In my humble opinion, Camden, Maine is the most beautiful town in the state. It’s active, yet elegant. There’s a lot to do and see and the area is just as livable as it is lovely. Below, you’ll find commentary and quite a few photos of the visits Laura and I have made to the area. Please leave comments down below if you feel inspired to do so. I’d love to read your reactions.
Visiting Camden, Maine During the Holidays
November 30, 2017
Today was a really long, but really great day. Laura and I finally made it out to the coast. It’s been years since we’ve seen the water and I must tell you, it was marvelous. I miss it so much and there’s something different about the water up here in Maine than any other I’ve seen. It’s strange. It has a unique hue to it. It’s smooth. I’m not doing a very good job at explaining it, I know.
Camden, Maine is located south of Belfast and north of Rockland. Basically, it’s about an hour and a half north of Portland, if you know where that is. It’s a tight knit coastal community with a small, but very vibrant and active main street that is chock full of incredibly interesting shops and restaurants. This isn’t a quiet little town that’s hidden back in the woods somewhere. Let me tell you. This town is alive and the stores, well, they are right up there alongside any you’d see in a larger city. Things were priced a bit higher than we’re used to being up in western Maine, but what they were selling was of the best quality. I have so many pictures to show you below. They should give you a good idea of what I’m talking about.
I think we made this trip at the right time. My goal was to get a glimpse of some Christmas lighting as well as some holiday items that people are selling. I’m always nervous when visiting someplace new. I never know what to expect and I get concerned that I’ll be let down. Today, I think my greatest fear was that there wouldn’t be enough shopping. I shouldn’t have been worried because everything was perfect. There was tons of shopping.
As we rolled into town, I first noticed all the lights. They were lining the shop windows and trees on the sidewalks and the Christmas wreaths on the street lamps. The ambiance was wonderful.
Here are two quick shots I took right after we parked and got out of the car. My camera was working the entire day. I have a lot to show you. Let me warn you though, the sky was mostly clear when we arrived, but it started raining shortly thereafter. Then, things cleared up and it began to get dark. The photos down towards the bottom are so much better because all the lights are brighter and more clear.
After we began walking down the sidewalk, I really got into it. There was so much to photograph. We could tell that the folks in this town were very organized and that they put a lot of time into their cleanliness and presentation. There was holiday spirit everywhere and I even noticed how the Christmas lights were all the same color. I’m a huge fan of that. I lost my love of colored lights a few years back and truly appreciate the twinkle of the white ones.
This is the entrance of a really great woodworking store called Once a Tree.
There is a lot more than just woodworking in that store. More on this later.
As we continued our stroll, I noticed a lot of nice looking decorations around or near the windows of each shop. Like I did during our walking tour of Kingfield, I snapped some photos of these decorations.
There are a few landmarks in Camden. You know, the businesses that are more famous than the rest. I took photos of all of them (I think). The first one is the Sea Dog Brewing Company. It’s a restaurant right on the corner of Main Street and Commercial Street.
The next famous business in Camden is called French & Brawn Marketplace. It’s been in operation in this location since 1866. That’s huge in my book. It’s located on the corner of Mechanic Street and Elm Street.
Again, I have nighttime shots of some of these places that look really good. I’ll post them all below. They are much more creative and inspiring than the daytime ones.
If you were to visit town via the Elm Street route, you’d be greeted by Camden National Bank. It’s a fairly large building that stands out very clearly. It’s located on the corner of Elm Street and Bay View Street.
We continued to walk around a bit, just to get the lay of the land. I wanted to know what was available before we starting going inside any type of business. I found a really cool wall that combined the ideas of Christmas and lobster. I find that a little strange. I’ve seen it a lot out there. It just seems like the two don’t go together, but perhaps I’m wrong.
I took a few more photos during this part of our walk. The first one is after we reached the end of the stores on Elm Street. We were heading back down and I thought I noticed the quintessential Maine coastal main street. I wanted to capture it.
