Birding in Midcoast Maine 9 Oct 2014, 2:05 pm
Maine is one of the most forested states, has over 3500 miles of coastlines, has hundreds of lakes and is the endpoint for the Appalachian mountain range all making Maine one of North America’s top birding destinations. With the wide range of habitats and diverse landscapes of Maine, the variety of birds regularly seen in Maine numbers over 330 species and birding in Maine is a year long activity.
According to Maine’s Birding trail, the Midcoast region of Maine is rich in bird species and in prime birding locations. Some of the best birding sites near Rockland include the Weskeag Marsh, Beech Hill, CamdenHillsState Park and MerryspringNatureCenter. Additionally, Rockland is home to Maine Audubon’s Project Puffin Visitor Center and The Friends of Maine’s Seabird Islands Visitor Center. Project Puffin Visitor Center is focused on educating people about the Atlantic Puffins and showing live webcam footage from their colony 20 miles offshore. The Friends of Maine’s Seabird Islands offer
Take a Puffin/Nature cruise to learn about this wonderful birds.
information on puffins, island visits, artwork and efforts to conserve and protect coastal habitats for seabirds and wildlife. They run free birding and wildlife lectures and educational programs throughout the year at the visitor center. They also offer an Annual Seabird Cruise out of Port Clyde to see puffins and other marine birds and wildlife with biologists and naturalists that are involved in the research efforts.
The Weskeag Marsh in South Thomaston is considered to be one of Maine’s best birding marshes and is the largest salt tidal marsh in the Midcoast area. There are over 700 acres in the state’s Wildlife Management area that includes tidal salt marsh along the Weskeag River, some fields and small forest area that includes an area within the towns of Thomaston, South Thomaston, Rockland and Owls Head. The area is considered the most productive and species-diverse shorebird area within the PenobscotBay region. In 2012, a viewing platform, interpretive kiosk and boardwalk trail through part of the marsh was opened to allow visitors to observe the wildlife while protecting the salt marsh and the birds. The trail is part of the Georges River Land Trust.
Beech Hill in Rockport is conservation land that is part of the Coastal Mountains Land Trust. It encompasses about 300 acres which include organic blueberry fields, grassland bird habitat and mature woods. At the summit is the recently restored stone harvest hut with a sod roof that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. There is an approximate 1.5 mile (roundtrip) trail through the grounds. This is the location for the semi-annual bird counts and the past two New Year’s counts have been for record high numbers of species.
Camden Hills State Park offers over 25 miles of hiking trails with stunning views of Penobscot Bay. Maine’s most
Bald Eagles are a common sighting in the area now.
common bird species are found throughout the property with the summits providing excellent viewing for hawks. Merryspring Nature Center in Camden offers 66 acres of meadows, gardens and woodlands for birding. It is open daily and year round. The visitor center offers workshops, lectures and a library.
There are plenty of birds to see in the Midcoast Area and plenty of bird enthusiasts and experts in the area also so start packing your binoculars and field guides and book your trip at our Rockland, Maine bed and breakfast.
Rockland Cafe – Come as a Stranger, Leave as a Friend 1 Oct 2014, 7:30 am
Rockland Café has its own tank to serve single, double and triple lobster dinners year round.
Rockland Cafe is Rockland’s version of a local diner, and has the distinction of being one of the few restaurants in town that offers fresh steamed lobster dinners (single, double, triples) year round. They keep their tank right at the front of the restaurant. The owners’ nephew “lobsters,” so he keeps the restaurant supplied with a fresh catch. On occasion he hauls in a rare blue or orange or ½ blue/½ yellow lobster, and they will display it in the restaurant before it goes to the Maine State Aquarium.
If fried seafood is what you are looking for it is hard to beat Rockland Cafe’s fried seafood dinners. They come in small, large or all you can eat for very reasonable prices. One of the specialties is crab cakes made by with the owner’s mothers recipe. Another favorite is Wayne’s chowder the seafood chowder, which is wonderfully rich and full of clams, lobsters, haddock and scallops without potato filler. All of the french fries are hand cut, too! The rest of the menu is rounded out with a variety subs, sandwiches, meat loaf, burgers, pasta and seafood dishes.
