As part of your Camden Maine vacation, you should plan on making time to visit nearby Rockport Maine, designated one of "America’s Prettiest Towns". Rockport is located just 3 miles south of Camden. In 2008, Forbes.com held a competition on where you can find America’s prettiest towns and Rockport, Maine emerged as the top winner. No one can dispute the beauty of this small village, quietly nestled along the western shores of scenic Penobscot Bay. Located between Rockland and Camden, Rockport was once home to a robust working class. Rockport’s harbor is home to some of the world’s most luxurious pleasure craft along with working fishing boats. Today Rockport is a popular harbor for boaters and lobster fishermen alike.
Rockport had a thriving lime industry in the late 1800s. Even today, remnants of the lime kilns adorn the waterfront. Imagine these kilns lighting the coast with its glowing fires as kilnwooders unloaded spruce logs and loaded casks of lime going to Boston and New York. Trails of white lime can still be seen along the banks of Goose River and in Walker Park in Rockport. These lime tailings shine white, clues to Rockport's close ties with the lime industry.
Rockport’s beauty was captured in celluloid in Mel Gibson’s “Man Without a Face” and the movie “In the Bedroom.” Its scenic location has also inspired photographers, artists and writers for several generations. Rockport hosts the International Maine Photographic Workshops.
Rockport Harbor was home to Andre, the seal. Andre was adopted by Harry Goodridge, a local diver and tree surgeon who found the seal pup abandoned by his mother in the Spring of 1961. Goodridge trained the seal over the years and Andre became a local celebrity in Maine. Andre entertained tourists and visitors in Rockport’s picturesque harbor with evening shows during the summer months from the late 60s until his death in 1986 at the age of 26. A marble statue in honor of this energetic performer can be seen in the Rockport Harbor Marine Park. In 1994 Andre was the subject of a fun but mostly inaccurate Hollywood movie by the same name. Andre fans were disappointed that he was played by a California sea lion rather than a harbor seal, but his story lives on in three well received books on his life and times in Rockport.
Rockport has several parks where tourists can stroll to enjoy this harbor town. There’s the Mary Lea Park which was built to honor two of the most prominent citizens in Rockport, Maine, cultural philanthropist Mary Louise Curtis Bok and violinist Lea Luboshutz. Another park called Cramer Park was inspired by the zeal of Mary Meeker Cramer and Ambrose Cramer to preserve Rockport’s local history. Even the lime industry which boomed in the late 1800s was commemorated by the Lime Kiln Preservation Park.
For those who would like some novelty in their trip, head down to Aldermere Farms which houses the famous “Oreo Cookie” cows which are Belted Galloway cows imported from Southwest Scotland. These black and white cows are mainly bred for their meat. These cows located in Rockport which are known locally as “Belties” are renowned as one of the most excellent breeds of Belted Galloways in the world.
Aside from parks and farms, Rockport offers a multitude of activities for the tourist. Its rich cultural heritage started in the 1930s when Mary Louise Curtis Bok established the Curtis Institute of Music Summer Colony. World-renowned artists congregated in this beautiful town and concerts were staged in the Eells Boat Barn. It is around this time, too, when the Rockport High School’s Seaside Wonderland Carnival was held. In the 1970’s, the Bay Chamber Concerts relocated to the Rockport Opera House. The Bay Chamber Concerts were established by the Wolf brothers in an effort to revive the cultural legacy that Mary Louise Curtis left to Rockport in the thirties.
The 1990s saw a surge of artistic creativity in Rockport. The Maine Coast Artists was founded by Rockport artists and was renamed in 1999 as the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. Earlier, the Maine Photographic Workshop also opened its doors to photographers which later became Rockport College in 1996. Truly, cultural endeavors live on in Rockport, Maine and every year, musicians and artists come to be inspired by this town’s quintessential beauty.