A Weekend in Rockland

Fifteen years ago, if you had predicted that Rockland would be the place to visit in Maine, people would’ve looked at you like you had two heads. But here we are. And there it is.

The city — once better known for its odor than its ambiance — has undergone an extreme makeover. The stinky fish processing plant on the waterfront is long gone. So is the biker gang that used to scare everyone off from Main Street. And Rockland truly has become a weekend-worthy destination. So pack your overnight bag and head to the coast with the most.

The sidewalks roll up early in Rockland, like almost every other city in Maine, so if you plan to hit the road after work on Friday, eat dinner on the way. If you get there before 8:30 p.m., make In Good Company your first stop. This gem of a wine bar is at once intimate and expansive. And the food — try the pizza and the spiced nuts — is as impressive as the wine list.

After dinner, curl up in one of Rockland’s historic inns. They’re all gorgeous, but we especially love the Berry Manor Inn, home of Rockland’s “Pie Moms.” Guests are treated to homemade pie — after your first bite, you’ll understand why they beat Bobby Flay in a throwdown.

In the morning, you should have breakfast at the inn, but a cup of strong, artisan-roasted coffee at Rock City Books and Coffee will start your day with a jolt. Better have two, because you’ll need plenty of energy to take in the stunning collection of American art at the Farnsworth Art Museum. In addition to showcasing the work of contemporary Maine artists, the Farnsworth is known for its Wyeth Center, devoted to showing, studying and celebrating three generations of Wyeths — N.C., Andrew and James. For lunch, stroll across the street to Atlantic Baking Co. for a grilled cheese sandwich on freshly baked crusty bread. Or, be really decadent and treat yourself to a croissant with European butter.

Not to worry, because you’ll work it all off shopping — Rockland is a retail paradise. Fashionistas will love fourTWELVE, a chic boutique owned by the fashion designer Beth Bowley, and Black Parrot, which carries clothing by Tracy Reese, Marimekko and Habitual, to label-drop. Nesting? Try The Store, a fun kitchen and homegoods purveyor. Peruse the contemporary art — and elegant jewelry — at Harbor Square Gallery. While you’re there, be sure to sneak up to the rooftop sculpture garden, one of the city’s hidden gems.

If you’d prefer hot stone therapy to retail therapy, plan to book an afternoon at Rheal Day Spa, a sanctuary created with sustainability in mind. Owner Rhonda Nordstrom incorporated recycled materials and energy-efficient and water-saving fixtures into the design — giving you one less thing to stress about.

Stress is the last thing you’ll feel during dinner at Primo, where star chef Melissa Kelly and pastry chef Price Kushner elevate local produce, seafood and meats to an art form. The dandelion greens salad with ramps, lardons of bacon and a soft-boiled egg is the very essence of spring — simple and fresh never tasted so good.

You probably won’t have room for pie when you get back, but chances are, you’ll be so exhausted from the day that you’ll hardly miss it. If you’re out before your head hits the pillow, so much the better — more time to dream about your next trip to Rockland. And these days, the sound of the ocean and the scent of the sea — rather than the sound of Harley engines and the scent of sardines — will lull you to sleep.


Post a Comment