Bath MAINE / city of ships
CITY OF SHIPS
Bath – also known as the “City of Ships”, is an easy 30 minute drive from THE GILLS GROUP cottages. It’s great place to get off island and explore without having to spend too much time in the car. The Abenaki Indians referred to this part of Maine as Sagadahoc, meaning “mouth of big river”. The river is the Kennebec, which is where the town of Bath was incorporated in 1781. Named after Bath England (which is where most of the original settlers were from) the city has been building ships since 1743.
Start your day at the Percy and Small Shipyard…
Bath Iron Works has built hundreds of vessels since it first opened in 1884. Their huge blue cranes loom just upriver from the MAINE MARITIME MUSEUM (open 9.30-5 every day. 243 Washington Street, 207 443 1316) which is the perfect place to start your day.
The museum sits on the banks of the river and includes the historic Percy and Small Shipyard. There are several 19th century buildings, including the Caulker’s Shed pictured above. They have a huge collection of artwork and artifacts, and have a regular schedule of river cruises that leave directly from the museum. One of my favorites is the Lighthouse Cruise. It passes 10 lighthouses, showing them the way they were meant to be seen – from the water. They also offer nature and birding cruises, as well as a series of classes in their working Boatshop.
Once you’ve finished at the museum head to town…
WANDER DOWN FRONT STREET
There’s one main street in Bath – Front Street – which is where you’ll find a great mix of cafes, shops and 19th century architecture….
Grab a coffee at Cafe Creme (56 Front Street) and head across the street to NOW YOU’RE COOKING (49 Front Street) which is where you’ll find everything imaginable for your kitchen (as well as a great selection of wine).
MARKINGS GALLERY(50 Front Street) sells the work of several local artists and crafters including woodworker Wayne Robbins – more on him later.
RENY’S DEPARTMENT STORE(86 Front Street) is a Maine classic where you can find pretty much anything at slashed discount prices.
"I could spend hours in Open Door Books..."
I could spend hours in OPEN DOOR BOOKS (178 Front Street) paging through their amazing collection of vintage books. They have a great selection of local titles as well as books by local artists and authors.
MADE IN MAINE (170 Front Street ) is 100% Maine made – from ceramics and artwork to jewelry and jam.
HALCYON YARN (12 School Street 800.341.0282) has an incredible selection of supplies for all types of fibre artists – from locally dyed yarns and wools to books and workshops. They also host a series of free knitting groups, including the Monday night Sit ‘n Knit and the Tuesday Twisted Spinners.
For lunch head down to SALT PINE SOCIAL (244 Front Street 207 442 8345 ) at the bottom of Front street for craft cocktails and delicious dishes focused on local produce and seafood. They are only open for lunch Friday, Saturday and Sunday but start their dinner at 5.30.
You could also visit the KENNEBEC TAVERN (119 Commercial Street) which sits right on the river and has tons of tables looking out at the marina.
MAE’S CAFE (160 Centre Street) is up on the hill, and has a delicious selection of home made baked goods and a full menu of salads and sandwiches.
Starlight Cafe (15 Lambert Street) can do take out if you feel like having a picnic by the river.
On your way out of town make sure to swing by WAYNE ROBBINS STUDIO GALLERY (1302 High Street, by appointment 207-443-2287 ) Wayne is an incredible woodcarver whose sculptures of whales and sea birds are breathtaking in their grace and beauty. His workshop is magical – and anyone interested in quality craftsmanship or woodworking should try to plan a visit. Each of his whales and sea birds is a perfect little piece of Maine that you can bring home with you.