January 17, 2011

MAINE TRAVEL(ERS): Fall in love with the Inn on Peaks Island

Kennebec Journal Staff


IF YOU GO . . .

Peaks Island features a lot of historic sites, but only a few places to stay and eat.
You can access the ferry schedule and other information on the inn’s website: www.innonpeaks.com
The ferry terminal and the parking garage where we left our car are on the waterfront at the end of Franklin Arterial off I-295.
When anywhere near Portland, we shop at Miccuci’s Market on Middle Street, a fabulous old-country Italian Market (don’t miss the bakery upstairs in back of Miccuci’s, where the pizza and focaccia breads are amazing).
Within sight of Miccuci’s on Middle Street are Duck Fat restaurant (don’t fail to try the fries and milk shakes), Rabelais Food and Wine book store and Dean’s Sweets, a scrumptious chocolate shop. We also hit Whole Foods on Franklin Arterial before heading home. It’s an experience.

I expected to fall in love with the Inn on Peaks Island. And I did. But I also fell in love with the island.

Who would have guessed that a couple from rural Maine could find a quiet retreat for a weekend get-a-way in the city? Peaks Island is part of the city of Portland, but it is a small village in a gorgeous ocean setting.

When Fred Forsley, owner of Shipyard Brewery, a sponsor of our website, invited us to be his guests at his inn we jumped at the chance, having heard a lot of good things about the inn and island. It was perfect for a November weekend get-a-way. We arrived on Friday night in time for dinner and left after breakfast Sunday morning.

As we exited the Casco Bay ferry ($4.10 round trip) after a short 15-minute ride and started walking up the main street toward the inn, I sensed a community all around me. Friends and neighbors were returning home, talking excitedly about their day, catching up on news and discussing weekend plans as they proceeded on foot up the main street toward their homes. You don't need a car on the island.

The Inn

Our two-room "Ram Island Suite" was colorful, very clean, large and comfortable. The gas fireplace was on when we entered and it took only seconds to put the outside world behind us and settle into a very special experience. "Pampered" would be the word that comes to mind. The rooms across the front of the inn have stunning views of Portland harbor and the city.

At home I like to lie in bed when I first wake up, identifying the birds I hear calling in the yard. The only difference on Peaks is that the birds are seagulls!

Amanda Conley gave us a very cheerful welcome when we checked in, served us at dinner and later provided an enthusiastic tour of the inn that hosts many special events. She's the kind of young adult Maine needs if our economy is to prosper. Amanda has 32 weddings already booked for the inn in 2011.


One might think a walk around an island in November with temperatures in the 30s and winds gusting to 30 mph would be a terrible idea. I'm so glad we did it. Everyone we met waved or said hello. In a little over an hour, we walked the perimeter of the entire island.

After breakfast burritos at Peaks Café we took a walk around. We knew someone on the island has a sense of humor when we encountered three hand-painted directional signs mounted to a pole: "water, town, woods." From this spot you can see all three!

Taking the water route, we encounter large stands of winterberries making vibrant splashes of bright red all along our walk. Bittersweet grows wild and rampant. A tangle of its berries grows in front of the rocks leading down to the water. The sun brings a beautiful shade of blue to the water. White waves crash against the rocks and we grab the camera (just in case we don't already look like tourists).

Although the inn is elegant, it's not a "dressy" place. There were plenty of people eating in the restaurant in jeans and sweatshirts. So you can dress for comfort and convenience, or step it up if you want.

Favorite Foods at the Inn

Squash ravioli with duck sausage in a cranberry cream sauce. Amanda recommended this and it was my favorite meal of the weekend. Yummy doesn't begin to describe this dish. -- George

Artichoke and spinach dip. Arriving in a bread bowl with lots of crispy homemade pita chips and topped with havarti cheese, there was enough dip to feed everyone at the Inn. It was soooo goooood. -- Both of us.

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