A Day in Boothbay Harbor

by Barb, who was writing this on the front porch but came in because she was getting cold (he, he, he)

We hope you’ve enjoyed this summer’s “A Day in…” posts from Maine Crime Writers. Today’s post comes to you from my Maine town of Boothbay Harbor (with a quick trip up the peninsula to Boothbay–more on this later).

harborside1Breakfast: When you ask, “What’s the best place for breakfast?” the answers always depend on the criteria. For example, our friend Stan is all about where to get the best hash. He’ll wax on about potato to onion ratios, or say something dismissive like, “It’s a beef-pork combo.” Other people are all about the omelets. (Though for my money, that’s not even a contest. The French-inflected Vietnamese cooking means the omelets at Baker’s Way are the best in town. Have a croissant while you’re there.) Other people are into the lobster benedict or the fish and eggs (my husband’s favorite.)

A portion of the view from the harbor side tavern.

A portion of the view from the harbor side tavern.

Personally, I believe all Maine breakfasts should be judged by the blueberry pancakes, which is why my current favorite breakfast place in town in the Harborside Tavern. Order 1, 2 or 3 of their fluffy blueberry pancakes and real maple syrup. (If you’re staying locally, order two and take half your order home.) Both the bacon and the sausage (link or pattie) are excellent.

A harbor cruise: From breakfast, let’s walk down the pier and take a harbor cruise. There are several available. We’re going to take a cruise because the best way to see Boothbay Harbor is from the water. You’ll have your choice of whale watches, puffin watches, sunset sailboat cruises or a general tour around the harbor. Whichever you take, you are almost sure to see seals, eagles, osprey, working lobster boats, two to four lighthouses, islands with 100 or 1 or 0 houses, and maybe a minke whale or two, even if you don’t go for the whale watch.

harbor cruise 1 harbor cruise 2

A walk through town: Back from the cruise, let’s take a walk through town and maybe do a little retail therapy. Don’t forget to stop at Sherman’s where you’ll spot books from most of the Maine Crime Writers for sale.

in town

Lunch: For lunch we’re going to cross the famous footbridge to the Lobster Dock. This is one of my favorite places to eat in town, with a large menu of local favorites (including crab cakes that famously lost in a fixed fight with Bobby Flay). You sit outside. The food is delicious, the scenery glorious.

lobster dock 1 lobster dock 2 lobster dock 3 lobster dock 4



Shannon'sAlternative: If you are all about lobster rolls, and only lobster rolls, stay on the town side of the footbridge and order up at Shannon’s Unshelled. Every houseguest we have ever sent there has returned home raving.

Botanical Gardens: After lunch, we’re going to buzz up the peninsula to Boothbay to visit one of Maine’s newest tourist destinations, The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Built on 270 acres of total shoreland, the gardens offer a spectacular children’s garden, miles of trails, and many beautiful sights, including a garden of the 5 senses designed to enhance the enjoyment of people with physical and sensory challenges. The gardens are open from April 15 to the end of October, and then re-open for a spectacular holiday illuminations display. What to see and do depends on what’s in bloom, but the gardens are always a terrific tourist hit. If you’re feeling energetic, you can even rent kayaks there. Our kids did that over 4th of July weekend and saw hundreds of seals.

botanical garden 1 botanical garden 2 botanical garden 3 botanical garden 4

violaboothbay2014Time to sit on the porch: Go back to wherever you’re staying and grab your beverage of choice and a book. If you’re on a day trip, one of our local watering holes will welcome you.

Dinner: There are so many great choices, but our favorite is Ports of Italy. The food is traditional Italian with lots of fresh local seafood, homemade pasta, and local vegetables. I’ve been there twice this year and failed to take photos either time, which is too bad because the presentation is as beautiful as the service is impeccable. So this photo will have to do.

ports of italy

Like all the “Day in” posts, this one barely scratches the surface of all the things there are to do in Boothbay Harbor. We hope you’ll come stay as long as you can.

All photos in this post, except the two views from the Lobster Dock and the one of relaxing on our porch, are by Bill Carito. If you like them and want to see more, you can friend him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bcarito and follow him on Instagram at billcarito and bill.carito.colorphotos.








About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at www.maineclambakemysteries.com
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19 Responses to A Day in Boothbay Harbor

  1. Gram says:

    My friend and I used to go to a place in Boothbay or maybe it was the Harbor. It looked like an old hotel and we climbed a flight of stairs to get to the restaurant. The only thing we got were the enormous warm cinnamon rolls. I can almost taste them today.

  2. Lea Wait says:

    Wonderful! Last night I took visiting family to The Lobster Dock … the only question I got after a quiet dinner (everyone concentrating on their lobsters) was “when can we go again?” The couple at the next table were from Australia, and the staff stopped in every 5 minutes or so to check that they knew how to open their lobsters. Quiet concern. (No need. They managed the lobsters well and loved them!) Great post and fun town.

  3. bocamp says:

    Due to my health issues we won’t be able to come this year but I hope to visit at least some of the places you recommend early next fall. Barb, thanks for a great post and tour of your town.


  4. Too cold? That was a low blow to those of us melting farther south. Boothbay sounds fabulous and I hope to visit there some day!

    • Barb Ross says:

      I wrote the post yesterday. Today is pretty hot–79 degrees, 65% humidity and wind only 7 mph, which is the killer. Staying very still on the porch.

      You and Bob MUST come and visit sometime soon.

  5. MCWriTers says:

    A perfect day! And so glad you included the Botanical Gardens, which, even on a gray and chilly day, are spectacularly wonderful.


  6. Skye says:

    Lovely, charming and very picturesque; vicariously, I am getting a glimmer of Maine ( and Italian food is one of my favorites).

  7. MCWriTers says:

    I love to visit Boothbay Harbor! The Railway Museum is a delight too!

  8. Amanda L says:

    I’ve only been to the very southern tip of Maine (Kittery, York, Old Orchard, and one quick trip to Kennebunkport) so it’s fun to “explore” other Maine towns! Do you picture Boothbay when describing locations in your books? The picture you posted above taken from the Harborside Tavern is exactly what I imagine for the clambake ticket booth! Are there any clambakes in your area? Thanks for sharing your slice of heaven, Barb! I hope to make it further up the coast someday.

    • Barb Ross says:

      Hi Amanda

      Yes, Busman’s Harbor is a highly fictionalized Boothbay Harbor and you are completely right about the location of the Snowden Family Clambake ticket kiosk.

      There is a wonderful local clambake offered on a private island–the Cabbage Island Clambake. Highly recommend.

  9. sandy gardner says:

    Hi Barb
    thanks for this.
    My husband and I had several wonderful stays in Monhegan Island in the past – at least one of them involved taking off from Boothbay. Sorry that we didn’t get to see more of the town.
    sandy gardner

  10. Pingback: A Day on Monhegan Island | Maine Crime Writers

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