Down East 2013 ©
Leave the car behind - there's lots of free parking - when you visit Bath, the charming small city whose downtown thrives even in the age of big boxes and strip malls.
SHOPS (1) Now You're Cooking (49 Front St., 207-443-1402, www.acooksemporium.com ) fills an entire city block with kitchenware, wine, cookbooks, and specialty foods - plus a knowledgeable staff who can help you out of your culinary jams. Fiber fetishists will be lost for hours in the aisles at (2) Halcyon Yarn (12 School St., 207-442-7909, www.halcyonyarn.com ). (3) Magnolia (129 Front St., 207-442-8989, www.magnoliagiftstore.com ) stocks an assortment of Vera Bradley bags, bath and spa goodies, and an eclectic array of books, plus hipster kids' designers Zutano and Robeez in its Baby Magnolia wing. Soothe your inner hippie with a visit to (4) Bath Natural Market (36 Centre St., 207-442-8012, www.bathnaturalmarket.com ),where you'll find organic produce, local meats, and baked goods, plus all the unbleached paper products you can fit in your Prius.
DINING (5) Solo Bistro (128 Front St., 207- 443-3373, www.solobistro.com ) is an outpost of chic sophistication on Front Street. Homestyle Italian entrees and creative entrees are the order of the day at the cozy (6) MaryEllenz (15 Vine St., 207-442-0960, maryellenz.com). If it's smoked meats and spicy sauces you're after, head to (7) Beale Street Barbecue (215 Water St., 207-442-9514, www.mainebbq.com ). You may need a walk to burn the calories off, but the pecan sticky buns at (8) Mae's Cafe and Bakery (160 Centre St., 207-442-8577, www.maescafeandbakery.com ) are worth the indulgence. Catch up on your e-mail at (9) Cafe Creme (56 Front St., 207-443-6454), where free Wi-Fi goes perfectly with cappuccino and a croissant.
LODGING Serenity will be yours at the (10) Kismet Inn (44 Summer St., 207-443-3399, www.kismetinnmaine.com ), where yoga, steam showers, and spa services augment the typical B-and-B offerings. A short walk from the center of town, (11) The Inn at Bath (969 Washington St., 207-443-4294, www.innatbath.com ) is an elegant, cozy place to call home for a few days. For a bit of seclusion - not to mention ocean views - head out of town to (12) Grey Havens Inn (Seguinland Rd., Georgetown, 207-371-2616, www.greyhavens.com ), near lovely Reid State Park.
ACTIVITIES Take in gorgeous views of the Kennebec River, as well as a critter or two, at (13) Thorne Head Nature Preserve (north end of High St., www.lkrlt.org/thorne head.html ). Get a gander at historic homes and notable architecture via the walking tours - either guided or do-ityourself - offered by (14) Sagadahoc Preservation (880 Washington St., 207-443-2174, www.sagadahocpreservation.org ). And no visit to Bath is complete without a stop at (15) Maine Maritime Museum (243 Washington St., 207-443-1316, www.bathmaine.com ), where the city's shipbuilding heritage is literally on display.