Camden, Maine - a little town on the coast of New England known as the place where the mountains meet the sea.
Arguably the most New England of all New England towns, idyllic Camden is home to schooners, breathtaking swim spots, and some of the best seafood on the East Coast.
Every time I’ve shared about my time here I’ve found my inbox flooded with questions from my fellow New England’ travelers, so I figured it about time I dish on all of my favorite Camden spots. Here it is, your insider guide to what may very well be the cutest little town on the east coast - and if it’s not already on your bucket list, you may want to grab a pen.
WHERE TO EAT
Zoot Coffee (31 Elm St, Camden)
If you’re anything like me, a perfect vacation day starts with a slow morning and a strong latte. Head to Zoot Coffee on Elm Street for a perfectly crafted drink and a selection of pastries, (their blueberry muffins are delicious). This little shop is the perfect place to sit by the window and people watch or whip out the laptop and get some work done.
Marriners (35 Main St, Camden)
This little breakfast spot is labeled as a “family-style restaurant” but it checks every box a great diner should. Perfect stacks of pancakes, harbor views, and without a doubt, the best authentic diner coffee in Camden. This gem has been around for years, and for good reason.
Boynton McKay (30 Main St, Camden)
Everything that comes out of this kitchen (which you can see being made!) is top-notch. Boynton is on the end of the “downtown strip” on Main Street and is a must for breakfast, or brunch if that’s more your style. This spot with it’s no-fuss atmosphere and satiating dishes has been feeding Camden locals for years. Make sure to plan for this one, they’re closed on Monday and Tuesdays!
Home Kitchen Cafe (650 Main St, Rockland)
Okay so, this one is in Rockland, but it is SO worth the 15-minute drive. Plus, I’m sticking two more Rockland can’t miss stops in here, you could make an afternoon of it!
Camden Deli (37 Main St, Camden)
This spot makes the kind of sandwiches that you’re going to find yourself hopelessly craving two months after your vacation ends. They’ve got indoor seating overlooking the harbor and a second-floor balcony if you’re feeling like fresh air. Peep their menu here, (“The Olad” was a favorite of mine last summer, but nothing disappoints).
Long Grain (20 Washington St, Camden)
One of the best Thai restaurants I’ve experienced. Make sure to make a reservation, this place is a hot spot, and for good reason.
Peter Otts (16 Bay View landing, Camden)
Peter Ott’s hands down, makes the best crab cakes in the entire world. Entire. World. You know that one weirdo who grew up in Maine but hated seafood? Well, that was me - until I ate the crab cakes at Peter Ott’s. This is the place that finally opened my mind to seafood after over 20 years of denying it. Get the crab cakes. You’re welcome.
Scott’s Place (85 Elm St, Camden)
This shack like establishment has pretty much been around since the dawn of time and people from Maine love to get hotdogs here (they do have other option). I don’t really know why it’s so good, but it just is.
Cafe Miranda (15 Oak St, Rockland)
This takes the number 2 spot for the three things I highly recommend you go to Rockland for. Everything on their menu is insanely good, and they have everything, seriously. Note the tacos in this photo. Seriously, just go there, just do it.
Best Lobster Roll:
Graffam Bros Seafood (211 Union St, Rockport)
Okay, I don’t actually like lobster (total weirdo - I know) but I can still say with complete confidence that this is the best Lobster Roll in town, many a trusted friend and family member swear by this one. It’s technically in Rockport, but Rockport is baby-Camden, so it’s only five minutes from anywhere.
Camden House of Pizza (12 Mechanic St, Camden)
& 40 Paper (40 Washington St, Camden)
For delicious down to earth takeout pies, Camden House is your one-stop shop. Head to 40 Paper on Mechanic Street if you’re looking for a night out or a fancier pie paired with a cocktail in an upscale environment.
