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My mother-in-law lives in Maine. Up in an area called the Mid-Coast. Her house is up on a hill, and down below is the beautiful town of Belfast right on the Penobscot Bay. Belfast is about 2 hours northeast of Portland and about an hour due east of Augusta. A few weeks back, we drove up that way for a wintery 48 Hours in … Belfast, Maine.
48 Hours in… Belfast, Maine
Where to Stay: Belfast, Maine
Especially in the off-season, hotel choices are limited. Luckily the one hotel in town, The Fireside Inn & Suites, is pretty awesome.
We have been staying at this hotel since little man was… well, little. So for about seven years. Previously a Comfort Inn, when the Fireside brand came in a few years ago, they only improved on the quality of the hotel and service.
We always book a suite. These rooms are located on the third floor and have a King sized bedroom, with an adjoining sitting room. The sitting room, separated by a long hallway, includes a pull out bed, a TV with a DVD player, and a small kitchenette. There is also a balcony where one can sit and take in the beautiful bay views.
Hubby and I love that our room provides some separation from the kids at night. They can watch a movie and we can relax. My kids love two things about the Fireside: the complementary breakfast and the indoor pool and hot tub! The breakfast is open each morning and includes hot and cold breakfast choices. They also have a make-your-own Belgian waffle station, which my kids look forward to each day.
As for swimming, there is a large pool on the ground floor, complete with a hot tub and sauna. This past Thanksgiving weekend we spent many hours playing in the water, and making friends with other kids staying at the inn.
As much as I am a huge fan of vacation rentals, this hotel is a great option, especially having the hotel pool on a fall New England day!
Where to Dine: Belfast, Maine
Surprisingly, there are a lot of dining options in the Belfast, Maine area. Here you will find different cuisines and restaurants that suit a variety of budgets.
On this particular short trip we only ate in restaurants twice. We usually eat out more, but each breakfast we had at the hotel, Thanksgiving Day we ate at my mother-in-law’s house (and very little is open in terms of well, any business), and the first night that we arrived we snagged some pizzas from Pizza Hut.
Rollie’s Bar and Grille – We love Rollie’s. The atmosphere is exactly what a lobster town local dive bar should feel like, and the food is pretty good. They have an extensive menu and lots of daily specials. Hubby and I are fond of the jalapeño bottle caps, spicy deep fried goodness.
On Black Friday, we ate here for lunch. There is a kid’s menu, a jukebox, bumper pool table, and those little blue boxes you can borrow to play games on the TV sets – a very family friendly atmosphere. Hubby had a burger and I had a salad, along with the aforementioned jalapeño caps and some beers. Hubby could watch New England sports while the kids played games, definitely a good time for the Momma To Go family.
The Whalestooth Pub – As you drive south along Route 1, you will come to a small town called Lincolnville Beach. Blink and you will miss it, but here you can stop to put your feet in the water, catch a ferry to Isleboro or take in one of the restaurants in town. We love Chez Michel in the summer, but the Whalestooth is open year round and is our cold weather go-to restaurant.
The Whalestooth is great for us because my mother-in-law wants to go out for a nice seafood meal, while my kids are always on the verge of being restaurant hellions. The Whalestooth serves good food in a casual atmosphere.
The Whalestooth serves typical New England fare, chowder, seafood, lobster as well as pasta and steaks. The food is good, but what I really love about the Whalestooth is the desserts! Check the chalkboard for the seasonal dessert menu. Save room, you won’t be disappointed!
What to Do: Belfast, Maine
Unfortunately in the winter, activity options are limited. My kids loved going to Rollie’s and hanging out there. After lunch, we walked around town (although it was raining) and headed to the movies.
Colonial Movie Theatre – The Colonial Movie Theatre is a beautiful, old-school theatre right in town. Ticket prices are only $8.50 for adults and $5.50 for kids (cheaper during the matinees or Bargain Wednesdays). There are three screens showing the latest blockbusters. We went to see Moana and sat in the balcony of an older, but in beautiful, theatre. My kids still talk about sitting in the balcony for a movie!
Footbridge – A few years back, they opened a footbridge connecting one side of the Passagassawakeag River to the other. It’s a short walk, nothing strenuous and our kids love walking this. If the weather allows, you can bundle up and head down to Water or Pierce Street to park.
Walking across you can look for fish, check out the tides and see the ships in the bay. Definitely a fun diversion from walking around the (pricy) shops in town!
In warmer weather…
When we travel to Belfast in warmer weather there are a few activities we are sure not to miss:
Belfast City Park (playground, community pool, and beach)
Auto-hike Mount Battie (or you can hike the real way. Bring a picnic lunch)
Feeding the ducks in Camden (we have done this at Thanksgiving time as well)
Whale Watching tours (now our kids are finally old enough to do this!)
Coastal Maine is quaint and low-key; a great stop for families. The winter months are rough, and the early setting sun reminds you why New Englanders are hard and tough – but the people in this area are so hospitable to tourists. A quick ride from Boston (4 hours) or New York (7 hours) I highly recommend checking out this part of Maine.
Have you ever been to mid-Coast Maine? What are your favorite New England getaways and fun, family activities?
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