Welcome to our new summer series that provides a 24-hour guide to the Midcoast for a variety of personalities, crafted by locals who know this place inside and out. You're not going to see the most expensive and the most obvious choices here. What you will find is the best of real Maine — where to stay, where to go, where to eat and drink.
CAMDEN -You're zany; you love a good laugh and you're known for seeking out a good time. We've got a side of Camden for you that is rarely featured in statewide and national magazines, so if you're looking for amusement, entertainment, good, lighthearted people to make the most of your time here, let's roll out the barrel, Crazy Funsters, this one is for you!
Morning: Rise and shine darlin'
Where you stay sets the entire tone of your next 24 hours and innkeepers JoAnna and Bill Ball who run A Little Dream B & B come highly recommended by locals. With more than 25 years running this B & B and almost 100 5-star reviews on Trip Advisor, they are the kind of hosts who bring out the best in everybody. They both have been described by past guests as gracious, warm, hospitable and welcoming. The fun part, which you didn't know, is that many moons ago, they both used to be eclectic toy designers, with three stores in Manhattan and one in Boston, crafting classic and unusual toys like one-of-a-kind marionettes. Before you head out for the morning, they will tempt you with the most important meal of the day.
As one guest on Trip Advisor states: "The breakfasts are truly sensational and served on a gorgeously sunlit porch. Poached pear, omelets with Brie, crepes and Scottish oatmeal, along with fresh fruit, muffins and juice are just some of Bill's delicious preparations."
Time to bug out and see what Camden's got to offer. Just a short walk into downtown, and you'll bypass two of the more light-hearted stores, The Smiling Cow (check out its ribald collection of books, knicknacks and cards) as well as The Planet (a toy store that will appeal to big kids). But shopping all day isn't fun — phoo! No! Bigger and better adventures await you once you get to Midcoast Adventure Bicycle and Scooter Rentals on 46 Elm Street. Aw yeah, baby, it's scooter time. They offer this cool 2-3 hour GPS tour on each of their scooters that will literally guide you around a loop in-town and around the countryside or out by Megunticook Lake. You can choose your own scooter ($40 for a half day) or couple up (someone call shotgun?) on their Scoot Coupe, for $30 an hour. They even provide you with helmets and safety glasses, free. Editor's recommendation: Rent the Scoot Coupe. It's ideal if one person doesn't feel like driving, or wants to take photos or has a small dog. (Please, for the love of all that is holy, don't wear your dog in a Baby Bjorn while riding.)
Lunch time, and you're Starvin' Like Marvin
By the time you come back from your scootin' adventures, it's a short walk back over to Boynton McKay, a local breakfast and lunch spot, which boasts the craziest ceiling decorations you'll see in any Maine restaurant. They have some of the most affordable and delicious wraps and house specialties, along with grab & go sandwiches and soups, made from scratch. The high-backed booths may be packed when you walk in, but the local's trick is just stand and wait a few minutes. Phil and his staff will keep an eye out for you. Often a booth or a seat by the window will open by the time your food comes. Editor's recommendation: Try their spicy shrimp wrap with Asian slaw ($6.25) or the Thai chicken salad with mixed greens, peppers, baby corn & two dressings ($7.25).
Happy Hour activity
There is no better way to spend happy hour than on a schooner, with your jacket flapping in the wind and your paws gripped around one of the best Bloody Marys or killer Dark and Stormies you've ever tasted in your life. Trust. There are a number of schooners that sail out of Camden Harbor and we think they're all great, but The Appledore has always had a wacky and talented crew, such as Pirate John, who will cheerfully juggle knives while reciting ballads of the sea while Laird plays guitar.
"I don't know what the other crews' stupid human tricks are," said Pirate John, "but they're probably about spinning yarns and telling lies about the delivery."
The Appledore's sunset sail is $35 per person and runs around 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (As the summer goes on, those times ratchet down earlier.) Remember to take enough cash to tip your crew at the end, for you'll be seeing them later in the night.
For Kicks, try this
If you choose to do the sunset sail, it's a smart idea to take your own snacks. Bring extra to share with others and you'll be making some fast friends on the sail. Best place to find individual bottles of a local Maine brews is Cappy's Company Store (follow Cappy's Chowder House down the main road to the wharf and you'll find it right after the bakery.) You can also buy bottles of chilled wine there, or if you want individual bottles of wine or champagne, scoot back up to French & Brawn Market Place, the corner general store in the heart of downtown, and you'll find them in the back. While you're there, snag a mini loaf of bread, some individually wrapped cheese, boiled eggs and homemade cookies for the journey.
Dinner time and what to do after
Every restaurant in Camden has its own personality, but if we had to pick one place that gave off a light-hearted, casual, fun vibe, it would have to be The Waterfront, particularly out on the deck, overlooking the winking lights on the ocean. Their own motto pretty much sums it up: "Our food represents our town: comfortable, honest, unpretentious, but not without a sense of adventure." They have a good seafood menu and you can't leave Maine without trying their Oysters on the Half Shell (all locally harvested) for $14. Editor's recommendation: Try the Cioppiono- lobster, shrimp, fish, scallops, & mussels in a tomato broth with fresh herbs and bread ($23) or the Ribeye, with Jack Daniels roasted shallots and mushroom demi ($24).
Whoa funsters, just 'cause they roll the sidewalks up at 9 p.m. in Camden, doesn't mean you need to go back to the inn just yet. Pop on over to Cuzzy's, a local bar and restaurant (opposite side of the street once you leave The Waterfront) and grab a nightcap. You're not driving, who cares? There's a likely chance you'll see your Appledore crew there (along with other schooner and boat crews) and everybody's always in good spirits, especially when there is karaoke involved.
The morning after
Time to shove on, but there's one more place you need to check out to complete your 24 hours and while it seems like an odd choice, (stick with us, we know what we're doing) go to Camden Deli on 37 Main Street for breakfast. Yes, we said breakfast. This under-the-radar spot boasts a yummers, all-under-$10 breakfast menu, including Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes and Crab-Melt Omelets with Portabella and Swiss. The best part? Have your breakfast out on the rooftop deck that overlooks the harbor. Seriously, for five bucks and the view, it is the best way to end the funnest day of your life. Yes, we know that's not a real word and no, we're not editing it out.
Stay tuned for our next series and enjoy your summer!
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.