Brunswick was not on my itinerary when I first planned my Maine road trip. I chose to stay in the town on my way to Acadia National Park after seeing the exorbitant hotel prices in Portland — I had to find somewhere else along the route to save a few dollars.
Not far past Portland along Route 1 is the quiet town of Brunswick, ME. There isn’t a lot in town, but it packs quality into that space. However, the highlight of my stay was outside town.
After checking in at the hotel outside of downtown, I headed to the local tourism office at the train station, where I got advice on places to eat and sights to see. I also got directions to Giant’s Steps (I had some issues with GPS cutting out often on this trip).
I grabbed a quick sandwich and coffee around the corner at Bohemian Coffee House and drove out to Route 24 for some hiking. I was told that the turn-off for Giant’s Steps isn’t well marked and that if I reached Land’s End, I had gone too far. Of course, I wound up at Land’s End, which wasn’t all bad. The sky was a bit grey, but the view at the southern end of Bailey Island was still wonderful. Plus, there weren’t many people.
I drove back up the road as more tourists arrived at Land’s End and found my way to some cramped streetside parking near McIntosh Lot Preserve. Signage was better once on the the narrow streets leading to the trail.
It’s a short trail from the southern end that loops around to the streets — it leads past some impressive homes along the fjord. The sky cleared up as I reached the trail, providing beautiful views upon my arrival in Maine. I took my time admiring the rocky coastline until I made it to Giant’s Steps, and I had it all to myself.
I sat on the steps listening to the waves, enjoying some much delayed coffee. It was peaceful and wonderful for a few moments, but it got a little chilly in the shade on those rocks.
On the way back to town, I stopped along the road for another hiking trail. Devil’s Back Trail in Harpswell was a pleasant hike for the most part — there were some sections of it that were likely in disrepair due to recent storms, which made going around and re-finding the trail a little difficult (at one point, I went back and forth multiple times in an attempt to find my way along the loop). It was not nearly as scenic as Giant’s Steps, but it was relaxing to walk among trees with no one around (alright, that’s an exaggeration; I saw 3 other people).
After those short hikes, I decided it was best to head back to town to prepare for the evening — I was exhausted from driving, wanted to find somewhere to watch the Penn State game, and wanted to try the breweries. I looked along the road for a lobster roll, but wasn’t sure about paying $18 or more for one at a roadside stand. That’s when I stopped at a different roadside stand.
As soon as I parked, I considered getting out. The woman running the place was flipping off someone else driving away. Ignoring that, I ordered two clam cakes because it was something I had never tried. It was a tasty fried treat and a pleasant introduction to local food (the sandwich earlier was good, but nothing special to Maine).
Upon arriving back in Brunswick, I stopped at Black Pug Brewing for a set of tasters. The brewery has a unique way of serving — because this is such a small brewery, they have a set list of beers included in their set of six tasters. The beers were color coded on the menu to match the colors of the muffin tin holding the glasses.
Black Pug Brewing was the best brewery I tried in Maine. They made a kolsch that I liked (and I hadn’t liked a single kolsch I drank before). Even their seltzer was good. Unfortunately, they bottle very little, so I was only able to bring one beer back from the trip. I can’t comment on the other brewery in Brunswick as it was closed that day.
After returning to the hotel, I grabbed my bike for a ride across Androscoggin Swinging Bridge into Topsham for dinner and more beer at Sea Dog Brewing. The beer wasn’t anything impressive, but the food was good — blackened haddock tacos and a salad. Of course, expectations for a taco in Maine were low, so it was a wonderful surprise.
I considered ordering more when the rain started, but it stopped long enough for a bike ride back to the hotel — there were no bike lanes in this part of town, but drivers seemed respectful of cyclists.
Due to the threat of rain, the lack of bike lanes on the road into “downtown” Brunswick, and the distance from the hotel, I decided it prudent to buy local beer at the gas station convenience store and watch football in my room.
The following morning was pleasant, though cool, weather. Back in downtown Brunswick, I ordered breakfast at Dog Bar Jim, a little coffee shop with two people working — it felt like a hippie shop, and I liked it. I ordered the special: Ramly Breakfast Sandwich, which had egg, chopped veggies, steak, and some spicy sauce (and other things I forgot to write down).
Because Dog Bar Jim was crowded (not much else for breakfast), I waited outside for a bit and went back in when my order should’ve been about ready. No names or numbers were taken, and almost everyone ordered the special, so my order was taken by someone else. The owner noticed, put in another order for me, and tried to give me a refund — I declined the refund and said I’d be happy with a coffee refill.
It was worth the wait. It was the best breakfast I had during my road trip through Maine. The mix of flavors and textures were perfect — a little spicy, a little sweet. I probably would’ve ordered a second if they hadn’t sold out.
From there, it was time to wander the town and check out Bowdoin College Museum of Art and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, neither of which was open that day. Walking around the Bowdoin College campus was pleasant though.
With everything essentially closed, I began the drive along Route 1 to Bar Harbor earlier than expected. Considering traffic on the road that day, it was a wise decision.