An Italian raised in Paris who now splits her time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn, and co-owner of Ilaria Urbinati fuels her obsession with Americana through country music, back issues of Cottage Living, and long weekends spent exploring the nation. She recently checked Maine off her must-see list.
CAMDEN, Maine – In Maine, everyone is "from away" unless their family has been there for generations. If you can find some old locals and get them going, that's the best — they have their own language and the greatest sense of hometown pride. I love the contrast of by-the-book prep towns like Kennebunkport and Camden and gorgeous rural farm areas like Norway. Camden/Rockport is particularly amazing because you can get everything from nature adventures, like kayaking on lakes, to fancy excursions on gorgeous yachts. It's also home to the best fish shacks and fine dining I've ever experienced. It can be anything you want it to be.
Where to Stay
8 Country Inn Way, Rockport; +1-800-707-3945
There are lots of cute inns all over the town but this one is the cutest — and it's dog-friendly. Ask for one of the cottages. Each one has its own little kitchen and living room.
37 Beach Ave., Kennebunk; +1-207-967-2321
It's fab and fancy for a treat. Amazing food and a gorgeous swimming pool and spa. It's worth stopping by — even if only for a meal.
What to Do
2175 Atlantic Hwy., Lincolnville; +1-207-236-8608
Call ahead for a reservation and these guys will have everything ready to go when you arrive. They'll suit you up in a life vest, drive you down to , send you on your way in a kayak, and pick you up when you're through. There are many good spots along the shore where you can pull over, rest your paddles, eat, swim, and lay out. Two things to look out for: bald eagles in the trees; locals jumping off a massive rock into the water (the best diving spot around).
Where to Shop
95 Main St., Freeport; +1-877-755-2326
Prep heaven is open 24-hours a day. Nothing is more authentically east coast than L.L. Bean and this is the mecca. Be a nerdy tourist and get a photo taken with the giant boot out front. Check the calendar for weekly farmers markets and cute events like Hometown Celebrations, where they give away ice cream cones and Red Sox tickets.
What to Eat
The Dip Net
1 Cold Storage Rd., Port Clyde; +1-207-372-6307
After checking out the lighthouses along the coast, dig into the best lobster roll in the area (according to my lobster roll-enthusiast husband). Excellent root beer floats (according to me).
Corner of Route 1 and Route 90, Rockport; +1-207-236-4371
Right down the street from The Country Inn, this place makes you want to pack a picnic and spend the day on the lake.
83 Bayview St., Camden; +1-207-236-7008
I have this place on my to-do list for next time. It came highly recommended but I didn't go myself. It's inside the beautiful and the only real fancy dining experience in the area.
7 Public Landing, Camden; +1-207-230-0555
Local organic Italian food right on the harbor. The meat lasagna is insanely good. I would fly back there now just for that. If the weather is nice, sit outside. Technically you'll be eating lunch in a parking lot, but it's such a cool vibe.
2 S. Main St., Camden; +1-207-596-0770
You must eat here. Call for a reservation as soon as you book your trip. It's the ultimate farm-to-table meal. Each room of the barn house has been converted into a dining room. The produce and animals are grown and harvested on the property. One of the best eating experiences of my life.
47 Water St., Wiscasset; +1-207-882-6128
True, my husband liked the lobster roll at The Dip Net better, but Red's Eats is an institution. Be prepared for a line around the block. Save room for blueberry ice cream.
18 Central St., Rockport; +1-207-236-8500
Sit at the counter and talk to the old staff behind the bar. Order the — wait for it — shepherd's pie. The burger and the duck are excellent as well.
80 Main St., Wiscasset; +1-207-882-6192
A very quaint specialty foods shop. Stop by for baked goods in the morning or wine and cheese later in the day. It's also a good spot to pick up made-in-Maine pantry goods and edible souvenirs.
. (Google Maps)