I love those kinds of photos.
I also grabbed one of a fire escape. The sun was hitting it just right, so it looked urban and interesting.
And finally, I took a picture of the Nutcracker sign. This show is being offered at the Camden Opera House in December.
Having an opera house like this in such a small town is a big deal. It is to me anyway.
I also snuck a shot in of a place called Stonewall Kitchen. It’s like a gourmet kitchen shop.
Let me tell you a bit about the Maine coast. It’s rather strange. Where we live, it’s fairly hilly. I wouldn’t say there are really huge mountains in our town, but it’s got its fair share of terrain. When you travel from western Maine to the coastal area, things get flat near Interstate 95, but then get really mountainous again near the water. I’m always surprised by this. I’m so used to the topography leveling out near any type of ocean.
Check this out. It’s a photo of a church steeple with Mt. Battie in the background. If you look closely, you’ll see a star at the top of the mountain that gets lit up at dark.
There were so many streets to explore. As I write this post, I’m trying to filter through all my photos. I think I took 139 of them and I know I can’t upload everything here. I still need to get to the good ones later on.
Anyway, as we walked down Bay View Street, we noticed a really nice hotel on its left side. It’s called 16 Bay View Hotel and it looks like something that should be in New Orleans. Check it out. I think I got some night shots of it too for below.
On the same street is sort of like a small outdoor mall. I saw one sign that said Cotton Garden and another that I couldn’t read. Wait, I see the Grand Harbor Inn and Peter Ott’s. There seriously are so many upscale hotels and restaurants in this one town. It’s very condensed and not a lot of room is wasted. Right past these buildings is the water.
Okay, the true centerpiece of town is the Camden Public Library. This is the type of feature that would attract visitors from far and wide. It may even make you move to an area like this, simply because of the future you could imagine. I’ve never seen a library like this in my life. Especially not in a small coastal town.
This is the backside of the library.
The stairs continue down into the Camden Harbor Park & Amphitheater.
This was the real reason I wanted to visit this town. I’ve been looking at this one feature for so long on Google Earth. I couldn’t take it any longer. So now, I’d like to return to the town to perhaps go to a show at the opera house and to explore more of the library and the town itself. There was a lot we didn’t see.
Here are some more parts of the amphitheater and the view out to the harbor. These are two small towers that are situated at the entrance of the amphitheater.
This is a, what do you call this, a small building in the amphitheater. You really need to read the history of this park via the link above. It’s very interesting.
This is the view of the harbor from the park across the street from the library. I mean, really. Have you ever seen anything like this? I really wish it wasn’t raining and the boats weren’t covered, but still.
This is a really cool, really tangled tree that’s next to one of the towers.
And here’s a ship on top of one of the towers and a gold rooster on the other.
I wouldn’t have been able to come up with those ideas.
And here are three random shots of the amphitheater that I’m sure I’ll want to look back on some day.
Back in 1996, the Camden Public Library went through a transition. It was expanded to more than double its original size. Part of the deal was that any expansion of the building couldn’t obstruct the view of the harbor, so they decided to create the extended library underground. Like, you can walk on top of the lower level. There’s grass up there.
Here’s a photo of one of the stones in the foundation.
I don’t even want to know how much any of this cost. I can only imagine. It’s nice though, I’ll give them that. And it’s surely a tourist attraction. When we entered the top floor of the library, I didn’t know the extent of the building. It was only when we walked down three flights of steps that I realized what we were in for. It’s quite remarkable. I’m still thinking about it.
Okay, back to reality. After our initial exploration, we decided to head into some of the shops to see what was for sale. We began with Once a Tree. We looked around for a bit and then I remembered that I was holding my camera. I snapped a few shots of some really nice dishware, or home decor, or whatever category you’d put things like this in.
