George

We discovered lots of great new inns and restaurants this year, and today we’ll take a fond look back at them before we launch into 2017 and seek out new places to tell you about.

I think the week we started at Bradford Camps in the north woods and finished at Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport showed us just how wonderfully diverse our state is. Igor and Karen Sikorsky are the hospitable hosts at Bradford Camps, where the individual camps are both historic and comfortable, and the lodge, food and friendly staff have put this place at the top of our all-time favorite places. We plan to return.

At the other end of the state, Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport, built in 1884, is big and beautiful and right on the water. Owner Jean Ginn Marvin, a former Maine legislator, and general manager Tina Hewett set the friendly and helpful tone here, and all the staff follow their lead. We enjoyed a memorable dinner and overnight visit there.

As a guy who has written for Maine newspapers for 26 years, I was particularly enamored by the Press Hotel and Union restaurant in the old Portland Press Herald building. They’ve done a great job of retaining the history while modernizing the rooms. The food is exceptional.

And with my family heritage in Lubec, I thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the old Coast Guard Station, a short walk from the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, the most beautiful spot in Maine. I am so pleased and grateful that owner Bill Clark bought the abandoned and terribly dilapidated station in 2000, doing a superb job of bringing the old station to life. There are eight choices here, including a five-bedroom house, two delightful cabins, four apartments in the lodge, and the 1808 West Quoddy Head Light Keepers Cottage.

Rangeley is another of my favorite places where I have spent many enjoyable days fishing. This year’s visits to Loon Lodge, nice rooms, a great restaurant; Pleasant Street B&B, beautiful rooms, super-friendly hosts; and Forks in the Air, a fabulous restaurant, were memorable.

If you haven’t yet gotten up to Hello Good Pie in Belgrade Lakes, I feel sorry for you. Shari Hamilton, a talented baker with a popular catering business, opened this bakery and gourmet kitchen last year, offering breakfast and lunch. This winter she’ll again be offering a monthly dinner, one of which was a highlight of 2016 for us.

Another local gem that we discovered is Annabella’s. Lots of people in the Richmond area encouraged us to visit Annabella’s, and we are grateful to them for that advice. This is a gathering place for the community and a place that serves creative and tasty food.

I will never forget our visit to the Black Point Inn in the Prouts Neck section of Scarborough. Sitting on the deck, overlooking the ocean and enjoying a stunning sunset while enjoying a wonderful dinner was, well, wonderful.

Linda

Thanks to all who offered suggestions for our travel columns this year. Keep those suggestions coming.

A new favorite lunch spot in Skowhegan is the Kel-Mat Cafe. With an astounding selection of hot and cold sandwiches and three cozy dining rooms, this place is just really fun. The atmosphere, friendly staff and food will be your excuse to get back there often.

While visiting Boothbay Harbor we took a drive around the peninsula to find Robinson’s Wharf Restaurant and Seafood Market on the island of Southport. Outdoor seating on the wharf affords a spectacular water view to go with choices of fresh seafood and special sandwiches. This is the perfect day-trip-to-the-ocean experience for me.

And while traveling to Lubec, it is now a must to have a meal on outside picnic tables at Vasquez Mexican Takeout in Milbridge. Authentic Mexican food is hard to find, but this is the place. Tamales and gorditas (the real deal) created a whole new experience. For the first time, they are open this winter. Now I am craving their food, but it’s a bit of a drive.

I also have a lot of new dinner places I fell in love with. The Old Mill Pub in Skowhegan would certainly be a hit with my family with a vast menu and great beer selection. We’ll need to visit for lunch sometime soon.

Bintliff’s in Ogunquit and Gather in Yarmouth served special meals that topped my list, too. But it is the Dancing Elephant in Fairfield that calls my name every time I think of Indian food. We have been three times already this year, which is not easy to do considering how much we are traveling around. If you haven’t been and love Indian food, this is a must.

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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