Patrick Dempsey Shares His Best Local Tips for a Maine Vacation
The actor recently returned to ‘Vacationland’ with Poland Spring Origin.
Patrick Dempsey, the famed TV doctor from Grey's Anatomy and real-life cancer advocate, knows the state of Maine like the back of his hand. And that makes sense considering Dempsey — who recently confirmed he'll be returning in the sequel to "Enchanted," — was born there.
To show his love for his home state, the actor teamed up with Poland Spring Origin, the premium 100% natural spring water from Maine, to share a little about his own origins. Dempsey, who now lives in Los Angeles, returned to Maine, to film a TV commercial for the water brand, where he reconnected with the state's natural beauty by exploring the woods.
To celebrate Dempsey's partnership with Poland Spring Origin, Travel + Leisure connected with the actor and race car driver by phone to hear why Maine is such a special place, his insider tips for what to see and eat while visiting, and why we should escape north to disconnect.
T+L: Why is Maine such a special state to you?
Patrick Dempsey: "Maine is remarkable [because of] its natural beauty… and the beautiful wildlife. To get out into nature it's gorgeous, so breathtaking, and it constantly changes. I think Maine is very special. I mean, there's a rawness to it. There's an individualism to it, but yet there's a strong sense of community as well, you know?"
How was it returning home to film with Maine's own Poland Spring?
"With Poland Spring and Origin — that story coming from Maine — to be able to share their story, nationally, for the first time, it's really special to be able to come home and do that."
What makes Poland Spring Origin as special as the state it comes from?
"It's crisp and it's refreshing and it's really good. And I love the fact that it's a recycled bottle and where they're going with the company is really exciting to me. I started off with my father in the late seventies, in the eighties working in a redemption center when recycling just started to come into vogue and sort of importance in the state of Maine. And my father saw that. So for me, it's the preservation of our wilderness and our environment."
What's the first thing someone should do on a trip to Maine?
"Well, first of all, definitely you want to get "The Woods of Maine" by Henry David Thoreau — and Northern Maine is very much like that still in so many ways. You can still have that journey."
Is there somewhere you'd recommend visiting in particular?
"Northern Maine and Greenville, that's where we shot. That whole area. It's really nice to be able to be in nature, to let go of all your electronics, and just take a walk and be out there. I think that's the most important thing."
Do you have any food recommendations in Maine?
"There are some great restaurants — a lot of sea-to-plate movement. And then Lost Kitchen up in [Freedom], Maine, which is a great story. A lot of people who grow up in Maine leave Maine, and then they go out and then they come back and there's a great story with Lost Kitchen and what she's doing up there and sustainability. So there's a real push, I think, [of] consciousness throughout the state, but even the big companies and restaurants and people are really [about] sustainability because we're so connected to the land. You know, we understand the value of that and how to protect it through conservation."
With so much to do in Maine, when's the best time to visit?
"Oh, I mean, any time is a great time to visit because it's constantly changing, but spring, certainly when lilacs are in bloom. [In] the summer you have all the lobster and the chowder and the beaches, and then you go into the fall and you have the foliage, and then you go into the winter and you have Sunday river, you have Sugarloaf. So each season has something to do and you get a chance to travel around the state capturing those movements. And that's what's really special about it. It's called Vacationland on the licensee plate for a reason."
Editor's Note: This interview was lightly edited for length and clarity. Tanner Saunders is an editor at Travel + Leisure who is in love with Maine.