Where to Stay & Eat in Rockland

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Where to Stay & Eat

Great food abounds right on the show grounds.

The show itself will have many great food vendors with delicious eats to offer you.

Vendors at the 2013 Show will include:
4m Productions
Monty's Kitchen
Orr's Island Chowder Co.
The Smoothie Shack
Stone Fox Farm Creamery

The city of Rockland has fantastic food and plenty of great lodging options all within a short distance of the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show grounds.

Below you'll find links to the Penobscot Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and to our Coastal Directory to help you find a place to stay and places to eat around town. We recommend that you book lodging early to avoid disappointment. This is high season on the coast of Maine and things sell out quickly!

MaineBoats.com Coastal Directory Links:
Lodging
Restaurants

Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce
View the Chamber's online and interactive 2013 Visitor's Guide; The Jewel
Accommodations
Dining & Nightlife
Traveling with Children
Arts and Entertainment
The Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce offices are at One Park Drive, next to the Buoy Park entrance to the show. Stop in and talk with their helpful staff if you have any questions.

Exploring the Rockland Area
by Kathy Westra, excerpted from Maine Discovery Coast magazine, courtesy of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce

While you are in the area for the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show, we hope you can find some time to tour nearby towns and attractions, some highlights of which appear below. The full article from which this text was excerpted can be obtained from the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce offices, located just outside the Buoy Park entrance to the show (near the show office).

Many visitors to the Penobscot Bay region confine their journey to well-traveled Route 1, which winds northeastward, hugging the Maine coast until it reaches Canada. While Route 1 offers many must-see destinations, if you confine your visit to that narrow corridor, you will miss the richness and diversity of many other towns and villages.

A drive to discover the region’s communities promises something for everyone: charming small towns with first-rate shopping, restaurants and accommodations; a wealth of natural beauty; fascinating local history; a nationally known art museum; and a host of indoor and outdoor activities suitable for any curious traveler willing to take the time to explore off the beaten path. Beauty and history can be found around every turn, no matter what the season.

Rockland is the county seat of Knox County and the largest city in the region with a population of 7,700. First settled in 1769, Rockland’s early history revolved around the manufacture of lime in the late 1700s and around the shipbuilding industry during the great age of sail. Today Rockland is known for its creative and tourist economy, as a burgeoning center for the arts, and as the home of the nation’s largest fleet of windjammers, which set out from the city’s harbor to cruise the Maine coast throughout the summer and early fall months. Rockland is worth at least a day’s exploration, with its charming downtown district of art galleries, museums, shops and restaurants. The city is known as the Lobster Capital of the World, and its annual summer Maine Lobster Festival ( www.mainelobsterfestival.com , 207-596-0376) is one of several summer festivals (including the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show) that draw thousands of visitors from near and far.

When you leave the show, make your first stop the Maine Discovery Center, located right on the harbor at One Park Drive. The Discovery Center houses the extensive visitor resources of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce (www.mainedreamvacation.com , 207-596-0376, Location: 1 Park Drive, Rockland) with its huge array of free maps and tourist information and its friendly staff and volunteers who will help you find information on the Midcoast regions restaurants, accommodations, cultural events, sightseeing cruises, shopping and business services. The Discovery Center also houses educational displays and exhibits from some of the regions museums and nonprofit organizations and is home to the brand-new Maine Lighthouse Museum ( www.MaineLighthouseMuseum.com , 207-594-3301). Opened in June 2006, the museum houses a world-class collection of first- and second-order Fresnel lighthouse lenses, as well as one of the most important collections of lighthouse artifacts and Coast Guard memorabilia in the U.S. The museum is open every day from Memorial Day to Columbus Day and has limited hours in the winter months.

After leaving the Lighthouse Museum, park your car in one of the free, all-day municipal lots located off Tillson Avenue (street parking, while plentiful and free, is limited to two hours on weekdays) and set off to explore the many offerings of this bustling small town. Be sure to include a visit to one of the nations premier collections of American art, the Farnsworth Art Museum ( www.FarnsworthMuseum.org , 207-596-6457). The Farnsworth, which occupies a three-acre downtown campus at Main and Museum Streets, is the only museum in the U.S. that is dedicated solely to the contributions of Maine artists to the world of American art. The museum’s galleries host rotating exhibits from the Farnsworth’s Maine in America permanent collections of work by Maine’s greatest artists (among them Childe Hassam, Gilbert Stuart, Louise Nevelson, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Rockwell Kent). The Wyeth Center houses the art and archives of three generations of Wyeths N.C., Andrew, and Jamie. The museum, which is open year-round, also operates a store on Main Street.

