July 2018 — The month of July is high season in Maine, when summer is in full swing and the Maine Turnpike is busy with vehicles laden with kayaks, kids and bikes. For those heading to the beloved Maine coast or to a cabin on a quiet lake up north, this blissful month of warm weather, wildflowers and lobster rolls is a time to treasure. Summer is the season to discover a lobster shack with a view or stop in Blue Hill to see a new crop of restaurants. There’s a great festival downeast in Machias and waves that will tempt both veteran and novice surfers. One of Maine’s most beloved art museums celebrates its 65th birthday and one of the state’s best agricultural fairs occurs at summer’s end. For writers, editors and bloggers looking for short-lead news, you’ll find immediate details under Happening Now. Those in search of longer lead news can scroll down to the Looking Ahead section.
Lobster Shacks with a View
The very best way to enjoy Maine’s favorite crustacean is to eat at a lobster-in-the-rough restaurant, preferably at a picnic table with a harbor view. The Lobster Shack at Two Lights, Cape Elizabeth, has a perfect setting on the rocky Maine coast, overlooked by Two Lights lighthouse and views of Casco Bay. Go to Five Islands in Georgetown for a view of five pine-clad islands and a classic Maine harbor view of lobster boats. At Estes Lobster House in Harpswell Neck, the views of Harpswell Sound and Potts Harbor are matched with great sunsets. Also in the mid-coast region is McLoon’s Lobstah Shack on Spruce Head Island, across from the area's oldest working lobster wharf. Enjoy views of the harbor and surrounding islands and watch local lobstermen unload their day's catch. Shaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf in New Harbor overlooks tranquil Muscongus Bay and its islands. Continue to the tip of the peninsula and treat yourself to an up-close look at Pemaquid Point Light. If you’re Acadia bound, then plan on a stop at Thurston’s Lobster Pound in Bernard, a lobster shack on a wharf on Mount Desert Island overlooking the lobster fishing fleet in Bass Harbor. Venture beyond Mount Desert Island to the Schoodic Peninsula for Corea Wharf Gallery & Grill where lobster boats dot the harbor on Gouldsboro Bay. Along with your lobster lunch, check out the gallery of semi-retired lobsterman Joe Young who shares the work of his late aunt and local photographer Louise Z. Young.
Bold Coast Sea and Sky Festival
The 3rd annual Bold Coast Sea & Sky Festival on July 20 and 21 is a family celebration of Downeast Maine. There’s a kid’s race, kite-building and kite-flying demonstrations, a Bad Little Falls boat race on the river and a bevy of local crafts, artisans and evening music. Admission is free at this event that draws together locals and summer visitors. Go to Bold Coast Sea & Sky Festival for more info.
Surfing in Maine
In the past decade, Maine has emerged as one of the most dynamic surfing destinations along the East Coast. While it may not rival Waikiki, surfers still come in search of the perfect waves at Long Sands Beach in York and at Gooch's Beach in Kennebunkport. There are often great breaks along seven miles of beach in Wells. Higgins Beach, Old Orchard Beach and Popham Beach also have promising surf. There’s a new breed of surf shops where you can get advice about the best surfing spots and weather conditions, buy a new board or a wetsuit, or arrange for lessons with a local pro. Go to Visit Maine for more surfing info.
Ogunquit Museum of American Art Celebrates its 65th Birthday
The Ogunquit Museum of American Art (OMAA), one of the finest small art museums in the country, is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2018. Highlights include a talk with artist Lois Dodd about her exhibition, Lois Dodd: Drawings and Paintings, which opens July 14, and a poetry reading by inaugural poet laureate Richard Blanco. Totally Tuesday walking tours began on June 26 and include a tour of the OMAA sculpture gardens. On alternating Tuesdays through August 28, OMAA also offers walking tours of the Ogunquit art colony. Totally Tuesday Talks is a weekly lecture series that gives OMAA visitors the opportunity to hear from visiting artists, scholars and experts about topics related to the museum’s exhibitions. Go to OMAA for more info.
Dining in Blue Hill
The seaside town of Blue Hill is in the midst of a summer restaurant boom. Newcomers include Siam Sky, a new Thai restaurant that opened on June 1. This summer also marks the reopening of The Boatyard Grill, which has been closed since 2016. It’s a great place for Maine seafood with a view. Overlooking the bay in downtown is the new Thurston Co. at 66 Main Street, located in a former blacksmith’s shop. A few doors away is Sandy’s Blue Hill Cafe for freshly roasted brews and there’s also the Bay View Bakery and Tea Room. For visitors heading to or from Acadia National Park, Blue Hill is now an emerging dining destination.
Common Ground Fair
Think organic, think back-to-the-land, think small farmers and you’re on the same wavelength as the Common Ground Country Fair, which will be held this year from September 21 to 23 in Unity. Affiliated with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the fair began in 1977 during the back-to-the-land movement and has since become a beacon for forward-thinking organic farming techniques and a showcase for rural crafts. Some 60,000 visitors come every year for lessons in sustainable beekeeping and demonstrations of spinning wool. If you’ve ever been curious about how to build a stone wall or raise sheep, this is the fair to attend. Visit Common Ground Country Fair.