnicking. Great little sandy beach (rare) that was very close to us, and a lovely park with tables and bathrooms and shade and there was even a swing that had been roped on a tree. We loved this place - and no fee. The tide has about an 8-foot change, so low tide and high tide are completely different experiences.

I think our kids (and I) had the best time of the week at Monkey C, Monkey Do -- it's on U.S. 1 in Wiscasset. It was $99 for two hours of rope/zip line/tree top adventure. We all had a blast, except our 7-year-old, who got scared at about the second level. This is highly recommended if you're at all active. No need to be in great shape (I'm not, not by any means.) -- but if you're very overweight, you might not have a good time. I watched two overweight people getting winched down during our time there. That said, I was amazed at how much fun I had at this place. It was definitely worth the money.

We went on the Bay Lady, an old 32-foot sailing ketch (sloop?), that cost around $80 for two adults, two kids. Nice trip in the harbor and we sailed the entire time, which is what we wanted. That was the only real money we spent on Boothbay Harbor tourism activities. We just didn't have the budget for multiple excursions. The downtown is very quaint, riddled with precious shops, which aren't really our cup of tea. But we enjoyed walking around, and our English mastiff was marveled over by everyone. (Yes, Harborfields accepts pets, for an extra $75).

We had breakfast at Mama D's and really enjoyed the backyard deck. Waffles were excellent. They only take cash, though, so be prepared.

The only sour note was Red's. We drove there our first night for lobster rolls. Ordered four rolls, plus fries, plus four drinks. Total was $92 and change. I just about fell over. There are restaurants in New York that cost less. And we don't have to swat bugs and eat in the dark (lights on their deck are off because of bugs, I guess). IMHO, the place is crazy overrated.

After that, we bought our own lobster every day at the docks and made our own lobster rolls. Lobsters were insanely cheap -- $4 for a soft-shell -- and it made no sense at all to pay the inflated restaurant prices. (My husband does all the cooking, so that influences my judgment a bit -- though I did do all the dishwashing, which is a lot harder than at home, with no dishwasher)

We did a day trip down to Brunswick to visit a friend and can highly, highly recommend Gelato Fiasco. I want to order their gelato online, but can't. It is available in some regional supermarkets, but none by me. This was an amazing treat. The gelato was quite inexpensive and they'll put as many flavors as you want in a single serving, plus they offer free samples, as many as you like, while you try to make up your mind. We even detoured there on our way home, just to get more - but they didn't open until 11 and that would've meant a two-hour wait, so we regretfully left. Boudin College has a museum devoted to arctic exploration, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, and there is also a William Wegman exhibit at the college's museum of art -- we enjoyed both of those, plus an outdoor performance of MacBeth. All free.

We had wanted to rent kayaks but the prices for the four of us made no sense - we could buy kayaks for what it would cost to rent them for a couple of days. So that's what we did - we drove to the Walmart in Brunswick and bought two inflatable kayaks and a car lighter-operated pump for $200. They were fine for paddling around the harbor, which was all we wanted. Not something for ocean kayaking, or long tours, but we have little kids so that wasn't in the cards anyway. And we could pack them and take them home easily, where we are now enjoying them on our creek. Win-win!

I think that just about covers it. Any questions, just ask.

Succasunna, NJ
posts: 319
reviews: 83
1. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

Great trip report..............thank you for all the useful information. My wife and I will be in Boothbay in a couple of weeks, after visiting Camden and Bar Harbor. We visited there fifteen years ago and loved it, so I can understand why your husband feels as he does. Too bad about Red's.....I'm tempted to stop just to see what the fuss is all about but it seems like a pricey thing to do just to satisfy my curiosity, especially with the price of lobster down significantly. I think I read somewhere on here that there is a place not far from Red's that's just as good or better.......forget the name. I'm glad you had a great trip.

Southern Maine
Destination Expert
for Maine
posts: 2,969
reviews: 10
2. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

Thanks for the report. You're right - most people do either Popham or Reid, not both. Here's a little info on the memorial marker:

http://rediscoverportland.com/popham-beach/

Some people like Red's, others do not. It has been there forever, well before its moment of fame on the food networks. You get a ton of lobster in their roll and it is fresh, which is the draw. I think if I had already been in Boothbay, I'd have just gone to the Lobster Dock or any of the local lobster pounds who sell them.

Valparaiso, Indiana
posts: 13
reviews: 42
3. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

That is a great, and interesting trip report. The reason it's interesting, is that My wife and I were in BBH 7/29-8/4... and we did NONE of things you mentioned... and also had a great time. We are Mid-50 somethings without the kids. We stayed at the Thistle Inn B&B a short walk to town, very quiet and peaceful.

Day One, Whale Watch on Capn Fish's. We took the 9:30 trip, which required no reservations. We walked on the boat at 9:25... We have done many different whale watches and this comes in a distant last... over an hour and a half to get to the grounds which only left about 30 minutes to look for whales.

