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Camden, Maine’s delights during shoulder seasons

By August 8, 2023March 6th, 20243 Comments

When it’s hot in the northeast, we go further north! There’s been some scorcher summer days this season, so utilizing Maine’s welcoming coastal towns brings some relief. But really, all year round is perfect for Maine, from hiking and swimming in the spring and summer, to skiing and leaf peeping in the fall and winter.

camden harbor park maine

Camden, Maine is the newest place on my list of favorites to visit. You could definitely extend a road trip from Boston to Maine and visit Camden for a few days. While places like Kennebunk are gorgeous too, Camden offers a slightly smaller, classic coastal town feel with just as much beauty and things to experience.

Stay in Camden’s town center

Only steps away from delicious restaurants and the main marina, the elegant Hartstone Inn & Hideaway is an ideal spot for a cozy weekend in Camden. Comprised of several homes refurbished with modern amenities, the inn allows for couples, families and small groups (and pets!) to be surrounded by elegance and close to all the Camden action.

Many suites and rooms have private entrances and each is themed a little differently. Some boast jetted tubs and gas fireplaces, and others have access to private terraces or shared three-season bonus areas for lounging. Rooms come with a fresh breakfast in the main house every morning, and there’s a coffee station open all day. 

Our main meal at the inn was delicious and painstakingly curated by Chef Dustin to feature local flavor with a twist. Hartstone Inn is known for its tasting menu! I had the pleasure of having some homemade clam chowder and seared tuna. Our desserts were decadent showstoppers too.

Being pregnant at the time, I was looking forward to the ‘sober curious’ mocktails touted by the restaurant. Although our young bartender wasn’t super certain about the offerings, he was flexible in trying out some new concoctions with a little guidance. All staff were very accommodating.


Cozy up at the Hartstone Inn, located in Camden, Maine! This beautiful property is only steps from downtown and offers a local foodie oasis for breakfast and dinner. The best part is if you stay three nights, they include a complimentary sail through Penobscot Bay, which was the highlight of the trip. It’s not too late to plan a little romantic weekend away or a cozy solo stay for some much-needed R&R. Full review an article coming soon to Pure Wander! -Eileen #visitmaine #camdenmaine #visitnewengland #newenglandliving #newenglandsummer #maineliving #travelblogger #travelreels #weekendvibes #visitusa #penobscotbay #travelwriter #bedandbreakfast #bedandbreakfasts #sailing⛵️ #sailinginstagram #setsail #travelmore #traveldeeper

♬ Love on the Weekend – Aria Ohlsson

The Schooner Surprise

Not only was the inn wonderful, they are running a special partnership with Schooner Surprise called Sail Hartstone. If you stay three nights through October, you can indulge in a chartered sail through Penobscot Bay. Learn about local lighthouse lore, catch a few sailing tips and BYOB for a relaxing afternoon on the water. 

view from schooner suprise camden maine

We grabbed some sandwiches and treats to go from the nearby Camden Deli before embarking too: don’t miss the homemade peanut butter cup or the #39 ‘Surprise’ sandwich.

Drinks and a stroll through Camden

It’s simple to get your bearings in Camden as you walk from Hartstone Inn down Elm Street. Grab a strong espresso at Zoot Coffee (or a beer at Seadog Brewing Co.) as you head toward the water. Peek into Hundred Acres for some local gifts and goods as well as the other shops on the main drag. 

camden harbor park maine

Then have a leisurely morning along Camden Harbor Park, affiliated with the local library. There are lots of places to dine and shop right in the center. Watch the sailboats over on the opposite side of the harbor, where you’ll find the new Whistling Whale coffee shop and Barren’s Distillery. Round out the day with a happy hour tipple at The View, overlooking the water and park.

signature cocktails at salt raw bar plymouth ma

Time on the water and up on the mountain

Obviously if you have time, make a beeline for the iconic Acadia National Park, less than two hours from Camden. However, you can certainly get some quality outdoor-time within minutes of town too. We spent a crisp morning driving up the summit of Mt. Battie. The 800-foot peak was the perfect viewpoint to see all of Camden and the harbor below. There’s plenty of hiking trails, snowshoeing, camping opportunities and more inside the Camden State Park you can try year-round.

view from mt battie tower maine

Once in a while the road will be closed for repairs, so check the website ahead of time to make sure all is clear.

On the road back to Boston

The drive from Camden, Maine to Boston, MA is 3-4 hours on a low-traffic day. If you like to travel slow or are with kiddos, it might be worth an overnight on either end of the trip. We chose to stop into Kennebunk on the way back to poke around and visit family.

We worry so you don't have to.

Before leaving the Camden area, we stopped at the cute Coastal Children’s Museum in Rockland, about 15 minutes outside Camden. It’s definitely for the littles so you can skip it on your romantic getaway. But it was ideal for our toddler to stretch her legs and learn a bit more about local wildlife.

Freeport’s one of our other favorite stops in Maine, so we had to make a quick pullover to the Maine Beer Company when we saw it from the road. This is easily one of the chicest taprooms I’ve experienced, complete with perfectly charred pizzas and plenty of space to stretch out indoors and outdoors. You can take some of their famous bottles home and order in advance online if in a rush.

Once we made it to Kennebunk/Kennebunkport, we only had a short time to try a few new things. Of course, have a roll at the Clam Shack and stop at the lovely Mother’s Beach if you haven’t been to these breezy coastal towns before.

This time, we had a cone at Rococo, which just moved to its new location in Kennebunk. They have some wild flavors of gelato, including Maine whoopie pie and goat cheese blackberry chambord.

I was craving a bit of seafood, but my husband won out with his hankering for barbeque. We ate at Smoke in Kennebunk. To our delight, satisfied both our cravings. Not only is the slow cooked brisket and sides tasty, they also have a smoked lobster roll.  They gently smoke lobster claw meat, mix it with just a touch of mayo and chives, and present it on the most buttery brioche roll ever paired with fries. I know my way around lobster rolls, and it might be the best I’ve ever had.

lobster roll at smoke kennebunk

I hope Maine will be a forever destination with my crew to always enjoy no matter the time of year. Have a look at our other articles championing a love for this woodsy state!

Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel journalist and owner of Pure Wander. She's our resident expat extraordinaire and falls down a lot in yoga class. Follow her on Instagram @Pure_Wander.

More posts by Eileen Cotter Wright

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