I have sat staring at this blank screen trying to figure out how to start this blog post for so long. The truth is…I didn’t want to go on this trip. Well, let’s back up. I actually very much DID want to when we booked it months ago. I excitedly made dinner reservations, planned our itinerary with my husband and started picking out outfits.
But then something happened in my personal life that wrecked me so completely that a vacation seemed like such a nonsense, frivolous thing in the midst of what was going on. If you follow me on Instagram you know that I have been dealing with something, but not exactly sharing what that is. For as much as I’ve put myself out there publicly, I am actually a very private person when it comes to most things. And while I’m still not ready or willing to share what’s been going on…I will share that I was wholly, completely and indescribably sad by the time our trip rolled around. In fact I almost cancelled it. But everyone around me would hear none of it and kept encouraging me to keep our vacation plans and try to “get away” for a while. Ya know…relaxation, decompression…things like that. I was skeptic that I’d be able to relax at all and that I’d pack my broken heart in my suitcase right along with my sweaters.
And yet…that crisp New England coastal air somehow had some healing elements and I wound up very much enjoying this trip. We traveled to Maine in the off season – most things close down for the season on Oct. 31 and we flew there Nov. 4 but we were still able to fit in most things that we wanted to do. A few restaurants were closed that I would have loved to visit and we weren’t able to do most things on the water like going out on a lobster boat, kayaking, sailing, etc. But we still packed in a ton of fun, adventure, great food and yes…relaxation as it turns out.
So come with me and I’ll take you on a guide of a trip through three beautiful spots on the coast of Maine. We’ll start off in Kennebunkport, spend a short while in Phippsburg and then make our way to Portland to wrap it up. Let’s go!
We splurged a tad and booked the Admiral Suite. And let me tell you…not a mistake. I’d tell you to picture huge sliding glass doors with a private balcony with the prettiest views…but I’ll just show you pictures.
The restaurant in the hotel is one of the best in town. We had a yummy happy hour upon arrival with oysters and apps and then had dinner there another night. Everything was absolutely delicious.
Order the fish & chips and bao bun starter! Thank me later.
What to do:
Explore Dock Square. There’s plenty of shopping (make sure to visit Daytrip Society, Seacraft, Fleurant and Sea Bags, my favorites!)
Beer tasting at Batson River Brewing
Get a Campfire Latte and apple cider donuts at Dock Square Coffee
Stroll through Maine Art Hill
Drive (or bike) out to Walker’s Point. There’s a scenic pull-off where you can get out and look across to the Bush Family Compound!
Take a five minute drive down the road to Cape Porpoise, another section of Kennebunkport. Fun fact: Patrick Dempsey has a home there! Make sure to have a meal at Musette, visit art galleries, shop at Farm + Table, eat a meal at one of the restaurants that make up Pier 77 and take in the views of lobster boats there!
About 1.5 hours away from Kennebunkport is a small town called Phippsburg. We didn’t originally plan to go, but through the course of emailing back and forth with Maine Oyster Co., a plot was hatched. You see…Maine Oyster Co. has a restaurant in Portland, which we planned on visiting and also taking a little oyster shucking class there. But while emailing with their representative, she mentioned that there was also a possibility of visiting their basecamp in Phippsburg and actually going on a tour of their oyster farm. It would have been more convenient to do this while we were in Portland since it would have been a shorter drive, but matching our schedule with theirs meant that Friday would be the day and so we sacrificed some time in Kennebunkport in order to do this. And let me tell you….IT WAS AWESOME. It was the most quintessential Maine experience. I’ve been telling Adam for years that I would just love to go get hands on with oysters, get out on the water, shuck the fresh, etc. This literally allowed for my dream to come true. I lived it out in real life and it was pure perfection.
Now, the first thing you need to know is that when I say “tour” I could not mean it further from the actual definition of the word. I expected it to be kinda commercialized, to be on the tour with multiple other people and to have very little hands-on experience. Nope. As it turns out, they had only started giving tours of their oyster farm a few months previous and instead of a tour it was honestly more akin to just hanging out with John, the owner of Maine Oyster Co., going out on his boat with him and just experiencing a fun day on the water, plucking oysters straight from the ocean, shucking them on a moving boat and slurping them down. It doesn’t get more authentic than that. After we’d collected our bounty of oysters from the farm, and after slurping down a bunch of them on the boat, we boated back to the basecamp dock and shucked more, enjoying them with beer and some mignonette sauce while people from the community stopped by to hang out. Truly, hands down the coolest experience of this trip. We now consider John to be a friend and would love to go visit him again.
Our hotel was right smack dab in Old Port, which I promise is where you want to be in Portland. Cobble stones, wharfs, night life, shopping. It was a perfect location and a beautiful hotel.
What to do:
Walk around and explore Old Port. Pop into any restaurant, boutique or bar…they’re all great.
Restaurants not to miss: Maine Oyster Co., Scales, Street & Co., Luke’s, Portland Camp + Alpine, High Rollers, Bluefin at Portland Harbor Hotel
Stroll down all the wharfs
One morning, go to Standard Baking and grab coffee and a smattering of freshly baked pastries. Get them to go! Then go over to the wharf, buy a ticket at the ferry stand and take a ferry out to Peaks Island. Getting off the boat is optional. Honestly we just took our coffees and pastries out, enjoyed the ferry ride and the views and rode it straight back. It was so much fun and a great way to spend breakfast. When you live in Oklahoma like we do, you don’t get to do things like this very often!
Take a self guided tour of Portland lighthouses. See my blog post about that here
Take a self guided beer tasting tour! Ours included: Shipyard, Rising Tide and Oxbow. We ran out of time or we would have added Liquid Riot.
When were were on this vacation I was thinking about how often in the past we chose to travel internationally and although I do miss international travel, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to get out and explore the beauty that resides within our own borders. I’m glad we’ve continued to travel during Covid – we’ve never felt unsafe and have experienced and practiced an abundance of caution and safety. Maine was the perfect pick for a domestic travel experience. We loved it and could not recommend it any higher! I hope, as always, that you’ve found some inspiration within this post and hopefully follow these recommendations at some point in your future travels!