Cities Journal
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Small Town America Travel Guide: Top 20 Places You Need to Visit

11. Camden, Maine

So what will it be? The beach or the mountains? Here’s a question – why not both? In Camden, Maine – a small 3,570-person town, according to estimates from City-Data, you can have both. Specifically, Camden is located on Penobscot Bay, along the Atlantic seaboard, a place where the mountains fittingly merge with the ocean. So yes, in the summer months when the weather is warm enough, you can enjoy the beach and the mountains.

Camden is a former shipbuilding town that’s been a favorite destination of travelers since the 1880s for those two features. In fact, many of the mansions that were formerly occupied by wealthy seasonal residents back in the day have since been converted to hotels, bed and breakfasts and other places to house the many tourists that flock to the area. But there’s much more to do in Camden than just sit back, relax and enjoy the view. Consider taking a schooner cruise through the bay to take in all of what Maine has to offer. Lighthouses, islands and coves dot the coast.

Camden’s Main Street is rich with antique shops and art galleries that are great for browsing and window shopping – and of course, there’s that east coast favorite dish, lobster, which is served up at all the restaurants in town. If relaxing isn’t your thing, just venture into the mountains and into Camden Hills State Park to explore up to 30 miles of hiking trails (for a great view, visit Mt. Battie, which offers great views on top of its 800-foot summit).

Camden is truly the best of both worlds, which is why Budget Travel has named the small town as a finalist on its 2013 “Coolest Small Towns” contest. And with a population of just 3,570, it truly is a small town in every right.

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  • Shodee

    *Moro Bay, CA

  • Lynne Larson

    Nothing on the West Coast. Come on.

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  • Ron Long

    Hello … Check a map … Sedona is more than 2 hours N. of Phoenix

    • disqus_Zh8hDRwXyI

      The way that AZ drivers roar up I-17 I don’t doubt it can be done in the published time

    • laura

      I can do the trip in an hour and a half – depends on what part of Phoenix area you are coming from.

  • Lop Treadmill

    It’s “Snack Jack”. See, snack rhymes with jack. “Snap Jap” would just sound weird.

  • disqus_Zh8hDRwXyI

    To live in Sedona is to be exposed to helicopter, biplane, and fixed wing aircraft noise from after sun up to sundown thanks to the timeshare industry that offers coupons for “free rides” in exchange for enduring a sales tour. Weekends bring traffic strung out from the Village of Oak Creek 5 miles south into Sedona proper.
    Oh yes if you do go DO NOT get sucked into a timeshare tour, your time is better spent walking the flanks of Cathedral or Bell Rock. Better to visit Bisbee to the south or do Taos,NM

    • Kegn

      Hello, I was born and raised in Sedona, Arizona. On a very rare occasion, I hear a helicopter overhead. I live in Uptown Sedona and occasionally traffic will delay my journey up to 3 whole minutes. 99% of the time, I am enjoying 100’s of miles of hiking trails, mouthwatering cuisine and incredibly kind and caring locals and visitors.

    • Crackie McCrackle

      Ummm yeah. I think I’ll have a root canal instead. Thanks.

    • laura

      Was just in Sedona last week, stayed at the Sky Ranch right next to the airport – agree there is a lot of helicopter and plane traffic and the area has been built up incredibly in the past 40 years, more of a tourist area than a quaint little town any more…

      • disqus_Zh8hDRwXyI

        Back in the day when a person could drive out Dry Creek Rd. and pull out on a dirt track to camp Sedona seemed a special place. When the county and state threw millions into the new divided highway all pullouts were eliminated for visitors to take pics of the beautiful rocks -scapes. This was done to funnel visitors into Red Rocks Pass paid parking areas managed by the USFS. In essence a tactic to take advantage and make people pay for access to our public lands.

        The USFS has been horse trading away public lands on the flanks of many of the urban high points to trade for ranch lands that contain archeological sites, again more money-these sites are not accessible to the general public in any reasonable way other than to pay to take a “jeep tour” the vendors have the keys to the gates and share revenues w/ the USFS, another blatant denial of access to public lands w/o paying a private contractor. Again this ties into the time share industry who will gladly supply you w/ free tickets for jeep tours in exchange for enduring a tour and sales pitch.
        The results of these land trades can be evidenced when you hike into Cathedral Rock from Back of Beyond trailhead parking lot (pay). Climb up the flank of Cathedral, a beautiful monolith, only to turn and see luxury homes built on the flanks of the next high point over. Secret Canyon was sold to a high end resort and now one must hike a ways around the resort to get back to the narrow back of the canyon. Over the years it has gotten harder to feel like you are on public lands if you hike any distance and want to be on the rocks-the air traffic will destroy any sense of being in a special place.
        Most people who graciously provide service at the many venues are forced to live far to the west in an “ordinary” town, Cottonwood.

        The Schnebly’s were smart to settle down along the Oak Cr., but so much of what was is no more. The classic western movie trade once thrived, but as the surrounding lands all became developed they lost their sweeping views of this once very unique valley.

  • FThumb

    No Galena Illinois? Missed a midwest gem there.

  • humboldtus

    Ferndale California should be on this list. Westernmost incorporated city in the continental US. Filled with Victorian homes. Great art scene. Home of the Kinetic Sculpture Race.

  • mpr529

    nice graffiti on the mailbox, Provincetown

  • Bill

    Take a look at the woman on the bench. Does she look happy?

  • Mary Spangenberg

    Wow, how fast are you going to get to Sedona in 45 minutes?

  • laura

    Waynesville, NC – just west of Asheville is awesome, Maggie Valley right next door and only a few minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as Smoky Mountain Park

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