Hidden treasures of Northeast Harbor, ME

When your traveling companion books a hotel in a small sleepy (read: dead) town on the quiet side of Mt.Desert Island, Acadia National Park, Maine and the town surprises you so much with the food, coffee, art, books, and gardens it has to offer, you decide to spare the aforementioned buddy a proper Stephen King murder.

It had rained all day and it was still misting when we arrived in the late afternoon. The main street was deserted and the harbor was foggy. I don’t read horror stories but I’ve been told that’s what Stephen King’s novels sound like. There was no cheerful inn with flowers and smiling owners to great us. Just a new, clean, simple apartment in a building on the main street. Not a single shop was open, not a soul was to be seen outside.

While we were unloading our bags, in my mind I was secretly plotting different scenarios how to murder my travel buddy for bringing us to this place. But since the whole day had not gone according to plan to say the least but every single minute of it had been so worth it, I decided to spare my friend’s life for another night (he was the driver after all) and go walk around town in the fog.

Little did I know this was an incredibly wealthy town that would be popping with life from 10am to 5pm and its farm to table restaurant, delightful coffee shop, beautiful galleries, numerous bookstores, and incredible gardens would surprise and delight me beyond belief.

First stop was dinner. After betting my friend on how many restaurants would be open (a total of 3!!!), Chef Kaitlin at The Fork + Table blew our minds away with her fresh, local creations. That meal ended up being the best dinner of our vacation and my travel buddy still asks what was that amuse bouche we were served (shitake mushrooms). Pickled fiddleheads, soft duck egg, local honey goat cheese, bacon compote, and all the local sweet pea greens were just a few of the highlights of our dinner. The atmosphere was delightful and the menu was to die for!

The coffee shop we discovered in the morning was another pleasant surprise. 123 Main Street features Provence decor and menu, local incredients, iced coffee made to order, and fresh sandwiches to fuel our hiking needs. We loved it so much we had breakfast there 2 days in a row, I even sat there with my book and journal for a bit, people watching and pondering on where life had taken me.

Leaving the coffee shop, we headed to the harbor to look at the boats. The sun had come up and I wanted to actually see the boats, instead of imagining them in the fog based on outlines. A farmer’s market with friendly people and food sampling had sprouted by the harbor. We walked around, talked to Farmer Brown, tasted the offerings, and enjoyed our iced coffees.

A late wake up call on our last morning allowed us to be in town after 10am (instead of our usual conquering a mountain morning schedule) and peruse leisurely the art galleries and bookstores (in higher numbers than the local restaurants :-). A book about snow and winter crossed my path and refused to let me leave without it, so I took it home as a souvenir.

One thing I wish we had the time for, was to go check out the gardens. Thuya and Asticou looked beautiful through the fence when we drove by them.

Oh well, that shall wait for another time, when all the mountain tops have been conquered!

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