Yesterday, you distributed your gifts to others. Today, it’s time to plan your own trips and treats for the new year!

A delicious dinner prepared by a creative chef, a romantic getaway at a lovely inn, an exciting and fun-filled day — you deserve this! All of it. Several times in 2014. And if you choose these inns and events, you may see us there!


After three years of traveling the state — searching for wonderful inns, restaurants and events to tell you about — we now have some favorites that draw us back every year. This is certainly not the complete list, but we can guarantee you a terrific experience.

Innkeepers Cheryl Michaelsen and Michael LaPosta Jr. invite guests to “experience a return to graciousness and grandeur” in their historical Rockland Victorian, built in 1898. They are not exaggerating. Berry Manor Inn is a very special place. The level of hospitality is high, from the gifts of Fiore oils, to the attention to detail.

On our second visit, a full year after the first, the staff member who greeted us and took us on a tour of the inn stopped at the dining room to explain breakfast service and asked, “Do you both still take your coffee black?” We were stunned!

We love Cheryl’s tasty breakfasts in the beautiful dining room, and the berry pies that are always available just steps from your room are to die for. Each room is unique, and we especially like those in the Carriage House. The Body Jet showers are awesome!

The Craignair Inn in Tenants Harbor is situated at the end of the road in a lovely cove where the view changes hourly with the light and the tide. The sunlight hitting the water at 5 a.m. is breathtaking. The fresh cool salt air makes for a restful night’s sleep in a very comfy bed. The restaurant at the inn is another great reason to visit. Every table has a get a view of the ocean. It is a big open room with beautiful artwork by local artists on the walls.

We love inns where the owners live on the premises and pitch in on every task, from mowing to clearing tables. Joanne and Michael O’Shea are definitely hands-on owners and spend a lot of time visiting with their guests. Our next visit will feel like going home. And I can’t pay them any bigger compliment than that.

Our now-annual spring trip to Monhegan is a treat we eagerly anticipate. “Our” room at Shining Sails Bed & Breakfast includes a kitchen (so we can prepare some of our own meals) and a nice view of the ocean, there are lots of walking trails for hiking and birding — and the pace of life is slow, slower, slowest.

Our trip last winter to Bath surprised us. Who knew that Bath is a vacation destination? This is a really fun place with good restaurants, the stunning Maine Maritime Museum and a vibrant business district.

After years of driving by, we stopped for a night at the Inn at Bath, Elizabeth Knowlton’s beautifully decorated and comfortable B&B, where we met others on weekend getaways from Chelsea to Chicago. And because of a blizzard, we turned it into a three-day visit!

There are two larger inns that we visit every year — and more often when we can. We could live at Cape Elizabeth’s Inn by the Sea, in a two-story suite with amazing ocean views, taking our meals at the world-class Sea Glass restaurant, walking daily on Crescent Beach (right in front of the inn), birdwatching in the surrounding gardens and enjoying daily treatments in the luxurious spa.

Whoops! Time to wake up from that dream! While none of us will ever live this dream year-round, a visit to this dream location is possible. After reading a column we wrote about the inn, a friend surprised his wife with an anniversary trip here — and they are still raving about it.

Regular readers of this column know that we are big fans of any hotel owned by Maine’s Lafayette family. And while it’s tough to pick favorites from their list of 35 hotels and inns, Bar Harbor’s BlueNose Inn stands out for these reasons: Manager and co-owner Jim Ash is the most hospitable host in the state, chef Arturo Montez at the Looking Glass restaurant is amazing, and the view from the restaurant is the best on the island. Talented pianist Bill Trowell has been entertaining guests in the lounge for 25 years, and the spa treatments are heavenly. Plus, you can walk to downtown Bar Harbor and the entrance to Acadia National Park is just up the road. A range of rooms and prices makes the Blue Nose especially appealing.

Events and Activities

A short cruise to see puffins makes a beautiful summer day a lifetime memory. Monhegan Boat Line in Port Clyde, on the St. George Peninsula just south of Rockland, offers Puffin excursions and other trips throughout the summer weeks.

For our puffin adventure last summer, The “Laura B” was transformed by adding lots of picnic tables on the open deck. Families, adults and an entire daycare center were aboard the sold-out cruise to see the puffins.

We learned about the history of the islands we passed and other birds we were apt to see from Phil, our guide for the trip. As soon as Egg Rock came into view, I strained to see a puffin on the rocks through my binoculars. Then I heard Phil say, “Up ahead on the right of the boat you’ll see some puffins in the water.” And there they were, adorable “soda can sized birds” bobbing in the water. Before we turned around to head back we were able to see dozens of puffins.

Colby’s Museum of Art is a more cerebral experience, but just as exciting. The quote on the front of the stunning addition to Colby’s already-impressive museum building said it all for me: “The museum is a school; the artist learns to communicate; the public learns to make connections.”

We were able to make those connections as we moved from one work of art to another and from room to room to room. Frederick Fisher, a California architect, designed this beautiful glass Alford-Lunder Family Pavilion, using light in a masterful way. Inside, the natural light changes with the time of day and seasons. And in each room, the amount of natural light is paired appropriately with the art exhibited there.

The major expansion of the museum was made possible by a very generous donation from Peter and Paula Lunder, including $100 million of art comprised of more than 500 works. And you can see it all — free of charge!

We never miss January’s Pies on Parade fundraiser for the local food bank or the American Folk Festival in Bangor every August. We especially enjoy performances at Lewiston’s Public Theater and Waterville’s Opera House. We love the Celtic music at the Skye Theater in Carthage and we think the Stone Mountain Art Center is the best place to listen to music in the state.

So many great places and experiences! So little time! Make time for some of these in 2014.

Best of Maine

To help you select your trips and treats, we have created an inventory of our columns by city or town. Go to, select Best of Maine, select the city or town, hit Apply and you’ll get all of our columns about inns, restaurants and events in that city or town. Enjoy!

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