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!