As Emily Hedegard was wrapping up her nine-month internship in the Portland Press Herald’s newsroom, we asked her to share her itinerary for a perfect day in Maine. 

Hedegard, 21, lives in Saco and is finishing her junior year at the University of New England where she’s majoring in communications and English with a minor in writing. She also serves as editor-in-chief of UNE’s student newspaper, The Bolt. For fun, she enjoys practicing yoga and collecting houseplants.

My ideal day in Maine would start bright and early. As anyone who knows me could tell you, I am not a morning person in any capacity, despite my desire to be so.

Emily Hedegard’s dog Bailey. Photo by Emily Hedegard

I would take my dog, Bailey, on a walk along the Eastern Trail in Saco, saying hello to every other dog owner who passed by and making small talk about the weather and their dog’s breed.

Eventually, I would end up at my favorite overlook, a secluded and hard-to-get-to spot that requires its visitors to jump over muddy streams and climb unmaintained trails until eventually ending up at the breathtaking view.

I would sit at the old picnic tables, looking at whatever new art had been carved or painted onto them, listening to the birds. Meanwhile, my goofy dog would be running after every squirrel in sight, never catching them, just enjoying the chase.

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Hedegard at The Front Room on her 21st Birthday with a blood orange mimosa. Photo courtesy of Emily Hedegard

After making the walk back and returning Bailey home, I would take a friend to my favorite brunch spot in Portland: The Front Room. I first visited the restaurant on my 21st birthday and still cannot get over the spectacular service and atmosphere. For my meal, I would get the lobster benedict (of course!) with hot sauce on the side and two blood orange mimosas.

Once the meal was over, I would drive to Paris and spend the afternoon with my mom at Dig Maine Gems. Dig Maine is a family-owned business that provides you with a bucket, shovel, sluice and a big pile of gem-rich dirt. My mother and I have visited Dig Maine annually since it opened in 2007, and we always find something spectacular to take home with us; some of my favorite pieces so far include pyrite, watermelon tourmaline and garnet.

From left, Emily Hedegard, her mom Stacey Conley, and relative Paige Connell at Dig Maine Gems in 2007, holding them gems they found. Photo courtesy of Emily Hedegard

Ideally, I would find something interesting enough that someone from the Matolcsy family, the owners, would offer to buy it from me. I would politely decline, as I always do, and they would smile, having already known my answer, and tell me that I should turn it into jewelry someday, as it is a gorgeous gem. 

After the successful dig, I would head to Old Orchard Beach to meet up with my friends. We would DoorDash a quick dinner, likely from Taqueria 207. I would get their bean tacos, pineapple Jarritos soda and request the special hot sauce on the side; it is not for those with a weak palate.

Once we ate, we would walk to The Brunswick, aka The Swick, where my friends and I could enjoy the drinks and live music. I would order a tequila pineapple or a can of Veridian, a hazy IPA brewed by Banded Brewing. Like always, my friends would get a watermelon Nütrl and vodka pineapple. We would all try each other’s drinks, despite knowing we wouldn’t like them, make a face, and go back to sipping our own.

The rides and attractions of Old Orchard Beach light up the night at dusk. Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Once we got in an hour or so of dancing, my friends and I would have no choice but to take a late-night stroll on the beach, which can be accessed through a side door at The Swick. We would enjoy the hushed nature of a typically crowded location, hopefully catching a glimpse of the moon and stars while listening to the crash of the waves and talking about our days.


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