Sadler House

Sadler House

Rockland, Maine

Vacation in Maine Like a Local

I’ve always felt like there are two types of travelers in the world. There are those who are perfectly fine with being tourists, and then there are those who prefer to travel like locals, keeping a low profile and seeing the soul of a place. Admittedly, vacationing like a local is a bit of a contradiction, and it can be tough to pull off. After seven straight summers living and traveling in Maine, these are our best tips on how to vacation in Maine like you live there! Disclaimer: it appears that we spend a lot of time doing things that involve food.

Buy Fresh Food at Farmstands

People who live in Maine are serious about fresh, local food. Patronizing roadside stands is a matter of course and a matter of honor. More than that, though, it’s just fun! We are fortunate to have the divine Beth’s Farm Market near us. It’s a destination all its own. We end up leaving with everything from lobsters to produce to fresh doughnuts. Pro Tip: Beth’s sells lobsters on Sunday.

Vacation in Maine like a local - Beth's Farm Market

But there’s no need to make a huge excursion out of buying from hardworking farmstands in Maine. Just pull over and shop at one! You’ll be amazed at how great they are.

Find the Less Famous Lobster Shack

Getting lobster in Maine is a no-brainer, and all the famous lobster shacks are well-known for great reasons. Here’s the thing, though: I have yet to get a mediocre lobster roll in midcoast Maine, regardless of venue. The truth is that the best thing about Maine lobster rolls is how simple they are, and the star of that roll is the fresh lobster that just came hoppin’ mad out of the water nearby.

Locals don’t spend a lot of time standing in line at the lobster shack lauded in the latest travel magazine. Instead, they go to their local lobster pound and enjoy a tranquil meal served by cheerful local staff. One of our favorite jaunts is Miller’s Lobster Co. in Spruce Head. We never have had to wait for a table there and our kids can walk around the dock freely while we’re waiting for our lobsters. Pro tip: the mussels there are crazy good. I gather they make them in the big pot of salty water there and I just can’t replicate it at home! Get them.

If you’re not sure where to find the hidden local lobster shacks, ask around! People who live nearby will be devoted to their favorites and full of great advice for a memorable (and genuine) experience. For a list of all the outdoor food shacks and trucks we could find in the midcoast, check out our article Midcoast Food Trucks and Shacks. 

Hit up the General Store or Coffee Shop Bulletin Board

I’m always amazed by the wealth of cool local events going on in the midcoast, whether it be history talks, art walks, or music. One event that was popular with our guests in August for years was the outdoor Internet Cat Festival, but you wouldn’t be able to find out about these hyper-local delights while planning your vacation on Pinterest. This tip compliments of our friends at Doubling Point Cottage is a winner: be sure to stop in your local General Store or the town coffee shop and find the flyers! Local museum websites may also be helpful in discovering cool one-time opportunities to enjoy Maine on a local level.

Most years, we are lucky enough to arrive for a visit in Rockland on the week of the Summer Solstice Festival, which involves a street fair, food, and even free vintage cartoons at The Strand Theater. It’s one of our favorite summer traditions!

2015 Summer Solstice festival in Rockland, Maine. #latergram

2015 Summer Solstice festival in Rockland, Maine. #latergram

A post shared by Sadler House | Rockland, Maine (@sadlerhousemaine) on

A post shared by Sadler House | Rockland, Maine (@sadlerhousemaine) on

If the town you’re visiting has a website, you can also seek out their calendar of events for great ideas.

Uncover the Secret Ice Cream Stand

No vacation in Maine is complete without lots of ice cream, and locals would agree! We have many favorite ice cream stands around our house in Rockland, but one of the coolest is Harjula’s, which is a short drive to South Thomaston. Harjula’s is a favorite destination for those in-the-know because of its stunning view. We can’t believe it took us so many years to get out there, because now it’s a favorite stop!

Your ice cream stand doesn’t have to have a view, though. Unassuming little places in every corner of each small town offer the most incredible flavors and quality. Another favorite haunt of ours is Jefferson Scoop, which is a family-run place tucked right next to Lake Damariscotta State Park. We can’t go to the lake without stopping there afterwards. Check out our article The Best Midcoast Maine Beaches to read about visiting Lake Damariscotta.

Whatever the view or the seating, make sure you get your ice cream!