Day Two, Monhegan Island. We drove to New Harbor and took the Hardy Boat out. This is only a 50-minute trip so you have much more time on the island. We watched the Balmy Days boat from BBH drop off and hour after we got there... and watched them leave to get back an hour before we did. We will definitely plan to go back with better hiking shoes. Be aware there is only one public bathroom on the island.

Day Three. Walked around several of the Land Trust Park trails. Enjoyed the Barter's Island Vista trail the most. only 6/10ths of a mile, but it took us almost 2 hours to do it because of all of the pictures we took at the Vista points. We went down to the "Beach" on Southport Island on Beach Road down from the General Store. Fun place at High Tide...

Day Four: The 3-hour River Cruise. VERY relaxing and informative trip. Lots of Lighthouses and interesting stories by a very informed pilot. Would have enjoyed the Concert on the Square... weather was too Iffy... and proved us right.

Day Five: Shop til you drop... and lots of Downeast Ice Cream... it helped the tired feet.

Dinners were at Kalers (great service, OK food, outstanding prices); Robinson's Wharf on Southport (same review).

We went to Wiscasset to SEE Reds... but ate at Sprague's across the street... I do agree with Krenster. Why pay that much with that much wait time.

Regret? Missing the Rockland Lobsterfest. We wanted to take the Maine Eastern Railroad over there since the traffic was horrendous... but just got tired out.

Next Time? We would definitely rent a cabin, save on the restaurant prices... and do more relaxing... but we have more tours to take!. My wife spent a lot of time in just one of the pottery places (Sheepscot's) and is looking to having more time to visit the others.

Valparaiso, Indiana
posts: 13
reviews: 42
4. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

That is a great, and interesting trip report. The reason it's interesting, is that My wife and I were in BBH 7/29-8/4... and we did NONE of things you mentioned... and also had a great time. We are Mid-50 somethings without the kids. We stayed at the Thistle Inn B&B a short walk to town, very quiet and peaceful.

Day One, Whale Watch on Capn Fish's. We took the 9:30 trip, which required no reservations. We walked on the boat at 9:25... We have done many different whale watches and this comes in a distant last... over an hour and a half to get to the grounds which only left about 30 minutes to look for whales.

Day Two, Monhegan Island. We drove to New Harbor and took the Hardy Boat out. This is only a 50-minute trip so you have much more time on the island. We watched the Balmy Days boat from BBH drop off and hour after we got there... and watched them leave to get back an hour before we did. We will definitely plan to go back with better hiking shoes. Be aware there is only one public bathroom on the island.

Day Three. Walked around several of the Land Trust Park trails. Enjoyed the Barter's Island Vista trail the most. only 6/10ths of a mile, but it took us almost 2 hours to do it because of all of the pictures we took at the Vista points. We went down to the "Beach" on Southport Island on Beach Road down from the General Store. Fun place at High Tide...

Day Four: The 3-hour River Cruise. VERY relaxing and informative trip. Lots of Lighthouses and interesting stories by a very informed pilot. Would have enjoyed the Concert on the Square... weather was too Iffy... and proved us right.

Day Five: Shop til you drop... and lots of Downeast Ice Cream... it helped the tired feet.

Dinners were at Kalers (great service, OK food, outstanding prices); Robinson's Wharf on Southport (same review).

We went to Wiscasset to SEE Reds... but ate at Sprague's across the street... I do agree with Krenster. Why pay that much with that much wait time.

Regret? Missing the Rockland Lobsterfest. We wanted to take the Maine Eastern Railroad over there since the traffic was horrendous... but just got tired out.

Next Time? We would definitely rent a cabin, save on the restaurant prices... and do more relaxing... but we have more tours to take!. My wife spent a lot of time in just one of the pottery places (Sheepscot's) and is looking to having more time to visit the others.

San Francisco...
posts: 3
5. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

When I was in Maine 3 years ago, Red's was the very best lobster roll I ate; I'm going again in Sep and Red's is first on my list!

San Francisco...
posts: 3
6. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

When I was in Maine 3 years ago, Red's was our very favorite place for a lobster roll; it was worth the wait in line, worth the price they charged.

I'll be in Maine again this Sept and Red's is first on my list!

posts: 3
reviews: 14
7. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

Great trip report! What did you do with your dog when you and your family went out someplace? We are planning our trip to BBH August 2013.

Poconos
posts: 119
reviews: 1
8. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

Thanks!

We took him with us to Barrett Park, and when walking around downtown. We also left him at home in the cottage on several days.

(He is an English mastiff, not a dog that needs walking every couple of hours).

Dallas, Georgia
posts: 2
9. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

Thank you for your report. We are just starting to plan out our trip to Boothbay Harbor for July 2103 & found this information very useful! I am wondering about the weather in July? We live in Georgia right now & do not like the hot, humid weather. What are the summers like - especially, the humidity being so close to water?

Thank you again

Dallas, Georgia
posts: 2
10. Re: Trip Report - Boothbay Harbor in mid-July 2012

Thank you for your report. We are just starting to plan out our trip to Boothbay Harbor for July 2103 & found this information very useful! I am wondering about the weather in July? We live in Georgia right now & do not like the hot, humid weather. What are the summers like - especially, the humidity being so close to water?

Thank you again

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