Set in the heat of historic downtown, Rockland Cafe is open year round and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hours of operation for dinner service will vary based on time of year, but we will be happy to check on this for you prior to your stay at our Rockland bed and breakfast.
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Archer’s on the Pier – Seafood on the Water 18 Sep 2014, 7:30 am
Archer’s on the Pier, great casual seafood on Rockland Harbor
Archer’s on the Pier is located at 58 Ocean Street on the water in Rockland Harbor. This is chef/owner Lynn Archer’s second restaurant in town the first being the Brass Compass Café. It is a casual local seafood eatery that offers awesome views of the Rockland Breakwater, harbor and several marinas with both inside and deck side dining (in season). You can walk to the restaurant via Rockland’s boardwalk from the Public Landing directly to Archer’s. It is open year round serving lunch and dinner with varying hours (closed Sunday dinner and Mondays in winter).
Lynn Archer was featured on a Throwdown with Bobby Flay in 2009 for her “King of Clubs” sandwich – a BLT served on homemade bread, thick sliced bacon and a pile of fresh Maine lobster meat. A huge sandwich that can easily be shared if you are planning on eating another meal that day! Lynn’s son is a lobsterman so he provides her with fresh lobsters caught off of the waters of Matinicus Island. The sandwich is available at both restaurants – Archer’s on the Pier or the Brass Compass. In season, Archer’s restaurant will serve fresh steamed lobsters daily although they often run out by the end of the day so if this is what you are hankering for call them in advance to check out the day’s supply. In the off season, whole lobster dinners are not always available so again check ahead. Sometimes with advanced notice they can get them for you. They always offer “lazy lobster” on the menu which is the lobster meat picked from the shell and sautéed in butter. All of the delicious meat without the work!
The menu offers the same fare for lunch and dinner which includes mostly seafood – fried, baked and broiled; steak and pasta. She offers some great salads and daily specials also. They have a full bar both inside and outside (in season). What is great is if someone in the party is not really hungry they can focus on the “lunch” size offers while the rest go for dinner.
They do not take reservations unless it is for larger parties. On occasion, you can call and they will take your name and time you want to dine for “preferred seating” which means they know you are coming and will try to have a table ready but no guarantees. In the summer it really is more first come first serve especially on a great summer evening on the deck!
Lynn’s other restaurant the Brass Compass is open daily for breakfast and lunch from 5am to 3pm (opens 6am on Sundays). It is a favorite breakfast eatery for the locals offering lobster egg benedicts and other egg benedicts combinations, and large fluffy omelets with the normal choices or lobster too. The white bread is homemade on premise daily and is yummy. If you are coming for lunch and want to try her famous King of Clubs or lobster roll it will save you a few bucks to eat at this restaurant versus on the water at Archers. The Brass Compass is located on the corner of Park and Main Street directly across from the Rite Aid pharmacy at 305 Main Street.
Make sure you add this destination to your list on your next visit to our Rockland bed and breakfast!
Hiking in Maine: The Penobscot Bay Region 4 Sep 2014, 4:45 pm
Breathtaking view from the top of Mt. Battie in Camden Hills State Park.
Outside of Acadia National Park, some of the best coastal hiking in Maine is located in the Penobscot Bay Region. There are hikes that offer breathtaking views of the rugged coast of Maine, its islands and wildlife. Mountain hikes, rock cliffs, marsh hikes and trails through forests and fields can all be found in this area. There is hiking to enjoy year round, the winter offers the starkness of the bare trees and snow pack; the cool breezes and smells of nature awakening in the spring; the birds, flowers and warmth of the sun in the summer; and the extraordinary vibrant colors of fall. So on your next visit to our Rockland B&B, lace up your boots and go take a hike!
