Rockland, Maine, has become the state’s new arts destination. The coastal town of just over 7,000 is home to a thriving arts scene and so much more. I traveled to Rockland, Maine, earlier this summer with my family and we had such a fantastic time. We loved everything about the trip, but we’ve narrowed it down to our top five reasons we think you should travel to Rockland, Maine.
Officially opened in 1948, Farnsworth Art Museum was established as a memorial to Rockland resident and real estate investor, William Farnsworth, by his daughter, Lucy. Today, the Farnsworth campus consists of more than 20,000 square feet of of gallery space and its collection contains more than 15,000 pieces. The museum is dedicated to celebrating Maine’s role in American art, from 100-year-old paintings to 21st-century photography. Andrew Wyeth is one Maine artist whose works are featured prominently at Farnsworth. I was absolutely captivated by his realist paintings of the rugged nature and seafaring life in coastal Maine.
Andrew Wyeth was the son of illustrator N.C. Wyeth and the father of artist Jamie Wyeth. The three generations of Wyeths are honored at Wyeth Center, a gallery housed in an 1850s Methodist church on the Farnsworth campus. Do not skip Wyeth Center when visiting the Farnsworth!
Center for Maine Contemporary Art
Originally founded in 1952 as Maine Coast Artists, the new Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) opened in Rockland in June of this year. CMCA’s mission is to celebrate contemporary art in Maine and foster artists at every stage of their career. I was in Rockland for the grand opening of the CMCA and I was just as impressed by the actual museum building as I was by the works inside. Located in downtown Rockland, the CMCA building was designed by New York architect Toshiko Mori. It’s a completely glass enclosed space surrounded by corrugated metal; a very contemporary design to match the art under its roof.
One need not be a contemporary art connoisseur to appreciate the CMCA. My daughter Lucia, who is 7, joined me for the grand opening. She was awestruck and asked to use my DSLR camera to snap photos. She’d taken about 100 pictures by the time we left CMCA and she talked about the exhibits for days.
Maine is the easternmost state in the continental U.S. and it is said that it’s where America’s day begins. Depending on the season, Maine is the first state to greet the sun. In line with Rockland being Maine’s new arts destination, I can attest that the sunrises there are nature’s works of art. I’ve seen plenty of sunsets along bodies of water but my time in Rockland was my first experience witnessing the sun rising over the water. The pinks and purples of the early light gave way to intense oranges that lit the sky on fire. The reflections on Penobscot Bay created scenes so dramatic that the images won’t escape my memory anytime soon.
Penobscot Bay, its rugged coast, and the surrounding hills work in harmony to create an outdoor lover’s paradise. Choose from a number of sightseeing boat tours out of Rockland Harbor, or get a first-hand view of operations aboard a working lobster boat with Captain Jack Lobster Boat Adventure. Looking to be out on the water for more than just a few hours? Book a multi-day windjammer cruise aboard one of the schooners sailing out of Rockland Harbor, such as J. & E. Riggin. About 20 minutes north of Rockland is the town of Camden and Camden Hills State Park. There are miles of hiking and multi-use trails that take adventurers through forests and over mountaintops for rewarding views of Camden Harbor and Penobscot Bay. The less adventurous visitors or those with mobility challenges may drive the Mount Battie Auto Road to reach the summit and enjoy the same views.
We can’t talk about Maine without mentioning lobster and Rockland is as good a place as any to get your lobster fix (Rockland hosts the Maine Lobster Festival each year). I vowed to eat lobster every chance I got while there. I sampled an array of lobster dishes, from luscious lobster rolls to ridiculously rich lobster mac & cheese. My family’s recommendation is Claws, a casual lobster shack with a deck overlooking Rockland Harbor. We loved Claws so much that we went there for dinner twice during our trip. The outdoor patio and relaxed atmosphere are perfect for families with young children, and there is way more than just lobster on the menu (for the pickiest of eaters). It can get busy and the wait may be a bit long, but it’s so worth it.
Now I’m seriously craving a lobster roll, and hoping we’ve inspired you to plan your own trip to Rockland, Maine!