After that, we went into a candy shop next door and then into a shop called Jo Ellen Designs. All of the shops were so warm and inviting. I was truly impressed by each of them. They were beautiful. Take a look at the interior of Jo Ellen Designs. I took an additional photo of one of the Christmas trees, but it was blurry. That was one of my favorites too.
Everything was so, so nice.
After a bit of shopping, it was high time for some lunch. We chatted with a gentleman (who happened to grow up a few towns away from where I grew up) for a while in the amphitheater earlier on and he told us that the Waterfront Restaurant down on Bay View Street was a good place to eat, so we made our way there. Of course, I had to stop for that random, very photogenic, picture of some Christmas decor during our travels.
It was nice because it was getting slightly darker as we walked. All the lights began to shine more brightly. As we made it closer to the restaurant, I spotted a cool looking store. It was called the Red Barn Baking Company and it had an interesting looking sign. I thought about how good it would look on this blog, so I took a photo. Check this out.
We entered the restaurant, had a wonderful lunch and when we came out, things were really getting darker. I took a shot of the harbor from the docks. Even on a cloudy day, it’s impressive. Very Maine.
This is where things began to get interesting. Remember that hotel I mentioned earlier? The one called 16 Bay View? Well, it looked a lot better at night. Not that it didn’t already look good during the day. I’m just saying the lights looked better.
It’s the little things I noticed, such as how the wall lamps appeared to actually have candles in them. Many places had these types of lamps.
And remember that little mall I spoke of earlier? Well, that was looking pretty fantastic too.
The church on elm Street was all lit up and ready to be photographed.
Everything was very impressive. Here’s another shot of that same church. There were many of them and they were all huge.
As we made it back up to Main Street, I saw a lighted Christmas tree way up in the attic of some building. I had to show you. Check it out.
After that, I went bonkers with the camera. The traffic was picking up, things were getting busier and I knew we were in store for some marvelous window shopping. The town was much more alive during this time of day. We continued to walk down Main Street, towards the car. I didn’t want to leave just yet. I preferred to stroll around some more to see what we could find.
I found the window of the brewing company. That’s for sure.
I also found a stuffed moose. These things were all over the place. I kind of want one.
And finally, I found that Once a Tree was brightening up even more than it had before.
Whenever I see one of those “center of town” hotels, I try to go inside to see what it looks like. I enjoy tucking valuable pieces of information in the back of my mind for later use. Perhaps we’ll stay here one day.
This hotel is called the Lord Camden Inn and it really is situated right in the middle of town. I parked the car right outside of it.
These people weren’t shy about their decorations. I love that. The more lights, the better.
The entrance led back through a hallway to the front desk.
We chatted with the front desk crew for a while, but unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the inside. It’s just as nice as the outside though. It’s upscale and it made me want to stay overnight.
We left the hotel and found that right next door, there’s a, get this, a real toy store. Just like there used to be when I was a kid. Not in a mall, but on Main Street. That knocked my socks off. Inside the store was another giant stuffed moose. I just had to share this.
There were all sorts of other toys as well. I took my sweet time looking through all the Ravensburger puzzles and then some other Star Wars items. I was amazed at all that was there. And the best part was that there were real shop owners. Adults. Not after school kids working for some corporation. These people owned the place. It was remarkable. Sort of like something from the past.
Okay, don’t worry. I’m almost done. After leaving the toy store, we did a little more window shopping because we really wanted to get our fill. We knew we wouldn’t be back for some time and our cameras were ripped and ready for work.
Take a look at some fresh fruit from the market I showed you earlier.
I believe these next three shots were from the window of Jo Ellen Designs. The items in the window appealed to me because they are so holiday oriented. Little reindeer and all that. I loved it.
I got this one photo for my friends here in town. Many of them have custom license plates.
And finally (yes, I mean it this time), we have some window shopping photos from (I believe) Once a Tree. It was either this store or another close by. I can’t seem to remember right now.
