Location: Machiasport, Maine
Parking: Dedicated parking lot with limited spots.
Dogs: Permitted October-March
Family Friendly: Yes
This isn't a beach where you pack a cooler, grab the whole fam and plan to have a beach day. I guess you could, but why would you when there is just SO much to explore here?! Oh, and the beach is made up entirely of smooth rocks - not a sandcastle building destination- so, there's that too.
You guys, it's a beach entirely made up of sea smoothed rocks of varying sizes and colors - and if you listen closely - as the ocean rolls over them over and over it creates a beautiful little hum! All of the rocks have smooth edges and they look like the type of rocks you would pay money for in a tourist shop. Every stone is different, all insanely beautiful and I would venture to say there are a billion of them. As you walk along the beach, your shoes get sucked in by the rocks and it's actually a little bit of a workout!
And if the rocks weren't enough to go visit this gem of a spot (see what I did there) - if you go at low tide, hidden sea caves and arches reveal themselves along the eastern edge of the beach! Climb to the top of the hill and take in an incredible view of the beach:
In my opinion, it's one of the most unique spots in Maine and a true natural wonder.
Here's the thing to know about the Bold Coast: go with people you adore and plan to spend the majority of your time outside to get back to nature (and yourself.) Got it? Great, you don't even need me!
But in all seriousness, what "to do" in the Lubec/Cutler/Machiasport area is primarily centered around outdoor adventures, going at a slower place and just truly immersing yourself in the beautiful scenery around you. There are very minimal restaurants and attractions outside of what you will find deep in the woods on a long, winding hike. Here are some of my top things to make sure to build into your loose, leisure-filled schedule:
We stayed at this AirBnB and I would do it again in a heartbeat. In my opinion, staying in the Machiasport area puts you dead center of everything and everywhere you will want to be. It's a 10 minute drive to the grocery store, a handful of restaurants and it's just 30 minutes to Lubec and Cutler (where all of your fabulous hikes will take place.) It's remote enough that you really feel like you are living the Bold Coast life, but not so remote that you don't get cell service or internet. On the drive up to the AirBnB, you will drive through fields upon fields of blueberry fields - just to get you in the Maine spirit.
This is why you go to the Bold Coast. There are so many glorious hikes to pursue in this area, but I am going to tell you about my top three. Still dreaming of these walks, TBH.
Boot Head Preserve: a 2 mile loop. This is the hike that convinced me to pack my bags and make the long drive to visit this area. There are two separate coves to marvel at. The path to the ocean is covered in moss and winds you through a mixed forest until suddenly - you are looking down from a rocky cliff into swirling pools of the ocean. Pack a lunch and eat at the Beach Cove.
Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land: 3-10 Miles of trails. Take the Ocean Trail for the shortest walk (2.8 round trip.) Another beauty of a hike that drops you at breathtaking lookout spots.
West Quoddy Lighthouse - after checking out the lighthouse, hang left to do the Coast Guard Trail. One of the most rewarding views for an under 1 Mile Walk!
We spent most of our time on winding trails hiking, but we reserved a glorious half day to spend at a beach. It's not your typical beach - and that's what makes this a not to miss spot!
Jasper Beach: Go at low tide. Hidden caves to the left are revealed when the tide is low and you can crawl in and out of them and checkout the tide pools that appear. The beach is entirely made of small, smooth stones and the walk along the beach feels like no other walk you will do - your feet get buried in the stones and it's just the coolest. Devote a couple hours to this spot - you'll need it to fully explore!
EATS & DRINKS
As I said, don't head to the Bold Coast if you want to experience fine dining every night on vacation. With that said, there are some serious gems that you should not miss in this area.
Lubec Brewing Co: Pretty much the sweetest little brewery you will ever go to. Set in the center of the town of Lubec, the people running this joint really understand "the way life should be." They are kind, relaxed and know the value of kicking your feet up to enjoy a cold one on a sunny day. I had a long talk with one of the regulars about how best to cook salmon for the birthday party they were throwing that week. Just the best. They have a great, small outdoor beer garden and we sipped their brews while checking out Canada just off in the distance.
Helen's: This was our go-to spot for dinner (and lunch and breakfast.) It's old fashioned comfort food cooking at it's finest. They have a beautiful, clean interior and a patio for outdoor dining. DO NOT MISS THE PIE. I feel like I need to say that twice : do not miss the pie. Seriously, do not. They serve gigantic pieces of pie for dessert and they are truly decadent. Maine Blueberry Pie for the win!
So, grab the people you love and want spend some QT with, plan to bring groceries to cook some of your meals, definitely bring your hiking boots - and get back to what really matters. If the Bold Coast is calling, you should probably answer.
Open 24/7 for Takeout, no Dine-In
Location: Ellsworth, Maine
Parking: Free parking
Family Friendly: Yes
I have to tell you about this place - but honestly, you might not even believe me. It feels a little too good to be true. One of those places that you've sort of heard about, but ya know, you won't really believe it until you witness it.
It's not a mirage, it's MoMo's. A Cheesecake Shop that is open 24/7 that operates on an honor system. No, yeah, you read that right. You could go at 2AM and grab a slice of cheesecake, leave some cash in a jar, and never have to speak to anyone while you silently shovel the piece of cake into your mouth, alone, in your car.
