The long and narrow peninsulas of the Midcoast region, which stretch from the Brunswick/Bath area to the Camden/Rockland area, are often described as gnarly fingers that stretch into the sea. Slow drives down the twisting roads on these peninsulas offer glimpses of snug harbors, historic homes, the rare sandy beach, island communities, fishing villages and summer camps.
Brunswick, with its classic New England town common, is home to Bowdoin College. Farmers markets fill the common in summer; an ice skating rink materializes in winter. The Brunswick Naval Air Station brings a diverse population to the area, which is also the gateway to the coastal and island communities of Harpswell, and Orrs and Bailey Islands.
The Harpswell peninsula and its parallel stretch of land that includes Cundy’s Harbor and Orrs and Bailey islands (both accessible by bridge) make for great exploring. Small boatyards, rustic cabins to rent, lobster shacks, kayak outfitters and craft shops dot the region. Cook’s Restaurant, famous after being featured in both a Visa television ad and the Maine Monopoly version, is just over the bridge from Orrs to Bailey Island.
Bath, just up the road from Brunswick, has the finest example of architectural styles that Maine has to offer. When Bath was in its shipbuilding heyday in the 19th century, wealthy captains, merchants and politicians had the money, ideas and worldliness to built grand homes in Federal, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne style. For a real sense of the area’s maritime history, The Maine Maritime Museum has outbuildings that replicate a working shipyard. The museum also has a boat that takes visitors on cruises to see shipyards at Bath Iron Works, lighthouses, islands and more.
Two of the finest sandy beaches and state parks are in this region: Popham Beach State Park and Reid State Park.
Rockland retains its gritty, working-class feel, but also hosts some of coastal Maine’s best treasures: The Farnsworth Museum, whose extraordinary 19th and 20th century art collection includes many famous paintings by the Wyeth clan; and several of the wooden ships that make up Maine’s famous fleet of windjammers.
The Camden and Rockport area becomes dense with tourists in the summertime; the towns have shops and restaurants, galleries and antiques and windjammer cruises and boat tours. The nearby Camden Hills State Park has walking trails that offer fine views year round.
The midcoast area offers access to the islands. Catch ferries: