America's Coolest Small Towns: Rockland
Every now and then, you stumble upon a town that's gotten everything right—great coffee, food with character, shop owners with purpose.
BT Readers' Choice Pick!
ROCKLAND, MAINE (pop. 7,680)
sophistication mixed with saltiness
You'll find just enough sophistication to balance the saltiness of mid-coast Maine in Rockland, where regional mainstays are reinvented every day. After honing her skills working for Perry Ellis in New York City, Beth Bowley was lured back to Maine four years ago. "Rockland is filled with folks who've seen what the world has to offer and want to be here," says Bowley, who opened the boutique FourTwelve, which she stocks with clothing and accessories like Sea Bags, made from recycled sails (412 Main St., shopfourtwelve.com, bags from $110).
Down the street at Suzuki's Sushi Bar, Japanese-born chef Keiko Suzuki Steinberger infuses freshly caught lobster, shrimp, and crab with modern Japanese flavors (419 Main St., suzukisushi.com, entrées from $12). Steinberger first came to Rockland to visit a second cousin but stayed after falling for her now husband.
As pleasant as a short visit can be, the real risk of visiting Rockland is that you'll do the same and need to move here for good. It's worth testing the waters by renting a house, on vrbo.com, where you can find 19th-century Capes going for $125 a night.
Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.