For the second year in a row, the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber has created our own guide for travelers and relocators and it’s unlike any other guide out there.  The 2019 Eat Play Stay: Companion Guide to the Bath-Brunswick & Midcoast Region covers our chamber’s 16-community region and beyond.   With updated information and new sections of information we would put it up against any chamber publication out there.

What makes the Eat Play Stay different than other guides is the content.  Our goal is to give travelers the most relevant information possible- and though that may seem like the goal of every guide, it often isn’t always realized.  One good example of this, are the generic sections of information that you’ll find in other guides that we do not include.  Rather than pointing out another current guide as an example of this, I’ll use former editions of our guide.

The former chamber guide Allure of the Coast had several of these sections.  For instance, there was a ‘Food & Drink’ page that had overly generic information that didn’t commit or tell you anything.  The content was basically “if you love food and drink, we have some of the best you could want, from seafood and steak to lobster and breakfast items.  We have all kinds of different restaurants, pub, fine-dining and counter service restaurants too.  Don’t miss it.”

On the surface, that seems like a typical page in a guide- we’ve all read something like that before.  But what did it really tell you?  Almost every community in Maine has pubs, restaurants, fine dining, and counter service.  Almost every community in Maine offers seafood, steak , lobster and breakfast items.  So what new information was given?  Do you know which place specializes in which food?  Do you know the highest rated places?  Basically, all that was shared was “yes, our region has restaurants and bars” which anyone could have gathered from the directory in the back of the guide.  What the ‘Food & Drink’ page became was a wasted opportunity to give people information that would actually help them in their trip planning.  So we cut it out.

That’s partially why we don’t call our guide a guest guide, but rather a companion guide.  It’s designed so that you’ll take it with you on your journey as you explore. This change in philosophy of what the guide should be began with the initial 2018 Eat Play Stay and this year’s version has only continued that by including even more relevant information.

What’s new in 2019?  Quite a lot really.

The first thing you’ll notice is the cover photo.  Last year, we got rave reviews for the live lobster and pint of beer on the cover, and so we went back to the same photographer to see what else we could do.  Andrew Estey, who is based right out of Fort Andross in Brunswick,  is an incredible indoor and landscape photographer and when he showed us the picture of the Bowdoin Mill complex from across the river we knew we found our shot.  The picture has the Androscoggin River in the foreground with some iconic rocks and the image captures the Sea Dog Brewing end of the mill with the yellow bricks contrasting off a clear blue sky.  It’s a picture we all know from travelling across the Frank Wood bridge but it was shot just up river, so the Topsham mill is perfectly framed. Another change to the cover was that the “Bath-Brunswick & Midcoast Maine’ subtitle was pushed up on the page so that it’s clearly visible in most guide racks.

Upon opening it, you’ll notice the new design elements that bCreative of Topsham created.  That, along with dozens of fresh photographs from Maine’s Midcoast & Islands, Further North Photography and several donated photographs, really freshen up the guide and shows what our region looks like in 2019.

Other new content includes three separate top ten lists in the guide: Favorite Live Entertainment Venues, Favorite Can’t Miss Events and Favorite Places to Bring Friends Who Visit.  These top ten lists were devised from polls we created that ran on our Facebook page.  The answers come directly from all of you which is a great way for our chamber to let our members and citizens decide what they find most relevant.  Of course, we do list that even though these are top ten lists, there are plenty of other places and venues, not listed, that are also great.

We have updated our maps in 2019 too. In the 2018 version, we intentionally had very few landmarks plotted so that people could use the maps to mark out their routes.  With the feedback we received we’ve added a few dozen landmarks which people seem to really like.

We also have updated our FAQ page, which is a page we get directly from the Bath Regional Information Center on what their most frequently asked questions are.  We updated the Eat and Stay amenities charts with our newest members so they can highlight their offerings.  We also added a new tide chart and re-ran our very popular driving time/distance matrix which many trip planners loved.

Our accolades page tripled in size as more member businesses took advantage of the free listing highlighting what awards they have won.  Also brand-new this year, we added game pages (crossword, word find and maze) which is perfect for the weary young traveler who keeps asking ‘are we there yet’ and is equally fun for the parent laying on the beach who wants to leisurely pass some time.

Add that to our full member directory, community profiles and travel information pages and the 2019 Eat Play Stay is a comprehensive guide of activities and fun.  To get a copy for yourself, or for friends visiting, either contact the SMMC office at 725-8797 or stop by the Brunswick Train Station or Bath Regional Information Center today.

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