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Lazy Weekend: Portland/Ogunquit ME

Old Jun 13th, 2010, 03:01 PM
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Lazy Weekend: Portland/Ogunquit ME

Our Maine vacations are usually spent in the mid-coast area but DH and I wanted a closer spot for a quick 3-day getaway. DH hates cities and big hotels so the Dunes in Ogunquit was perfect. Our "motel room" was actually a tiny bedroom (just big enough for a king size bed, a corner bathroom, and small sitting area in a 4-unit building that used to be one of those small road side cottages. Various size units including full cottages with kitchens and screen porches are scattered on 12 oceanside, grassy acres. Shade trees and adirondack chairs completed the perfect setting for us.

Day 1 was dedicated to finally taking the mailboat cruise from Portland around Casco Bay. You cannot go to Maine's coast without at least one boat ride. We headed to Portsmouth Lobster Co for lunch on the open deck and then an easy uphill walk to the new Mt Desert Ice Cream shop on Exchange street where my fantasies of the perfect banana ice cream came true (blackstrap banana). Pick a time when it's not busy so you can sample some of the unusual flavors because I wanted to taste Thai Chili but I sure didn't want to eat a lot of it. We headed to one of the Old Port District's parks to enjoy our ice cream before trekking back to the car. Our visit was really too short but we had the rest of southern Maine to explore and not much time.

We took shore roads south before finally cutting over to Rt 1 for a speedier trip to the Dunes. We had a late lunch but it was already 6pm when we checked in. Thanks to Chowhound research I picked Mike's Clam Shack for dinner. Mike's isn't really a shack but a nice family type restaurant on Rt 1 and our newly designated best place for fried clams and scallops. The breaded batter was perfect. I got a good lobster roll with a great cup of thick clam chowdah.

This was a weekend to do nothing in particular just stop at some shops, eat, and wander around. We came with books to read and we just wanted to sit around. Saturday morning was the last of good weather so we headed out early to walk the famous Marginal Way. Early birds also get free parking in Perkins Cove. More explorations by car (the homes in the area are beautiful) and heck, we were back at Mike's for the 11am-4pm lunch special $12.95 lobster dinners followed by more great, locally made ice cream at Sundaes at the Beach. More reading, more walking, and dinner at a different place. Although summer theater had started we weren't interested in either of the productions. When the season gets going there are quite a few activities and events going on but this was a lazy weekend for us.

Posters frequently ask about driving along the ocean on their New England trips. Rt 1 rarely gets near the ocean. The shore roads can take several hours just from Portland to Ogunquit even during times without any traffic congestion. If you don't have time to wander, pick a town to visit and allow a couple of hours for both the drive and walking around.
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 05:11 PM
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dfrostnh, I'm so grateful for your timely TR! DH & I are planning a weekend in Portland soon, and I'm busily taking notes!

I didn't know about the cruises, so the rec is great as DH LOVES the ocean. I'm a bit confused about the Portsmouth Lobster company lunch - isn't that in Portsmouth NH? I don't think the mail boat cruise makes stops in Portsmouth?

The lobster dinner special at Mikes during lunch hours sounds great. Was it crowded when you went (which I presume was on the weekend)?
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Old Jun 13th, 2010, 06:27 PM
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great report. glad to hear that Mike's is up on their seafood frying. I also love their fish market to get a dozen steamed lobsters to take back to the beach house!
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 02:02 AM
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Yikes YK, that's supposed to be Portland Lobster Co on Commercial St. Sorry for the goof. The setting is great but you might keep looking for a good lunch place. Do NOT miss, however, MDI ice cream. The first mail boat run is 10am. You'll get a map of Casco Bay and a little bit of info about each stop. Bring binnoculars. At one stop there is a moored fishing boat with an osprey nest on the mast. They can't move the boat until the bird is gone. You will probably want to know more about the islands and forts. The same company runs other cruises so maybe the others have more narration. There are also some sailboats that leave from the same dock. Since the mail boat is a working vessel, other passengers may be guys going to work on an island for the day or people commuting. The high school kids who live on the islands go to school in Portland.

There was no wait at Mike's but I think it was about 2pm when we went for lunch. I expect that will change once the summer season gets going.

Froderick, can you compare Mike's steam lobster to go with Beach Plum farm?
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 09:24 AM
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Thank you for the additional information, dfrostnh!
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Old Jun 14th, 2010, 10:51 AM
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I've never been to Beach Plum Farm. I have Mike's steam whatever the price per pound is. No steaming fee, and no steamy kitchen at the beach house. Anyone can steam a lobster, how it is really depends on how long it has been out of the ocean and in tank storage. When they jump out of the lobster trap into the lobster pot, they are at their sweetest.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 08:43 AM
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dfrostnh, quick question - you were in Portland on a weekday, right? Do you remember where you parked? I assume there are plenty of paid parking lots in the DT district?
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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We will be visiting an elderly relative in South Portland for 1-3 days. We are not from the area.
Where could we stay if we would like to visit our relative x1 a day for awhile and yet also be part of the summer "beach" community for the rest of the day (and night)?
I noticed there were some recommendations for seafood restaurants in this post...anyone have any other recos?
What is the mailboat tour?
We would like to walk around the towns and go to the beach. Any suggestions?
Thanks in advance!
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 10:52 AM
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Mailboat tour: http://www.cascobaylines.com/cruises...s.htm#mailboat
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Old Jun 25th, 2010, 01:58 AM
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yk, there's a parking garage right next to the ferry terminal. Yes, it was a Friday. There was also a small parking lot on Commercial St almost next door to the Portland Lobster Co but it was pricey. We found a parking metered place a bit north of the parking garage that we stayed at only long enough to meet up with someone. DH didn't bother to feed the meter and the person we met was able to pull in right behind us. This was about 1:30 after the ride but would make a longer walk to the interesting shop area. Keep in mind all the shops in the Old Port area are UPhill. If you google Portland ME parking you'll find a map of all the city parking lots/garages.

Anon, the closest beach area is probably Old Orchard. We just drove thru and saw the honky tonk/amusement rides area. There are dozens of motels and hotels but I'm not familiar with the area. I got my restaurant suggestions on Chowhound. If we hadn't been looking for lobster in Portland we might have gone to Duckfat for sandwiches and their renowned fries. Portland has a reputation for some very good restaurants.
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Old Jun 25th, 2010, 07:48 AM
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dfrostnh, thanks! I did find a map with parking garages - seems like most charge about $1/hr, so it won't break the bank. I didn't realize there's a hill in Portland! Of course, it's impossible to tell by looking at a map. Thanks for the warning; I guess it's good exercise after consuming fried clams and ice cream.
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