Portsmouth Bucket List: Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

If you’re stationed in Portsmouth, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens needs to be added to your bucket list!

Located roughly two hours from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the gardens is located in charming community of Boothbay, Maine.

The gardens is a people’s garden, a grassroots effort that began as a casual conversation between friends and evolved into the largest botanical garden in New England. Located on more than 300 acres along the MidCoast, the Gardens is a true Maine experience. With 16 different designated garden and exhibits, there is something for everyone to explore. Pets or therapy animals are not allowed at the Gardens. 

One of our favorite areas was Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden.

The garden encompasses two acres of woods, ponds, and theme gardens inspired by well-known children’s books by Maine authors. The garden is divided into a series of separate spaces, each with its own identity and focus. Attractions include a learning garden, greenhouse, chicken coop, a terrace planted with a rainbow of flowers, story barn, play cottage, small pond, treehouse, and maze lawn inspired by an English design.

In the summer, this garden is rife with daily activities from chicken feeding to storytime, puppet shows to July and August’s fairy festivities.

Make sure you grab a map so you can find the Trolls hidden throughout the native, natural wooded areas! These giant trolls wait to be unearthed. They’re friendly, but their message is something you’ll want to discover for yourself. Find the trolls and uncover the teachings they impart, then put all the clues together and learn the secret of Guardians of the Seeds. To see all five trolls, the hike will be about three miles. Some paths are steep and unimproved.

To see the seeds too, the hike will be an additional two miles, round-trip. The garden’s shuttle route runs close to some trolls, but has very limited capacity. The trolls were designed and created by Thomas Dambo, a Danish artist and recycle activist. He led a team of community and worldwide volunteers to help create our five trolls. They are part of a larger family of trolls all over the world, including China, Australia, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and South Korea. You can learn how our trolls are connected to Dambo’s global fairytale at trollmap.com.


Address: 105 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay, ME 04537

Hours: May 01 – October 23, 9:00 A.M. -5 :00 P.M. 

Admission: Active Duty Military: Free with Military ID; Adults: $22; Seniors & Veterans: $18; Student (18+ with Student ID): $15′ Children (3-17): $10; Children under 3: Free; Family (2 adults, 2 children): $55; Members are free. No reservations needed.

Food: The gardens also has an on-site cafe, The Market, open daily rom 10am-4pm. The Market offers grab-and-go lunches, sandwiches and salads, drinks, pastries, and organic and locally produced snacks every day.

Facilities: The Gardens have restrooms, benches and plenty of shaded areas available throughout the park. Shuttle service is available for designated areas. The park is overall stroller-friendly but may be difficult to navigate on some of the hiking trails.

Other Stops in Boothbay Harbor

If you are looking for food and a few souvenirs after the garden make sure to head into Boothbay Harbor!

Boothbay Lobster Wharf

The Boothbay Lobster Wharf is a working lobster dock where you can dine and watch the lobster fishermen. The wharf offered a wide menu, fresh steamers, fresh shucked oysters, drinks and even ice cream. The wharf is pet friendly and live music set the mood when we visited for dinner. 97 Atlantic Ave, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538

Downeast Ice Cream Factory

Offering over 40 flavors of premium ice cream, Downeast Ice Cream is the perfect way to end the day. They also offer a variety of sugar free ice creams, low fat frozen yogurts, sherbets, and vegan sorbets. 1 By-Way, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538

For us no day trip is complete without finding a fun Christmas ornament so we made sure to pop into some of the local shops for a few souvenirs.

Continue to follow The Submerged Life for fun day trip ideas! Follow me @aloha.mama.cat for more seacoast adventures and foodie finds!

Leave a Reply