The Travelin Maine(rs), George and Linda Smith of Mount Vernon, have spent their lifetimes enjoying all that Maine has to offer. Now they’ll tell you all about it — their favorite inns, restaurants, trips, activities, experiences, and travel books and websites — in their own personal style. They’ll be offering anecdotes, tips and all the details you need. So join them in exploring, experiencing and enjoying the great state of Maine.


Lilies and lobster are a great combination. At the end of July — with our youngest daughter Hilary, who lives and works in Washington D.C. — we headed for one of Maine’s most spectacular venues, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Enroute, we enjoyed a luncheon feast at one of our favorite restaurants — Sarah’s in Wiscasset.


Our most recent trip to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay was not my first, and certainly won’t be my last. It is one of my favorite places to visit along the coast of Maine.

As a struggling beginner gardener, the collections at the gardens are awe-inspiring. Flowering beneath clouds of honeybees are some of the most beautiful daylilies and roses I have ever seen.

But it’s not all flowers at the gardens — there are vegetable gardens and fairy houses for kids, nature trails for all ages, and beautiful stone benches with views of the bay.

One of the highlights of our tour was the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses. This circular garden collection features displays devoted to each of the five senses — complete with a stone waterfall, vegetable garden and reflexology labyrinth, where you can take your shoes off and get a hot-stone foot massage. More relaxing — and much cheaper — than a massage in the big city.

I was thoroughly impressed with the newest addition to the botanical gardens — the environmentally sustainable “green” building used for special events and education.

The Bosarge Family Education Center is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum-certified building, which is the highest standard for a green building. Interactive learning tools in the center chart the daily energy usage and output (from the hundreds of solar panels on the roof). On the day we visited, the building had produced more energy then it had used. Very impressive.


If I find myself heading toward Boothbay, I always arrange the trip around a stop at Sarah’s restaurant in Wiscasset. My brother and I often make a trek here for a visit over a great lunch. Their soup and bread lunch choice can’t be beat, and is a bargain at $5. But after trying their homemade filled breads, called a Matey (the Pesto one is awesome), I now have a new favorite. George and Hilary raved (OK, fought over) the lobster roll.

This is casual dining at it’s best. Inside booths and outside decks come with a view of the Sheepscot River. You also can watch the staggering amount of traffic coming over the bridge — or the long line at Red’s Lobster across the street — and be very happy that you are in neither! We always get great food and service here.

I love the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The thing about gardening is that you can always keep improving your own garden and continue to learn new things. If you are looking for inspiration, this place will not disappoint. I try to visit at least once a year. Every time I visit, I notice something I haven’t seen before. Everything is well-labeled, so I always bring pen and paper to record my wish list.

In our home gardens, most of us don’t have vast garden plots. One or two plants of the same kind are pretty, but 25 or more make a jaw dropping display. And this is what the Botanical Gardens does so well. There are impressive displays of one stunning daylily after another, stands of blue Russian Sage, Brunette Bugbane, and several varieties of Shasta daisies.

Their landscaping is so beautiful. Some of the property has been kept natural, and the paths down to the ocean inlet are the best example of this. Interspersed along the walkways, you will find sculptures of rock and metal, pergolas and incredible stonework. You will also find all kinds of comfortable and interesting stone benches where you can sit and take in a garden or just rest.

The last few additions to the gardens have had a focus on education — the Children’s Garden, the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses and now, the new Bosarge Building. This building offers spaces for seminars or workshops, and lots of opportunities to learn more about going green.

A trip to these gardens is such an enjoyable way to spend one of our perfect Maine summer days!



We visited the Botanical Gardens soon after it opened in 2007, and all I remember of that visit is a footpath through some green plants. Today, it’s a stunning treasure of beautiful gardens and inspiring experiences. This year, the Bosarge building has added an impressive new element to a place that — I guarantee — will bring you back many times once you’ve visited it.

My advice: Go now. Flowers are at their peak. Weather is mighty fine. And plan to stay a while. The welcoming seats placed throughout the forest and gardens, the sculptures, the ocean — gosh, I want to head down there right now and finish this column on site! Take a book and something to write your thoughts in. It’s a place where you’ll want to linger.

While you are there in Boothbay, I also recommend one of Maine’s really hidden gems: Burnt Island. Lying just outside the harbor, this 5-acre island sports a gorgeous lighthouse, impressive education building, picnic area and lots of oceanside rocks on which to sit. I’ve also caught a ton of mackerel all around the island, usually from my kayak or boat.

Best of all: This island belongs to you! Managed very ably by Elaine Jones of the Department of Marine Resources, the island offers adventure camps, courses for teachers, private tours and more.

The easiest way to get there is by taking a tour boat from Boothbay Harbor. We’ve visited a number of times, always in our own boat or kayaks, but public launch sites are quite distant, so if you don’t have a way to launch and park at a private site, it’s best to use the public cruise boats.

The Department of Marine Resources also has an interesting aquarium in Boothbay Harbor, with a 20-foot touch tank, a 23-pound lobster, sharks and a lot more. It’s possible to launch your kayaks in back of the aquarium and park at the aquarium, with special permission from the agency.

Elaine is very helpful and accommodating, so calling her in advance is recommended before you visit.

If You Go



Barter’s Island Road, Boothbay

Watch for signs as you get into Boothbay.

Open 9-5 daily, year round. $12 adults, $10 seniors, $6 kids, $30 family, free for members and kids under 3.

Most Maine libraries have two free passes to the gardens that can be borrowed and returned, just like books.


Just before the Route 1 bridge in Wiscasset.


open daily 11 am to 8 pm.


Elaine Jones: 633-9580.

Jean McKay (for private tours) 633-9676.

Novelty at Pier 8 in Boothbay for scenic cruise to the island, Monday through Thursday to September 1.

1-800-298-2284 for reservation.

Public launch sites are noted on DeLorme’s Atlas and Gazeteer, although some have no parking, limiting use of the sites.

Maine State Aquarium


Open every day 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 4; Wednesday through Sunday until Sept. 25; then closed for the season.

$5 adults, $3 children and seniors.