The Dog’s Gotta Come Along on this Road Trip to Maine
By Kurt Jacobson
Where would we be without our dogs? There’s a good reason dogs are called man’s best friend.
If it weren’t for my dog Sophie and her cat buddy Zeus, my life would have been a lot tougher. For several weeks both Sophie and Zeus kept me comforted, entertained, and sane.
My travel writing work was almost completely wiped out, leaving me self-quarantined for days while my wife went to work. I missed all the trips I used to take, especially the dog-friendly road trips on the East Coast.
With travel restricted for the rest of the year to a shadow of its former self, only regional road trips made sense.
Traveling to the Great State of Maine
A trip to Maine we took in the first week of August was just what the doctor ordered, but the place we stayed in wasn’t dog-friendly. After returning home, we vowed to take Sophie next time.
At four years old, Sophie is a joy to take on a trip. Like most dogs, she loves to go for a ride and hang her head out the window, amusing other drivers.
Sophie is also well-behaved at outdoor restaurants and rewards those who bring her water with licks of appreciation.
A Small Town And A Big Yard
Our October trip to Maine would be to Damariscotta, a small Mid-Coast town in by the water’s edge, offering most of the things we like in a Maine vacation. I found an Airbnb rental that was super dog-friendly. Sophie was going to love the huge backyard for off-leash disc-tossing, plenty of room inside for her special Westpaw bed, and a few squirrels to chase.
After an 11 hour drive, we arrived in the dark and settled into our refuge. We parked Sophie’s bed and bear toy in a corner by the dining room table, then went for a walk in the yard.
The night skies were so clear of light pollution; we could see the Milky Way that night and most other evenings.
Day one was for exploring nearby. Our breakfast stop was in the historic town of Bath at Mae’s Bakery and Café. This dog-friendly eatery allows dogs on their patio, and Sophie met a young husky dining with its humans before settling in at our table.
My wife and I ordered local Maine crab entrees, Sophie was content with fresh water delivered by our thoughtful waitress. The view of the ornate county courthouse, decked out in renovation scaffolding, made it a scenic patio for a meal.
After lunch, we drove Bath’s main streets and gawked at some of Maine’s most magnificent old homes. Bath has long been a ship-building town, and the wealth that industry has brought in is evident in the courthouse and many fine homes.
Dog On The Beach
To work off an excellent lunch, we headed to Reid State Park to hike Half Mile Beach. Admission to the park was $20 and well worth it. The wind was kicking up some noisy three-foot waves stimulating our senses. Sophie was jumping for joy to take a long walk on a sandy beach.
There was a lot to see on our hike. We saw a few sailboats, lobster boats, and there were several creative driftwood structures to inspect close up.
Since dogs were strictly ordered to stay on their leash, we begrudgingly obliged even though Sophie would have loved to chase a stick in the ocean.
Dinner that night was lobster steamed fresh at Hannaford’s grocery store, just minutes from the Airbnb. For only $11 each, these lobsters were piping hot and delicious eaten in the comfort of our rental.
That first day was tough to beat, but with Lake Damariscotta State Park just a 20 minute drive away, we set out to try and top day one. This small park is popular due to its swimming beach and picnic area.
I read online that the park is closed for the off-season, but it’s okay to park by the front gate and walk the short distance to the beach. Park rules state that dogs must be leashed; however, since nobody else was at the park, I let Sophie off-leash to chase sticks and swim.
She had a blast fetching sticks way out in the lake. The wind was whipping up 30 mph gusts, but that didn’t bother us a bit. It was fantastic to have the park to ourselves and let Sophie run a bit.
Getting High In Camden
On day three, we headed to Camden to have a takeout lunch of lobster rolls from Mariner’s Restaurant.
We settled in at the park overlooking the harbor, just across the street from the library. Sophie parked on the lawn at our feet while we enjoyed one of the best lobster rolls in Maine.
With lunch behind us, we drove to up to the summit of Mount Battie. The view of the town and water is breath-taking in the fall.
As we drove back towards Damariscotta, we spied a Halloween scene in the front yard of a Camden home worth doing a U-turn to get a better look.
About two dozen skeleton figures were having a game of football with skeleton fans watching. It was hilarious!
On day four, we headed to the village of Round Pond to pick up a blueberry pie at Dots Bakery, crab at Two Ladies Seafood, and have ice cream at the Granite Hall Store.
We had been to the ice cream place three times previously but never noticed the doggie ice cream treat for $2.50.
Dog-friendly Ice Cream
Sophie loves ice cream better than any food on earth and had a cup of her own with dog cookies on top. She was in total ecstasy. We were pretty happy, too, with our pistachio and maple-walnut cones.
For our last day’s adventure, we booked a trip on the Coyote Wooden Boat Cruises. Captain Jonathan took us on a scenic trip of the Back River near Georgetown to fort Popham where the Kennebec River meets the ocean.
This dog-friendly cruise was only $200 for two and a half hours and up to six persons. We saw vintage lighthouses, coastlines dotted with vacation homes, and several small islands. Sophie loved being out in the fresh air enjoying the views.
We appreciated Jonathan’s knowledge of the area and seeing it from the comfort of a former lobster boat. It was a great way to finish off five perfect days in Maine.
Be Advised, if you plan to take your dog to Mid-Coast Maine, search both hotels, cottages, and vacation rentals as there aren’t a lot of good dog-friendly lodging choices. And those choices diminish somewhat if your dog, like ours, is over 70 pounds.
There are, however, lots of great dog-friendly parks, trails, and restaurants to take your dog to once you find lodging.
Mid-Coast Maine is an excellent place to visit, and I hope you and your dog have a great time when you go!