Rockland’s Main Street, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is also home to the new Project Puffin Visitor Center (www.projectpuffin.org , 207-596-5566). There, you can learn how Audubon scientists are succeeding in reintroducing the Atlantic puffin, once nearly extinct, to its historic nesting islands off the Maine coast.

Just up Main Street is the fully restored Strand Theatre (www.RocklandStrand.com , 207-594-0070), a historic 1923 cinema that reopened after extensive renovations in 2005 and has quickly become the cultural hub of the town. Open seven days a week year-round, the Strand shows high-quality independent films and documentaries and provides a venue for frequent live music events that include chamber, folk, and popular music concerts.

The nonprofit Island Institute (www.IslandInstitute.org , 207-594-9209) has its headquarters at 368 Main Street. The group is dedicated to programs that help sustain Maine’s 15 remaining year-round island communities and protect what little remains of the working waterfront on which fishing families rely for their livelihoods. In addition to exhibits highlighting the Institute’s programs, the group’s headquarters is home to Archipelago and Archipelago Fine Arts, a store and gallery that provide a mainland outlet for more than 70 Maine island artists, sculptors, photographers and craftspeople.

Downtown Rockland is also the way to reach some of the year-round island communities with which the Institute works. The Maine State Ferry Terminal ( www.exploremaine.org/ferry/ , 800-491-4883), located at the intersection of Main Street and Talbot Avenue, offers daily, year-round service to the islands of North Haven and Vinalhaven, and less frequent service to Matinicus, the most remote of the Penobscot Bay islands (weekly ferry service during the summer months, but only one ferry per month from November through March).

When you’re through exploring Rockland’s downtown, head north on Main Street (Route 1) to the light at Waldo Avenue for a visit to one of the town’s most recognizable landmarks, the Rockland Breakwater Light (www.rocklandlighthouse.com ), a historic lighthouse at the end of an equally historic mile-long granite breakwater. To reach the breakwater, turn right on Waldo Avenue, then right on Samoset Road to the park at the roads end. The lighthouse, staffed by volunteers, is open on weekends from late May to Mid-October and during special events, but the breakwater itself is a wonderful walk if the day is fair. (Do not walk here on rainy or snowy days, and be sure to wear good walking shoes, as there are gaps between the massive granite stones, which are splashed by the tides and can be slippery even in the best weather.)

Nearby is one of the Midcoast’s most interesting and unusual museums, the Owls Head Transportation Museum (www.owlshead.org , 207-594-4418)). The museum is open year-round, and houses an extraordinary collection of antique biplanes from World War I and barnstorming days, as well as early automobiles and historic engines. The collection is a treat on any day, but if you’re lucky enough to be there during one of the museum’s special events, you may see biplanes flying overhead or hundreds of antique auto aficionados rallying in their historic wheels along the roads surrounding the site. The museum is adjacent to the Knox County Regional Airport, the Midcoast region’s only airport offering scheduled airline service. The airport is also home base for Penobscot Island Air, a local flying service offering scheduled and charter flights to Maine’s island communities and Maine Atlantic Aviation, offering airline charter service and sightseeing flights.

As you leave the museum, turn right on Route 73 toward Rockland, and after approximately mile, turn right at North Shore Drive, the road that will take you to Owls Head Light State Park. Follow North Shore Drive to Main Street (turn left), then Lighthouse Road (turn left) and follow the road to its end at the park. One of the most photographed lighthouses in the Midcoast region, Owls Head Light was built in 1825 at the direction of President John Quincy Adams. Its Fresnel lens, installed in 1856, is still in use today, serving as a beacon at the entrance to Rockland Harbor. There’s plenty of parking on the lighthouse grounds, and the grounds are open to the public with free admission. The lighthouse and keeper's house are Coast Guard property and are not open to the public.

Glen Cove, Rockport, Camden, Lincolnville, Belfast, Searsport
When you arrive back in Rockland, head north on Route. Just after you leave the commercial north end of Rockland with its many service stations, fast food restaurants, and large chain retailers, you will come to the area of Rockport known as Glen Cove. The Glen Cove Rest Area, open from dawn to dusk in the summer months, offers sheltered picnic tables, grills and breath-taking views of Clam Cove and the islands of Penobscot Bay.

