George

A sunny September day in the Boothbay Harbor area featured a lengthy visit to the fascinating Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and a great lunch on the deck at Tug’s Pub at Robinson’s Wharf in Southport — all just a few minutes from downtown Boothbay Harbor.

Seals cavorted in the harbor as we enjoyed a tasty lunch, starting with Linda’s favorite brew — Geaghan Brothers’ Presque Isle Honey Blonde ale. The menu of seafood dishes is lengthy, as you might expect, but there are lots of other choices from burgers to roast beef and chicken wraps.

My haddock wrap ($12) was broiled haddock, which Linda praised as a healthy choice (not always a goal of mine). With tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato and sweet Spanish onions, it was as tasty as it sounds and large as well. I enjoyed coleslaw on the side.

The deck is full of beautiful white Adirondack chairs, a great place to relax, and I noted several grandparents sitting there while the grandchildren cavorted around the deck, some taking photos. We lingered, enjoying the sunshine and the view, before heading home.

That morning, we’d spent a couple of hours at the Botanical Gardens, a truly amazing place. If you’ve never been, put it at the top of your to-do list. I love the easy walks through all the sections from the deep woods to the sea, the kid’s area to the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses. Everything is well labeled, so the walk is also a learning experience. All those flowers are stunning.

Linda

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a magical place. Whether a gardener or a non-gardener, child or adult, fit hiker or handicapped, there is something here for everyone. The Visitor Center, Education Center and Central Gardens are accessible for people of all abilities. Info about shuttles, wheelchairs and scooters is available at the information desk.

The idea of these gardens was born in 1991 with the first visitors arriving in 2007. It is now a 270-acre treasure filled with woodland gardens, a pond and quite an array of themed gardens. The Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden is a prime example of what makes this place so special. From the spouting whale rock sculptures and Big Leaf and Small Leaf Gardens to the Coloring Cottage and Story Barn to a vegetable garden and maze lawn, this is a space that is sure to capture the young at heart. The details, like miniature clothing hung out on a clothesline and the owl figures carved in the white picket fence, show how much thought has gone into everything. I really enjoy the Garden of the Five Senses, as well.

Throughout the gardens, perennials and annuals are massed in big expanses that lend wonderful splotches of color. On our September visit there were fantastically large flowers in bloom that had me puzzled. It turns out that they were varieties of hibiscus. A sight of white or red blooms larger than dinner plates is sure to grab attention.

There are longer trails that are great walks with lots of seating along the way to soak up the beauty and relax. A lady coming up the Shoreland Trail greeted us with a sigh and said, “It is so peaceful here.” I couldn’t agree more. If you can’t visit soon, take a look online at some of the pictures of the flowers.

“Gardens Aglow” begins in mid-November, offering spectacular lighted displays that continue through December.

We took a drive around the peninsulas of Southport Island, finding our way to Robinson’s Wharf with Tug’s Pub and a seafood market. It is situated in a picturesque little cove that is quiet and calming. You are happy to relax with a beer while you wait for your order. “We’re in no hurry,” George said to our server.

Appetizers included fish tacos with fried haddock and oysters on the half shell. There was also a great selection of sandwiches. You can order your haddock fried or broiled, and there are crab rolls or crab melts. Their unique 207 Burger was topped with two and a half ounces of lobster meat.

But it was the promise of Morse’s sauerkraut in a Rachel or a Reuben that held my eye. I was told the difference between the two was that a Rachel has coleslaw instead of sauerkraut. So I guess you know which I chose. This Reuben was made with very lean pastrami that wasn’t salty. The marbled rye had a great crunch and the sauerkraut, cheese and thousand island dressing were in perfect proportions.

Robinson’s Wharf is a very popular place, and now we know why.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.


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