Kents Hill Favorites for You to Try
- Local Picks
- Things to Do
As we move into one of the most beloved seasons in Vacationland (summer), we wanted to take a moment to share some of our favorite places with you. Whether you are just discovering Kents Hill and the wonders of Maine or if you are a long-term community member, we invite you to find a new favorite place for a bite to eat, be reminded of that family trip you wanted to take, or just learn something from our team. After all, shouldn’t everyone want to keep learning? We think so!
Places to Go
Where Should I Hike?
Admissions Marketing Coordinator and Readfield, Maine local, Nunzi Graziano loves going for quick hikes up Mt. Pisgah in Wayne. She says, “it’s easy, close to campus, and has a beautiful view from the fire tower on the summit!” Alison Lincoln-Rich, Dean of Enrollment Management, Director of Financial Aid, and Wayne resident wholeheartedly agrees!
Lara Cole, Dean of Communications and Strategic Initiatives, is a huge fan of everything that Acadia National Park has to offer, a 47,000-acre gem on Mount Desert Island. The seaside town of Bar Harbor is home to many restaurants, shops, hotels, inns, and campgrounds. Outside of town, there are so many opportunities for recreation like biking on the carriage trails, kayaking and canoeing along the rocky shore, strolling along the Jordan Pond Nature Trail, and trekking (or driving) up Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the United States East Coast. Keep your eyes peeled for moose, bears, whales, and seabirds - and Cole's favorite - puffins!
Shop (Local) Til You Drop
There are so many cute, local places to shop in our area, but Graziano’s top choice is Freckle Salvage in Winthrop. Director of Marketing and new Belgrade, Maine homeowner, Gillian Barnes also loves that but says that she is also, “completely obsessed with a place located right across the street, Pickles and Potions. Everything in there smells wonderful and really works!”
Jeff Munson, Assistant Head of School for Faculty Development (Interim) and STEAM Division Head’s response is completely different and so very Maine (which we love)—Cool as a Moose. Sounds awesome, right?
So You Like Life by the Water?
Well, you are in luck! Kents Hill is situated smack dab in the middle of the Kennebec County, which is also known as the Belgrade Lakes region which features seven well-known lakes and ponds including North Pond, East Pond, Salmon Lake, McGrath Pond, Long Pond, Great Pond, and Messalonskee Lake, but there are other local places as well that offer incredible swimming, fishing, and boating opportunities.
Barnes’ favorite is Messalonskee as she has a friend with a lake house there and the sunsets are amazing. Graziano loves going for wooden boat rides or spending the day in Horseshoe Cove on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Manchester. Lincoln-Rich’s ideal beach is Popham, which is a popular spot that we take our students to on weekend trips.
Camping in Maine
Maine is an unrivaled camping destination. Graziano pitches her tent in Eustis, Maine at Cathedral Pines while Barnes treks to Phippsburg to camp by Casco Bay at Hermit Island Campground. She says, “There is really nothing quite like watching a sunset over the lagoon.”
Where Should I Stay?
There is no shortage of beautiful hotels, inns, AirBNBs, or traditional bed and breakfasts in Maine, but Lincoln-Rich notes that Cliff House in Cape Neddick is her personal favorite. Graziano loves the Inn By the Sea in Cape Elizabeth because they have an awesome happy hour with s'mores, and the fact that dogs are allowed (her dog’s name is Baxter by the way!) Barnes says that while she hasn’t stayed there yet since it changed hands, she is most looking forward to being a guest at the Seven Lakes Inn in Belgrade Lakes.
Winter in Maine is honestly a beautiful season and it’s the perfect time to reprise or learn new activities. In the wintertime, you will find Graziano making her own snowshoe tracks in the woods around Readfield or snow tubing at Black Mountain of Maine in Rumford. She says “I love their cross-country skiing trails, and their night tubing is the best!”
As soon as the snow falls Cole heads north to spend time at Sugarloaf, a ski area and resort with the only lift-serviced above-treeline skiing in the Northeast. 1,340 acres and 2,820 feet of vertical drop provide beginners to the most advanced skiers and snowboarders with endless choice and variety. Other local ski areas include Lost Valley, Titcomb Mountain, and Mt. Abram. Cole’s favorite place to ski? None other than our on-campus Alpine Training Center, located just steps away from her office in Bearce Hall.
Cruisin’ On Any Afternoon (Or Evening)
In the lakes region and beyond (because we have one amazing coast!) you simply must go on a boat cruise. Barnes recommends “Snow Pond Cruises on Messalonskee,” Graziano enjoys taking one of the Duck Boats in Portland, and Lincoln-Rich loves Moosehead. Munson says he likes, “the Schooner Olad out of Camden. Nothing beats a day under sail in Camden Harbor and the Gulf of Maine!” But honestly, there really is no bad way to cruise in Maine...the choice is yours!
Time for Art
We are lucky enough to be close to many art options including both galleries and museums. Lincoln-Rich’s choice is not too far from campus, the Colby Art Museum in Waterville! Munson agrees! He says, “It's like the Louvre would be if you set it in the middle of Central Maine.”
Graziano on the other hand likes the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell – where one of our long-term art faculty members, Dylan Gifford exhibits frequently.
Cole loves any opportunity to visit Portland, Maine’s largest city, and the Portland Museum of Art. Admission is FREE to all every Friday, and always free for those under 21. You can view rotating exhibitions that currently include David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History, and catch a Monet and Warhol in the permanent collection.
While our team members have agreed in some fashion on many things, this one is unanimous; the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay are unmatched. Currently, they have a troll art installation of their own, which is a must-see.
