Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
You could happily lose yourself in these exceptionally cared for botanical gardens (the largest in New England) hidden off Barters Island Road, 10 miles from Route 1. Founded in 1991 by a visionary group of local residents, the 128-acre complex, which runs nearly one mile of pristine coast, is filled with every imaginable kind of local flora—from 100 varieties of rhododendron to an allée of 1,000 white birches and an orchard of gnarled heirloom apple trees. Lily-filled forest ponds, moss patches, cool fern and shoreline trails, Impressionist-inspired rose-laced pergolas, and even a great lawn with a “whale rock” are just a few of the highlights of the 10 unique—and well-marked—gardens. Each area, thoughtfully, has carved stone benches for quiet contemplation, and there’s a forest gazebo overlooking the ocean for picnics. And if that weren’t enough, the event calendar is chock-full of cooking classes (with edibles from the Kitchen Garden), string quartet concerts, and artists’ talks—many of which take place in the Visitor Center and café. Guided and self-guided tours are available.
Insider Tip: See if you can spot iron deer and wolf sculptures by Maine artist Wendy Klemperer peering out from the bushes on the drive in, or out.
Admission: $10 adults; $8 seniors; $5 children (5–17); free for children under 5.
Open daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.