Some of the best hiking in Maine is found in the 25 miles of hiking trails in Camden Hills State Park. Many of the hikes offer stunning views of Penobscot Bay, Lake Megunticook and the summits of the other mountains. The fall colors and vistas from the summits which contrast the vibrant colors of the trees against the deep blue of Penobscot Bay with spots of colors from the islands is not to be missed. The trail map for the Camden Hills State Park understates the level of difficulty for the trails near the summit. A recreational hiker will be fine but you need to have proper footwear not crocs or sandals and you will work hard toward the end to be rewarded with the spectacular view.
Within the preserves of the Coastal Mountains Land Trust there is conservation land to enjoy that feature some
You can find all hiking – woodland, marsh, flat, hilly, rocky, mountainous hiking in Midcoast Maine.
great Maine hiking trails. Bald Mountain Preserve encompasses 600 acres with unique geologic features and rock formations, unusual flora and forests filled with birds, deer, coyote and black bear. It offers a strenuous 2 mile trail to the summit with spectacular views of Penobscot Bay. Fernald’s Neck Preserve offers fairly flat hiking trails through softwood forests with views of the shores of Megunticook Lake. Beech Hill Preserve has about a 2 mile trail through grassland, organic blueberry fields and woodlands and is a prime birding location. The historic harvest hut at the summit is a great viewing location for Penobscot Bay, the Camden Hills and Chickawaukie Pond.
Ragged Mountain Recreation Area offers several trails of hiking that begin at the base of Ragged Mountain. The two primary trail heads are at the opposite ends of the parking lots. There are kiosks with maps and information on the trail near the boat launch area. The bulk of the land is owned by the town of Camden and other parts are conservation lands held in trust. The hikes offer hills, mountains, winding streams and rock to enjoy.
Georges River Landtrust is another group working to protect Maine’s natural resources and conserve land for the public’s use. They have built and maintain over 40 miles of trails that encompass areas from South Thomaston, Rockland, Rockport, Camden, Appleton, Searsmont and Montville. The Ragged Mountain section offers 9 miles (round trip) of strenuous hiking with difficult trails that rise 850 feet and offers westerly views of Mt.Washington and the White Mountains of New Hampshire and easterly views of Penobscot Bay. Thorndike Brook is a moderate 3 mile trail with some gentle terrain that gradually increases to meet the Ragged Mountain trail. Spruce Mountain off of Route 17, is a short climb for great views of the bay and Ragged Mountain area. The trail is about 8 miles and is moderate in difficulty. For less strenuous hikes, the Oyster River Bog is 13 miles of easy flat trails that cross Oyster River, brooks and woodlands or the Thomaston Village Trail is about 9.5 miles of easy hiking through woods. It does include “Split Rock” which is huge glacial boulder that is in two halves along the trail.
Trail maps and information for Georges River Land Trust, Coastal Mountains Land Trust, Ragged Mountain Recreation Area and Camden Hills State Park are available at the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce offices or at our Rockland bed and breakfast for our guests. Happy Trails!
Rustica Cucina Italiana 21 Aug 2014, 7:30 am
Inside Rustica Restaruant.
Rustica Cucina Italiana or Rustica as the locals have shortened it to pretty much since it opened in 2006. This is definitely a local favorite as evident by the restaurant being awarded the “Best of the Best” from the community for Italian food for the past 8 years. Chef/Owner John Stowe may be self-taught but he is a great study and a lot of restaurant experience. He has created a wonderful restaurant and developed a great staff to compliment his efforts. The balance of food quality, food quantity and price point works well here and blends harmoniously with the décor and the service level. This is not easily achieved nor often achieved.
The menu changes probably twice a year and there are always daily specials offered.
Sample Menu from Rustica
The focus is fresh and authentic ingredients for his Italian and Mediterranean dishes. They make the sausage, bread and desserts all on premise. This is not your red checkered tablecloth serve too much spaghetti than 3 people could possibly eat type of Italian. He raises it up a notch or two always surprising you with just a little extra spice or ingredient to enhance the flavors in the dish. The portions are not huge but they are certainly plentiful and the desserts – wow!
