Lobsters, Foliage and the Three Yorks

By Katie Moose

If you haven’t made up your mind where to go this fall, York, Maine, can entice you almost any time of the year, but particularly at the height of foliage season.  This charming village just over the New Hampshire border is steeped in history, architectural treasures and the fresh sea air of the Atlantic Ocean. Sailboats and workboats compete for space in the picturesque coves, while early morning or late afternoon fishing is a favorite pastime from wooden or narrow bridges. The town was originally called Georgeana, Massachusetts, in 1642 and became the first incorporated city in America. The town was returned to Maine, when the latter became a state in 1820. It is made up of the three Yorks – York Harbor, York Village and York Beach. For well over a century this summer resort has maintained a low-key profile, unlike nearby Kennebunkport with the George W. Bush home.

Residents and visitors can meander along Route 103 bordering the Atlantic, or take the more commercial Route 1. Just as you come into York from Route 95 you’ll find one of the best jam, mustard and gourmet kitchen shops anywhere in this country. Stonewall Kitchen products are found in most gourmet shops, but seeing the processing facility (take a tour) and visiting the store is worth an extra hour in York. The café serves lunch daily.  It is easy to find a local cookbook author serving up local delicacies and signing cookbooks. Sampling Stonewall products is part of the fun in shopping. You can’t go away empty-handed after you taste the  new blueberry, raspberry or strawberry jams, made only with local berries. Across the lane from Stonewall Kitchen is a great Saturday farmer’s market.

If you wander into the village, there are antique and gift shops and several restaurants, all overlooking the water. Otherwise you can always head to the beaches or take in the views of the Cape Neddick Lighthouse, or Nubble (rocky island) Light. Unfortunately you can’t visit the lighthouse because of the dangerous cliffs. Nine miles off the coast, and not easily accessible, is Boon Island. The island was named in 1682 by the four survivors of a coastal trading vessel, the Increase, that shipwrecked on the island. The men were rescued about a month later and decided that their survival was a boon granted by God – hence the name. Nearby lovely beaches are Sea Point in Kittery and Short Sands in York Beach.

You can take a trip from Portsmouth over to the Isle of Shoals. Wear good hiking clothes. The island has tidal pools, the White Island Lighthouse, Cornell’s Island Shoals Marine Laboratory and plenty of places to picnic. If you have children along, spend some time at York’s Wild Kingdom, which has worked hard at how they protect and show their animals.

One of the resorts located here, the Stage Neck Inn, is open year round and offers dazzling views of the Atlantic Ocean from its own cove. This is not a fish house on the water. This is Maine in the grand style. For more than 20 years the inn has catered to visitors from all over the globe. Fifty-eight rooms provide unparalleled views of scenic coastal Maine. Both a formal and casual  dining room are offered. For those who need a little pampering, in-room spa services include massage, Reiki energy treatments, facials and a variety of services.  Indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness room, golf at two nearby courses or just lounging by the ocean can invigorate your soul and mind. The resort caters to couples, families, conferences and in the spring and fall, to a host of weddings. Who wouldn’t want to be married by the sea! Of course, there are many other bed and breakfasts, inns and restaurants nearby, but for something special, romantic and charming try the Stage Neck Inn.

Another nearby and charming inn is the York Harbor Inn. Founded over 100 years ago, the inn is filled with antiques and a 300-year-old common room. With 47 guest rooms, a dining room and pub, this also overlooks the harbor and is within easy traveling distance to York historic sites, good shopping, beaches and golfing.

Got a yearning for Maine lobster, swordfish, mussels or clams? Foster’s has its own restaurant, but caters for parties and other events, including the Bush clan in nearby Kennebunkport.

York is only an hour north of Boston and close to the Portland and Manchester airports. The town is lovely anytime of the year, but head there when the beach crowds and summer visitors are headed home. It’s not too late to plan now for an early fall vacation. The waves will still be crashing on the shore, the gardens in full bloom and the traffic easy to handle. So why not try something new? By then the water might still be warm enough to swim in.

Oh, by the way, before leaving town don’t forget to get one of the local fisheries to pack some lobsters on ice. York lobsters are the best.

Lobster Bisque

Serves 4-6

1/2 stick butter

1 small leek or 4 green onions, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 tbls. tomato paste

1/4 cup flour

2 cups half and half

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup sherry

1 lb. lobster meat


basil leaves

In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Add leeks, celery and tomato paste. Stir in flour. Slowly add the half and half, then the cream, until thickened.

Puree in a food processor.

Add sherry and lobster.

Serve in bowls garnished with paprika and basil.

If you do not wish to puree the soup, this can be served as lobster Newburg sauce over rice, pasta or in puff pastry.

For information on York and its attractions:



Stage Neck Inn, Route 1A, York Harbor www.stageneck.com 800  340-1130

Stonewall Kitchen, Stonewall Lane, York www.stonewallkitchen.com 207 351-2712

York’s Wild Kingdom Route 1, York Beach  www.yorkzoo.com 207 363-4911

Boon Island.  www.lighthouse.cc/boon

York Harbor Inn. Rte. 1A. York Harbor www.yorkharborinn.com 800 343-3869

Short Sands Beach. Rte. 1A. York Harbor  www.visitmaine.net/beaches

Sea Point Beach. Rte. 103. Kittery  www.seacoastnh.com

Foster’s – 1 Axholme Road, York  www.fostersclambake.com 207 363-3255

©Conduit Press 2010


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