Camden is an affluent town in the state of Maine, a little over an hour north of Portland, in the mid-coast region of Maine. It has been a tourist destination for years and is home to some of the wealthiest individuals in Maine. It had an economic boom in the 1990s when credit card giant MBNA placed major offices there and paid for major town renovations while providing jobs to locals. Now it is an upscale seaside community with many different shops and restaurants.
Camden is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful places in New England. Its town motto is "where the mountains meet the sea". The rolling Camden hills run from inland right up to the ocean itself creating amazing landscapes, hence why so many people visit and live in this area. This in turn also makes Camden a very expensive place to live and visit. Don't be surprised to see basic needs such as food, lodging and gas costing more here than in towns just 5 miles away, this is usually due to the high taxes levied by the town.
Camden is home to many affluent families with breathtaking estates and mansions dotting the hills and oceanside. These houses may be one of a kind and amazing to look at, but Camden's residents do not enjoy it when tourists wander off the beaten path and end up in their neighborhoods. Walking up and down private neighborhoods taking pictures of houses and gardens is frowned upon.
Nevertheless, residents are not cold people to visitors, in fact they are very warm and welcoming. Don't hesitate to ask for directions or where good restaurants are, they will usually help you.
The town is cut in half by US Route 1 which runs south to north and continues up the Maine coast. Highways 105 and 52 head west and give access to inland Maine.
Concord Coach Lines operates 2 daily buses to and from Portland. Concord Coach buses continue to Boston after a short stop in Portland. Also, trains to Boston's North Station are available by way of Amtrak.
There are several taxi companies operating in the Camden area. Keep in mind their fares are typically higher than taxis in large urban area due to the area not being as dense and requiring longer drive times.
Walking is an effective mode of transportation in the downtown district, but a car is easier to get to the surrounding hills and residential areas. Also remember that Maine is very rural away from the immediate coast. Just ten minutes west of Camden and you will find yourself in very unpopulated areas. This makes having a car a necessity in Maine.
Maine lags behind the rest of the country with public transportation, so that is not a viable option when visiting Camden. The closest thing to public transportation is a "trolley" that runs between Camden and the towns south of it and to the City of Rockland.
It is also worth noting that traffic in Camden is very heavy and may sometimes be hard to navigate. The road system follows no grid or reasoning, and most streets are not large enough for two lanes of traffic. There are also several places where some streets have the right of way and others do not, these are not clearly marked either. If you are driving in Camden and find yourself being honked at chances are you have not allowed someone the right of way. If you are heading north on Route 1 into Camden, watch for the only stop sign you will encounter on Route 1. Though it is a great annoyance to both tourists and locals for the huge backups it creates, drivers on the intersecting road have the right of way and take it. Also be prepared for start and stop traffic, the streets were designed for horses and buggies, not cars and not many of them.
Camden is split into different neighborhoods, although not clearly defined. The central and most eastern part is the downtown district and harbor area. This is where you will find all of the shops and restaurants. This is the most dense area of town and in turn will have the most foot and vehicle traffic. It's also worth mentioning that there are an unusual amount of crosswalks downtown. Maine observes the 'people first' rule and not allowing pedestrians to cross will result in a fine.
The neighborhoods to the Northeast and Southeast are the most lavish in Camden. The High Street historical District to the north of town has old manors and sea captains houses. The south east has Bay View Street with expensive boutiques and further south sprawling estates on the ocean side. The central region of town is almost completely residential and follows the only street grid in town. There is parking on these streets however it is heavily regulated (residents have the right to park first) leaving your car overnight will almost always result in a ticket, but during the day you should be fine.
To the west of downtown and beyond the central region is the sprawling Camden Hills. The homes in this residential area have the best view, a panoramic view of downtown Camden and the bay. If exploring this area by car take warning, the roads are very narrow and usually follow along steep drop offs. Many of the neighborhoods in the Camden Hills area are also private housing developments so even if you think you can get a nice picture at the top of a hill, look to make sure it isn't someones back yard. You will find the Camden Snow Bowl and Ragged Mountain Park here. This is a small ski mountain during the winter (in fact the only ski mountain where you can see the ocean) and a field and tennis courts during the summer.
There are many boats which can be chartered and taken into the bay for a day of sailing, Penobscot Bay can be breathtaking.
