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Weekend Away: Visiting Camden, Maine

Just an hour’s drive north of Portland and a little over three hours from Boston, Camden makes an excellent home base for a classic Maine experience. A weekend getaway to Camden, Maine, provides easy access to exquisite New England cuisine, art and history, and plenty of outdoor activities in the midst of a stunning landscape. This cozy little town where rolling hills slope down to the shoreline is the perfect place to nestle in for a weekend.

credit: Maine Office of Tourism
credit: Maine Office of Tourism

When to Visit Camden, Maine 

July and August are the most popular months for a weekend away in Camden, Maine — while the rest of the country is sweating the dog days of summer, the weather's actually really pleasant here. There are plenty of things to do in Camden in the summer, including lobster festivals, open-air entertainment, and lots and lots of sailing. With so much going on in this popular summer getaway town, we recommend making summer reservations well in advance. September is slightly cooler, but still a very popular time for visitors — the fall foliage here is stunning. To beat some of the crowds, we recommend coming in the spring, early summer, or mid-October. If you’re truly hearty, come up in winter to get a feel for the true local scene.

Things to do in Camden, Maine 

With a long protected harbor and an even longer history of sea trade and fishing, Camden is first and foremost a water town. Head down to the docks and set out to sea on a windjammer cruise or a guided sea kayak adventure. Any vessel lets you explore hidden coves and open water, with the added bonus of seals, porpoises, and bald eagles on display. Once you’ve gotten your ocean fix, stroll through the downtown and take in some history, arts, and craftsmanship. Pop in to galleries and head to neighboring Rockland for the Maine Lighthouse Museum. While you're there, check out the Farnsworth Museum, an enormous space with galleries focused on Maine’s role in the development of American art. Stay tuned for the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, just down the road. Currently under construction, the center houses a rotating selection of contemporary works with links to Maine. Back in Camden, head up into Camden Hills State Park for wooded trails and sweeping views of midcoast Maine and the ocean. Walk, hike, run, or bike up to the top of Mount Battie and take in all of Camden from afar. Pro tip: a picnic here at sunset is as good as it gets.

credit: Doug Kerr Flickr (cc by 2.0)

Where to eat and drink in Camden

Speaking of picnics, Camden is a thriving foodie town. Midway between the cultural hub of Portland and the natural vacationland of Bar Harbor, you can get both the compulsory ice cream cone and lobster roll as well as innovative fusion cuisine and elegant classics here. With an astounding number of chic eateries per capita, it’s hard to choose between Latin fusion at Comida, gourmet pizza pies at Seabright, pork belly and stir fried kale at Long Grain, and lobster with spicy aioli and ginger ponzu at Natalie’s, among others. Natalie’s also has a great bar converted from an 1874 Victorian building that was once a French convent. Wash your meal down with a beer from one of many Maine breweries.

Where to stay in Camden, Maine 

Camden is a highly evolved destination for visitors, so you have plenty of options when it comes to accommodations. Camden hotels include small bed and breakfasts, luxurious inns that were once estates, and chic downtown boutiques. Plan your weekend away well in advance if you’re visiting Camden in the summertime or foliage season to get your pick of hotels, but rest assured you really can't go wrong in this scenic, compact slice of Maine.

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