Experience Maine: Driving Series: Camden

French's Point
Published July 26th, 2012

The last stop on our road trip was Freeport, home of L.L. Bean and right next to the family-friendly Bradbury Mountain State Park. From Freeport, head north on Rte. 1 for about 40 miles, take a left onto ME-90 and continue for about 12 miles until you enter downtown Camden.

Camden is one of our favorite places to visit along the coast because it just has it all – a historic, walkable downtown; beautiful harbor with tall ships; and a great state park with accessible trails and a breathtaking view of the town and harbor. We recommend you park in the public lot along Camden Harbor and wander for a bit before you head out to the state park. You can explore Penobscot Bay by sea on a sailboat, motorboat, or even in a kayak, or by air in a glider plane. Or you can check out the gift shops, antique shops, and rare book dealers lining the cozy downtown. There are also plenty of excellent restaurants in Camden, including Long Grain, The Waterfront and Cappy’s Chowder House, and fine-dining spot and AAA four-diamond restaurant Natalie’s features a view of the bay and the distinctive cuisine of executive chef, Geoffroy Deconinck.

After poking around town, head just a few miles north on Route 1 to Camden Hills State Park. There are several trails in the park that meander around its 5,700 acres and two peaks, Mt. Battie, at 800 feet high, and Mt. Megunticook, at 1,385 feet. The summits of both feel much loftier than their actual elevation because they provide unobstructed views down to the town and harbor a few miles away. The park charges a fee of $4.50 per non-resident adult, children under 12 and seniors pay $1.

Camden’s mellow and manageable enough to experience in an afternoon, but busy enough for a weekend or more if you feel like settling in a bit. Either way, it’s a visitor-friendly small seaside town with plenty of new things to discover and interesting people to meet no matter how many times you stop by.