Staycation in Maine: Camp or Cottage?

wooden path in green forest on sunny day
Photo by Leah Kelley on

Maine is the easternmost state in New England. Its rugged, indented coastline and glacier-carved, forested interior give this state its unique character and have shaped the character of its people.

Maine shares land borders with New Brunswick, Québec, and New Hampshire.

Going east along Route 2 from White Mountains Region of New Hampshire.

Portland International Jetport (PWM), and Bangor International Airport (BIA), offer direct flights to and from various East Coast hubs.

There is bus service from Boston to Maine’s major cities, and the Amtrak Downeaster offers train service from Boston’s North Station to Portland.

Maine is accessible by Interstate 95 and US Route 1 from the south and the Trans-Canada highway from the east and west

Bangor International Airport is served by Delta, American, Allegiant and United. Portland International Jetport is served by Delta, American, United, Southwest, Frontier, Elite Airways and seasonal service from JetBlue. Regional airports with limited commuter service to Boston or Newark can be found in Bar Harbor, Presque Isle, Augusta, and Rockland.

Things to do in Maine Includes

  • Lake and ocean swimming – ocean temperature hovers around 60°F in the Summer months.
  • Surfing
  • Hiking
  • Camping 
  • Bicycling
  • Sea Kayaking. Paddle the entire coast along the Maine Island Trail.
  • River Kayaking / Canoeing. Paddle the entire Allagash Wilderness Waterway
  • Whitewater canoeing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Historical site seeing
  • Fishing (a fishing license is required for fishing in fresh water)

Things to Eat in Maine Includes

  • Maine lobster. Lobsters are ubiquitous in Maine and are served in a variety of ways which you could also order online at The basic preparation (served nearly everywhere from basic lobster pound restaurants that serve nothing else to high-end restaurants) is steamed with drawn butter. Bibs and claw crackers are provided. The more traditional clam bake layers steamer clams, mussels, lobsters, potatoes, onions and corn over seaweed all are steamed together with saltwater. Uniquely Maine preparations include lobster stew, lobster casserole, and lobster pie. A few ice cream companies even make lobster ice cream!
  • Fresh seafood of all kinds, crab, scallops, shrimp, clams. Small but flavorful boreal red shrimp (more commonly known as Maine shrimp) are available from November to March. Like New England’s only shrimp variety, New England’s most extensive type of crab (rock crab) goes by the name Maine crab and although not as celebrated as lobster, is excellent steamed or served any other way. Local oyster varieties include Pemaquids and Sheepscots. Fishermen catch North Atlantic fish of all kinds.
  • The best blueberries in the country… pancakes, muffins, bagels…

Now the important question:

What should You prefer in Maine? Camp or Cottage?

Each summer I go back to Maine to visit my family, and stay at Camp. Camp is a modest but comfortable dwelling on McGrath Pond in Oakland, Maine. It’s been in the family since my uncle and grandfather build it in about 1913, and has always been camp. In the community I grew up in some of the luckier families had camps at the lake like we did. Nobody had a cottage at a lake though.

Cottages were mostly at the coast, in upscale towns dominated by out-of-staters from Massachusetts and New York. They probably had frilly eves, uncomfortable but pretty chairs and tables, and sat empty most of the time. Camp was where we lived all summer as a kid. It was only 3 miles from home, and we moved out the day school ended and came home when school restarted.

At camp the rocking chairs on the porch overlooked the lake, and were older than anyone alive, and looked wicked beat up, but your body just fits them perfectly. The dishes are mismatched (well now they have been upgraded, but they always were mismatched) and the primary reason to be at camp was to relax, fish, swim, and just hang out.

At a cottage the out-of-starters may consider having stuffed lobsters. At camp any true Maniac knows the only way to eat lobster is boiled or steamed, or as left overs in a hot dog bun as a lobster roll. At the cottage they eat only trout or salmon, but at camp we know a mess of fried white perch is about as good as fish gets.

If you have been blessed enough to have been to camp you understand what this is all about. If not, enjoy a cottage sometime anyway.

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