For your bucket list journey to Boothbay Harbor, Maine. The top 4 most essential, incredible things to do in Boothbay Harbor for memories that last a lifetime.
Chris and I are sitting on our flower-box-filled porch, gazing at the most serene ocean I could imagine.
This day in Boothbay Harbor is clear, but the mid-September breeze is chilly. I hold my baby tighter and pull my sweatshirt hood over my windblown hair.
It’s our first weekend getaway since Trevor was born last February. Our days have been a blur of sleepless nights, piles of laundry, and endless credit card charges to Babies ‘R’ Us.
But now we’re sitting in complete calm, gazing out over a wide expanse of gentle waves. I’m awed as the quiet blue sky transforms into a blazing show-off of pinks and oranges.
Pre-baby, with more time on my hands, I would have worked to precisely plan a moment like this. But it’s even better the way it’s unfolding now, as a complete surprise.
There’s going to be an incredible sunset over the ocean, and the show’s happening right beyond our front porch…
Boothbay Harbor – located on the coast of Maine, just an hour from Portland – is a really special destination for the warm months of the year.
Everything happens at a calmer, quieter pace in Maine. But isn’t that what we’re all seeking on vacation?
Here Are The Top 4 Most Incredible, Essential Things About Boothbay Harbor:
Top Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor #1: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
I had my wedding reception at this botanical garden the first year it opened, and I am stunned at how much it has grown since then.
There are so many different-themed gardens, you could really spend all day here.
There’s a garden for the five senses, a rose garden, a huge rhododendron garden, and a waterfall. There’s an herb and vegetable garden that’s used to create the couldn’t-be-more-fresh-and-local dishes served in the visitor center cafe.
This photo was taken on the nature trail that leads to a meditation garden and on toward the waterfront that borders the botanical garden.
There’s also a children’s garden – filled with colorful flowers – complete with wooden bench swings and miniatures cottages.
Trevor loved exploring here!
Top Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor #2: Harbor Boat Tours
In terms of nature and wildlife, there is so much this part of New England has to offer. And the serene, calm, endless blue ocean is the main attraction in Boothbay Harbor.
(Above, Trevor takes it all in, as the wind whips through his hair!)
The only way to really see it all is with a harbor tour or boat cruise.
Boothbay Harbor offers many options for whale watches. And if a whale watch sounds too adventurous, there are shorter harbor tours that will allow you to see lighthouses, lots of seals, even dolphins.
This is the view over Boothbay Harbor from the dock where many of the boat tours depart.
Top Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor #3: Sunsets Over the Ocean
The sunsets over the calm blue waters are really beautiful in Boothbay Harbor.
We weren’t expecting this amazing show, so I was unfortunately only able to capture it with my iPhone.
Probably one of the best locations to watch the sunset is Spruce Point Inn (this is where I stayed during my last trip to Boothbay, and I’ve described it below.)
If you’re not staying at Spruce Point, there are a couple of restaurants were you can book dinner reservations timed for sunset. Although I didn’t find the food memorable or special at The Spruce Point, the grounds are gorgeous to explore, and there’s a beautiful deck with expansive views over the ocean to view the sunset.
Top Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor #4: Exploring Downtown
Boothbay’s picturesque little downtown has everything you’d expect from a popular ocean side destination – seafood restaurants, t-shirt stores, and an old-fashioned ice cream shop.
But there are also many art galleries, pottery shops, and design stores, all featuring work from local artists. There are so many opportunities to discover unique home decor at every price point here!
Where We Stayed in Boothbay Harbor
Spruce Point Inn Resort & Spa
We stayed at the Spruce Point Inn and had such a great time there. The incredible, sweeping views of the water are reason enough to visit, and the grounds are beautiful to just explore and take in the views.
I’d read reviews that some of the rooms felt old and dated, but I was happy with our room.
We stayed at “The Lodges” with an “Oceanview” room. The “Lodge” rooms are recently renovated and our room, with a vaulted ceiling, felt very open, light, and airy. There’s a (spacious) separate living room area, complete with gas fireplace. The bathroom was plain, with a small walk-in shower. But it was clean and spacious and also had a jetted soaking tub.
Where We Ate in Boothbay Harbor
Blue Moon Cafe
This is an amazing choice for breakfast. Bear in mind, we have an infant who’s our built-in, daily 6:30 am wake-up call. So we showed up to this cute (and tiny!) little cafe early. We grabbed a seat on the deck overlooking the harbor, and the view was spectacular. Then we started chatting with the only other patron seated on the deck, who said she lived nearby (there’s no better indicator of restaurant quality than lots of local patrons, right?) She said the place is normally mobbed – it’s hard to find a seat outside – and that we lucked out by showing up so early. The blueberry pancakes, by the way – sweet, tart, buttery, fluffy, rich, and absolutely wonderful.
The Lobster Dock
This seafood place is super casual. As in, you order your meal at a window and you bus your own table, casual. But Chris and I were intrigued after we saw it featured on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown on the Food Network a few years ago. And there are some really delicious dishes here. My favorites: the thick and creamy clam chowder and the sweet and tender lobster stew are amazing. As are the fried artichokes – they’re unique, crispy, and full of flavor. And the view! The restaurant has picnic tables set up outside, overlooking the sun-drenched harbor. Show up on a clear evening, and you’ll enjoy a spectacular sunset with your seafood dinner!
Ports of Italy
When you’ve had your fill of seafood, this Italian restaurant is your fix. The owner was raised in Italy and worked at restaurants throughout Italy, and the authenticity shows at this higher-end restaurant. The bread and pasta are fresh, homemade and (obviously!) amazing-tasting. Trevor was completely wiped out, so we had to order food from this restaurant and bring it back to our hotel room to eat. And it was still hot, fresh, and absolutely memorable – that speaks to the quality of the food here!
Kitchen Garden Cafe
This cafe is located in the visitor’s center at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. It’s definitely worth it to plan to eat lunch here on the day that you visit the botanical gardens. I was completely tired and distracted when we stopped for lunch here. Trevor was getting tired, hungry, and cranky. The cafe was packed (I should have noted this as a good sign!), and we were lucky to get a table right away. Then my hummus sandwich arrived, and I was blown away. It was unbelievably fresh and full of flavor. Chris loved his sandwich too. The majority of the produce served here comes directly from the vegetable garden located just outside the cafe, and the freshness makes the food here really special and delicious.