Adventure Length: 1/2 Day
Month We Adventured: June
Ideal Time for this Adventure: Lunch through to late afternoon.
Bring: Bug spray, sunscreen, lunch for the littles, water.
Adventure Begins: Ramonas in Portland.
Adventure Continues: Oven's Mouth in Boothbay. Free, limited parking.
Portland -> Boothbay: 1 Hour
Boothbay -> Portland: 1 Hour
Adventures during the time of COVID have certainly been a little different. I'm finding that I am more likely to pick a 1/2 adventure that requires a little bit longer of a drive even though my end destination is back at my house. I mean, what else do we have to do?
This adventure starts in Portland by picking up some legit, delicious hoagies from Ramonas. This new joint opened during COVID (we see you and we thank you for pulling through this!) and offered limited sandwiches each day for curbside pickup. I missed the boat each day and by the time I got to the site, they were sold out. So, the minute they announced they would be opening for real, I built it into our adventure for the weekend.
We picked up two Classical Italian Combos and with Harper's lunch already packed, we headed to Boothbay and planned to have a trunk lunch (something that has become sort of the norm these days.) Take a look at this beauty:
I mean, this place doesn't need any other press. Look above, look here and just go get a sandwich. If you can get it that is, they still sell out most days. We may or may not have ordered this twice in a three day stretch last week.
Once sandwiches were in tow, we took one of my (and well, everyone else's) favorite drives on Maine's Coastal Route 1. Antique shops adorned with colorful buoys, lobster shacks and seafood restaurants not just exist in every whimsical Maine book/television show you've read/seen, they actually live on Route 1. Driving through charming Wiscasset is a personal favorite.
We made our way to Oven's Mouth Preserve and after devouring our Ramona's lunch in the back of our Jeep, we got to it.
Oven's Mouth is bound by the Back and Cross Rivers which connects the two peninsulas that form the preserve, Oven's Mouth East and West. There is a stunning bridge that connects the East to the West that Harper was thrilled to run across once we stumbled upon it. The West peninsula is heavily wooded with great hiking trails, while the East peninsula is a little over 1.5 miles and is a collection of salt marshes, easier trails and views of quiet coves.
Harper handled the walk with ease (only asking to be picked up for the last small stretch) and I would say this is a perfect family hike to keep everyone entertained with plenty to take in. You can cut the walk short and still experience much of what this preserve has to offer.
Yes, the water really looks like that. This incredible blue/green water flows throughout and we were successfully able to convince Harper that 100% some magical fairies roamed these woods and controlled these waters. What else could explain it?
Adventure Length: 1/2 Day
Month We Adventured: May
Ideal Time for this Adventure: After lunch and it will take you to after dinner.
Bring: Canoe/Kayak, bug spray, sunscreen, water, snacks for the littles.
Adventure Begins: Sawyer Park Boat Launch in Brunswick. Free parking, easy access to put in boat. Restroom facilities.
Portland -> Brunswick: 45 Minutes
Adventure Continues: Sebasco Harbor Resort in Phippsburg. Free parking.
Brunswick -> Phippsburg: 25 Minutes
Phippsburg -> Portland: 1 Hour
Adventure begins in New Meadows River. We unpacked the car and loaded the canoe into the water in under 10 minutes. As we hopped into the canoe, a lobster fisherman was docking and a bald eagle flew directly above our heads. Maine, y'all.
The river was calm and sweet houses and cottages dot the edges. Everyone we passed waved and told us to enjoy our trip. We noticed almost immediately the massive amount of jellyfish floating throughout. Seriously, a wild amount. That kept Harper perfectly still in the canoe to avoid fallout, so, just a small scare tactic tip for any parents heading out on this trip.
My goal was to make it to Merritt Island in West Bath. Lofty dreams with a 4 year old in tow. It's an island owned by Bowdoin College that people are welcome to respectfully explore. Next time.
Instead, we docked our canoe at a little cove we discovered on the river and let Harper run free and get some sillies out. Shells galore for Harper to collect.
We are in some pretty wild times with COVID. Our adventures look a little differently lately with some new challenges and lots of hand sanitizer, but that's never stopped me before. After our beautiful canoe ride, we loaded back up and took a little drive for some appetizers and drinks to cap off a great afternoon.
Sebasco Harbor Resort in Phippsburg was the perfect COVID solution. Their restaurant, Ledges Pub and Patio, is open to the public and not only do they have an extensive patio, but also an extensive lawn scattered with picnic tables and room to lay out blankets. We called in an order, masked up and got take-out of apps and drinks in plastic cups straight to their lawn. Harper ran free throughout the lawn and we got to enjoy a few moments by ourselves taking in some gorgeous views with a drink in hand.
Adventure Length: 1/2 Day
Month We Adventured: November
Ideal Time for this Adventure: Winter, in the morning through early afternoon. The Purple House is closed July-October.