Rustica Restaurant on Main Street.
As with many of our favorite Rockland restaurants, Rustica is relatively small seating 80 people when utilizing the bar, tables and the side dining room that can also be used for small functions. It is open year round for dinner service from 5-9pm. Generally open Tuesday through Saturday and adds Monday nights in the busy season. Unfortunately except for parties of 5 or more or on holidays like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve the restaurant does not take reservations. If you do show up and there is a wait, there is a wonderful bar in the center of the restaurant where you can also dine or sit back and relax with a drink. The bar is known for making wonderful “tini” drinks – appletinis, Lemon Drop’Tinis, etc..
If you are craving Italian tonight you cannot go wrong with dinner at Rustica in Rockland, ME.
Penobscot Narrows Bridge, Observatory and Historic Fort Knox 14 Aug 2014, 9:46 am
View of observation tower on Penobscot Narrows bridge.
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory is a great stop on your way to the Rockland/Camden area from Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park or visa versa. On a clear beautiful summer’s day from the Observatory you will be able to see for miles and take in such sites as the mighty Penobscot River, Penobscot Bay and its islands, and Verona Island, Bucksport, historic Fort Knox and the mountains of Maine. Late in the fall season when the leaves are changing colors and the blueberry fields have turned vivid red the view from the tower is absolutely breathtaking against the backdrop of a bright blue fall sky. It is estimated on a clear day that one can see about 40 miles which essentially is the distance from the bridge to Rockland. In February, 2014, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory made Buzz Feed’s “Top 12 Most Breathtaking Views from the World’s Coolest Towers”.
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory Tower opened to the public in May 2007. At 420 feet above the Penobscot River or the equivalent of about 43 stories high, the Observatory is the tallest occupied building in the entire state of Maine and the tallest ObservatoryTower of the four that exist in the world. Visitors enjoy 360 degree views from the three decks. You take an elevator, supposedly the fastest elevator in Maine which makes the 43 stories in a minute’s ride, to the first of the 3 decks. You will then take stairs to the other two decks. For handicapped accessible guests there is a lift from the main elevator to and the Observatory is fully enclosed with safety glass. The Observatory Tower has a capacity of only 49 people at a time. When you purchase your tickets with the attendant, they will tell you the next available time and your ticket will be time stamped also. This system allows all visitors the time necessary to enjoy the breathtaking views.
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge itself is special in its own rights also. It is one of only three bridges in the US that is built with what they call a cable-stay system where epoxy-coated steel strands are placed within 1” steel tubs to support the bridge. Each strand is independent so it can be replaced or removed as needed to ensure the integrity of the bridge system. The bridge spans 2, 120 feet and connects VeronaIsland and Prospect Maine. The roadway is about 135 feet above the waters of the Penobscot River. The bridge was planned, funded and completed in about 3.5 years as an emergency replacement for the old Waldo-Hancock Bridge built in 1931 which was Maine’s first long-span suspension bridge.
Fort Knox sits near the mouth of the Penobscot River near Bucksport Maine.
Fort Knox sits on about 124 acres and is considered to be one of the best preserved military forts in New England. It was named for America’s first Secretary of War, Major General Henry Knox. A replica of his homestead and personal artifacts are on display at the General Knox Museum in Thomaston Maine located just a few miles south of Rockland. After many naval defeats and scrimmages in the area, the fort was established in 1844 at the mouth of the Penobscot River to protect the Penobscot River Valley and its rich lumber lands desired for ship building. Although nearly one million dollars was spent on the fort it was never fully completed per the original plans, the fort reached its final state of completion in 1869 and became the first fort in Maine to be built of granite instead of wood. Visitors can enjoy the grounds and the catacomb of tunnels that run under the ground and look for ghostly creatures such as Civil War Sgt. Leopold Hegvi who supposedly roams the fort. In 2013, Urban Ghosts Media Company has named Fort Knox as one of the top ten haunted military forts in the US even though it never saw any actual military action. Every year for two weekends near Halloween, the fort is transformed to “Fright at the Fort” which is considered to be Maine’s best Halloween experience in the state. Small groups of visitors are led through the tunnels in the dark by lantern light and meet all types of creatures of the night – some from this world and some perhaps not!! For 2014, the dates will be October 17, 18, 24, 25 and 31st from 5:30-9pm with the last tour at 8:30pm. Tickets are $10 per adult and $12 with an express ticket. Check out their website for more information.