Continuing north on Route 1, you will pass many shops, inns and motels, as well as the headquarters of Down East Magazine, where you can purchase many of the well-known publisher’s Maine-related books and tour guides. Six miles north of Rockland, you will come to a traffic light at Route 90 (West Street). Turn right for 0.3 miles and follow West Street to a T intersection. Turn left at the T and follow the road across the bridge leading to downtown Rockport, a picture-postcard New England seaside town with its white-steepled church on a hill overlooking the sheltered harbor. The harbor provides moorage for pleasure and fishing boats alike, and it is not unusual to see commercial fishermen loading bait on the dock as recreational sailors prepare their craft for a daysail.

Downtown Rockport also is home to the Rockport Opera House, a 400-seat concert hall built in 1891 and now owned and operated by the town. The Opera House is home to concerts, plays and other arts and community events, and is one of the venues for the Bay Chamber Concerts series. Just around the corner from the Opera House at 162 Russell Avenue is the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (www.cmcanow.org , 207-236-2875) a nonprofit museum devoted to showcasing Maine artists, from lesser-known to acknowledged masters. The museum is open year-round, with regularly changing exhibits and is handicapped accessible.

Follow Union Street from the center of Rockport about a mile into Camden, a quintessentially pretty New England village of 5,300 known for its upscale boutiques, eateries, inns, small hotels, and gift shops set against the backdrop of the Camden Hills. These hills were first noted by English sea captain and explorer George Waymouth in 1605, but the area was not settled until 1769. Camden became a town in 1791. Like several other Midcoast towns, Camden enjoyed prosperity from the shipbuilding and lime industries in the 1800s. The town’s woolen mills, powered by the rushing waters of the Megunticook River, prospered into the early years of the 1900s. While the mills it once powered have long since been remodeled for contemporary uses (including as the home of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors, Inc.), the river still rushes beneath the floors of Main Street businesses and into the town’s busy harbor. Where the H.M. Bean boatyard once launched the first six-masted schooner ever built, recreational sail and power boats now mingle with the town’s fleet of tall-masted windjammers.

Camden's favorite daughter, Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, lived in the town from 1903 to 1913, and a statue of "Vincent" can be found in the downtown park near the public library. Hollywood put Camden in the national spotlight in 1957, when the movie "Peyton Place" was filmed there.

As you leave Camden’s main business district, Route 1 bends to the right, heading north toward Lincolnville and Belfast. The 17-mile stretch of Route 1 from Camden to Belfast is chock-full of inns and bed-and-breakfast lodgings, waterfront cabins and motels, and dozens of antique stores. About two miles north of town is the entrance to Camden Hills State Park, with its miles of shoreline and woodland hiking trails, campsites and picnic areas. The entrance to the seaside section of the park is on the right; on your left is the main park entrance. If the day is clear, pay the park admission fee and drive the Mt. Battie Auto Road to the top. You’ll be treated to a birds-eye view of Camden Harbor, surrounded by the panorama of Penobscot Bay and its islands.

About four miles north of the park on Route 1 is Lincolnville Beach, a popular sandy beach that is also the departure point for the state ferry to Islesboro, another of Maine’s 15 remaining year-round island communities. Lincolnville Beach is home to a post office, several stores and a handful of waterfront restaurants. The center of Lincolnville is just west of Lincolnville Beach on Route 173. The Lincolnville Historical Society ( www.lincolnvillehistory.org ) operates the School House Museum in one of the town’s historic one-room schools from late June through early October. The museum’s collections focus on the rich Native American archaeological history of the area, with pottery, stone tools and other artifacts dating from thousands of years prior to European settlement of the coast.

Eleven miles north of Lincolnville Beach is the town of Belfast (pop. 6,872), located at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River (referred to as the Passy by locals). To reach the center of town from Route 1, follow the signs for the historic district and waterfront. About 1.6 miles after you turn off Route 1, you will reach a traffic light at Main Street in the center of town. Take advantage of the ample free parking on Main Street to explore this walker-friendly town that is rich in history and is filled with galleries, eateries and shops. Settled in 1765, Belfast was a shipbuilding center during the 1800s, and ships captains built and furnished many of the elegant Queen Anne, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian homes that can still be seen in the towns historic district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pick up a walking tour map of Belfast’s Church Street Historic District at the Chamber of Commerce’s visitor center on Main Street. You can also pick up a guide to Belfast’s own Museum of the Streets, a self-guided walking tour that will lead you through the downtown, residential and waterfront areas.