Stay in a Vacation Home

This is not a surprising piece of advice coming from us, but we really believe it. Hotels and inns are superb at giving tourists star treatment, and that’s wonderful! However, your vacation in Maine means to sit in your Adirondack chair with a Maine beer, make your own lobster, and get advice from a neighbor who has lived there for thirty years, however, you can’t beat staying in a vacation rental home.

Backyard at Sadler House midcoast Maine

Simple and relaxing, like midcoast Maine should be!

If you can, try to book directly with owners. You can save yourselves unnecessary booking fees and, if you love the house, it’s a quick way to book a return visit with old friends the next year! We love repeat guests and lavish all our best, most individualized advice on them.

But this advice, we give to all of you.

What are your favorite insider tricks and places in Maine? Share in the comments!

 

Vacation Rental Owner Advice: Top Tips

Some of our most popular posts have been those giving vacation rental owner advice. For people dreaming of starting their own vacation rental, tips on budgeting, furnishing, and running that rental can be worth their weight in gold!

We don’t have all the answers, but we’ve shared some! Check out these articles to get started:

Planning Your Vacation Rental

Budgeting for your Vacation Rental : Make sure you’ve considered even the expenses we didn’t initially think of! Learn from our mistakes.

ChoosiVacation Rental Owner Advice - Sadler Houseng Vacation Rental Furnishings : Sensible and beautiful can be one and the same. Learn to choose the right palette and the right furniture to please guests and protect your wallet.

Decorating your Vacation Rental : Once the basics are in place, the fun stuff begins! Linens, furniture, and more.

Designing a Bunk Room : Guess what? You can really screw this up! Get our tips and avoid the close calls we had while choosing the furniture for this very popular space.

Running Your Vacation Rental

Cleaning Secrets for your Vacation Rental : If you’re not cleaning your own house, how does that work? Read our best tips for keeping your cleanings on track and your guests delighted.

Vacation Rental Maintenance Checklist: Sometimes you need more than a routine turnover cleaning! Read about what we do during our visits and, minimally, on an annual basis.

Creating Your Own Furnishingstray table hack

Industrial Coffee Table : Our most popular post to date! Build your own beautiful coffee table using plumbing parts.

Tray Table Hack : We use these transformed tray tables throughout the house and they have performed like champs!

Custom Coasters : Encourage guests not to leave rings your fabulous tables (you can try!) These are adorable and easy to make.

Make Useful Vacation Rental Signs Free Printable of No Smoking Sign

Coastal Non-Smoking Sign

WiFi Password (Cabins)

WiFi Password (Beach House)

We hope this vacation rental owner advice will help you as you pursue your own dream home.

Please consider following us on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook and you’ll always get our latest! Better yet, come and stay with us! Book directly.

Bake it Happen for Cancer Research!

At a time in life when so many of my friends lament getting older, I’m starting to feel pretty darn grateful. So many friends and acquaintances have been touched by the tragedy of cancer. With great care, some prevail. Others are not so fortunate. Hating cancer and the toll it takes on family and friends is one thing we can all agree on right now.

This month, the women behind the Bake it Happen campaign asked me if I’d be willing to participate in a fundraiser for metastatic breast cancer research, and even before I found out that it involved cupcakes, I said “absolutely!” All I had to do was bake some delicious goodies, share my photos with family and friends, and for every photo I posted of my baking project, the Bake it Happens sponsor would donate $5 to The Cancer Couch Foundation. Read more →

Midcoast Maine Fishing Trips Made Easy

Maine is known for its wealth of outdoor activities, so it can be intimidating when you grew up sort of an “indoor” person and then begin spending time in Maine. I was never a camper and didn’t have a lot of family hiking experience as a kid. I don’t know how to sail and never had friends with boats. You know what else I’d never done?

Fishing.

Midcoast Maine fishing trips can be easy to plan! Find out how to do it hassle-free and have a great family day.When our 8-year-old son began asking about learning to fish, we balked. My husband had never fished, either, and we started off by buying him a silly fishing rod Dan saw on the internet and going down to our neighborhood lake in Virginia. The rod became hopelessly tangled after five minutes and no fish were caught.

I started thinking how there must be so many places near our home in Maine to do just this, but I didn’t know who could help us. Putting aside the obvious problem that we don’t know how to fish, we also had no boat, no fishing licenses, no gear…and no idea how to obtain some of these things. Sure, we could have done lots of internet research and gone to sporting goods stores. Still smarting from the last fishing rod failure, however, I knew that was not going to work out. Having a solo successful midcoast Maine fishing trip seemed pretty unlikely.

