Maine is a very big state with a lot to offer, leaving many people wondering — what are the best places to visit? If you’re like most people, you’ve heard of well known places on the Maine coast like Camden and Bar Harbor. But it’s the off the beaten path locations, tucked between these larger spots, where the true gems are found.
If you want a truly authentic Maine experience, then our recommendation is to plan a trip starting in Belfast, ME, then moving on to the Blue Hill Peninsula, and saving the best for last with a visit to Deer Isle, ME and a stay at Pilgrims Inn. If you are coming from the North, back down the coast, then just reverse the trip.
It is in these places where you’ll find the best opportunities to experience, “the way life should be.” From scenic drives along the beautiful coastline and visiting shops and galleries, to adventurous activities like kayaking, hiking, sailing or even lobstering, you’ll find things to do for everyone in your group. You can make this trip as short or as long as you like, but we recommend at least three days to enjoy these places to visit without spending a lot of time in the car.
Belfast, Searsport & Bucksport
Belfast, ME is a funky artists community with a hip vibe similar to Portland, and offers many locally owned shops and galleries. The food scene is creative and Belfast is a good base for exploring the surrounding towns of Searsport and Bucksport as you head up the coast.
For luxury lodging we recommend a fellow Select Registry member, the Belfast Bay Inn. For breakfast or lunch we think the vegetarian restaurant Chase’s Daily is a great pick, or the Belfast Food Coop for eat in or take-out , especially if you are planning a picnic for later in the day. For a great lobster pound experience, you must go to Young’s Lobster Pound off of route 1 in Belfast, at 4 Mitchell St.
Spend your day strolling the streets of Belfast and visiting its many shops, galleries, historic areas, town parks and the Belfast Harbor Walk on the waterfront. Information on self guided walking tours and seasonal special events can be found through the Belfast Chamber of Commerce on Main St.
In the nearby town of Searsport, we recommend a trip to the Sears Island Preserve, the largest uninhabited island on the East Coast. Miles of hiking, biking and quiet coastline offer numerous activities and is a great way to spend a nice day. Farther down the road in Bucksport, a trip to the observation tower on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge is a must. The bridge boasts the highest bridge observatory in the world! Also in Bucksport, a visit to “America’s first Fort Knox” is worth the trip to this historic site, which acted as a fortification during battles with the British. Visit the Friends of Fort Knox site for more information.
Castine and Blue Hill
Past Bucksport on Route 1, take a right on Route 166 and follow into the town of Castine. Pentagoet Inn. For lunch, check out Markels Bakehouse tucked away off of Water street. For dinner, the deck at Dennetts Wharf is perfect for the raw oysters, lobster and scenery, or for something finer, dinner at the Pentagoet Inn is a treat. While in Castine, stroll around town and be sure to take a peak at the large training vessel at the Maine Maritime Academy, if it’s in port. A visit to the Castine Historical Society is a good place to learn about the area. We also recommend a sail with Guild Dive Cruises to explore this pretty harbor.
This gracious town with Georgian and Federalist houses and Elm tree-lined streets has a different feel than some of the more rugged fishing communities along the Maine coast. Home to the Maine Maritime Academy, and steeped in history, Castine is a good place to spend the day. If you’re staying the night, we recommend fellow Select Registry member the
Before heading over to Deer Isle, a trip across the peninsula to Blue Hill is worth the trip. This scenic town has cute shops and galleries on its pretty main street. Our favorite activity is a hike up Blue Hill Mountain, which will reward you with beautiful views towards Acadia National Park. If you decide to stay, the Blue Hill Inn is another Select Registry gem and dinner at Arborvine for a fine dining meal, or something more casual at its companion Deep Water Brew Pub is a good bet. For something fun, we recommend a boiled lobster at the Boat Yard Grill, which is located inside a boat yard, with views of the water.
As you head toward Deer Isle to finish your adventure, we recommend traveling down the peninsula via Route 175 through the towns of Brooklin and Sedgwick. It’s a beautiful coastal drive that you won’t forget. Head over the Deer Isle bridge across Eggemoggin Reach in Penobscot Bay and you’ll find our beautiful island and the Pilgrim’s Inn awaiting you with beautifully appointed rooms and delicious food.
Deer Isle is rugged and beautiful and one of the best places to visit to experience the beauty of the Maine coast. Offering some of the best kayaking on the Atlantic coast, beautiful hiking trails, world class sailing, and dozens of art galleries, we have it all.
In the town of Stonington, ME located a few miles south from the Inn on the Island is the most productive lobster port in all of Maine. So if you like lobster, you won’t find any better than on our island! For specifics, please visit our Things to Do page. Our Inn offers the very best of local dining at our restaurant, the Whale’s Rib Tavern.
If you’re looking for places to visit in Maine, your plans must include this beautiful section of coastal Maine if you are to really experience this part of New England. We look forward to welcoming you to this gem of the coast.