February 28, 2013

TRAVELIN' MAINE(RS): BATH should be on your list of vacation destinations

George and Linda Smith

Who knew that Bath is a vacation destination? After years of driving by this thriving
community, we stopped for a night at the Inn at Bath where we met others on weekend
getaways from Chelsea to Chicago. And because of a storm, this turned into a three-day visit!

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MAINE RESTAURANT WEEK

You’ve got a great opportunity on March 1-10 to try one of the great restaurants we’ve reviewed over the past two years. Twelve of those are participating in Maine Restaurant Week when some of Maine’s finest restaurants serve 3-course, fixed-price meals featuring exceptional food at very reasonable prices: $22, $32 and $42 dinners and $15 lunches.

Based on our travel column experiences, we can recommend Broad Arrow Tavern at the Harraseekett Inn in Freeport, DaVinchi’s in Lewiston, Hot Suppa in Portland, The Lucerne Inn, Natalie’s in Camden, Solo Bistro in Bath, the Sea Dog Brewing Company locations in Topsham and Bangor, Shepherd’s Pie in Rockport and the Tavern at Brunswick Station. Next week, we’ll tell you about our dinner at Solo Bistro. We loved it!

Check out mainerestaurantweek.com for details and be sure to make a reservation. Many Mainers will be dining out that week!

Linda

Our ever-increasing search of interesting cities and towns in Maine has led us to Bath. We were familiar with our prominent shipbuilder, Bath Iron Works, and certainly the nearby Reid State Park and Popham Beach. But I was so pleasantly surprised at how much is going on in the downtown section of the city.

A variety of local shops caught my eye including The Cooking Emporium and The Mariner’s Compass quilting shop. There are lots of restaurants, art galleries, a health food store and so much more.
We did cram a lot into our visit — the Winter Wonderland Art Exhibit and a play at the Chocolate Church Arts Center, a Saturday-night concert at The Winter Street Center (another former church), a very fine dinner at Solo Bistro and a fascinating visit to the Maine Maritime Museum.

Our stay at The Inn at Bath was certainly a highlight of our getaway. Located in one of the large old historic houses on Washington Street, it was an ideal location within easy walking distance to downtown. The fact that it was a snowy weekend made it even more delightful. Walking around in light snow gave us the full winter experience in a small New England town.

As you enter this inn, you will find a packet on the counter with your name on it and a gold key ring with a large gold jingle bell on it. You won’t be misplacing this key! The stunning dining room alerts you that breakfast is a priority here. The table is set, complete with a vase of fresh tulips in beautiful pastel colors.

Two sitting rooms are so cozy that guests are drawn in to enjoy the fire and conversation. One of the things I love about staying in a historic inn is the chance to appreciate an old house with a different architectural design than ours.

Innkeeper Elizabeth Knowlton has tastefully decorated her inn with beautiful artwork featuring flowers and birds that blend with comfortable furniture in a most inviting way. She must have a green thumb because there are orchids and even a tree with small oranges on it in the dining room. You will want to linger here.

All the rooms were full on our first night, which allowed us an opportunity to meet an array of interesting people at breakfast. One couple was from Chelsea, and the husband wanted to give his school teacher wife a short getaway. Another couple was from Ithaca, NY, here to see their freshman daughter (who attends Amherst) compete in a swim meet at Bowdoin. And we had wonderful conversations with a couple from Chicago who were enjoying a long weekend with their son and his girlfriend who live in Massachusetts.

The Winter Wonderland Art Exhibit at the Chocolate Church is stunning, featuring eight artists and pieces focused on nature in winter.  I loved the gorgeous photographs of Joan Cyr and Rob Smith, as well as Leon Vanella’s black and white photographs printed on metal. The 3-D paintings of birch stands with crows and red berries by Karen Dominguez were probably my favorite. But the beautiful encaustic wax paintings of Jane Page-Conway were also special. It’s an amazing variety of mediums in one show. Try to see this exhibit before it ends on March 16.

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