We have a confession to make. While we love big cities and the hustle and bustle of the urban scene, it sometimes does our heads in. That’s why the great State of Maine is our kind of place. A slower place. A back-to-nature vibe. Friendly people. The state has an incredible array of opportunities to explore that should make any traveler happy. While you may shy away from its cold winter weather and somewhat off-the-beaten path travel reputation, it’s an ideal summer destination for those who love the water and ocean environments. More than 22,000 people visit Maine annually and we think it’s a great time for you to check this fun and relaxing destination off your bucket list.
Portland is one of the main destinations for visitors in the state and there’s good reason why. The vibe of Portland is fun and quirky with that urban chic feel, yet with a heavy dose of that ocean and port feel. Seafood reigns supreme as a dining option (we’ll get to that later), but if you want a place where you can walk around, explore eclectic shops, and get real with the locals, well, then Portland is perfect.
Fun events held annually in Portland and the surrounding areas include Maine Lobster Week, the Cumberland Fair, Harvest on the Harbor, the Maine Outdoor Film Festival, Portland Wine Week, and the Yarmouth Clam Festival. These, and other activities, celebrate local area talent, seafaring traditions, and serve as attractions for visitors.
Portland was also home to the annual Old Port Fest, but that summer celebration ended in 2019. Ah, some good things must always come to an end, it seems!
Tall Ship Sailing
Being a coastal state, Maine has a long sailing and seagoing heritage that dates back to colonial times before statehood. It may come as a surprise, though, to know that schooners still sail the Maine waters regularly. Sailing on a tall ship is one of the great pleasures of life and there is no shortage of sailing options in Maine.
There are many ships to choose from, but schooners that offer sailing vacations have much in common. Nature. Great food. Relaxation. An escape from the “busy” world. A community atmosphere. An opportunity to be as active or as chill as you want. You’ll explore the Maine coast, weave in-and-out among the thousands of islands, and truly get off the grid. There is a real, genuine sense on camaraderie, connectedness, and family onboard. It’s no surprise that many people who sail on these ships return and do it again.
From the moment you climb onboard to long after the sail is over, there is a deep, heartfelt bonding experience felt by many people. Friendships are made. Appreciation for nature is nurtured. Time to reflect is encouraged. Many of the ships are also National Historic Landmarks built in the late 19th Century or early 20th Century. That alone will also give you a sense of history.
A True Nature Experience
What is it like to sail on a Maine schooner? Peaceful. The wind, birds, and maybe some seals will be the loudest noises you’ll hear while underway. Maybe you want an intimate adventure on the 16-passenger Schooner Ladona. Or maybe you want to climb onboard the Victory Chimes, a larger converted cargo carrier. Maybe the Mary Day is calling your name – a schooner built with leisure windjamming in mind right from the start.
There are other schooners to choose from, also. The J&E Riggin, Lewis R. French, The Stephen Taber, and the Schooners Angelique, American Eagle, and Heritage. Each has their own charm, character, and attentive crew and hosts. In fact, many of the ships are owner/operated. You’ll meet and sail with the people who tend to the ships year-round and you’ll feel and experience their commitment to, and love of, Maine sailing.
All these ships are part of the Maine Windjammer Association. The Association is a great resource to learn about each of the ships, their rates, and schedules for the year. The 2022 sailing season is already available, so check it out!
Lobster. Need we say more? The Maine lobster is known worldwide for its sweet taste and quality. Steam it, bake it, stew it, if you love lobster, you’ll eat it pretty much any way it comes. The lives, times, habitats, and ecosystems of lobsters are pretty cool, too. Learn about this sustainable seafood source. It would be impossible to highlight all the quality seafood and lobster shacks in Portland and across Maine, but we do want to highlight a few that we’ve enjoyed in the past.