The Waterfront Restaurant (40 Bay View St, Camden)
One of my first jobs ever was at the Waterfront Restaurant, and yes, I was a bus girl and dedicated water glass refiller. I make a point to go back here at least once every trip because not only is the food to die for (oh hey, best Caesar salad in town!), but the location is spot on. Whether you’re sitting inside by the window or outside on their waterfront deck, this spot has harbor views for days.
Natalie’s (83 Bay View St, Camden)
Celebrating something or looking for a romantic night out? Natalie’s is the place to go. Tucked into the picturesque Camden Harbour Inn, this place will definitely exceed your expectations, both the food and the service.
Rhumb Line (59 Sea St, Camden)
Head to the other side of the harbor to dine outside at Rhumb Line, situated steps from the dock and overlooking Mt. Battie and the entire Camden Harbor, the views don’t disappoint. Catch the sunset over dinner or stop by for a cocktail.
& Ice Cream:
(because let’s not pretend this isn’t completely relevant)
Both River Ducks Ice Cream and Camden Cone offer a high-quality scoop, so if you’re in town for a few days I’d suggest giving both a try. Each has some pretty unique flavors AND River Ducks boasts a sign in front of their shop that offers a free cone to travelers of varying states each day, and free ice cream is always fun. I’m still torn between who makes the best mint chocolate chip, so you’ll find me frequenting both this summer.
WHAT TO DO
Camden Hills State Park
Hike or Drive up to the top of Mount Battie to soak up the town from a new perspective (and a stunning one, at that). Don’t miss the observation tower, and if you choose to drive up, bring along a picnic to enjoy at the top.
French and Brawn & Camden Harbor Park
A tiny downtown grocery store that sits at the single most inconvenient intersection to encounter when driving a vehicle. Stock up on necessities during your stay in town or better yet, stop in and grab a decadent dessert or grab-n-go sandwich from the back room and walk on over to Camden Harbor Park & Amphitheater for an impromptu picnic.
Andre the Seal, need I say more? …Okay, I’ll say a bit more - it’s a quaint spot to relax and an even better spot to get active - rent kayak’s from Maine Sport and get out on the water.
Maiden’s Cliff & Megunticook Lake
The hike to Maiden’s Cliff is only about a mile each way and ends in breathtaking panoramic views of Megunticook Lake. Make the day even better by going for a swim in the lake after you descend.
Grab your sweetie (or your friends) and head out on a sunset or day sail on one of the local Schooners. Sam and I do it at least once a year and it’s always one of the highlights of our trip. It’s beautiful, romantic, fun, and on chilly evenings, it’s a perfect excuse to cozy up together while the sun goes down.
Several of the vessels offer drink service while others are BYOB, so find out beforehand, and don’t forget to bring along a light jacket for the sunset sails (yes, even in summer).
The Children's Chapel
Drive over to the Children’s Chapel to explore serene gardens and the beautiful stone chapel. (& Stop by and see Camden’s Belted Galloways on your way over!)
Charming and absolutely worth the short drive out of town.
The Breakwater (Rockland, ME)
Stop on your way to Cafe Miranda and walk the 4,000+ feet of granite breakwater that stretches into the Rockland Harbor and ends at the picturesque Breakwater Lighthouse.
The Smiling Cow
If you’re in town you’re bound to walk by this shop at least a few times, be sure to stop in and peruse Camden’s cutest souvenir shop. I’m not a huge fan of tourist shops, but I must say this place has some good finds, including unique children's books, coffee mugs, books, and clothing.
WHERE TO STAY
Short term rentals:
While Camden does have a selection of Airbnb and VRBO rentals, I prefer to use Camden Accommodations - my favorite local vacation rental agency and my go-to for every MidCoast visit. The staff in their office is friendly and personable, and every home we have stayed in has been cozy and adorable (that’s one of their properties below!). You can also check them out on Facebook here!
And okay - is it any coincidence that my initials and the Maine abbreviation are the same? I think not! If you’re planning a trip to Camden, what better way to preserve the journey than with a photo session? Bring me along to preserve those memories for you, couple and family sessions in my favorite New England town are the best!