Pilgrim's Inn

A close up of several types of rock ledge with orange lichen

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Explore the History and Geology of Deer Isle and Downeast Maine

What Do Ken Burns, Indigenous Peoples, and Rock Have in Common?

They have all spent some time on Deer Isle!

Historic Houses, The Penobscot Expedition, Glaciers, Wabanaki and other tribes,  Granite, Ken Burns, Revolutionary War, Civil War…if any of these terms interest you, then Deer Isle in Downeast Maine is the place for you!

Relax. Explore. Restore.

Book a stay at  Pilgrim’s Inn, in Deer Isle Village, as home base for your adventures and day trips throughout the region. Tour the busy neighboring peninsulas by day, and return to Pilgrim’s Inn for your fresh air and open space stay.


Downeast Maine is rich with history and geology. Many towns have their own unique Historical Society, which we encourage you to use as a starting point. The Deer Isle Stonington Historical Society has several buildings to tour, archives to explore, and artifacts to see. They have provided a wealth of information about Squire Ignatius House, which later became The Ark, then Pilgrim’s Inn. You can see some old photos of the building in our inn and around town. Be sure to check days/hours of operation before you visit – many of the historical societies and museums are volunteer run.

Ken Burns spent some time at the archives at DIS Historical Society when he was researching info on Deer Isle soldiers, for his documentary miniseries called The Civil War. If you head to the Edgar Tennis Preserve, you can visit an old family burial plot that includes a grave of a Civil War soldier.

For more history, spend a day in Castine.  Some of our favorite things to enjoy in Castine are a visit to the Wilson Museum, view the lighthouse, hike the remains of an old fort, and enjoy a meal by the water.


Learn all about geology and the majesty of nature, especially in Downeast Maine, at Acadia National Park. We are so lucky to have this national treasure just a 90 minute drive from Pilgrim’s Inn. It’s one of our favorite places to go.

For something a bit closer, and very near and dear to Deer Isle culture, check out The Deer Isle Granite Museum in Stonington, just 6 miles from Pilgrim’s Inn. Then take a walk at Settlement Quarry, to see firsthand what the work of stonecutters looks like. This preserve is one of many lovely trails that cover Deer Isle. Island Heritage Trust has preserved much land, and our guests truly enjoy this. At Settlement Quarry, or just by looking around at the many glacial erratics and rocky coastline, you will learn why there are not many basements on Deer Isle – granite! Rooms 9, 11 and 14 at Pilgrim’s Inn feature local granite countertops.

If you already know something about rocks, then simply take a walk!  The rocky shores of Deer Isle offer lots of gems for rockhounds to see. Granite, schist, quartz, serpentine, and more. And lots of shells. Ask the innkeepers for tips on where to go, we are happy to help.

Indigenous Culture

Head over to our island neighbor to the East, Mount Desert Island– which is home to Acadia National Park– discover the Abbe Museum. Their words from their website say it better than I can:

“The Abbe Museum acknowledges Indigenous land. We are in the homeland of the Wabanaki, the People of the Dawn. We extend our respect and gratitude to the many Indigenous people and their ancestors whose rich histories and vibrant communities include the Abenaki, Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot Nations and all of the Native communities who have lived here for thousands of generations in what is known today as Maine, New England, and the Canadian Maritimes. We make this acknowledgement aware of continual violations of water, territorial rights, and sacred sites in the Wabanaki homeland. The Abbe is honored to collaborate with the Wabanaki as they share their stories.”

Old Houses

If you love old houses like we do, spend some time at Woodlawn Museum in Ellsworth. Tour The Black House, see the restoration work in progress, and walk the trails. We love to support organizations like this, knowing the work involved in preservation of old places.


For more info, check out DownEast Acadia Regional Tourism, and check out some of our related blogs here.

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