Lobster & Seafood
Luke’s Lobster Portland Pier. Luke’s is one of the best known lobster joints, in Maine and across the U.S. The Portland Pier restaurant in Portland, Maine, is ideally located right on the water. A relatively new restaurant, Portland Pier has a large deck in the back to hang out at in good weather. It’s a simple pleasure to enjoy a lobster roll and fries while watching the boats and seagulls move about.
Portland Lobster Company. This is another lobster shack that’s even more laid-back than Luke’s. Order your lobster roll inside the small building but go outside and choose where to sit in the very extensive outdoor seating area. It’s also just down the road from Luke’s, so heck, spend a day eating lobster rolls and enjoy the water.
J’s Oyster. Ah, to be a local and to live in Portland! J’s is a down-home, fun seafood joint also very near the water. It’s a bit rowdy, a bit crowded, and a lot of fun. From the seafood selection to the 360-degree bar and seating area, head on over and experience the real local Portland vibe.
Saltwater Grille. On the other side of Portland Harbor on the south side, you’ll find the Saltwater Grille. Also situated right on the water, the Grille is a more full-service restaurant. Nautically decorated with a warm wooden feel and ambiance, the Grille is operated by an attentive and friend staff. It’s simply a great place to hang out and, well, eat lobster! Whether it’s whole steamed lobster, stuffed lobster, or a lobster roll, you’ll really get your fill. Their overall seafood offerings and wine menu are rather extensive, too, and they also have a kid’s menu.
As a New England colony that became a state in 1820, Maine has a relatively long history that is steeped in tall ships, maritime trade, and sailing. The sailing history of Maine is represented by museums around the state, but the two that we will discuss today include the Tate House Museum and the Maine Maritime Museum. Both give a vivid and deep view into Maine life during colonial times and later years.
Tate House Museum
This museum is the restored home of Captain George Tate and his family. The home dates to the 18th Century when Tate was a Senior Mast Agent for the British Royal Navy. Harvesting white pine trees to build masts for Britain was big business back then and Tate was in a prime location to do just that.
Tours of the home are available, where you’ll learn about Tate, his family, and Maine life in colonial times. The Tate House Museum has done a wonderful job in displaying the home – inside and outside – as it was when in use by the Tate family. While walking through the house, you’ll naturally begin imagining life there, which was pretty good for the times!
Maine Maritime Museum
The Maine Maritime Museum is one of the most extensive and diverse nautical museums in Maine and is about an hour’s drive from Bath, north of Portland. The large grounds area include both a museum that you can explore indoors, but the real fun of the museum is outside!
There are multiple buildings and displays situated across the grounds that you can visit individually or as part of a group tour. You’ll see the hardware of ship creation. From the saws that cut wood to the metal instruments necessary for shipboard construction, you’ll get a visual and hands-on experience. You can literally touch the past and begin to understand the era of shipbuilding during the Age of Sail.
Join us in Maine, June 2022
So, as you may be able to tell, we are true lovers of Maine. If you just spend one summer weekend there, then you’ll realize there’s something special about the place. We decided to create a weeklong experience that captures much of what makes Maine special. From the land, we savor great seafood and lobster dining while exploring museums, lighthouses, and downtown Portland.
From the sea, we go lobster boating, learn about the lobster industry, and how lobsters are sustainably harvested. We also climb onboard a passenger vessel and enjoy a half-day cruise from Bath, Maine, out to the Atlantic Ocean and back. Coastal cruising is great fun and the wildlife (like seals!) is amazing. Finally, we top off the week with a 4-day sail on a classic schooner – just like the ones we mentioned earlier.
Whether it’s a nature experience or getting off the grid or simply climbing onboard a classic sailing ship for a new adventure, we do all that and more in Maine. We take care of all the details, provide you with a host, and do our very best to help you experience the best of Maine. Our first trip is in June 2022, but we’ll do it annually because we’re addicted to the Pine Tree State (and lobster, of course). You can learn more at https://seadogtravels.com/maine. Maine is our kind of place. Join us!