We have always found the Boothbay region to be a fun dog-friendly vacation spot and this weekend was no exception. We made it over the Wiscasset Bridge from Portland in about an hour, which was good for a Saturday, around midday, as this is vacation rental changeover day and can lead to bridge bottlenecks and lobster roll frenzies at the infamous Red’s Eats.
586 Wiscasset Road – Route 27, Boothbay |Phone: (207) 633-4727 | Operating Hours: Memorial Day to June 13 – (Weekends only) – 9:30-5.00pm, June 14 to Columbus Day – everyday 9:30-5:00pm | Admission: Adults – $15, Children: 3 to 18 years – $5 (under 3 and dogs are free).
As we drove down Route 27 towards Boothbay Harbor, we spotted a sign outside the Boothbay Railroad Village that caught our attention “50th Annual Antique Auto Days – Rails, Tails and Ales”. We pulled into the parking lot, adjacent to the steam train, and headed in to sniff things out.
It turned out that the “tails” side of the event had nothing to do with our type of wag, it was actually referencing the tail-fins on the classic cars being displayed on the Village Green. Harley Earl, General Motors Design Chief, is credited for the automobile tail-fin which he first introduced on the 1948 Cadillac. Harley’s inspiration was said to have come from the P-38 Lightning, a World War 2 fighter aircraft. This design innovation launched what is now dubbed the 1950’s to 1960’s tail-fin era of automobile styling.
Luckily, whilst it was not a dog-centric event, it was indeed a dog-friendly affair as is apparently always the case at the Boothbay Railway Village. We purchased tickets, no fee for dogs, and joined in the Village Green festivities with live music, food vendors and a vast display of vintage, classic, hot rod and muscle cars paired with a selection of fine ales from Maine’s local craft brewers. Our four-paw drive wagged his way enthusiastically around the automobile and ale aficionados, but it was my husband, Mike, who wagged more as he sipped and navigated his way through this fantastic display of automobile history. Funky Bow Brewery and Beer Company were our favorite craft brewers, they served up wacky sounding brews like “Folkin’ Hoppy” and had a cold h2o brewers bowl for our thirsty Ted. The Funky Bow owners have a dog, Fuggles, appropriately named after a type of hop. We have shaken paws with Fuggles at other Maine brewing events but today he was taking a day-off from his brewing ambassador activities.
The Boothbay Railroad Village is the perfect pit-stop to get a taste for our rich New England heritage, in a picturesque rural village that welcomes furry tails too. On a regular day, visitors get to experience a steam engine train ride, stroll around the historic village set on thirty park-like acres and drool over 60 antique vehicles in the car museum. If you peruse their event calendar line-up, there are many celebratory events lined up all the way into October.
Directions from Boothbay: Follow Route 27 through Boothbay Harbor and over the steel swing bridge onto Southport Island. Stay on 27 until you reach the Southport Village Store. Keep right at the intersection where the road begins to dip and follow the signs to the beach.
Southport Island is accessed by a swing bridge and has a low-key island vibe. The island is dotted with Cape Cod style colonial architecture, quaint country stores and lanes that wind along the rugged shoreline. Hendricks Head Beach is a dog-friendly sandy beach with Hendrick’s Head Light views and a tiny island that is a short dog-paddle off the shore called Kitten Island. Hendricks Head Light Station is an active navigation aid that is now privately owned. The lighthouse station was established on a promontory at the mouth of The Sheepscot River, to the right of the beach, in 1829; an additional rectangular tower was later added in 1875.
Hendrick’s sandy cove is nestled just past the Southport General Store which is a local favorite and a good place to pick-up fresh baked goods, sandwiches and other picnic supplies. The beach was purchased by the town of Southport after Ruth Gardner died last summer and her property, including the largest portion of the beach, went up for sale. The town of Southport rallied and bought the beach for the town to ensure the Gardener family’s longstanding legacy of allowing public access was continued.
We strolled along the beach taking in the views while Ted hammed it up with fellow four-paw friends. Ted did an enthusiastic dog-paddle out to Kitten Island with his Dad to explore while his friend Dixie, who prefers to just wade, watched wistfully from the shoreline.
After leaving Southport Island, we headed back over the swing bridge into Boothbay Harbor village. The dog-friendly vibe is evident as you meander around the coastal town with dog bowls outside many stores and plenty of welcoming merchant invitations to “bring your dog in”. Ted had been hoping to meet a couple of the local woof icons at the local dog shop Two Salty Dogs but they had just closed up for the evening so Ted posed outside their Maine digs and then we headed for happy hour on the docks.
The Chowder House was originally built as a granary in the 1800s, Schooners used to tie up to load grain and supplies. On a previous visit to Boothbay, we kayaked over to The Chowder House and Boat Bar to shelter from a thunderstorm and discovered this quaint dockside bar and casual eatery. The Boat Bar deck is directly accessible from the roadside which is perfect for people looking for a dog-friendly place on the water to have a drink or bite to eat. Our bartender, Glenn, welcomed Ted with a Milkbone and a fresh bowl of water and then Ted sat back and enjoyed the view along with a few doggie snacks and compliments from fellow happy hour goers. After an early dinner, we drove back home to Portland with beautiful sunset views.
For people looking for dog-friendly Boothbay accommodations on the water, The Spruce Point Inn is an historic inn and resort situated on 57 acres of shoreline. We vacationed there with our first dog, now affectionately known as the Angel Kaye and it was a stay to remember; you should call ahead to confirm the availability of dog-friendly accommodations. The Boothbay Harbor Chamber of Commerce can also guide you with all sorts of dog-friendly options in the region from inns to rental cottages.
If you have any dog-friendly Maine Midcoast favorites to share feel free to comment on this post.