It’s been far too long since I actually blogged about my travel rather than just posting about it on Instagram, but as y’all know, this year has been pretty crazy! Between losing a job, starting a business, becoming a certified yoga instructor, the pandemic, getting MARRIED (!!!), and trying to maintain some sort of sanity throughout all of that, I’m actually impressed with the amount of travel I was able to fit in.
I’ll try to cover all of the trips in the next few weeks, but want to start with my recent trip: Our mini-moon to Maine!
When we first started planning our wedding, we decided that our dream honeymoon would be to spend two weeks exploring Italy and Greece; specifically the Amalfi Coast. Since our wedding was in October, we decided to delay the trip until Summer 2021 in order to experience prime beach weather in Europe. Obviously, we had no idea that there would be a global pandemic, but it was nice to (ironically) have one less thing to stress about changing.
Even though we (hopefully) will be able to take that trip next year, we decided that after going through eight months of nonstop stress, we needed a vacation NOW.
-Somewhere neither of us have been
-Popular craft beer + food scene
After ruling out the West Coast due to the fires and travel restrictions, anywhere that it might snow, and places at least one of us have been, we agreed on Maine, and booked the trip less than two weeks before our wedding.
COVID-19 TRAVEL INFO: As of October 2020, Maine is requiring all travelers from states outside of New England to either quarantine for 14-days upon arrival, or be able to provide proof of a negative Covid test within 72-hours of traveling. We chose to do the Covid test, since tests are extremely accessible where we live, and we planned to get tested before our wedding, anyway.
Day 1 – Flew into Portland, ME and took an Uber to our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Portland Downtown Waterfront, which was the perfect location! Downtown Portland is very walkable, just be careful with your shoe choice on the beautiful, but uneven, cobblestone streets.
After checking into the hotel, we went to happy hour at local brewpub Gritty McDuff’s. We stumbled upon Gritty’s by accident, but were excited to find out that they brew their own beer, and have amazing wings. Seriously, try the the Cinnamon Chipotle dry rub. You will NOT regret it.
Later that night we had dinner at Gilbert’s Chowder House, which was recommended to us by a friend, and did not disappoint. Gilbert’s is a simple, small diner that feels like a local spot, even being right on the waterfront . We shared a lobster roll and clam chowder – both were heavenly.
Day 2 – We woke up to a cold, rainy day, slightly missing Texas breakfast staple, breakfast tacos. Mason was able to track down a very random – albeit delicious – spot inside of an office building that served breakfast burritos, which were pretty dang good for being not in Texas 🙂
After breakfast, we rented a car and started the three-hour drive up to Bar Harbor, where we planned to stay for the next couple of days to hike in Acadia National Park. Despite the nonstop rain, the drive was beautiful. Texas doesn’t really get “fall”, but even growing up in the Midwest, I’ve never seen fall colors so vibrant.
We checked in at the Bluenose Inn, a cozy, classic hotel with a beautiful view of Frenchman Bay, and only a three-minute drive to the main streets of Bar Harbor. The quaint “downtown” instantly makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Features include Maine’s oldest bookstore, peaceful water views, access to whale-watching, and several streets of locally-owned restaurants and shops.
For being a small town, it was hard to narrow down where to go for dinner – everything looked amazing! We ended up at Thirsty Whale Tavern for all things local — seafood and beer. The rain finally let up but the wind was freezing, so we grabbed Apple Cider Margaritas (yummmm) to-go from Side Street Cafe, and headed back to the hotel.
Day 3 – Today was the best day. We woke up early to start our day of hiking in Acadia National Park, but had been instructed not to leave the island without having breakfast at Jeannie’s Great Maine Breakfast. Tip: Get here EARLY. We arrived at Jeannie’s around 7:30am — they don’t take reservations — and we waited about 30 minutes.
By the time we were seated, the line was down the block! Don’t worry though – the wait is well worth it, so long as you order Betty’s Blueberry Pancakes. Mason and I shared these along with own own breakfasts, and although they are plate-size and thick, I wish we each got our own, because they are that good!
Once we were stuffed, we drove 15 minutes to the Sand Beach entrance of Acadia National Park. During our trip, the park was doing a test run for a new vehicle reservation system (this will go into full effect in 2021), so we had reserved a certain time slot at this gate as soon we we knew we were going to Maine.
We got there early enough (9am) to get a spot in the parking lot, and made our way down to Sand Beach. I’ve always loved being. by the water, but there’s something extra peaceful for me about walking along a beach when it’s chilly.
From there, we hiked to Thunder Hole, and ended at Otter Point. This was an easy, 4-mile RT, fairly flat hike, with absolutely breathtaking views. This trail was pretty busy on the way back, but we felt very safe in terms of social distancing.
We had made a second reservation later that day to drive up to Cadillac Mountain, but unfortunately our park pass was literally blown out of our car by the wind, and by the time we were able to get a new one, we had missed our reservation window. This was frustrating at the time, but just gives us a great reason to go back!
Eventually we drove back to Portland, and ate a quick dinner before heading to the hotel.
Day 4 – After a leisurely morning, we drove over to Cape Elizabeth to check out the Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in Maine, first lit in 1791! Although the gift shop and museum were closed, Fort Williams Park has 90 acres of coastal trails to stroll, as well as lobster and gelato food truck vendors in the parking lot.
Back in downtown Portland, we walked to High Roller Lobster Co., for our last — and best — lobster roll of the trip. Here, you can build your own roll, adding toppings from jalapeno mayo to avocado, to bacon, and I’m 99% sure you can’t go wrong with any of it.
We decided to take a bus and spend the rest of the day in Freeport, where we had found a few breweries to check out.
The bus dropped us off right in front of the first brewery: Maine Beer Company. The tasting room offers indoor and outdoor seating, by reservation only due to covid (as of October 2020). The space was really impressive, and almost felt more like an event venue than a brewery. The beer itself was good, but the vibe was a little too upscale for our taste.
It was a beautiful day, so we walked up the road to Stars & Stripes Brewing Company – a Veteran-owned and operated craft brewery that donates a percentage of their proceeds to veteran organizations.
Since Mason is in the Army, this is very close to our hearts and we instantly felt a connection here. Plus, their beer was incomparable. The Warrior’s Blueberry Wheat and the Semper Fi.PA were our our favorites, and the seasonal Warrior’s Pumpkin Wheat was out. of. this. world.
Day 5 – Before our flight, we had to make one last stop: Donuts! We love donuts, and had heard rave reviews of The Holy Donut. We can confirm, these donuts, made from potatoes, are delightful. We tried the sweet potato, pumpkin, chocolate cake, and toasted coconut, and loved them all.
Sadly, the Exchange Street (downtown) Portland location is now permanently closed due to covid (their last weekend open was when we were there), but they do have two other locations in Portland.
Clearly, we loved our spontaneous trip to Maine, and will be back as soon as possible!