Summer Adventures: Camden – Paul Landry

Summer Adventures: Camden

This weekend, we were graced with a warm and sunny day, here in Maine.

It seemed silly to sit inside on a Saturday and do work, so we opted for a day trip to somewhere neither of us had been in a long time. Maybe the glorious metropolis of Portland, or perhaps Freeport to check out all the shops? Instead, we decided to shoot North up to the picturesque home of schooners in Camden. It was only 10 o’clock by the time we were ready to go, so we packed a lunch of brats and brews for later.
We were careful to pay attention to the directions and not our music, this time, as the shortcut to Camden is a little tricky, but ends up saving about half an hour in the long run (for you Mainers, you take US HWY 1 to HWY 90 East ). Upon arrival, we felt our hearts hit the ground… G O R G E O U S! Camden is located where the mountains meet the sea, and boy, what a handshake. Their Main Street is only paralleled by Disney’s Main Street, USA. The quirky shop signs stand out against the red brick buildings which are perfectly complemented by the surrounding homes in elegant colonial or federal style. We quickly found ourselves a parking spot and leapt onto the sidewalk to begin our great expedition.

Although we weren’t hungry, we walked into a handful of restaurants along the way, and found a couple super cute holes-in-the-wall (more details at the end). Most of the meals were fairly-priced, but definitely marked up for the season. A thorough examination of the culinary scene allowed us to allot the rest of our time to the shops and boutiques in the area. One of our first stops, and probably our most favorite, was a  leather goods boutique that carries our best-loved handbag brand: Dooney & Bourke. The owner and his son run the shop themselves, and are very polite, without being intrusive. They allowed us to go behind the counter and look through every bag, without ever trying to push a certain collection, or sale on us. We left the store delighted with their professionalism, and look forward to returning this Christmas.  A few of the standouts were a Collins Toni Satchel for her and the Alto Briefcase for him.

Before continuing down Main Street, we took a detour to swing by the public library. It has to be one of the most enchanting places we’ve seen. A delicate mix of old and new, perched on a hill above the harbor, the library creates a picturesque view amidst an array of picnic tables. As you descend the double staircase, your downhill gaze is met by a stone amphitheater tucked into a Narnia-esque forest. Mind you… this library, yes, library… that looks like fairies carved it out of the pinetrees, is nestled just between downtown and a residential neighborhood. Being the “aw, shucks” kind of people we are, we whipped out our camera and took pictures galore. Yet, somehow, we don’t have enough? It’s etched in our memories, though. We meandered around the pathways to the docks where a multitude of elegant schooners were parked for the day. Walking up and gazing upon the size of these ships made the 65ft schooner in Boothbay look like a dingy.

As with any tourist hub, the tchotchke shops were in full bloom. You know what I’m talking about - the “anytown, USA” on a neon ultra-stiff t-shirt, displayed next to the Christmas ornament display and countless early-2000’s postcards collecting dust from last season. We breezed past them, in search of true, unique retail. Approaching the South end, we took a turn down Bay View St. Known for their small restaurants and many private marinas, we had a hunch that there would be something good around the corner. As luck would have it, our hopes were fulfilled. Insert a white brick craft shop, a bench swing in the window, and a gust of pine drifting out the doors pulling our noses inside. Swan’s Island Co. is somewhat of a local company, with production only a few miles North of Camden. The woman working there was very knowledgeable of the work that goes into their fine woven blankets, throws and pillows. Many of them are in soft hues of blue and Nantucket red, creating a New England atmosphere anywhere they’re placed. We spent well over half an hour wandering about the shop and feeling all the blankets… definitely will be returning again!

The rest of the day was spent weaving into antique stores and trinket shops with no real direction. It was fun, and gave us an excuse to escape the heat and enjoy the modern convenience of air conditioning. With the afternoon coming to an end, we felt it would be a smart idea to head back and get a snack along the way to avoid the sudden influx of tourists. For all the years we have been visiting Maine, we’ve been missing out on Camden’s slice of heaven. If you ever find yourself longing for an know where to go.

Many thanks Camden,

       Pat & Madison

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published