Maine Outdoors Saves the Day

Luckily, I stumbled upon Maine Outdoors on Twitter and followed the links back to Don Kleiner’s site. Lo and behold, while Don takes out very experienced fishing enthusiasts and is a Master Maine Guide, he also helps inexperienced novices like us, via his fantastic offering of a half-day family fishing trip.

Contacting him through his site was a piece of cake, and I was able to easily reserve our trip on the day of my choice through his online reservation system. Shortly thereafter, he was in touch via e-mail with all the preliminary details. Namely, all my husband, father-in-law, and two boys would need to do was show up at the appointed location at Megunticook Lake at the reserved time. They didn’t need gear, licenses, or even bottled water for staying hydrated!

Midcoast Maine Fishing Trips

Read more →

Vacation Rental Maintenance Checklist

Every spring break, while Virginia is bursting into bloom and people are getting out their shorts, we pile into the car with boxes of supplies and luggage and start the 12 hour drive to Maine. When we get there, it’s often raining and there’s almost always snow on the ground. It’s not exactly the average person’s dream spring break getaway, but it’s our chance to do vacation rental maintenance on our home, which has seen many guests since our last visit at the end of the previous summer.

Why do we insist on spending a week at our vacation rental each  year during what is commonly referred to as “Mud Season?”

Well, beyond the fact that we love seeing friends we’ve missed since August and visiting restaurants we haven’t gotten to eat in since last summer, there’s checking up on our house. While we certainly could hire our wonderful cleaning service to do a deep cleaning, there are some things only the owner can really take care of. Namely, you’ve got to walk in with the eyes of someone who left the house months before, and start spotting things that are not quite right. Read more →

Find the Best Midcoast Maine Beaches

One of the first questions I get from first-time visitors to midcoast Maine is “where are the best midcoast Maine beaches?” Although there are lots of midcoast Maine beaches, finding just the right one for you and your kids can be tricky if you aren’t in-the-know. It’s taken me a couple of years to find the most convenient, fun, and relaxing beaches in our orbit of the midcoast. Plus, naturally, your ideal beach will depend on what you and your family most like to do. Therefore, I’m going to tell you about some best bets in our area. This isn’t all the midcoast Maine beaches, by any means, and I hope others will share their favorites in the comments.

I’ve included a map here to help you locate all of these spots. The addresses are pretty vague in some cases, due to their locations off of major roads, but plugging the name of the beach into your navigation will often help you pinpoint the parking areas more precisely!

To get started, here are my top five go-to sunning spots, plus one everyone else loves, but we have yet to visit.

Read more →

Midcoast Maine Food Trucks and Shacks

Watermans Beach Lobster TableAs much as we all love a great restaurant meal, it’s no secret that some of today’s greatest food is being served through a window. There is no place where this is more true than in midcoast Maine, where lobster shacks have long been a huge draw for visitors and a way of life for locals. There’s more than just lobster to be had at these casual spots, though. Nowadays, visitors to the midcoast of Maine can find every type of cuisine from Thai to tacos being sold outside. For visitors who want to enjoy the weather, or who are on a budget, or who just can’t stand barking at their kids through one more seated meal, a lobster shack or a food truck can be a godsend.

Here’s the thing, though…how do you locate these little gems? So often, the informal addresses or teeny tiny nooks where these great places are located make them tough for the visitor to find. I’ll be the first to admit that I hate looking like an idiot, driving around and thinking “Is this that pier? Is that the alley?” It has taken us a couple of years to scout out all the good pass-through-window food in Rockland and we still have some places to check out.

I’m going to make this easy for you.

Buoy Park, Rockland, Maine

Buoy Park in Rockland – a great place to eat!

What follows is a list (by town) of the midcoast Maine food trucks and shacks I’ve been able to find out about in the areas around Rockland, Camden, Rockport, and South Thomaston. Then, to make your life less awkward, I’ve plotted all these elusive little gems on a map, which you can use to find them without embarrassing your From Away visiting self. I hope this gives you the courage to patronize some of these delicious establishments. Eat like you’re in-the-know and enjoy!

In order to fully take advantage of the food truck and food shack offerings, though, you need to understand a few unwritten rules. The main one is that these hardworking folks have basic hours, but those may change day to day due to weather or other random circumstances. This is what they need to do to stay in business, so just take advantage of their social media postings and, when in doubt, call them! The hours I’ve listed below are probably correct, but I cannot guarantee them.