Cole also recommends stopping by many of the local farms and farm stands on the drive to campus to snag beautiful bouquets of sunflowers, tulips, and hydrangeas.
Things to Eat
Who Has the Best Scoop?
A constant Kents Hill favorite is Fielder’s Choice in nearby Manchester. Munson says, “Fielder's Choice gives you the best bang for the buck. Just good, solid ice cream!” However, there are other great choices too! For instance, Graziano recommends Red’s Dairy Freeze in South Portland if you’re up for a little drive and there is also Tubby’s in Wayne, just a few minutes from The Hill.
Where Should I Get Tacos or Burritos?
During the academic year, SAGE Dining regularly offers different taco and burrito options to our campus community, but if you’re craving one this summer, maybe check our Graziano’s choice in Portland, Taco Escobarr!
Alternatively, we heard recently that Hallowell’s newest spot, Maine Local Market, has late-night burritos available on Fridays and Saturdays!
I Really Want Sushi!
You’re in luck, Barnes says, “You don’t have to go very far to find great sushi. My husband and I love Café De Bangkok in Hallowell. Their Café De Bangkok Roll and really all their specialty rolls are awesome.”
Munson’s pick is Little Tokyo in Brunswick. And if you’re willing to travel to the city of Portland, Graziano says you have to go to Yosaku. She says “the food is delicious, and the experience is even better!” That seems worth the drive to us...
There are so many things to do in a park! Picnics, playing catch, reading a book under a tree, or people watching. When it comes to the best of the best, Lincoln-Rich prefers Baxter State Park, and Graziano says you should go to the Eastern Promenade in Portland for great views and a picnic lunch.
Donut Mind if We Do!
Everyone loves a donut and we have a great option on the same road as Kents Hill (a different town, but super easy to get to). It’s Lakeside Orchards in Manchester! Nunzi says it will be, “the best apple cider donut you'll ever have. AND it’s even better in the fall with a cup of hot apple cider.” Barnes seconds that option emphatically.
Munson is particularly passionate about donut choices. He says, “North of Freeport, the Frosty's is the donut of choice from Brunswick to Augusta. The Boston Creme is to die for. South of Freeport, the Holy Donut in Portland wins the prize - a potato-based donut and every one is a work of art. Fights will break out if you try and determine a #1 between these two.”
Apples and Berries Anyone?
Hand-in-hand with cider donuts is the tradition of picking your own and there are two perfect options that come to mind for just that. The first is right across the street! That’s right, Lincoln-Rich’s favorite is the Kents Hill Orchard!
Looking to go a bit further, but stay local? Check out Graziano’s choice located in Turner. Ricker Hill Orchards has pick-your-own as well as a retail front, and a tasting room.
Pizza Our Hearts
Pizza! It’s a favorite for sure...Graziano recommends Otto's which has multiple locations in Maine. She says, “Tortellini on pizza. Need I say more?”
Barnes likes her pizza with interesting toppings as well and says, “you can’t go wrong with Wander in Augusta. They put all kinds of deliciousness on their pizzas.”
Munson’s choice is Bruno's in Bath, Brunswick, and Hallowell because he says it is is “Done and done right!”
Cole is partial to Flatbread Company (right on the water!) in Portland and Cushnoc Brewing Co. in Augusta. Cushnoc names all of their pizzas after local landmarks, such as the “Fort Western” and “Mill Park Pie.”
Seafood and Eat It
Ready for seafood? That must be a trick question because we always are...Graziano recommends Shaw's Wharf in New Harbor, and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention how incredible the lobster rolls at The Lighthouse in Manchester are. Really, Maine is THE seafood place, so we’re pretty sure wherever you land will be great.
Munson says that we need to further break down the word “seafood” and offered us the first one to consider. He says, “Under the category of ‘Dipped in batter and dropped in hot fat,’ nothing beats Bob's Clam Hut on Route 1 in Kittery. Worth the drive.”
The Most Important Meal of the Day
Breakfast is the best way to start your day and Graziano loves Silver Dollar pancakes and sausage from Downtown Diner in Augusta. She adds, “honestly, any mom-and-pop breakfast joint is pretty amazing.” Barnes is a big fan of breakfast too and has become a regular at The Post Office Cafe in Mount Vernon, a choice she says will make others very happy as well.
Mid Day Munching
Bagel Mainea in Augusta is fabulous according to both Graziano and Barnes and, “you can also grab a great sandwich and an ice cream afterward, seasonally at Day’s Store in Belgrade Lakes.”
The Apple Shed, located steps from campus, is one of Cole’s go-to places for a quick bite. Lunch favorites include homemade pizzas and noodle salads, and baked goods (turnovers and biscuits galore) are a sweet end to any of their take-home appetizers and meals.
Graziano unquestionably says State Lunch in Augusta is her favorite dinner haunt. “All of the restaurants in Augusta are amazing, but I honestly wouldn't recommend anywhere other than State Lunch for a first-time visitor to campus. It's incredible. I go weekly. Sometimes twice a week,” she says.
Barnes on the other hand loves the classic standby, The Village Inn and Tavern in Belgrade Lakes. She says, “Their duck tenders are ridiculous!”
Cole can’t stop recommending an evening out in Brunswick, a beautiful mid-coast town that has the two oldest (and most-loved) Indian restaurants in Maine. While there, you can also tour Bowdoin College and attend “Music on the Mall” outdoor concerts.
There is so much to do, see, and eat right here in Maine! Whether you hit a few of our favorite spots on your visit to campus or start making a list for weekend trips during the school year, we’re sure you’ll find lots of great options in our home state. What other Maine favorites are you curious about? We’re sure our Admissions team would be happy to help you find it!