The Observatory is open daily from May 1st through October 31st. Normal operating hours are 9-5pm with extended hours until 6pm for July and August. The Observatory is open at nighttime for specific full moon periods in the summer. You can check out the dates on their FaceBook page. Fort Knox is also open May 1st through October 31st with hours from 9am to sunset. The grounds themselves are open year round. The physical address is 711 Fort Knox Road, Prospect, Maine 04981.
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Where do I start looking for a great B&B? 31 Jul 2014, 7:30 am
Okay so we finally convinced you to try a bed and breakfast as part of your upcoming anniversary celebration. So now you need to know where do I start looking to find the right one?
Walk to the Lobster Festival from Berry Manor Inn.
First of all, try asking your friends or colleagues about the best B&Bs in Maine that they have visited or put a post out there on FaceBook to see where friends of friends have recently traveled and enjoyed. Word of mouth of course is still one of the greatest ways to find that perfect B&B. Then search around the internet for the area you are traveling to and check out websites of inns. What speaks to you? Are you a small boutique inn type feel (a little larger property) or a B&B on a vineyard or a farm? The B&B’s website or sites like Pinterest will give you lots of information, photographs and package options to ponder. Then you can validate what you are sensing as the experience described by the inn with other 3rd party resources.
There are a number of great resources on the internet to help in the search for the perfect B&B. Review sites such as TripAdvisor.com and yelp.com both offer a collection of reviews by previous guests to the establishment. Reading them will help you to gain a sense of what the B&B is like. For better or worse, we are a society where everyone can voice their opinion in lightning speed to an audience of bazillion people. Were the guests that were unhappy – unhappy because the ambiance was too formal for them or not formal enough? Did prior guests comment about the owners being around and being helpful or that they never saw the owner? Is there a general positive theme to the guest rooms, bath and breakfast or a definite negative theme about breakfast not offering choice or not being homemade or the beds too soft? You need to look for themes not just a single unhappy guest. One can read the “theme” of reviews on sites like Trip Advisor, yelp.com, bedandbreakfast.com, etc. to see if the experience described by the majority of reviewers (not the outliers) is the experience that you are looking for with your escape.
Bedandbreakfast.com, BBfinder.com and bbonline.com are several of the many directories of bed and breakfasts. Most of them are organized so that you can search by State or specific city you plan on visiting and then you can filter with “fireplace”, “whirlpool”, “spa”, “water view” or other features or settings that may be of interest to you. They too feature reviews from previous guests to give you an idea of how the B&B experience was for past guests.
Is the inn part of Select Registry or have an AAA Four Diamond rating or a Mobile Rating? These types of 3rd party rating systems all conduct periodic on-site inspections and have specific criteria that must be met to maintain their rating or inclusion in the member group. Part of the inspection includes the quality, décor and upkeep of the guestrooms, common areas, exterior and grounds. Another part is the concierge service element, the check in process and the amenities in the room. Lastly, the breakfast – the quality, quantity and the ambiance of the breakfast service is all part of the inspection because it is all part of the guest experience. These independent inspections do help to take the “fear factor” out of the B&B experience. Additionally, if you do have an experience that is less than expected by an inspected property, you have the ability to speak with the 3rd party about the issues and it will be investigated.
Select Registry is made up of about 470 inns and B&Bs throughout the country and Canada that tend to be higher end properties. All of these properties will have private baths and many will offer higher end features like whirlpool tubs, rain showers, steam showers, oversized tubs for two or body jet showers. They will also all have complimentary Wi-Fi and most will have flat screen TVs in the room although a few will have a media room instead (description should tell you).
