This Maine Town is Accepting, Historic, Culinary, & Worthy of a Visit

Brunswick, Maine – thanks for the show of pride, the wonderful luxury, and variety of amazing eats!

If you’re in Portland, Maine or Boston or New York or any town in the Northeast that has an Amtrak, consider an easy and rewarding getaway to Brunswick, Maine. I had the chance to do just that for a $3 train ride, a couple of nights relaxing at a reimagined 19th Century historic home and inn turned boutique hotel, eat at 2 amazing restaurants, one spearheaded by a James Beard Nominee, and enjoying a community that was openly welcome to all. Let me share my most recent New England Getaway trip with you to Maine – State Motto – The Way Life Should be.

I love returning to Maine as I called the state home for the first 39 years of my life. Growing up there, one usually explores much of the state and knows most of the towns and cities. Mainers are great people, if I don’t say so myself, and I was heavily reminded of that during this last trip.


My travel plans found me in Portland, Maine, the state’s largest city at about 66,000 people, for about a week and for two of those days and nights, the friend I was staying with was going to be out of town. What a perfect time for me to explore a little more on my own. I didn’t have a car at my disposal, so I found that it was only a $3 dollar and 45-minute train ride up to Brunswick, Maine on Amtrak.

Getting there from Here –

The Amtrak was clean, fast, simple and almost empty. I actually upgraded to the $8 Business ticket to sit in the Business Car, the last car on the train, just after the dining car.  I wouldn’t upgrade again for this simple ride as I had to walk past 2 train cars, enter the train, and then walk through 2 completely empty regular train cars, so there was plenty of room to stretch out as a “regular” passenger. Brunswick, Maine is north of Portland and doesn’t have as many commuters as the Portland to Boston.

I did partake in the free and inexpensive refreshments and food. Both train rides up and back, I had conversations with the dining car attendees. The way up, the attendee was a little twinky boy and was fun. Family? Not sure. On the way back, I talked with the bright, bubbly, and beautiful inside and out transgender attendee and she said that this was the best company she had ever worked for. “I feel taken care of” is I believe one of her comments about working for Amtrak.  Bravo Amtrak.

Where to Stay –

The Federal – additional wing on the left, original home on the right

The Federal is a magnificent piece of Brunswick’s history that has been maintained, restored, and reimagined to become one of the top offerings you will find anywhere in New England. The suite I had the pleasure of enjoying occupied half of the top floor of the original structure and was a true journey into updated farmhouse luxury. The living room was massive, the bedroom expansive, and the bathroom was magazine worthy. It’s one of those suites that you could cozy up in every corner and not want to leave. The Federal also embraced the newest hotel best practice I liked and that was, for me at least, providing the first round of the in-room snack and beverage bar on the house.

The front desk attendees were professional and very helpful. One of them pointed me in the direction of a unique restaurant in town, a restaurant that would provide me with an everlasting wonderful memory of arguably one of the top 10 meals I’ve ever had, experience and food wise.

Where to Eat –

That unique restaurant, Tao Yuan, is a culinary monster in disguise. A converted single-family home along Pleasant Street, it doesn’t look like a place that will make you think of it when you eat any Asian food in the future and wish that you were back in Maine. If you talk to the staff, you’ll also learn that there are fish tanks in the basement and there’s a correlation between those and the massive 30-foot tall greenhouse behind the restaurant.

It’s a 0.7 mile walk from the Amtrak train station to The Federal. And during that walk, one has passed through the entirety of this cute little New England town.

After my 10-minute walk from The Federal Hotel, I arrived, and asked for a seat at the bar, the seat right next to the kitchen. All night I was able to chat with the bar staff, hear the activity in the kitchen and enjoy the impressive teamwork on display as they served amazing food and 86-ed some of the phenomenal specials. I didn’t have a reservation, but I highly recommend making one as it was not soon after polishing off my first offering, I turned around and the small restaurant was full. What I also saw was James Beard Award Nominated Chef Cara Stadler, come in and casually watch the evening progress and when things got very busy, she put her 8-month pregnant body smack in the middle of the action in the kitchen, barking orders and impressively conducting the culinary concert.

