Early June, we decided that it was time to take a small family vacation so that we could disconnect a little and show our little guy some new scenery. As we thought about where we wanted to go, we really didn’t want to take a long plane ride from our home in Philadelphia, PA, so we settled on a trip to Maine since neither one of us had been there before, and a quaint vacation with some ocean views sounded exactly what the doctor ordered. Our plans lead us to stay in Camden, Maine – a quaint, historic town in Maine that has enough to do so that you’re not bored but also isn’t overwhelming in things to do so that there are tons and tons of people.
There are many people who may decide to put Camden, Maine as a day stop as they travel through Maine which isn’t necessarily a horrible idea, but I highly recommend making Camden a trip where you are able to stay a few days and truly enjoy everything that the city has to offer.
ABOUT CAMDEN, MAINE
The city of Camden is surrounded by other great towns such as Lincolnville and Rockport. When visiting Camden, you’ll be within a short driving distance to both of those major towns and you may even end up staying in those towns depending on what type of stay that you are looking for.
The area is great for hiking, relaxing, and also visiting the major fishing harbors where you’ll find a plethora of great places to eat and enjoy the view. Camden also has a great little town that you can walk through and find various shops to enjoy. During our visit, we took a stroll around the town and found very cute ice cream parlors as well as a few antique stores where I found some trinkets that I’ve added as great decor to my own home.
If you are flying to visit Camden, you may end up flying into Bar Harbor International where you’ll end up renting a car. Camden is about a one-hour drive from the airport, but the drive is super smooth, relaxing, and very scenic and was probably one of the best drives that I have had in recent years. If you choose to do a rental from the airport, make sure to book your rental way ahead of time. There is a high demand for rentals from that airport and you’ll want to avoid either having to pay a very high amount for a rental because of the demand or not having availability at all.
PLACES TO STAY IN CAMDEN, MAINE
There are quite a few places to stay in Camden. During our visit, we opted for staying at the Inn at Ocean’s Edge. A very relaxing inn in Lincolnville that is only a 15-minute drive from Camden. Depending on what type of stay you’re looking for is where you’ll end up choosing, but, in my opinion, an inn is what you’ll want to opt for while in this area.
Hotels & Resorts in Camden
- The Inn at Ocean’s Edge
- The Noumbega Inn
- Samoset Resort
- Camden Riverhouse Hotel
- Lord Camden Inn
- The Inn at Camden Place
- 16 Bay View
- Grand Harbor Inn
- Berry Manor Inn
With the various places to stay around Camden, you’ll find luxury, calmness, and places where you’ll feel as if you are staying in your own home. Many of the places offer breakfast included, such as the Inn at Ocean’s Edge, but not all places offer meals – it all depends on whether there is a working and functional kitchen. Additionally, if you’re looking for an ocean view, make sure to verify the location. Though many of these stays are around the harbor, not all of them have ocean views.
WHERE TO EAT IN CAMDEN, MAINE
Camden is full of a variety of places to eat. No matter what type of cuisine you are looking for, you’ll find it. But, in my opinion, if you’re visiting Maine, you should at least try the oysters and some lobster. If you don’t have a meal that includes some seafood, then you’re doing Maine wrong. Another great thing about the dining scene in Maine is that there are a lot of oceanfront options, so if you go during the warmer months then you can sit outside and enjoy the view while enjoying a delicious meal. My one suggestion if you eat in the main town of Camden is that you get there early enough to find parking and to make sure you make a reservation ahead of time. It gets quite a busy downtown with locals and those who are visiting, so be prepared to search a little for parking.
Here’s some insight to the places that we ate during our visit along with some other suggestions that we eyeballed but just didn’t have the opportunity to go.
If you’re looking for an eclectic vibe and a place where you’re able to try seasonal drinks and food, then 40 Paper is for you. This Bistro has a very relaxing and chill feel to it and the food choices are simple and well rounded so that you’ll find something that everyone will like. I especially enjoyed the cocktail options and the ways that they were served. One of the cocktails actually came with the garnish still flaming which added a little fun to our dinner.
