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Boothbay Harbor Travel Guide

Boothbay Harbor Travel Guide

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Located in the Mid-Coast Region of Maine on the Atlantic, Boothbay Harbor, Maine has been a tourist destination since the 1880s. This cute coastal town only has about 2,200 permanent residents. You would never know it though, from how many people are walking the streets in the summer months! Talk about a hot tourist destination.

On your trip to Boothbay Harbor, you are sure to find awesome ocean views, cute shops, and delicious food. With lots to do, but no reason to rush, it is sure to be a great destination for a lazy summer getaway.

Things to Know Before Planning Your Trip

  • Boothbay Harbor, Maine (along with the rest of coastal Maine) is a HUGE tourist town. Summer is a crazy busy time. If you visit in the summer, expect a to be around a lot of people, and try to be as flexible and as patient as possible. The town basically shuts down from January to the end of April every year, so that is also something to keep in mind when deciding what time of year to visit.
  • Prepare for oscillating weather patterns. A coastal town can turn windy and rainy at any moment – even if it’s hot and sunny out! It’s a good idea to pack sweatshirts and pants, even in the summer, especially if your plans bring you near/on the ocean.
  • If you are staying somewhere within walking distance of downtown, just walk. Parking is an absolute nightmare. It is very stressful to find a spot with the hundreds of people on the sidewalks and crossing the roads. Chances are, you’ll end up walking a ways to your destination from any parking spot anyways. Better to just leave the car at your inn.

Getting to Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Boothbay Harbor is a 1.5 hour drive from Portland, Maine, and 3 hours from Boston. Traffic definitely gets congested along the way during summer, so plan accordingly.

The closest airport is the Portland International Jetport. There is also an airport in Bangor, about 2 hours away.

Staying in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Locals definitely run Boothbay Harbor. Bed & breakfast and independently owned inns dominate the lodging options. The lack of chain hotels greatly adds to the charm and character of this quaint coastal town. Prices vary depending on what amenities you want. Oceanfront views cost significantly more than some other options on the outskirts of downtown.

My boyfriend and I stayed at the Bayberry House B&B when we visited in November. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience and 100% recommend staying there for your visit. Some amenities include: daily homemade breakfast, free parking, private rooms, 24/7 access to coffee, tea, and complimentary cookies, internet, TV and individual air temperature control. Not to mention, the innkeepers Chris and Karine were great company with excellent recommendations!

Browse hotel options below.

Things to Do:

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

This is an absolute MUST SEE! I have visited the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens twice – once at the end of May and once in November. This beautifully designed garden incorporates flowers, vegetables, native plants, and the forest into an immersive, educational walking experience. Golf carts circle around the garden to transport visitors to different sections of the property. Definitely don’t forget your bug spray and sunscreen!

Flowers at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Every year from November until January 1, dazzle yourself by attending the Gardens Aglow event. Colorful holiday lights decorate trees, structures, and landscapes for visitors to admire. Shuttles run from downtown Boothbay Harbor to the gardens, so parking is not an issue. Don’t forget to grab some hot chocolate from the snack bar before you explore.

Holiday lights at the Gardens Aglow event at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor.
The Gardens Aglow event at the Coast Maine Botanical Gardens…it’s truly magical.

Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library

This is an awesome free place to go roam around if you are looking for something different to explore. Located in the middle of downtown, the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library is an iconic building with tons of history packed in its walls. Additionally, the Friends of the Library have a used book store in an old house right next door. There are some great gems hiding inside, in addition to racks of clearance books out on the porch.

Visit the Local Shops

Downtown is loaded with small, local shops. Looking for books? Try Sherman’s or the Friends of the Library used book store. Toursit-y souvenirs? Go to Smiling Cow Gift Shop. Home goods or higher end souvenirs? Sweet Bay or Mung Bean are your places to go. There are also several clothing, handmade jewelry, and art shops around! Check out the free local guides to downtown for the best information.

Cross the Footbridge

Catch a great view of town and the ocean all in one by taking a stroll along the footbridge that crosses the harbor. This is a lovely walk that is very romantic at sunset. Catch a nice ocean breeze down at the bridge, and take your cameras to capture this great picture opportunity.

Open ocean with blue skies and a shining sun

Places to Eat:

Ports of Italy

Ports of Italy is an excellent Italian restaurant where everything is handmade. I savored my delicious birthday dinner of homemade pasta Fruits di Mare, and a dirty gin martini. The service was top notch, and although we forgot the coupon for a free dessert we got from our innkeepers at the Bayberry House B&B, we didn’t have room for it anyways. Definitely call ahead for a reservation.

Italian food and drinks at Ports of Italy in Boothbay Harbor, Maine
The food was so yummy at Ports of Italy, I dug right in before I could remember to take a picture!

Red Cup Coffeehouse

We stopped at Red Cup Coffeehouse for a delightful afternoon snack to hold us over until dinnertime. My boyfriend and I indulged in a blueberry scone and a piece of warmed up breakfast pizza. Let me tell you, I could’ve just eaten an entire breakfast pizza for dinner and been happy as a clam. This cute, quirky coffee shop was a relaxing place to sit for a few. They also have a stage for events with live music.

Pier 1 Pizza

I LOVED this place. Granted I was already tipsy when I got there, but no matter. They have cheap craft beer (like $3 a pint!), free endless popcorn, and a jammin’ jukebox to pick songs from. They’re also one of the only places (at least in off-season November) that is open until 1am. The bar is attached to a small pizza shop. It’s perfect for anyone who needs some carbs to soak up those adult beverages.

On our short trip, we only had a chance to visit these few restaurants. Other suggestions we received were the Boathouse Bistro and Mine Oyster – we’ll have to try these out on our next trip!

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