So how was that? I’m not sure if I spent more time visiting Camden or writing this post. I don’t mind. Both were worth it. I hope you enjoyed looking through all of these photos and if you have any questions, I’d surely answer them. Just leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!
Back to Camden, Maine for Some Photos of the Harbor
May 23, 2018
Yesterday was a very, very busy day. In the morning, I had to run down into town to get an estimate on some damage that was done to our vehicle. As I was driving to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class last Tuesday evening, someone backed into the driver’s side door while I was waiting at a red light. So that needs to get fixed because now there’s a large and ugly dent in that door. Luckily, I’ve been moving the process along at a steady pace and by next month, things will be shiny and straight again.
When I got home, Laura took me up on my offer to drive out to Camden for some photography of the harbor. As you may recall, the last time we visited that town, the ships were all covered with shrink wrap, which protected them from the winter elements. Well, they’re all unwrapped now and the town is hopping with action. Around 1pm, we jumped in the car with the dented door and drove an hour and 45 minutes out to Camden, Maine.
Camden is a photographer’s dream. It’s the kind of place that sort of overwhelms you with its picturesque nature. After parking, we walked across town to the library. Before we got there though, I spotted a statue and began snapping away at it. It’s so distracting being there, but I guess that’s a good thing. I took hundreds of photos yesterday that I’ll filter through to show you here.
Here’s a few photos of the statue.
Since we were so close to the library, I thought that I’d like to get some better photos of it than we were able to last time. The last time we were in town, it ended up raining for part of the day. This time, it was sunshine from morning to night. This is the side of the library and the lower level. As you can see, the entire lower level is under ground.
From the same point, I turned around to take a look at the harbor, which is probably the easiest thing on earth to photograph. Trust me when I say this, it’s tempting to just stand there taking the same photo over and over. I tried to control myself though.
These are three ships that were sitting side by side. I must have taken 40 pictures of these things, so prepare yourself for more of them down below.
Here’s one of the boats more up close. I wonder how large a ship needs to be to cross the Atlantic. Do you think one of these could make the trip?
If I had to guess, I’d say those boats were about 60 feet long. I think they could make it if they tried.
Right outside the library was a small area that had something to do with kids. Something like a kid’s park or a kid’s patio. I forget. The cool part of this area was how they put together the concrete benches. The made the pillars in the shapes of books. Take a look.
Here’s another one.
And since it’s spring, I felt that I should add some photos of the many beautiful flowers at this small area. There were lots to choose from, so I’ll only add a few.
Right past the small park was one of the entrances to the amphitheater. You may recall this area from my last post. I thought one of the potted plants that sat above the entrance looked pretty cool, so I took a picture of that. I’ll even add one of the back of the library across the lawn as well.
Okay, moving on. I’m not sure we got any decent photos of the front of the library last time, so we had to get up there to do so. On the way, I took a picture of the Camden Main Street.
Here she is, in all of her glory. What a place.
Now it’s time to really get down to the harbor. There’s a road that travels across the back of the library and connects to one that heads all the way out so you can get a nice view back to the town. I found this on Google Earth and have been eager to see the view for myself. The view out into the harbor from the first road is really perfect.
It’s the kind of place where artists set up their easels. It’s so pretty.
The road we took to the outer edge of the harbor was called Sea Street. It led to a marina that had tons of docks and great vantage points for some rather stunning photography. After we arrive, I noticed some big houses across the water. My kind of houses. If you look at the photo below, you’ll see the houses, but you’ll also see some islands to the left of them. Look closely because those islands are tough to see. Maine’s coast is full of interesting islands. Some are inhabited and some aren’t.
There were tons of boats stored at the marina. If you’ve ever wondered how these places put the boats in the water, perhaps this will help you out.
What a machine.
Looking back at the town from the very end of the last dock was so exciting for me. I love going as far as I can go, and in this case, if I went any further, I would have been in the water. The photos were a bit tough to take because I was looking straight into the sun, but I’m sure you get the idea.