I am not sure how many flavors there actually are - but I can tell you it felt like there were hundreds to choose from. From the traditional - strawberry, raspberry, lemon - to the completely unique: Almond Joy, Confetti, Pistachio. It was a cheesecake dream! We grabbed a bunch of prepackaged slices (you can also pick up an entire cheesecake), followed the honor system instructions, left cash...and we were off. They held up extremely well for a couple days in the fridge and we indulged 3 nights in a row (don't tell.)
If you are heading to Ellsworth, passing through Ellsworth on the way to Bar Harbor, have a craving for incredible cheesecake, all of the above....pop into MoMo's. And the best part of all? YOU CAN DO SO WHENEVER WORKS FOR YOU! Genius.
Location: Machiasport, Maine
Accommodations: House to yourself. Two Bedrooms with Queen Sized Beds & One bedroom with double beds.
Amenities & Perks: Washer & Dryer, Strong Wifi, Television, fully stocked kitchen with stove and dishwasher, BBQ grill, fire pit, backyard, kids toys and books, air conditioning.
I try to never stay in the same AirBnB twice. However, I can confidently say that I will be making an exception for this place. "Siren's Song" in Machiasport, a romantic version of a New England ship captain’s home, is not just a stay, it's an experience.
As soon as we opened the front door, I just felt it in my bones that we were going to have an amazing getaway. There is this immediate charm that washes over you as you enter the home. Every room has been meticulously and thoughtfully designed - think ornate and detailed stenciling on the walls, books that tell a story carefully placed in each room, historical nods at every corner and a completely romantic flow from room to room that makes you feel like your a guest of someone regal. It doesn't feel like an AirBnb, it somehow feels like home (but like, a way spruced up, infinitely cooler version of home.)
Oh, and there are freaking ocean views from basically every room of the house. The house overlooks Machias Bay and you are greeted each morning to epic sunrises. We lost count of how many Bald Eagles and Osprey flew overhead as we played outside.
There are three bedrooms - two with Queen sized beds and one room with two double beds (perfect for kiddos.) The kitchen is fully stocked - like, fully stocked. You have everything you need to cook at home which we did two out of our four nights. It is exceptionally clean, comfortable, quiet and the hosts are communicative and easy to reach.
It is rural - but not so rural that you don't have service. We had perfect reception and internet to get random work tasks done while there. But more importantly, it's so conveniently located. 10 minutes to restaurants and the grocery store, 8 minutes to the beautiful Jasper Beach, 30 minutes to Lubec and incredible Bold Coast hiking - it's the perfect spot to setup camp.
If your wanderlust is calling you to the Bold Coast, you'd be amiss to not stay at this beautiful home. With certainty: I will be back.
Location: Deer Isle, Maine
Accommodations: Seven cottages and four suites.
Amenities: Aragosta, the restaurant, is also on the property. A fine dining, exquisite meal with an incredible oceanfront location.
When we arrived on Friday night, the sun had already set. As we drove down the winding road to check in and find our cottage for the weekend, a family of deer stopped us in our tracks as they dashed in front of the car. Our little one in the back seat took a lot of pleasure knowing there were, in fact, deer on Deer Isle. A little magic, I thought, to kick off our weekend.
It was late and dark. The only thing visible were the twinkling lights shimmering off of the restaurant as we made our way to check-in. We had no idea what surrounded us and wouldn't until the morning.
We found our cabin and husband, kid and pup in tow we hurried in to check out our digs for the weekend. The kiddo found children's books piled next to the bunk beds and she happily occupied herself for a few minutes while we unloaded the car. Clearly, a little sprinkling of magic from another fellow parent. Thank you.
We poured wine, made a fire and tucked in for the evening.
We knew it would be rainy for most of the weekend, and there was a small two hour window in the morning before the clouds would set it. We threw on our boots and layers and made our way to the Barred Island Preserve trail. As we discussed the fairies that clearly inhabited the woods, the smell of pine and the moss covered ground guided us to the ocean. I fell behind for a second and for the first time since the pandemic started, I finally took a big, deep breath. When we circled back to Aragosta, it was only then that we were able to take in the magic for the first time of what you have created.
I bet you didn't know that collecting buoys is our favorite activity to do as a family. But yet there were tons scattered along the shore that day.
I bet you didn't know that my husband hoped breakfast would be pancakes with blueberries. Magic, my daughter said as we carved into big stacks of them.
I bet you didn't know that after a day of exploring Deer Isle, our family of three took a two hour nap together snuggled in bed with a warm fire glowing next to us and the soundtrack of rain outside. Our daughter hasn't napped in years.
And I bet you didn't know that it was my husband's birthday and the dinner was probably the best meal we've ever had. And the pasta you created from scratch and on the spot, just for our little lady who dressed up in her fanciest dress and impressed your kind staff with her best manners all evening, she deemed "the best pasta in the world." You didn't make us feel guilty for bringing our best pal with us and that dinner is a memory that we'll always cherish.
Thanks for the magic, Aragosta. See you next year.
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.