Adventure Length: Get A Room (or an RV!)
Month We Adventured: Summer
Bring: Sunscreen, bug spray, water, water shoes. To fully follow this adventure, you'll need an Airstream/RV. I recommend booking from Outdoorsy.
Adventure Begins: Moosehead Family Campground at Moosehead Lake
Portland -> Moosehead Lake Region -> 3.5 Hours
Adventure Ends: Bar Harbor/Oceanside KOA in Bar Harbor
Moosehead Lake -> Bar Harbor -> 3 Hours
Sitting down and looking at our summer calendar had me feeling a little down. Normally, our summer calendar would be filled with friends visiting us to get in some quality Maine summer time, family trips, etc. Obviously, this summer is pretty different and our (obvious) focus is staying safe and healthy, and doing the same for our family and friends.
We've always tossed around the idea of renting an Airstream and taking our daughter on a massive adventure. And we figured this summer was the perfect time to do it. However, we condensed our adventure to a long weekend and made sure to stay in state.
We rented a 2015 Airstream Interstate from Outdoorsy and did a pickup in York, Maine from the awesome owner, Gregory. Booking through Outdoorsy was almost too easy and the pickup from Gregory was equally seamless. The Airstream was spotless and he made sure to help these newbies understand the ins and outs of the vehicle. The bed is a Queen size bed (tight, but was totally fine for the three of us) and there is a bathroom on board - an antsy 4 year old kid's dream.
So, he handed over the keys....and we were off.
We made the drive from York to Moosehead Lake. We rented a camping site from Moosehead Family Campground, a no-frills, simple campground that is family run that had hook-ups for the RV. It was about a 5 minute drive from the bottom of the lake. The thing that is so incredible about this place - and really all campgrounds I looked at in this area - is how affordable they are. I really had no idea what to expect. The sites range from $20-$40/night. There were people camping, RVing and a mix of both - and it was more than worth the price, in my opinion. We were greeted by rabbit friends every morning and it was totally quiet at night.
We arrived around dinner time so immediately plugged our RV in and made the walk over to The Farm at Moosehead. That is the other awesome thing about this campground - they are only about a 1 minute walk to this particular restaurant and then about a 5 minute drive to the rest of downtown.
I had read about their wood fired pizzas, BBQ and their beautiful little farm. We ordered a pizza from the sweet couple/owners who greeted us and made our way to an outside picnic table overlooking the farm. They encouraged our daughter to greet all of the animals before dinner came and she happily took them up on this. We met baby pigs, baby rabbits, many chickens and more. If you ask Harper what her favorite part of the entire Airstream adventure was, she will tell you it was meeting the animals our first night. And the food was delicious (get the cheesecake if they have it, trust me.)
After our bellies were full and Harper pretty much kissed every animal goodbye, we raced to Lily Bay State Park to catch the sunset. And man, I was so glad we did. Lily Bay is a gem of a state park that sits on Moosehead Lake with plenty of trails to explore, campsites, playgrounds, a beach - it goes on and on.
The next day I had one major thing on my mind: Moose. Here's the thing I've learned about Moose. Unless you are on, like, a "Moose Safari" with one of those companies - you'll never see them when you want to see them. If you actively go searching for them, at least for me, they decide it's a good day to stay to themselves. One day, I'll learn this lesson and be more carefree in my moose searches.
However, we'll save that lesson for another day. I had searched and searched to find a bog that would almost guarantee a Moose sighting. The Lazy Tom Bog, located just past the town of Kokadijo (where their welcome sign proudly boasts: "Population: Not Many") is a Moose hotspot. So, after stuffing some breakfast in our face we made the drive from the campground. It's a beautiful drive, but once you pass Kokadijo, the road turns to rough dirt/rocks, so make sure you have a car that can handle it.
When we arrived, we parked just to the right of the bridge and walked down to the water. Pretty, but we didn't see a Moose. So, we walked back up to the top of the bridge where we found two other people on the search as well. Once they saw us, they said "Wow! You were so close to him!" WHAT?! Apparently, a Moose had been watching us directly across the bog but scurried off before we could see him. Oooooooof.
After waiting (im)patiently in the hopes to see another moose (alas) we carried on for our next adventure. After having lunch in the RV (I mean, the convenience of it all is insane!) we headed to hike Mount Kineo.