Here’s one somewhat more up close.
The part I enjoyed the most was looking at all the boats. Each and every one of them was beautiful. There were no “not so nice” ones to find anywhere, which made the exploration all the more sweet. I’m telling you, the money in these things was incredible. Here’s the first boat I noticed.
And here are those three large boats from a different view. I told you there’d be more of them.
This is the library view from all the way at the end of the docks.
You don’t get much prettier than that.
What would a trip to the Maine coast be without a photo of some classic lobster traps?
For the next few photos, I think I’ll just say that they’re boats. I like all of them, but I don’t have much to say about them more than that, so I’ll just list them.
This is a double-hull sailboat.
And these are almost twin sailboats.
These two boats were so beautiful. The woodworking was incredible. Here are the names of the boats.
Just to add some wildlife to this post, I’ll show you some strange black ducks that were sitting on one of the docks out near the middle of the harbor.
As I was doing my exploring, a large sailboat came in to dock. I think there are rides out into the ocean available in Camden, so I think we’re going to check that out. Here’s one of the men working the ropes at the front of the boat.
Hey, you wanna see the last of those three boats? Here you go. Now this is a nice photo, if I don’t say so myself.
From the harbor it’s fairly simple to see the tower at the top of Mount Battie. Every time I visit the coast of Maine, I’m surprised at the number of large mountains nearby. Mount Battie is one of them that can be hiked. The tower is a few miles from the park at its base. I’m assuming the view from the top is spectacular.
After leaving the marina, we walked back to town via Sea Street. This is a very nice road with many beautiful homes on it. If I were a wealthy man, I could picture myself picking up a house in this area.
Here’s a tree lined Sea Street for you.
This is one of the back yards that belongs to one of the houses on this road. I haven’t seen grass like this in a long time. Right over the hump of grass is the water. And then there’s the town in the distance.
Perhaps this will make things more clear. You can see the town through the trees in this photo.
This is one of the homes on this street. They were all beautiful. I just randomly chose one to photograph.
Finally, for my last photo from Camden, I preset “Megunticook Falls.” There’s a small river that runs through town and at the end of that river are these falls. The water leads right into the ocean.
After all that action, we left Camden. I actually wanted to go to one of the local restaurants for some late lunch, but they were packed solid with people. They wanted us to wait 25 minutes for a table. Can you believe that? Since I’m not one to wait, we got in the car and left.
The route we took home leads right through a very small town called Belgrade Lakes. This is a quiet town that sort of reminds me of Camden. It’s got some money there and the houses are very nice. I love being around that sort of thing. We’ve passed by this area a few times and every time we do, I say that we should have stopped for some photography. There’s a small waterfall right off the side of the road and behind that waterfall is the prettiest and smoothest water you’ll ever see. Actually, the movie On Golden Pond is supposed to be based in this area. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be; the area is quite tranquil.
This time, when we passed through Belgrade Lakes, we stopped. There’s a tiny parking area right off the road that leads into a tiny park. The area is called Peninsula Park.
This is the small man-made waterfall. I guess it isn’t a waterfall as much as it is a water barrier.
As I said, the park is tiny. What I wanted to photograph were some boaters out on the lake. They were fishing and having a good ol’ time. Check this out. This is what you call the “golden hour” in the photography world.
It was so nice and so much fun taking photos of these guys. Here’s one more.
The shoreline of this lake is beautiful as well. It’s not tough to find a nice area.
Across the street is just as wonderful. There a cove that leads to Great Pond. This is what leads out to the lake.
And this is the area that sits up against the road.
Okay, so that’s all for the photos, but don’t despair. I have some video too. Please click the link below to visit the video or simply click inside the video to watch it here. If you’re reading this via email, you’ll need to click the link, since video doesn’t appear in the email. Also, please excuse the wind. It dies down towards the end, but I couldn’t get rid of it at the beginning.