- Mt. Battie. The largest mountain in town has a road that runs to the top. For a small fee you can drive up and see views of Penobscot Bay. You can also hike the mountain for free. Trails may be accessed from US Route 1 in the north end of town, or from off Route 52. The mountain is part of Camden Hills State Park, and a state-owned campground is maintained at its base. Mount Megunticook, the taller mountain visible behind Mount Battie from downtown, is accessed primarily from Route 52; its western flanks are a popular hiking and rock and ice climbing destination.
- Laite Beach. The one beach within town limits open to the public. Unlike other coastal regions in the country Camden is situated on a very rocky area and most waterfront areas are either cliffs or rocky beaches.
- The Center Green. One of the city's three parks.
- Library Park. Which itself is an architectural achievement.
- Harbour Park. Offers views of the harbor as the name implies.
Popular activities include sailing, biking, hiking and shopping. The Penobscot Bay is nearby for the many water activities
There are many shops within the downtown district selling things such as clothing, fine art, jewelry, accessories, books, movies and many other authentic Maine items.
- Windsor Chairmakers, Route 1 (six miles north of Camden), toll-free: . Custom made chairs, beds, dining tables, buffets, highboys, etc. Tour the workshop, feed the Scottish Highland cows, and see the showroom.
- Long Grain, 31 Elm Street, ☎ . Tu-Sa 11:30AM-2:45PM | 4:30PM-9:00PM. Thai and Vietnamese street food, fare served in small eateries in Singapore, and meals on dinner tables in Indonesia and Japan are all served at Long Grain. Reservations can be made up to one month in advance. They are recommended for both lunch and dinner. About $15 to get an entree.
- Waterfront, 40 Bayview St, ☎ . 10AM-11PM. Seasonal menu, using local ingredients. They offer specials every day, taking advantage of seasonal freshness and fish offerings. Harbor and bay views from their outdoor deck. $$.
- Paolina's Way, 10 Bayview Landing. Casual Italian fare (pizzas, panini, handmade pastas) with a focus on organic and locally grown ingredients.
- Camden Windward House Bed and Breakfast. True bed and breakfast. Green practices, modern amenities, comfort food breakfast.
- Camden Harbour Inn. Camden's only AAA Four Diamond lodging facility. Recently converted into a boutique-style inn featuring rooms with stunning harbor views. Also now featuring a restaurant, Natalie's, on-site.
- The High Tide Inn. Great location, comfortable rooms.
- Legends By the Bay, ☎ . An oceanfront motel located on Penobscot Bay, right outside of town.
- The Hartstone Inn, 41 Elm St, ☎ . A bed and breakfast with 21 rooms and suites with Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces. Spa, cooking classes, and fine-dining restaurant are available.
- A Little Dream Bed and Breakfast, 60 High St, ☎ . Lovely rooms, some with bay views, deck or fireplace. Beautiful bedding, extravagant breakfast, in a Historic District.
- Blue Harbor House Inn, 67 Elm St, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Bed and breakfast. Comfortable and elegant rooms en suite/air conditioned/Wi-Fi. Full breakfast included. $99-189.
- [dead link] Captain Swift Inn Bed and Breakfast, 72 Elm St, toll-free: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Historic inn with a wide range of rooms including luxurious suites. Whirlpool tubs and gas fireplaces available. Generous multi-course full breakfast and homemade afternoon refreshments included. Short walk to the center of town. Modern amenities, Wi-Fi, air conditioning. $99-335.
- The Inn at Sunrise Point, 55 Sunrise Point, ☎ . All rooms and cottages have beautiful sunrise views and breakfast served each day in the conservatory. $300-595.
- Inns At Blackberry Common, 82 Elm St, ☎ . A 5-star inn.
- Maine Beach House Suites, 2533 Atlantic Hwy., Lincolnville Beach, ME (North of Camden Harbor), ☎ . Charming, fully furnished oceanfront and oceanview one and two bedroom suites/apartments. Great views over Penobscot Bay and spruce capped islands. Half a minute walk to Lincolnville Beach and Islesboro Ferry. Located in the heart of a quaint village with shops and popular restaurants.
There is very little crime in Camden. You will be pretty safe walking around any part of town at night and only need to watch out if you have just left, or are in the vicinity of, the bars downtown. However, the only thing you will really have to worry about is opportunistic theft. Use common sense and keep your car locked, especially if it is filled with luggage or other valuables in plain sight. Other than that, you should have nothing to worry about. The Camden PD is very active and crime is minimal even during peak tourist months.
|Routes through Camden|
|Ellsworth ← Belfast ←||N S||→ Rockport → Brunswick|