The best part of all is to go in with an open mind and be ready to enjoy the experience. Enjoy some pampering, a lot of romance and really getting the low-down on the area you are visiting to make the most of your great escape. Life is too complicated not to take some time to reconnect with your partner and enjoy some fun down time together.
Wishing you safe travels and looking forward to showing you our bed and breakfast in Rockland, Maine one day.
Conte’s – Adventure Dining at its Best 17 Jul 2014, 7:30 am
Conte’s – A Dining Adventure in Rockland Maine located at 148 S. Main Street (Rt. 73)
In today’s world it says a lot about a restaurant if it can stay in business for over twenty years with the same owner. It says even more about that restaurant if in all of that time it has NEVER advertised, is CASH ONLY (no credit cards), has NO PHONE and has NO SIGN to indicate what the building is and give any indication if they are open or not. Despite being featured in DownEast Magazine (8/13), named one of the top 10 best seafood dives in the US by Coastal Living (7/13), appearing on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations April 2010, and having numerous articles written on him through the years in the NY Times, Conte’s 1894 Restaurant or Conte’s as the locals call it, remains one of Rockland’s best kept secrets.
The best way to describe Conte’s is adventure dining. Think of a Seinfeld episode waiting to happen like the Soup Nazi. If you are a person with a sense of adventure; can be flexible to accept a somewhat unconventional atmosphere and are laid back enough to just go with the flow when it comes to dinner service than you are the right fit for a Conte’s adventure. Conte’s is not for all people and that is okay. You really have to appreciate the John Conte’s focused passion for serving seafood as fresh as possible and cooked how he thinks will optimize the flavor. Personally, I give the man a lot of credit for continuing to do what he loves, the way he loves to do it regardless of what mainstream public opinion may be. His restaurant – his rules, so really if you do not like it you do not have to come nor come back.
Okay so this is the drill. Generally Conte’s is open everyday for dinner service from 5-8pm including legal holidays. Unless John does not feel well and he decides not to open or he gets tired and decides to close early or someone insults him by trying to tell him how to properly cook fish and he closes. Get it – he has flexibility in his hours but you do not necessarily know it and because he does not have a phone you cannot exactly call to see how late he is serving. During the busier summer and fall seasons he will more than likely go until 8pm (his time) most nights but you want to plan on getting their no later than 6:15 or 6:30pm, on Saturdays in August probably earlier or you may not get in. During the quieter winter months, it is not uncommon for him to close things down by 6:30 or 7pm if it has been a particularly slow night.
You walk into the restaurant and you will see a sign on the door that lists the general list of fresh seafood he has and some options for sauces. For the last few years, he has added this feature of creating your own entrée – pick the seafood, pick the sauce. Otherwise closer to the entrance to the dining area there will be a chalk board with 10 or so entrees scrawled ½ English/ ½ Italian and perhaps a few pages of butcher paper with some more choices. The wait staff is great and they will help you decipher. You place your order and then will get pointed to your table. All of the tables are dressed in sheets of our local newspapers so you can read what happened in Rockland from a few weeks ago and the tables are lit with candles stuck in wine bottles. John does not like to waste money on electricity so most of the lights are kept off.
The wait staff will bring you the day’s version of fresh salad that sometimes is a bowl of tomatoes with dressing, sometimes
Sign in door of Conte’s Restaurant. Says open for lunch but they are not. Lists a phone number but not sure whose it is. People add there own notes if they came and John was closed.
is a boiled dinner like grouping, sometimes is just lettuce and cheese, sometimes there is cold pasta on the bottom – you get the picture. After the salad comes the homemade bread and drinks. Wine is usually white or red and the glasses tend to be small brandy snifters so equal a generous 1/3 to ½ of a bottle. Soda and water is served in mason jars so watch the lip or you will find yourself dribbling into your meal! Then the entrée comes – dishes won’t necessarily match and perhaps it actually is served in a pie pan but it will be a very, generous serving. Don’t be surprised if you order scallops with olive oil and garlic that you see a piece of salmon or shrimp on your plate or if you order lobster that you actually get 3 1/2s or 5 claws. John is very generous and sometimes just throws extra on because he can.
