This is a long overdue post: after returning to the United States from my semester abroad, after what can only be described as the best four months of my life, I don’t travel nearly as much, so there hasn’t been much to write about.
But, as luck would have it, I’m never in one place for long. Last week the entire McDaniel clan embarked on a New England adventure. This is the story of that adventure.
I have wanted to go to Maine since the day I first heard the descriptions of people pulling lobsters right out of the water and eating them on the dock. Spoiler alert: I did not do that. But it was still a great trip nonetheless. My dad does a wonderful job at planning trip itineraries, and we got to experience so much in our eight days there!
We began our adventure in the town of Wiscasset, where we waited for eternity (2 hours) for lobster rolls. Red’s Eats claims to be the World’s best lobster shack, and I have to admit, they weren’t wrong (though I hadn’t tried any lobster rolls at that point, so I had nothing to compare it to). I was most impressed about the fact that they had a gluten free bread option!
We spent the next few days exploring the lovely villages of Rockport and Camden. Nestled on the Penobscot Bay, there are a multitude of tiny towns that dot the water’s edge, each more adorable than the last. Schooners (the picturesque boats that abound in New England) and lobster boats fill the harbors, and lobsters really are everywhere, both in the water and at every restaurant you can find (even McDonald’s- I kid you not).
There were a couple of meals that stood out to me in this leg of the journey:
Primo: it was definitely one of the most unique restaurants I’ve ever visited; not only was the restaurant building itself actually an old home, but it was also on a farm, from which the kitchen gets all of its ingredients from. Before dinner (yet another excruciatingly long wait), we roamed the gardens and met the happiest pigs and chickens I have ever seen. It was truly a holistic eating experience. While they didn’t have a very gluten-free friendly menu, it was delicious, so I can’t hold it against them. Also: best drink menu ever. 10/10 recommend.
Pig & Poet: this one happened to also be housed in a huge old home in Camden that also served as an adorable bed & breakfast. This was a more casual meal, but still yummy, and they had several gluten-free options and the best damn smashed potatoes any of us had ever tasted.
Home Kitchen Cafe: This quickly became my favorite place ever, as they whipped up some mighty fine GF blueberry pancakes. My dad claimed he couldn’t even tell they were gluten free, which is sayin’ something. Their sister company, “Cone Home” was an ice cream shop down the street which offered delicious ice cream AND GLUTEN FREE CONES!! Needless to say, I was impressed.
In between all the eating, we sailed a traditional schooner, saw cool lighthouses, and then began the next leg of our adventure.
Our next stop was Bar Harbor. We got there just in time for the Fourth of July festivities, which included watching (aka being blinded) by the best fireworks I’ve ever seen, second only to Disney World. Bar Harbor is a bit touristy, but the rest of the island that it resides on, Mount Desert Island, is breathtakingly beautiful. This is the home of Acadia National Park, and honestly, it exceeded my expectations. I didn’t really know what to expect, but biking and hiking around the park was one of my favorite parts of this whole trip!
Things to do in Acadia:
- Rent bikes and ride (aka struggle hardcore) the 11 mile round trip to Jordan Pond House for lunch. It’s a beautiful location (your view is literally of the lake in the above picture), and they have plenty of gluten free options. I’m not gonna say it’s worth the bike ride, because technically you can drive there and just save the biking for a shorter distance, but it was good.
- Go on a nature cruise. We did this one of our last days in Bar Harbor, and it was amazing! The two-hour cruise takes you out past all of the little islands that dot the harbor, while the tour guide (an adorable old man) tells you about the history and tries to make jokes. We saw porpoises, seals (!!!), bald eagles, jellyfish, and more. The animal lover inside me almost died of happiness when we saw a baby seal floating in the water.
- Try to find Martha Stewart. Like many of the rich old families that have properties on the island (i.e. the Rockefeller’s, etc.), Martha Stewart has a summer home somewhere on Ox Hill. We tried to find her, to no avail.
- Eat at Blaze. They have gluten free woodfired pizza and tons of drinks. What more do you need?
- Stay at the Bass Cottage Inn. I’m a sucker for a good bed & breakfast, and when one gives you a free wine hour every night at 6 PM, it quickly becomes your favorite place in the world.
- Walk the Shore Path. This is a walking path that takes you along the outer edge of the town, right by the water. It’s simply beautiful, and you get to see awesome sunsets like this:
For the last day of our trip, we spent the night in Portland. Portland is an interesting city; it’s older and full of history, but now is full of a very young crowd. There were lots of interesting looking restaurants and tons of bars, but there are only two things you really need to know:
–The Holy Donut is worth the wait in line. They serve gluten free donuts (and normal gluten-filled ones), enough said.
-Make sure you grab a coffee at Bard. Adorable space, and delicious coffee.
-Eat a meal at Fore Street. All of their food is locally sourced, and prepared on many of their wood-fired ovens and grills. It was unanimously the best meal of our entire trip!
Overall, our family trip was one for the books. If you’re ever up in the New England area, Maine is definitely worth a visit!