This summer, Tea families across the US are showing us around their cities and sharing the incredible places that make them special.
Next up in our Share Your City series, fellow Tea mom, Ellen Reynolds, and her little family of four, capture coastal adventures in Camden, Maine.
Camden is an incredible little town nestled in the heart of mid-coast Maine. “Where the mountains meet the sea”, beautiful old sea captain estates speckle the land, while gorgeous wooden tall ships still populate the waters of Camden. It’s an incredible combination of old world and new, work and wealth, art and nature.
For those of us who live here year-round, we know this place to harbor long and harsh winters. Because of that, the summers are celebrated exuberantly, and every warm moment lived fully. Maine, above all else, is a place to be outside. It’s a place with beautiful rocky shores, steep mountains, adventurous trails, and calm, cool lakes. It’s a place with micro farms that feed the local population, and farm stands that still operate on the honor system. A place where barns eventually fall under the weight of their own old age, and storefronts never change to keep the memory of this town’s foundation alive.
We love Camden because it’s a beautiful little piece of the world. Here, lobstermen still go out every day to bring in fresh catch, and many mariner families still know what it means to wait on someone to come safely home (our own included). We love Camden because it’s a community that embraces our children and helps to guide them on a path toward being peaceful and adventurous stewards of the world. We love Camden because there are more trees than people, more barnacles than cars, and our littlest people get to experience the wonders of nature as they should. We love our quiet winters, and our bustling, tourist-infused summers, and all the muddy, mucky seasons in between!
Slurp Up Pure Goodness at The Smoothie Shack
The Smoothie Shack is open during the summer season, is family owned, and definitely kiddo approved! We always go for the veggie smoothies to get a little extra boost of nutrients. You can always find kids here, and it’s a nice stop on the way to play on the Montessori playground!
Cool Down with a Tasty Treat at Cone Home
Summers in Maine are all about the ice cream, and ice cream stands can be found around every corner! You can sit down by the ocean with a cone, walk through town or cozy up to the Megunticook River (which literally runs right UNDER our downtown!). Forest and Anders are always happy to have ice cream no matter the location, but Cone Home is our favorite spot for ice cream, lunch, and baked goods! It’s a sister shop to the very popular Home Cafe, known for the best breakfast in the area!
Set Sail on a Schooner
Taking a sail on any of the local ships (tall ships) or sail boats is really breathtaking for anyone who hasn’t experienced it. For large schooner rides, I am personally partial to the Isaac Evans, which I sailed with as a deckhand many years ago. Schooners of this size offer anything from day sails to multi-night trips, and most often have incredible food, good company, and take you to lesser known areas of the bay. The smaller vessel, Owl, is also a fabulous boat for a day sail, and offers a more intimate experience of the water. Penobscot Bay, which we live on, is really too gorgeous not to get out on for at least a day!
Hit the Trail
Amazing hiking trails, ranging in difficulty level, are also abundant here, and offer up some incredible views of the bay. Maiden’s Cliff hiking trail gives an amazing view of Megunticook Lake, and has a large cross at the top to commemorate a maiden who, many years ago, fell to her death in pursuit of a windswept bonnet.
Bald Rock Mountain Trail is the best bang-for-your-buck hike. It’s a fairly short trail of limited difficulty (about a mile up), and leads you to a gorgeous rock outcropping with sweeping views of the harbor. Bald Rock is part of the Camden Hills trail system, and can link up to other hikes to make a longer journey if desired!
Stroll the Beach in Search of Seaside Critters
Beach exploration is one of our favorite summer past times! Tidal pools are awesome ecosystems for little explorers to watch, and the beach is always riddled with incredible shells, sea glass, driftwood, lobster buoys, crabs and other fun critters to follow about. Laite Beach is a great little spot in walking distance from downtown. It has a bit of sand, which is not terribly common in our region of Maine, and offers some good afternoon shade as well. Because it’s close to town, it makes a good quick stop spot. Lincolnville Beach is also fabulous, and has a hidden beach on the far side of the ferry terminal. This beach has lots of great spots for exploration, and a good long stretch of land for kids (and mamas!) to run around on.
Swing into Sunny Days at Walker Park
When you have littles in tow, anywhere with swings is always a good idea. Our go-to is Walker Park, which offers great shade in the summer months, a fun structure for younger and older kids, and access to the Rockport Harbor. It’s a great place to throw children’s parties and the rocky beach is riddled with tide pools that are always a hit with the little ones!
Exploring Blueberry Barrens
If the season is right, Maine is absolutely covered in wild blueberries. They are fun to pick, and an early morning hike to the barrens leads to delicious blueberry pancakes to follow! Many of the local hikes have blueberry barrens somewhere along the way, and most locals know someone who has them on their land. The boys are pictured here on a friend’s piece of land.
Best Date Night: Long Grain
Long Grain is an unassuming storefront without so much as a sign indicating its existence. But make no mistake, this is the absolute best food in town. In the summer, a reservation is much needed, but this authentic Thai food is among the best in the nation. It has received numerous awards and write-ups in various news sources, including the New York Times. Beyond that, it’s owned by an amazing little family of truly good people.
Best Do-it-Yourself Dinner: Lobster
Small “fresh lobster” signs can be spotted on just about any road in the area. And it’s not a joke! Lobster can be easily purchased straight from a lobsterman at a fairly cheap price, and steamed up at home with little knowledge or effort. It doesn’t get any better or fresher than that!
Best Coffee: Sea Folk
Sea Folk has a great space overlooking the Rockport Harbor. Add delicious coffee, tasty snacks, and a family friendly vibe—it’s a perfect little spot for a family outing. The owners have four boys of their own, and understand and welcome the wild spirits of little ones.
For more Maine attractions, follow along here.