To access Mount Kineo, you have to take the Golf Course Shuttle across Moosehead Lake which carries, of course, golfers but hikers as well. I know, you are probably thinking: why would I want to hike a mountain that is located at a golf course? But Mount Kineo is a special place. The glorious mountain has incredibly beautiful, family-friendly hikes all while hosting an impeccable golf course. It's sounds strange on paper, but trust me on this one.
The hike to the summit is easy, and one that our four year old really had no trouble completing. The rewards of views at the top were enough to keep her motivated.
After this, we decided we deserved an adult beverage. We made our way to the Spotted Cat Winery. It is, indeed, as cute as it looks. We were greeted by the owners, a couple who live on the property and were treated to a wine tasting before making our purchases. They make the wine on their property and sell fun tshirts, candles and other goodies to accompany your wine purchase. PS: Get the Strawberry wine!
After a cozy night's sleep (read: Harper's arms and legs hitting me all night), we woke up and were on the road early to head to our next stop: Bar Harbor! After a stop and start 3 hour drive, we made our way to Echo Lake. It's a gorgeous lake situated on the western side of Mount Desert Island with stunning cliffs (part of Beech Mountain) that have a couple trails that lead to an impressive lookout. We spent a better part of the morning swimming and building sand castles. Bonus Points at Echo Lake (and much of Bar Harbor/MDI at that): they have parking specifically designated to RV's - score! Made parking totally painless with an oversized vehicle.
Once again we thought: you know what we deserve, an adult beverage. That's what. We ventured to Atlantic Brewing and sat outside on their patio while Harper happily snacked. A perfect pint on a beautiful day.
We then made our way to our campsite for the night at KOA Bar Harbor. So, I'm obviously an RV rookie - but this is a spot I would recommend to everyone, all ages. Our site was directly on the ocean, with a private beach. I literally couldn't believe it when we pulled in. Harper was a busy bee all afternoon playing at the beach, and we had to literally bribe her to make her go to dinner. We didn't partake in the many offerings at the campsite (activities for kids, bonfires, etc.) but next trip when the world is in better shape, we certainly will. Highly recommend this spot.
After our bribes were complete, we made our way into Bar Harbor for dinner. We had reservations outside on the patio at Salt & Steel. They followed all safety protocols to a tee, and the food was top notch. We'll be back here for sure.
To finish our awesome long weekend, we raced back to our site to drink the wine we purchased from The Spotted Cat Winery, roasted Marshmellows at our private site and watched the sunset. And felt really, really grateful.
Adventure Length: Full Day
Month We Adventured: We adventure here year round, but it's most ideal on a Summer or Fall Day.
Ideal Time for this Adventure: Late morning to after Dinner.
Bring: Sunscreen, bug spray, water, water shoes.
Adventure Begins: The Cookie Jar in Cape Elizabeth
Portland -> Cape Elizabeth = 15 Mins
Adventure Continues: Two Lights State Park, Kettle Cove, Bite Into Maine at Fort Williams Park, Cliff House Beach, Maxwell's Farm
All in Cape Elizabeth
Adventure Ends: Inn By The Sea for Dinner & Beach Walks.
Cape Elizabeth -> Portland = 15 Mins
Cape Elizabeth is a funny, beautiful hybrid of residential neighborhoods, top rated tourist attractions, a plethora of stunning beaches and secret, local favorites. All 20 minutes to downtown Portland. I could honestly plan a day in Cape Elizabeth 5 times over and not repeat anything, so narrowing it down to one day was hard!
Cape Elizabeth really is the exception to the rule when it comes to tourist attractions in Maine....like, you really should go to them. They are famous for a reason, and truly, they shouldn't be missed. I usually like to give a hard pass and avoid anything that seems too popular in any area, but after living in South Portland (the town next door to the Cape) and getting to truly immerse myself in all that the Cape offers, you've just gotta do it folks. Embrace the people (masks and six feet, guys) and play tourist here.
However! No Adventure in my book is complete without some secrets. There are a few hidden gems that I'm going to share - and risk being vilified by my neighbors, thank you very muuuuuch - with you all.
If I didn't live here, I'd be jealous of the below adventure. Enjoy!
8AM: Grab a doughnut from The Cookie Jar
Be like a local and start your day with a delicious donut and coffee from The Cookie Jar. It's pretty impossible to choose just one thing to start your day, so I won't judge, get them all. You'll need it for adventure fuel.