If you do not like “rare” seafood than do not order a swordfish steak or halibut as John believes that rare is the proper level of cooking for most seafood. It really does not work well to try to order it “well” or to send anything back for that matter so stick with something else. This is where the eccentric or non-conventional side of John comes out. When you are nearing the end of how much more you can eat, the wait staff will come over with zip lock bags for you to take your leftovers home with and bring you a hand written check on a piece of paper. This restaurant is CASH ONLY so make sure you are prepared or your dining partner will be having another glass of wine while you run to the closest ATM.
If you enjoyed the freshness and flavors of the fresh seafood that John prepared and want to thank him you can ask the wait staff if it would be okay to poke your head into the kitchen and tell him or not. They are the best judge of the mood for the night. John is probably fairly shy and really prefers talking to his fish or his animals than to people so he is not trying to be rude. If he is not in the mood to talk he will just keep on working but generally he sincerely appreciates hearing that people of enjoyed his labors and his passion of preparing freshly caught seafood for people and you might just catch a little smile.
If this type of dining does not sound like something you would enjoy while visiting Rockland that is okay, save it for those of us that enjoy eating on the wild side every now and again.
Tips for Attending the Maine Lobster Festival 2014 10 Jul 2014, 7:30 am
Maine Lobster Festival 2014
Tens of thousands of people will descend on Rockland, Maine the first weekend in August for the Maine Lobster Festival. The Maine Lobster Festival is the largest festival dedicated to the Maine Lobster in the country and has been celebrating this favorite crustacean for almost seven decades. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your visit.
- If you are coming for multiple days consider buying a four pack of day passes this will save you some money for more lobster! All tickets allow you to come and go from the Festival grounds for that day. Sunday is Community day so admission is free for all ages all day long.
- Parking – if you are driving to the Lobster Festival there are parking area close to the grounds that are run as fundraisers for local civic groups. Typically they are $6 to $12 dollars a day. They do fill up early. Otherwise use the shuttle service and park at the OceansideHigh School, MacDougalSchool or the RocklandDistrictMiddle School for free and take the shuttle to and from the festival grounds. It runs continuously through the hours of the Festival.
- Eat at off-peak times. The lines for the “Eating Tent” for lobster will be the longest for lunch on opening days and prime meal times for the weekend. Try staggering your meal time to be “off peak” so you do not have to wait in the hot sun in line. Don’t worry they cook that fresh lobster continuously throughout the day so you will not miss out.
- Make your lodging accommodations early. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are the most difficult nights to get accommodations in town for the Lobster Festival. If you only want to catch a day or two of the Lobster Festival try getting accommodations right in town (walking distance to the Festival) for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. This will allow you to see the opening ceremonies for the Festival at 12 noon when King Neptune officially opens the festivities, the coronation of the Sea Goddess and gives you the chance to return on Thursday if you missed things you wanted to see. View our Rockland, ME lodging options.
- The other great option for accommodations near the Festival grounds is to book Sunday and Monday nights of the Lobster Festival. Plan on getting to town early to get as many hours as you can at the Festival and enjoy plenty of Lobster and the Great Lobster Crate Races. Sunday is also community day so there is no admission fee. This gives you Monday to recover from your lobster frenzy and enjoy the sites of the Rockland area without all of the crowds.
- If you cannot find any accommodations in the area for the Lobster Festival and want to come for the day, consider taking the Maine Eastern Railroad from Brunswick (connects to Amtrack Downeaster) or hop on from the Bath, Wiscasset or Newcastle stations. The Maine Eastern Railroad will get you to Rockland at 11am daily and departs at 8pm daily for all 5 days of the Festival.
- If you are interested in any of the headliners that are performing at the Festival (as posted on the Maine Lobster Festival website) you can purchase advanced tickets for the reserved seating area through the website. This allows you to have an actual chair throughout the performance rather than just standing on the outskirts and watching the show. Seats are not assigned and are available on a first come first served basis before the show.
