While it’s not the best known vacation spot in Maine, the Pemaquid Peninsula offers the quintessential New England seaside experience with fewer crowds. Here’s an overview of what you’ll find in the area.
The Beach: Pemaquid Beach is just right for kids of all ages with soft, clean sand, and calm, shallow water. There are tide pools and a small nature center to explore, plus a snack bar offering decent food. There’s a small admission fee for those over 12.
Pemaquid Lighthouse: If your kids are less than 46” inches tall they won’t be able to climb to the top of this granite lighthouse, but there’s plenty to see on the grounds. You’ll find a bell house, oil house, and a small museum featuring an oversized lobster, exhibits on fishing, and a sandbox full of local shells. The nearby gift shop has a great selection of souvenirs with a small toy room tucked in the back. A word of warning if your kids want to explore the rocks beneath the lighthouse: large waves break unexpectedly here and people do get swept into the ocean.
Colonial Pemaquid: At the former site of Fort William Henry and Fort Frederick, you’ll find a reconstructed fort overlooking the harbor, a tiny graveyard, and a museum dedicated to archaeological discoveries made on site. A scavenger hunt activity is available for kids at the museum’s front desk.
Boat tours: Hardy Boat Cruises offers several tours out of New Harbor, including a trip to Monhegan Island, lighthouse tours, and a seal tour. We opted for the 1 ½ hour puffin tour. The boat travels out to Egg Rock, site of a restored puffin colony. While on board, an Audubon interpreter tells the story of the puffin restoration and about the habits of these cute little birds. Be sure to bring along sweatshirts and a pair of binoculars.
Restaurants: There are several great restaurants in the area, especially if you like lobster. At Shaw’s Lobster Wharf, you can eat at picnic tables on a deck overlooking a pretty harbor. You’ll find all the usual seafood choices from fried clam rolls to boiled lobster, plus a children’s menu. Muscongus Bay Lobster, in nearby Round Pond, offers up lobster in the rough. While there isn’t a great kids menu (pb & j and grilled cheese were the only offerings), you’re welcome to bring your own food. Many people bring tablecloths, wine, salads, and cheese and crackers to supplement their lobster. There’s a touch pool here for the kids with sand dollars and other sea creatures. The Contented Sole offers seafood, steak, and sandwiches with indoor and outdoor dining. Our kids loved the blueberry soda and the macaroni and cheese.
Shopping: Souvenir shopping is uncommonly good here. The Pemaquid Craft Co-op in New Harbor is a must-see, with fifteen rooms filled with crafts made by local artisans. You’ll find photographs, wood furniture, jams and jellies, kitchen linens, handmade baby quilts, seasonal decorations, jewelry, and much more. C.E. Reilly, located right across from the Craft Co-op, offers groceries, beach needs, and sandwiches made to order. The Granite Hall Store in Round Pond will thrill the kids with its selection of old-time toys and candy set in a creaky, old-fashioned building. A trip to downtown Damariscotta yields more stores, including bargain-oriented Remy’s, a few gift shops, and a nice bookstore with a great kids section.