Sadler House

Sadler House

Rockland, Maine

Local Information

All of the posts under the "Local Information" category.

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!

 

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 →

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 →

National Toboggan Championships!

Far from closing down in the winter, the midcoast is a hotbed of activity at the beginning of February, thanks to Camden Winterfest and the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. The activities include snow sculpting, skiing and snowboarding, and a polar plunge, among other fun winter pastimes.

There is even a snow plow parade and everyone is treated to fireworks over the Camden harbor.

 

Tobogganing in Minnesota - 1975

My brother and me with my mom in Minnesota – 1975

What I dream of doing, though, is flying down the toboggan chute. When I was a kid, my dad used to take us sledding (in Minnesota, Colorado, and Nebraska) on a plastic toboggan that rolled right up. That thing FLEW. We had so many great winter days on that toboggan.

The U.S. Toboggan Championships at the Camden Snow Bowl are a festive, grown-up version of that.

Read more →

Rockland Restaurant Dishes: 5 You Must Try!

I knRockland Maine Restaurants - Must-Try Dishesow what you think I’m going to say about Rockland restaurant recommendations: eat lobster. It’s undeniable that lobster is one of the most exciting attractions in Rockland, Maine — and why not? We’re at the epicenter of the lobstering community here.

Rockland Restaurants: A Main(e) Attraction

Whether you’re looking for a break from eating your vacation quota of lobster, or you aren’t a lobster fan (gasp) or you just want to find out what else our chefs can do, start here. Read more →

Plenty About Puffins: Family Fun

When I ask our visiting families what local information I can help them with, they invariably say, “What advice do you have for activities with the kids?” In a world of excessive screen time, it is such a delight for families to discover high quality adventures that are also (gasp) educational. Don’t tell the kids, but they are going to actually absorb quite a bit if they experience the mid coast adventure of learning about Project Puffin.

About Project  Puffin

Project Puffin is an Audubon conservation project that takes place on Eastern Egg Rock and other islands off of the mid coast. A very persistent scientist named Dr. Stephen Kress pioneered an effort in 1973 to bring back the nearly obliterated population of puffins in Maine. It didn’t happen right away, but he and his team eventually achieved a near-miracle, repopulating the area with about a thousand pairs of them, to date. The conservation efforts have also included other endangered seabirds, such as terns. Read more →

Owls Head General Store: MidCoast and Down Home

When you start spending your vacations in the midcoast of Maine, there are just too many things to do and too many places to eat. Especially with a vacation rental to run and maintain, and kids to manage, you just don’t get to all the great local spots fast enough. This generates what I’m beginning to think of as The Secret Slacker Shame. You find yourself getting red-faced all the time because people are raving about the places you still haven’t been, but you don’t want to admit you haven’t been there.

Alright, well, that’s over for us with the Owls Head General Store. Visiting the Owls Head General Store - Maine

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Kid-Friendly Day in Rockland

Parents know that half the battle on vacation is finding things you can do with the kids and still have fun. There are so many kid-friendly activities to do in the mid coast of Maine, but I’ve thrown together an example of a great day you can spend with your kids in Rockland. Choosing just a few activities and restaurants was hard, but here’s a sample of one great day you can plan.
Kid-Friendly Rockland Infographic

 

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