- Pick up some wet naps to take with you to the festival if you are planning to get down and dirty with some fresh Maine Lobster. Although all of the lobster dinners (single, double and triple) are priced very competitively, the best deals for lobster indulgence is the triple lobster dinner.
- If the butter gets to you with your lobster meal, try just using lemon on your lobster or visit FIORE Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars and purchase a Meyer Lemon olive oil and drizzle a little on the lobster instead of dipping it in the butter.
- Make a reservation on Captain Jack’s Lobster Adventure and go out lobstering on a working lobster boat for an hour and fifteen minutes. You will learn how lobsters are caught, how to tell a male from a female and gain an understanding on Maine’s strict fishing rules that have certified Maine Lobsters as sustainably caught. He only holds 6 people at a time so make your reservations in advance at www.captainjackslobstertours.com or 207-542-6852.
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Captain Jack’s Authentic Lobster Adventure 3 Jul 2014, 8:45 am
How a real Maine Lobsterman looks – Capt. Jack’s Lobster Adventure.
Catch a glimpse of the life of a real Maine lobsterman when you hop on aboard Captain Jack’s Lobster tour. The boat, Captain Jack, is one of the oldest working fiberglass lobster boats around and at the helm; Captain Steve Hale is probably equally as crusty! One of our top recommended top attractions in Maine – an authentic adventure you don’t want to miss! Although there are other lobster boats offering tours in other harbors of Maine, what makes Captain Jack’s unique is that it is a true working lobster boat. There are no stadium seating, no televisions, no microphones just a thin cushion on a bench at the back of the boat making it an authentic lobster experience.
The 75 minute tours run several times a day from mid to late May (weather dependent)
Captain Jack’s Lobster Boat Tours out of Middle Pier in Rockland Maine
through mid to late October. The tours are Monday through Saturday as in July and August it is against the law in Maine to lobster on Sundays. He will pull traps within the inner harbor of the Breakwater and talk to you about the strict lobster laws that Maine has enforced for over 100 years that has helped the lobster industry to be certified as sustainable fishery.
You will learn the difference between soft and hard shelled lobsters, how to tell a male from a female lobster and why they call part of the lobster trap “the bedroom”. Bring your questions or just set back and take it all in. Tickets are $30 adult $18 children and it is well worth it.
Because you stay within the inner harbor inside the Breakwater it is protected waters and depending on the wind and wind direction it is pretty calm. Also, you will always be able to see land. These two factors usually allow people that normally get sea-sick or are concerned about getting motion sickness to still enjoy this boat ride. If you are sensitive or concerned let Steve know before you take off from the docks and he will be extra careful and/or will take you back to the dock if you get uncomfortable. Also, unless you dive into the bait bucket you will not get off the boat smelling like fish nor should you get wet on the boat. You will be fine wearing your normal day’s clothes and go off and enjoy the day after without people knowing you were on a lobster boat by your smell!
The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
In addition to learning about lobster fishing in Maine patrons will also be able to see the Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse from the water which affords a different and beautiful view of this engineering feat. Sometimes you can see Owls Head Lighthouse or one of Maine’s newest lighthouses, Rockland Harbor Southwest. Keep your eyes out as perhaps you will also be able to see other marine birds and seals on your trip.
At the end of your excursion, you can purchase fresh lobsters or crabs that you helped to catch at boat prices. Supposedly in the summer of 2014, Steve will add a little cooker on land and you can cook them right off the boat and enjoy them at a picnic table or you always have the option of taking them to Jesse’s market and cooking them. If all of that sounds like too much work, take a short drive to Ship to Shore Lobster Company in Owls Head harbor which is a working lobster pound, pick out your freshly caught lobsters and eat them at picnic tables on the dock while the other lobstermen bring in their hauls.
If you want to enjoy more lobster stuff including Captain Jack’s and Ship to Shore Lobster than
Ship to Shore Lobster Company – enjoy freshly caught lobster on the docks