The cuisine of Tao Yuan is guided by fresh ingredients that are available locally, infused with Asian flavors and a mixture of modern cooking techniques, to produce food that is unique and delicious.  Flavors vary from upscale versions of Asian street food, to some of the chef’s more sophisticated signature dishes.

Eat Back At The Federal – 555 North

Living in Portland for about 13 years, I knew about the restaurant 555. It closed In Portland, but the individuals that owned it are now advisors of The Federals Hotel’s restaurant, 555 North.

The décor of the restaurant was just my style to the T and the L and the other letters of the alphabet, right down to the beautiful 6’3” red headed lumberjack of a man manager. The meal itself was impeccable and I felt so bad enjoying it by myself, but this was a nice little excursion for me to enjoy what Brunswick, Maine had to offer. Whenever I’m back in Maine I always go for the scallops and 555 North did them magnificently.

Enjoying the Gay Ol’ Town of Brunswick –


As I said, I grew up in Maine, but really didn’t spend a lot of time in Brunswick itself. More so just a quick little hour here and there, but this trip I had a chance to really walk around downtown Brunswick. You know what made me smile the most? The amount of gay pride flags all over town. This was not during Pride. This was not during the Summer. This was not during tourism season. This was after foliage season had finished in Maine and there was no reason to show their support of the LGBT community except for that they always support the LGBT community in Brunswick.

And these are not banners that would come up and down depending on what time of year as they were flags that you know we’re up here around. Brunswick is a little bit of a different town in Maine as it is home to one of the baby Ivy League colleges in the United States, Bowdoin College, which does bring in a little more educated individuals, little more diverse individuals, Grindr had some activity, but many were still imageless and closeted.

There were two places I let my own pride flag fly out in the open when I was there. One was in the antique mall located in an old mill. One of the 60+ year old women had a great time going from consignment case to consignment case across the mall looking at rings. I found a couple and she approved.

The other place was at Moderation Brewing Co. With pride banners flying out front, I walked into their trivia night, the bar was packed and they apologized that their speakers outside were on the fritz so all participants needed to be inside. I bellied up to the bar, shared some conversations with fellow trivia goers and beer enjoyers and had a great night.


That $3 Amtrak train ride, was the first step to an amazing weekend. My trip to Brunswick, staying at The Federal, eating at Tao Yuan and 555 North, trivia and beers at Moderation Brewing Co., and meeting some amazing people will be a valued memory in my head and heart for many years to come. It was one of the best individual / on my own trips I have taken in a long time. The Maine people, the community, the flags, really created an environment of welcomeness, relaxation, a big dollup of self-pampering and luxury, with a flight of down home open arms to a stranger. Well it did cost another $3 to come back to Portland, but it was hard to leave.

So if you’re Portland ($3) Boston ($25) New York ($50), consider Brunswick, Maine as a special destination for a cute little getaway.

As an FYI – 

There’s just one little meh that I had about the trip that I wanted to share. Nice and easy Amtrak ride along the beautiful Maine shoreline and across the foliage-covered countryside, check! Ride share opportunities in Brunswick, not so much. There were enough ride shares in Portland to get me to the station and back, but in Brunswick? Well, umm, after about 5 minutes of either app spinning and highlighting that a ride might be found and might pick me up in 39 minutes, I called the local taxi company that the tourism desk recommended, and that was still a 30-minute wait, which I did wait. So getting around town seemed like it was going to be an issue, but once I saw where the station was in relation to everything, there were zero issues. I would have zero problems walking to restaurants and shopping and the morning I needed to leave town from the hotel, I tried calling the local taxi company to schedule a ride to the train station, but ended up walking with my carry-on in tow and saw many others doing the same thing. This transportation issue (which really wasn’t) was the only blemish on my trip, but you really cannot give a negative mark to a cute Maine town of 16,000 because they don’t have Uber/Lyft when they have Amtrak dropping people off right in the center of town.

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