10AM: Walk at Two Lights Park or Secret Beach at Kettle Cove
Kick off your Cape Adventure with a breathtaking walk at Two Lights or act like a local at Kettle Cove. Really, this is like choosing the best adventure or the best adventure - you can't go wrong!
You will not be the only person at Two Lights (again, little touristy!) but once you get here, you'll believe me when I say this is one of the places that is worth it. The ocean crashes against the rocky landscape and trails loop and bend throughout the park. Little picnic benches are hidden throughout and it's a dog and kid lovers paradise.
At Kettle Cove, there is the main beach (that's fairly popular in it's own right - with limited parking!) and then there is secret Kettle Cove part two. If you take the trail through the woods, steer to the right with every turn, and eventually you'll see a beach below some cliffs. Walk the little path down the cliffs and bam - you will likely have an entire beach to yourself. Half of this beach is private and half of the beach public, and all of it is pure secret only known to some locals. I think out of the ten times I have been here, there has been another human once.
12PM: Lunch at Bite Into Maine inside Fort Williams Park
Alright, this is all pretty touristy and all pretty much a must do. Fort Williams park is sprawling, with many different beautiful walks and sites to explore. There is a children's garden, playground, gorgeous ocean views and of course, Portland Head Light is here. I'll guess that you have seen a photo of this lighthouse somewhere, at some point. It's an iconic staple of Maine, and one that, even with the hoards of people, is worth checking out. You could easily spend a few hours roaming Fort Williams and still feel like you didn't get a chance to see everything.
On to lunch. If you are reading this and planning an adventure to Maine, you are likely going to ask everyone you can where you can get the best lobster roll. It's okay, I'm not judging you, I get it. And likely, everyone will have their opinion of where their favorite roll is.
Mine is inside Fort Williams Park at a Food Truck. Bite Into Maine knows what they are doing, people. And for me, a mayo despiser, they get me. They have multiple different ways to enjoy your lobster roll, and my personal favorite is The Connecticut - warm butter poured over and ask for some chives on top as well. You can grab a roll, set up a picnic, look out at the ocean and people watch.
3PM: Low Tide at Cliff House Beach (make sure to go low tide - move this where it fits in the schedule!)
This one might get me in trouble with the locals. But I just can't keep this little beauty a secret to ourselves! If you didn't know this was here, you'd likely never find it as it's embedded in a residential neighborhood and you only see the beauty of it when you walk down the wooden stairs to the start of the small beach. At our house, we call it "Rock Beach" as until the tide heads out, there is no beach to be found as it's covered with rocks. But at low tide, a small beach reveals itself and a few locals dot the edges of the beach. It's incredibly quiet, remarkably beautiful and you feel like you have entered a secret, private Maine cove. At this beach, we've seen every type of crustacean you can possibly imagine.
4PM: Strawberry Picking at Maxwell's Farm
Depending on season, don't sleep on the strawberry picking glory at Maxwells! This is pure family fun and these delicious little beauties are not to be missed.
6PM: Dinner & Drinks Outside at Inn By The Sea
Okay, this place might not be a secret, but I'm not sure how many people realize that you can eat here without staying here. They have an expansive lawn setup - complete with every outside dining option you can think of (fire pit seating, adirondack chairs perfect for rosé sipping, elegant tables on their deck) and of course, inside options when we are not living in COVID times. For kids, it's dreamland. They don't have to stay strapped to their seats while they wait for dinner as they can run free in the grass and get their sillies out in the most gorgeous setting. It's never overcrowded, and it's a pretty impressive place to take people visiting: outside dining, overlooking the ocean that is kid & dog friendly? I mean, sign me up over and over again.
We actually have stayed here before, long before we were Maine residents. We came here for a "babymoon" and brought our dog with us - which is not only encouraged, but honestly, the norm at this hotel. We ordered room service every night (I ate my weight in ice cream) and they have an extensive doggy menu as well. Our pup was treated like a king. We woke up every morning to the ocean breeze and nothing but time to explore and hang. It was a dream - and I've been trying to convince my husband to stay here again ever since even though we live 7 minutes down the road.
7PM: Walk the beach path from Inn By The Sea down to Crescent Beach
The Inn has an idyllic path that leads down to Crescent Beach (at the far end of it) which is pretty distant from where you'll find the majority of people at the main entrance of the park. Take a seat by the waves, collect some shells and think about how you'll have to thank that blogger (me) who pointed you in this direction. :)