Boothbay Harbor is a classic seaside Maine town, a must-visit for boaters and landlubbers alike. Bar Harbor and Acadia receive much of the Maine accolades, while Camden and Kennebunkport swell with well-to-do summer crowds. Oft overlooked Boothbay is a “wicked cool” coastal harbor (that’s Maine-speak), a bit more humble, with its compact cluster of local shops, fun cafes, homey inns and boat excursions departing from convenient in-town piers.
Boothbay is foot-friendly, entirely walkable but a bit hilly amid its curvy colorful streets. With its historic and happening vibe, just strolling the waterfront village is pleasure enough. Boutiques’ flower boxes and shops’ welcome flags wave you inside. Pop into art galleries, craft stores and nautical lofts, and then hop down to what we call the Bar-muda Triangle where three popular watering holes converge on the wharf, often with live music in season.
Walking Boothbay’s 1901 footbridge spans 1,000 feet across the inner harbor providing fantastic views of where many boats are moored, especially visiting mega-yachts. Fascinating fact: this wooden wharf bridge cost $1,500 to build in 1901; the town is considering a redesign at $2.8 million.
Boothbay Harbor is “Down East” Maine, an hour drive northeast from Portland, or 30 nautical miles, tucked between the Sheepscot and Damariscotta Rivers in a spectacular coastal scape. Here Maine becomes magical, as chilly blue sea waters are dotted with pine canopied islands and dramatic granite peninsulas. Boothbay’s deep-water harbor is well-protected and picture-perfect, guarded by three lighthouses. For that reason, it’s been dubbed the “Boating Capital of New England.”
Several marinas provide ideal dockage. You are striking distance to many day boat excursions, on your own boat or aboard dozens of daily cruises from Piers 1-8 to tour Townsend Gut, Burnt Island Light, Ram Island Light and the Cuckolds Light. You might glimpse harbor seals, porpoises and Maine birds along your scenic voyage.
By land, Boothbay is home to every garden-lovers’ dream, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and the Maine State Aquarium.
Boothbay is a gem, a bustling harbor in peak season, quieter in the shoulders of spring and fall, with quaint waterfront lodging, friendly locals and fun festivals.
Photos by Greg Burke.
WHERE TO DOCK
Tugboat Inn & Marina
An easy walk into downtown Boothbay, the marina’s well-protected slips accommodate yachts up to 100 feet, plus moorings. Amenities include laundry and showers, Wi-Fi, cable and water hook up. Tugboat’s namesake on-site restaurant, lounge and fantastic roof top deck overlook the harbor, inn and firepits.
Boothbay Harbor Marina
Right in the heart of Boothbay, you find 40 slips convenient to the town at this pet-friendly, gated marina. Wi-Fi, power, showers, laundry and complimentary ice are among the niceties. It’s family owned with concierge service and local travel tips for more than three decades.
Brown’s Wharf Marina
Located on the east side of Boothbay Harbor a 10-minute walk to town across the wooden footbridge, this marina offers a great view across the harbor. Large face docks can handle vessels up to 165 feet; moorings are available as well. Amenities: electricity, cable, laundry and showers. The 75-room inn overlooks the docks, as does Brown’s Wharf Restaurant & Lounge, family owned for more than 70 years.
WHERE TO DINE
This Boothbay classic serves Maine seafood (yes, lobster) in a casual waterfront setting. “Eat, drink and flounder – just for the halibut” is their cheerful slogan. Former Maine Governor Paul LePage may be your congenial bartender. McSeagull’s is part of the “Bar-muda Triangle,” three local bars on Wharf Street, within stumbling distance of Mine Oyster and Pier 1 Pizza & Pub.
Taka Mediterranean Bar & Grill
On Pier 1 you discover elevated seafood — creative sushi, calamari, octopus, scallops, lobster or lamb for landlubbers. Modern décor and delicious dishes are enjoyed inside or out on the delightful waterfront deck.
Ocean Point Inn
This iconic Maine inn serves fresh local seafood with fabulous sunsets from the East Boothbay peninsula. Try the signature crab cakes or lobster stew with a view. Arrive by boat at their limited docks or take the scenic six-mile drive beyond Linekin Bay to this dramatic point.