With a great view of the harbor and somewhat off the main gride of Camden, you’ll find the Waterfront. With traditional seafood dishes and a very family-oriented setting, this was the first place that we came to eat at the start of our trip. I was thoroughly impressed by the oysters and even more impressed by the kid’s menu option. Our son is super picky, but we were able to find an item on the menu, the cheese & fruit platter, that was healthy, plentiful, and tasty enough for him to chow down on.
Peter Otts on the Water
Another place to eat with a spectacular view of the harbor is Peter Otts on the Water. The entrance to the restaurant is at the same place where you would board a boat if you decide to take a cruise while on your visit. Sitting outside, you can watch boats come in and out of the harbor while also eating savory seafood including some great lobster choices. Even more, they have a small little creamery attached to the restaurant where you can order yourself an ice cream cone without having to enter the restaurant.
Other Places to Dine in Camden
THINGS TO DO IN CAMDEN, MAINE
Camden is a very family-friendly location to visit. With our son being almost two during the time of our trip, we were a little nervous that there wasn’t going to be a lot that we could enjoy as a family, but that travel anxiety went right away when we finally put together our itinerary. Though some of the things that we did were more adult-focused, our trip was primarily family-oriented and it also gave us the feel of the town.
Taking a harbor cruise is a must-do while in Camden. Whether you take one on a sailing boat where you can be an active member of the crew or just enjoy the ride, or whether you take one that shows you how to lobster fish and see some of the best lighthouses in the area, taking a cruise is something that you won’t want to pass up while on your trip. There are plenty of options for cruises, so pick one depending on your level of wanting to be involved and what you would like to learn.
We decided on Camdon Harbor’s Cruises Lobster & Lighthouse Tour since it allowed us, as a family, to sit and enjoy and learn a few things. We didn’t want to do a sailing cruise with a lot of motion and turning with our little guy, and this one allowed us to sit, enjoy the ride, and see how they catch lobster as well as being able to learn about the lobsters and other catch.
Visit a Lighthouse
Make sure to visit a lighthouse or two while in Camden. On some of the cruises, such as the one that we went on, you’ll be able to see private lighthouses from the boat, but there are quite a few lighthouses that you can drive to and go visit and fully experience during your stay. We actually encountered a couple who was also on vacation whose sole purpose of being in Maine was to do a lighthouse tour through Maine because there are so many to visit. Maine lighthouses are a big tourist attraction, but if you go early enough in the day, especially if you’re visiting during a weekday, you can beat any crowds.
On our trip, we went to Marshall Point Lighthouse, which has a spectacular history and a breathtaking view. The lighthouse itself was actually shown in the popular movie, Forrest Gump, so while I was there, I had to recreate the moment because I thought that it was such a fun experience to have.
Relax at a Winery
There are a few wineries in the area, but the closest one is Cellardoor Winery. Cellardoor Winery is a great local winery in Lincolnville. You can make a reservation and enjoy a wine tasting that is curated by flavor in their outdoor seating areas or in one of their indoor tasting areas – with some of them looking like a home kitchen and living room area. You can also take a self-guided tour through the vineyard and there’s even seating out there where you can enjoy the view and disconnect from the bustle of the town. After a tasting, they welcome you to pick a bottle or two of wine and enjoy, and they also allow you to bring some of your own food to enjoy while sipping some wine.
This is one of the more adult activities that we did, but we were able to find enjoyment for our toddler since he was able to get his little sippy cup of grape juice, snack on some fruit and cheese, and then wander around the vineyard with me after we did our tasting.
Take a Visit to a Park
A park visit is also a must when visiting Maine. There are so many sights to see in Camden and when heading to some of the parks, you’ll be able to get a high vantage point of the harbor that is a sight that you won’t get to see in many other places. My suggestion is to pack a little picnic and enjoy the view for quite some time so that you can, again, disconnect, and enjoy the moment.
We visited Camden Hill’s State Park, which was only a five-minute drive from our inn and a ten-minute drive from the town of Camden. There is an entry fee, but it’s for the upkeep of the park. And you have the option of parking at the bottom of the park and hiking up the mountain, or you can drive all the way to the top to park and enjoy the view for an hour or two.
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