Dawn LaRochelle moved to Maine in 2022 to become executive director of the Maine Jewish Museum in Portland. Before that, she ran a COVID business recovery program at the Center for Women & Enterprise in central Massachusetts. She’s also worked as an attorney in the litigation department of a Wall Street law firm, run two catering companies and a fine-dining restaurant in western Massachusetts, and chaired the English Language Learning Department at the MacDuffie School in Granby, Massachusetts. 

Dawn LaRochelle Photo courtesy of Dawn LaRochelle

My perfect Maine day would be shared with my perfect life partner – my husband, Nick Naunton – and begin at the perfect Maine breakfast spot: Tandem Coffee on Congress Street in Portland. Chatting with all the hipsters in line and petting their dogs is part of the fun, making the wait time to get to the counter go quickly. We will order lavishly: a breakfast sandwich (best in the state!), a “loaded biscuit” 6 inches thick with fresh creamery butter and handmade jam, rightly touted by Bon Appetit as the best biscuit outside of the South, a salted chocolate chip cookie (heaven!), and a mocha latte.

Next stop: Freeport, where I will browse the racks at ReStyle Consign, my fave local consignment shop. I will leave with armfuls of vintage apparel and accessories – hey, it’s a hobby, not an addiction! From Freeport, we will head to Camden, where we will work off breakfast, hiking up Maiden’s Cliff Trailhead. The hike will rev up our muscles, and the panoramic views of Penobscot Bay will rev up our souls. Since we will also want to rev up our brains, we’ll make a pit stop at the Owl & Turtle Bookshop & Cafe and see if we can’t find a favorite new Maine author or two, then start diving into the books we purchase in the upstairs reading room.


A lobster is served on the waterfront at McLoon’s Lobster Shack in Spruce Head in 2018. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

We’ll still be full from breakfast, but there is zero way we would miss out on the best lobster rolls on the planet at McLoons Lobster Shack in South Thomaston, served oceanside … and then there is the best dessert on the planet at McLoons, the blueberry bread pudding with handmade blueberry ice cream (think blue-ribbon Grandma baking on steroids).

An exhibit at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Since we’ll be in the Midcoast, we’ll do some gallery hopping in Rockland and check out the latest exhibitions at the Farnsworth Art Museum before heading back home. We’ll drive a bit out of the way to Ogunquit, where we’ll walk along Marginal Way to Perkins Cove in time to catch the sunset.

The bar at Evo in Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Just because we’re stuffed doesn’t mean we won’t go for the vegetarian tasting menu at the kitchen counter at Evo Kitchen + Bar in Portland for dinner, where the balletic performance of chefs, bartenders and servers working in harmony in a two-by-nothing space is as mind-boggling as the food and drink. We’ll then indulge in a film at Apple Cinemas in Westbrook, where the fully reclining movie seats alone make the experience. A nightcap at Luna Rooftop Bar at the Canopy by Hilton in downtown Portland will be the perfect ending to the perfect day!

Luna Rooftop Bar, at Canopy by Hilton in Portland, is the perfect spot for a nightcap. Photo by Jamie Mercurio Photography

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