New England's Best Small Towns: Camden, ME

 

With the Camden Hills as a backdrop and an oh-so-lovely harbor, this is small-town Maine so classic it might have come off a Hollywood backlot (Peyton Place was filmed here, in fact). The most iconic view is right through the historic heart of Camden, where every block has a story to tell. —Rachel Levitt

• The one-story building that now holds the Smiling Cow gift shop was rolled down Main Street from the village green in 1919.

• The town nearly burned to the ground in an 1892 fire, which started here.

• The spire of Chestnut Street Baptist Church, built in 1837, is a focal point of Main Street.

• Boynton-McKay Food Co. opened in 1893 and still features an art deco marble soda fountain counter rumored to have cost as much as a small farm.

• After the 1892 fire, this side of Main Street was rebuilt entirely of brick.

• The town held its first, and only, lobster festival here in 1947—with all-you-can-eat lobster for $1. (Too many littered shells saw the festival moved to nearby Rockland.)

WHERE TO EAT, STAY, AND PLAY

New England’s Best Small Towns 

 Photo by Todd Dionne

  • Anonymous

    Yes Camden is nice BUT you take a short trip to Rockland and that is where you will see real Maine.. A working waterfont.. a lovely Main Street,loads of Art galleries_ including the Famous Farnsworth Art Museum, Windjammers, a beautiful Harbor, wonderful resturants { too many to mention.. a boardwalk along the harbor, and numerous fesitvals .. The Maine Lighthouse Museum Rockland surpasses Camden in many ways.. Camden has had its days!! It more or less closes up for the winter. Rockland does not! If you wish to see a REAL Maine small Coastal Town check out Rockland, Maine

  • Linda

    Camden and Rockland are both wonderful in their own distinct ways. Geologically the next area to match Camden’s distinct “Mountain meets the Sea” footprint would be in Brazil. Who could resist a beautiful harbor at the base of a Mountain. Windjammers also abound in Camden, home to the original and first fleet to offer passenger sails. Camden may slow down in Winter but it hardly has a day without something happening. There is the Snow Bowl and skiing overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Library with programs for all ages and pages full of other events in local papers. To those of us who prefer the small town friendly atmosphere Camden is wonderful and after all Rockland is just seven miles south.The tastes and venues may differ but either way you cannot go wrong visiting Mid Coast Maine and Penobscot Bay.

  • Janis

    I wouldn’t say that Camden closes up for the winter when the one souvenir type shop we have there closes November to April. Yes, a few stores cut their hours/days January to April 15 (we all need a little vacation!), but in general most retail stores and restaurants are OPEN year round. Hey, Rockland is closed on Sundays–Camden is there for a weekend getaway. So, come see the most beautiful little town anytime of the year.

  • Joan

    We all know Camden is a great place to be in summer and fall. But there’s plenty to do in Camden in winter, too: Skiing at the Snow Bowl; ice skating at Midcoast Recreation Center next door in Rockport, swimming, rock climbing, basketball etc etc at the state-of-the-art Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport, or enjoying the books and the view at the Camden Public Library. Then there are the special weekend activities: Winterfest, the National Tobaggan Championships and the Camden Conference. This town does NOT shut down in the winter!

  • John

    One of the wonderful characteristics of Camden is that it is surrounded by great neighbors. Rockland has the Strand where you can see opera on weekends. Belfast has great fresh organic food at the Co-Op and several of its restaurants. Even closer to Camden, you have beautiful Rockport and the world-famous photography school. These towns do not compete, as each is quite different and lots of fun throughout the year.