Maybe it’s all of the snow we’ve been having lately, but MP finds herself daydreaming about spring break. While it would be lovely to go someplace tropical, our budget demands we find a getaway that doesn’t require a plane ticket. And for this family, vacation is really about a change of pace. With that idea in mind, we decided to visit Rockland for a few days last April. The small city, located in midcoast Maine, has everything a family could want in a vacation — beautiful spaces to explore, noteworthy restaurants, shopping and two art museums.
We took advantage of the Family Vacation Special at the Samoset Resort in nearby Rockport. The historic resort is located on the Penobscot Bay and offers spacious rooms with cozy beds and terry robes, relaxed dining and most importantly—for our kids anyway—a heated, indoor pool that makes a person on staycation feel as if she’s in Florida. For kids, the resort also has a game room, movies, and crafts, so there is always something to do, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
The resort is also near to Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. On the first day of our visit, the weather was just right to take a 30-minute stroll to see the lighthouse, which was built in 1902. Walking the 4,300 foot breakwater requires some concentration, as its made of large granite stones with some spaces in between, but it’s worth exploring for its unique vantage point.
On day two of our trip, the weather was moodier, but we didn’t let a little mist keep us from getting outside. We decided to check out Owl’s Head State Park and Owl’s Head lighthouse (c. 1825). There is a grand staircase to climb to get to the lighthouse, but the views from the top are spectacular, even on a gray day like this one. The rocky beach is a fun place to search for treasures, too.
After our visit to Owl’s Head, we traveled 5 miles down the road to experience Birch Point Beach State Park, which is home to Lucia Beach. While there’s no disputing that Maine’s beaches are stunning in summer, there is something special about visiting in the quieter months. We spotted a few dog walkers and local families, but for the most part, we had this remarkable spot all to ourselves.
With all of this touring around, we couldn’t help but return to Rockland for lunch. We’ve heard good things about Wasses, a tiny takeout stand that serves up some seriously delicious hot dogs. MP liked a hot dog topped with crispy fried onions and the boys preferred decadent chili cheese dogs. CP#1 remains our resident plain Jane. She opted for a hot dog coated in ketchup.
After filling up on lunch, the kids asked to go back to the hotel to hang out and relax. You’ve never seen two young people so thrilled to put on a terrycloth robes, read and snuggle under the covers.
Our remaining time at the Samoset included walking the expansive hotel grounds, where there are winding paths along the seaside to explore.
And while there is no shortage of incredible dining options in Rockland, we enjoyed dinners at the warm and inviting Enoteca Lounge (our family package offered free meals for the kids). After so much exploring, we loved simply walking downstairs for dinner. The kids ordered brick oven pizzas and us parents sampled a variety of dishes, from specialty salads topped with salmon, local beets and goat cheese to a hearty haddock sandwich with creamy lemon tartar. All of our meals ended with time cuddled in blankets around the outdoor fire pit, where we would recap the day’s activities.
Our trip was just 3 days away, but the break was what we all needed to rest and recharge. And even though our vacation was only a few hours away from home, all of us left feeling like we had an exciting new adventure. There’s nothing better than exploring the state you love with the people you love most.
PS: What it’s like to sail Rockland Harbor.