Whether you're in town for the world-renowned Maine Lobster Festival or stopping through on your way to the coastal resort towns of Kennebunkport or Bar Harbor, Rockland serves as a cultural hub for Midcoast Maine with a world-class art museum, hyper-local food scene and beautiful harbor. Here's where to stay, where to eat and what to do for a quintessential Maine getaway.
Jumping Rocks / Berry Manor Inn
Bed and breakfasts aren't for everyone, but then again, not all of them are as inviting as Berry Manor. Each of the 12 rooms in this elegant Victorian inn offer what you'd expect from a luxury hotel (plush robes, private baths, flat screen TVs), and what you might not (working fireplaces, scented candles). Attentive without hovering, innkeepers Cheryl and Mike anticipate every need and keep the guest pantry stocked 24/7 with delicious, homemade pies by their moms (aw).
Stay: Captain Lindsey House Inn
The Captain Lindsey House
The former home of prominent Rockland sea captain, George Lindsey, the inn dates back to 1837 and is believed to be Rockland's first inn. Recently renovated in a "new nautical style," this Federal-style inn feels more like a boutique hotel, but with a locally-sourced breakfast. Its 9 spacious rooms each have private baths, which make it a comfortable mid-range option in the heart of Rockland's historic district and is just a block from the water.
Don't let the "Inn" part fool you. This oceanfront hotel is a more affordable and lesser known alternative to Samoset Resort in nearby Rockport, just a few minutes from Rockland. Step out onto a private balcony and watch the ships come and go (with hotel-provided binoculars), swim a few laps in the heated outdoor pool or enjoy a glass of wine in an Adirondack chair by the bay. For larger groups looking to stay the week, consider renting 1 of the 3 private houses also on the beautifully manicured 23-acre property.
Do: Farnsworth Art Museum
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Spread across 2 historic buildings downtown, the Farnsworth Art Museum has more than 10,000 works celebrating American artists with ties to Maine. Best known for its Wythe Center that features 3 generations of Wyeth family artists (N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wythe), it also has the 2nd-largest collection of sculptor Louise Nevelson, who grew up in Rockland. Unlike many local art museums, Farnsworth is spacious, well-designed and professionally curated -- making it one of the most beloved smaller art museums in New England.
The Historic Strand Theatre has been entertaining audiences since 1923 -- only now it does it in HD. This beautifully restored venue offers a mix of independent and foreign films, concerts, performances and live broadcasts. Hit up concessions for a bucket of popcorn and a Maine Root root beer before you take your seat, or head upstairs to the Balcony Bar for premium beer, fine wine and champagne.
Do: Rockland Breakwater Light
Situated at the tip of a nearly mile-long granite breakwater, the untraditional Rockland Breakwater Light looks like a white house drifting out to sea. Built in 1888, the lighthouse still functions today and is open for free tours on summer weekends. To reach it, you must stroll atop the giant uneven granite blocks -- so wear sensible shoes and don't brave it during inclement weather (when the granite could get slicScott Gauvin, <a href="https://flic.kr/p/nmUjdo">flickr</a>k).
Thankfully breakfast is served all day at this bright, cheery cafe, because its what it does best. On the comfort-food-centric menu you'll find huevos rancheros served with house-made toast or polenta, 7 types of eggs benedict or "bennies" topped with hollandaise and locally-caught lobster tacos. If you don't start (or end) your meal with some "sinnies," sinfully delicious cinnamon buns made in-house daily, you're missing out -- better make that start, as they are known to sell out. Try to snag a table on the rooftop patio so you can sip your Rock City coffee (roasted on Main Street) with a view of the harbor.
Some of the best fresh seafood around comes from a food truck in Harbor Park. You can't go wrong with the signature Haddock sandwich -- a sizable filet lightly fried in Panko bread crumbs, served on a girdled bun with a single leaf of romaine and side of tartar sauce -- which is made from fresh fish purchased at local seafood shop Jess's Market every morning. Fish 'n' chips and the lobster roll are also reliable, but for all the talk of seafood we'd be remiss to not mention the burgers -- all made with organic beef from Caldwell Farms.
Located inside a century-old house just south of downtown Rockland, this upscale eatery helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Melissa Kelly boasts an ambitious menu with Mediterranean and Italian influences. For the ultimate farm-to-table experience, walk around the 4 acres of backyard organic gardens, 2 greenhouses, chicken coops and pig pens before you even sit down to dinner. The ever-changing menu features dishes such as Hudson Valley Foie Gras Two Ways seared atop toasted zucchini bread with local strawberry and gooseberry salad and Spaghetti and Clams, steamed cushing littlenecks with blistered tomatoes and rapini pesto. Save room for co-owner and pastry chef Price Kushner's inventive, seasonal desserts like Key Lime Cheesecake and Ginger Gelato "Baked Alaska." If you fail to get a reservation, you can still at a seat at the more relaxed upstairs bar should you show up when the restaurant opens at 5 p.m., but we suggest getting there even earlier as there is usually a line.
Jon Levitt / Suzuki Sushi
Suzuki's isn't your average tiny sushi bar: the skilled chefs are women, deep-friend tempura batter is banned, and the fish, meat and vegetables are locally sourced when possible. In fact, chef and owner Keiko Suzuki Steinberger is just as likely to serve line-caught mackerel, lobster and surf clams from the Gulf of Maine as she is tuna, salmon or hamachi. In addition to the miso soup and edamame you'd expect to find on the appetizer menu are 6 local oysters on the half shell and local pork dumplings. Steamed and noodle dishes like Ama-Ebi, Maine shrimp with shiitake, wake and scallions in a kelp dash broth round out the entrees. While the meal can get pricey for a sushi joint -- the chef's assortment often made up entirely of local fish costs $32 for one -- you're paying for quality, fresh sushi.