Midcoast Maine Food Trucks and Food ShacksThe other plea I would make to you is to be nice. Sometimes they’re mobbed and sometimes they’re not. I’ve seen visitors get super crabby about waiting a little extra time for their order or not getting their straw. Every one of these people behind the window is working in a hot, small space and churning out the best food they can at the fastest rate they can manage. If your order is a little long in coming, enjoy the view and be cool. It’ll be worth the wait. If you want to get a feel for the enormous challenges of managing a place like this, I highly recommend 16 Lessons I Learned After My First Year of Owning a Food Truck by Malcolm Bedell, owner of ‘Wich, Please and blogger at From Away.

Or you can just take my word for it.

Please note that most of these food trucks and food shacks judge opening and closing by the prevailing weather each year. Wherever I have noted “seasonal” you can assume that means roughly late May to early October, but during those times you may want to double-check to see if they are open.

Disclaimer: I realize this doesn’t cover all midcoast towns and cities. Just covering this area was a good initial challenge! Coverage south of Damariscotta is a work in progress.

With that said, let’s start at home base, shall we? Read more →

New in Rockland, Maine – 2016!

New in Rockland - 2016If I’ve learned anything about Rockland, Maine in the time we’ve been here, it’s that it will constantly be changing. I thought a lot of new things had happened in 2015, but posting a round up of what’s new in Rockland for 2016 is an even bigger task!

Fond Farewell

Change is good, but it’s still sad to say goodbye to some of the old businesses that made way for the new. Most notably from our point of view, favorites The Thorndike Creamery, The Blackboard Deli, Comida, and The Brown Bag are no longer with us.

The good news is, some very exciting new people have come to occupy a few of the old spaces. Furthermore, there is a spectacular new art attraction in town for me to tell you about. Without further ado, here are some wonderful new developments coming in downtown Rockland, Maine! Read more →

Wi-Fi Password Sign For Cabins – Free Printable

I have never been the camping type, despite my long stint with the Girl Scouts. Sure, I did my share of slogging through the woods and sleeping in tents, but I’d really prefer a well-furnished cabin than a campsite by the lake. I’m a grown-up now and I get to decide!
WiFi Password Sign - Free Printable

Some would say it’s not a vacation if you take your computer. My husband, however, actually left on a ski trip once with two laptops and no clothing in his luggage, so you can see what side of the argument we are on.

Still, many luxury vacation rentals happen to channel the pleasures of cabins in the woods without sacrificing the modern conveniences. If yours is just such a cabin, I’ve got the wi-fi pun for you!

Wi-Fi Password Sign for Cabins

Download and print this just so you can make your guests laugh – and they will be laughing (instead of crabby and crying) because they will be able to access your wi-fi. I’m sure the Girl Scouts have some sort of “Connectivity Skills” badge, anyway.

Click here to download the sign. You can either scrawl in your password with a Sharpie or use a free photo editor like Pickmonkey to easily add your password using type. Anything goes, as long as people stay calm and log on!

Do you happen to need a wi-fi password sign for a beach house? Try this one!  We also have a coastal-themed “No Smoking” sign.

Sadler House February 8, 2016 1 Comment Permalink

Wi-Fi Password Sign – Free Printable

Okay, so I’m old enough to remember saying “Surf the web.” Is that so wrong? I happen to have noticed that most of our guests (with the exclusion of the children) are also “of a certain internet lingo age.” Therefore, you must all forgive me for having a little fun with Ye Olde Wi-Fi Password sign.

Free Coastal WiFi Password SignIf admitting you remember AOL isn’t too embarrassing, and you like a good coastal joke, feel free to print as many of these as you want and hang them in your vacation rental for your guests to enjoy.

Hey – nobody is laughing at you when they urgently need the Wi-Fi is all I’m saying.

Free Coastal Wi-Fi Password Printable

You can either print these and use a Sharpie to scrawl the password on them (all laid back-like) or you can just pop over to picmonkey.com, open this file, and use their type function to superimpose your password in our image so that it looks a little slicker. Then save the file again and print it. I found this is perfect when printed on letter size photo paper and trimmed to 8×10 size.

Click here to begin.

Surf’s up, even if your AOL is down…

Hey – any chance you need a coastal-themed No Smoking sign? Check out ours!