Rockland, Maine is a delightful vacation destination on Maine’s mid-coast that is the process of being transformed from a fishing and shipbuilding hub to a family friendly tourist hot spot. Just a block away from the waterfront, warehouses and commercial buildings are being turned into boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. The highly regarded Farnsworth Art Museum occupies several buildings in the downtown. The Museum features American art and is home to the one of the country’s largest collections of the paintings of the Wyeth family. Daily ferries run to Vinalhaven and to North Haven from the Maine State Ferry Terminal located on the Rockland waterfront.
We were in town to take a windjammer cruise aboard the Schooner Isaac Evans, but arrived a day early to check out the scene. We were delighted by the quality of accommodations, food and things to do. The high point of our land-based explorations was taking a walk on the 8/10th of a mile long Rockland Harbor Breakwater that connects the mainland and Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light.
The Rockland Breakwater was built with over 700,000 tons of granite at a cost of $750,000 and took 18 years to complete between 1881-1899. It was built because several nor’easter storms in the 1850s caused a great deal of damage to the inner parts of Rockland Harbor and the city needed to offer a more sheltered environment to encourage growth of its fishing and shipping businesses. The breakwater is made of enormous granite blocks that were cut precisely to fit and were placed end-to-end in water up to 70 feet deep. Depending on the tide and weather the waves may be washing over the breakwater, or lapping placidly at the sides 20 feet below the top.
It took us about 25 minutes each way as the gaps between the granite blocks are wide enough that it is wise to pay attention where you are walking to avoid tripping. For kids, tweens and teens it offers a fun activity and a good way to burn off some energy. If they go faster than mom and dad they can chill on the rocks that surround the lighthouse before heading back. We are told it is also a good place to fish although we didn’t see anyone catch anything the day we were there.
We stayed one night at the Ledges by the Bay motel, which is located in the town of Rockport just over the border from Rockland — about a 5 minute drive to downtown. It was clean and our oceanfront facing room had a lovely view. Each room has a fridge and the motel offers a free continental breakfast. Upscale travelers and golfers might enjoy the Samoset Resort in Rockland, the expansive grounds looked very inviting. We also had time to enjoy a couple of meals in town. We particularly enjoyed the Fog Bar and Café for dinner. It offers very creative and tasty American cuisine. For breakfast don’t miss the Home Kitchen Café . The ice cream and gelato at Lulu’s are amazing.
Rockland and nearby Owls Head were fun stops on our mid-coast tour, we could definitely have stayed longer. We paid our own way and none of the businesses list above knew they would get mentioned here. If you visit let us know what you think.