Bring: Hiking Shoes, Warm Gear, Water
Adventure Begins: The Purple House in North Yarmouth
Portland -> Yarmouth: 20 Minutes
Adventure Continues: Bradbury Mountain
Adult Maine Resident: $3.00 | Non-Resident: $4.50 | Senior Non-Resident: $1.50
Day-use fees are per person, per day. Maine residents 65 and older: free;
Children 5 – 11 years old: $1.00; Children under 5 are free.
Yarmouth -> Pownal: 10 Minutes
Pownal -> Portland: 30 minutes
I'm going to make this post short because I think this picture says all you really need to know:
That's the "Orange Flannel" breakfast sandwich made on a wood fired, Montreal style bagel that was created by Krista Kern Desjarlais. She's a James Beard Nominee and Semifinalist in the Best Chef category. Andrew told me his life was "altered" by eating it and I got actually angry when I got to the last bite.
Do a quick google on Krista and read all about her impressive accolades. I can say, having met her briefly (maybe it didn't feel brief to her, though? I fan-girled pretty hard and awkwardly) she is extremely humble, kind and gracious.
But where oh where does she go in the summer?! How can she just leave us like this after getting a bite so divine?! Oh, don't worry, more on where she ventures in the warm months in another post soon (and hint: it's just as delicious and a little more sweet.)
After you buy a million things to take home from The Purple House, your next less delicious, but equally awesome adventure awaits at Bradbury Mountain State Park. This is a relatively small mountain, and we had no problem making it to the summit with Harper. There is a playground by the parking lots that Harper was thrilled to see at the end of the hike.
Adventure Length: 1/2 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: Early Morning to after Lunch.
Bring: Sunscreen, bug spray, water, water shoes.
Adventure Begins: Scratch Bakery in South Portland.
Portland -> South Portland = 8 Mins
Adventure Continues: Willard Beach in South Portland.
Adventure Ends: North 43 Bistro in South Portland.
South Portland -> Portland = 8 Mins
The Willard Beach area in South Portland is the reason we decided to move to Maine.
We rented an AirBnB in South Portland when Harper was 6 months and invited our families to join us for a week. It was both a stone's throw to the beach and Scratch Bakery. But more on Scratch in a minute.
We left our vacation feeling like we needed to be (and somehow were already?) part of this special community. This neighborhood and these people felt like an extended part of our family.
This area of South Portland is less than 10 minutes to the Old Port and all that downtown Portland has to offer. And while it's pretty exceptional to be that close to Portland, SoPo has it's own restaurant scene and well, it has Willard Beach. It's a beach neighborhood but without any pretension.
We moved to the Willard Beach neighborhood in 2019 and every now and again, we look at each other and both silently agree it was the best decision (you know, besides having Harper) that we have ever made. Often this look is with a coffee in hand, in the early mornings on the beach, watching Harper and Lucy chase each other in and out of the water.
I'm going to lay out what a perfect 1/2 day in the Willard Beach area could look like. This is one iteration of one of our perfect days, and I will continue to post others as this certainly doesn't scrape the service of what could be done here. And if the salty air and delicious treats make you a SoPo convert like The Diehls, I'll happily welcome you to our favorite neighborhood in the world.
7AM: Get your dog, kids and make your way to Scratch Bakery. Before you make your way to the delicious treats of the day, make a quick right and get yourself a Sea Salt Bagel. Grab some cream cheese out of the fridge, a coffee by the counter and head out to a picnic table out font. Nope, there are no toasters because it would be criminal to toast this thing. Savor those bites, pet a few of the dogs leashed up out front and have fun counting and reveling in the amount of people that make their way in and out while you eat your breakfast.
8AM: Take the short walk down to Willard Beach. Dogs are allowed on the beach off leash from 7AM-9AM and 7PM-9PM during beach season. If you are a dog lover, this is paradise in the early mornings. Sea Glass hunting is prime in the early AM here, and if you encounter any red or pink pieces, let me know as we severely lacking in that color department in our collection.
9AM: Put the pooch back on a leash and take a walk to Fisherman's Point. You can access this at the south side of Willard Beach by climbing some small rock stairs. Walk in the direction of the picturesque fishing shacks that dot the edge. At Fisherman's Point, you might see a yoga class, maybe a wedding and definitely views of Portland Head Light.
10AM: Head north to take a beautiful walk along the beach on a paved trail (part of Southern Maine Community College's campus) that will lead you to Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, in operation since 1897. The walk will also wind you through Fort Preble, which was a military fort in South Portland built in 1808. Take the rocky walk out to the lighthouse and capture views of Peaks Island, Fort Gorges and more.
And there you have a glorious, half day loop around Willard Beach. If I haven't convinced you yet, I'll give it another try soon with more SoPo location and food gems.