Local Attractions: Mid-Coast Maine

Posted: January 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: fun, Local Attractions, nature, tourism | 1 Comment »

Pemaquid Lighthouse Port Clyde 

Wild Flowers On The St. George River Schooner Steven Taber in the fog

Mount Megunticook LookoutIsle au Haut, Maine 019

View Mid-Coast Maine for visitors in a larger map

I wish I got to spend more time in Maine’s mid-coast area; it’s beautiful and filled with interesting stuff to do – nature, history, art, craft, food, museums, concerts and festivals, antiquing and flea-marketing, beaches and boating, hiking, rugged and remote stony coastlines and pretty little seaside towns filled with victorian mansions. Here’s a quick overview of the region from Downeast Magazine. The Maine coastline is a convoluted fractal landscape of fjords and islands and peninsulas, and a lot of the interesting stuff is way down at the end of peninsulas so it can sometimes take a long time to drive a short distance. Route 1 is the coastal route that heads from Portland all the way up towards the Canadian border; it passes by some gorgeous scenery, salt marshes and busy harbors as it hugs the contours of the coastline and passes through dozens of amazing little seaside towns and tourist stops, but it’s a two-lane road that tends to get brutally congested during summer weekends and basically for the entire month of august and anytime there’s some event going on, plus especially backed-up at all the bridges where it crosses from one peninsula to another – we’ve sat in some epic traffic jams on both sides of the bridge in Wiscasset. So either bring some snacks and good tunes and be ready to take it slowly, or else consider strategic use of 95 or 295 to get up to Augusta and then head east to the coast. You’ll miss some lovely scenery but in the busy season it’s often the faster way to go. If you do pass near Augusta, it’s seriously worth stopping for a meal at A1 Diner in Gardiner, a cute and colorful classic diner with excellent eats including some great sweet-potato fries.

I’m not sure how useful this will be, but you can send away for free State of Maine guide books here: http://www.visitmaine.com/guidebook/
50 Hikes in Southern and Coastal Maine guide book
Maine Off The Beaten Path guide book
Maine Trailfinder website
list of Maine beaches
Maine Birding Trail website
list of outdoor tour guides and agencies in mid-coast area

Towns, Accommodations, Food:
Again, there are SO MANY options, I can’t even begin to do an exhaustive list of everywhere; I just picked out a bunch of stuff that looks nice, to give you a taste of what’s around. If you’re serious about visiting, there’s so much more info to be found in guide books and online. I don’t think the mid-coast Maine area has as many cheap options as the White Mountains, but there are definitely campgrounds and motels and budget-conscious options available if you do a little research and plan ahead.

Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor: these are actually downeast Maine, not mid-coast. Here’s a link to the Downeast Magazine guide to the area. I’m not covering that area here, mainly because I haven’t spent much time there, and because that area is already so famous and it’s really not hard to find information – just do a little research! So, I’ll try to focus on some places you might not already know about:

Stonington panorama 

Stonington, ME Stonington, Maine: View from Church Street

Isle au Haut Lighthouse, Maine cairn

Squeaker Cove path

Stonington and Isle Au Haut



Isle Au Haut is an island in Penobscot Bay, six miles long and two miles wide, with lots of trails for strolling, bicycling and hiking. One end of the island has a small village, home to lots of fisherman and lobstermen, which fills up with visitors in the summertime; the other half of the island is a (little-known) part of Acadia National Park. You can visit for a day or stay longer in an inn in the village or in a campsite in the park (make reservations early for the campsites or the inns!). Isle Au Haut is reached by ferry service, it’s about an hour’s ride out from the little town of Stonington, which is well worth a visit too.

Acadia National Park, Isle Au Haut
Isle Au Haut ferry

The Inn at Isle Au Haut, Isle Au Haut
The Lighthouse Keepers Cottage, Isle Au Haut

Blue Hill Castine, Maine FH040006 

Blue Hill and Castine



Blue Hill is a special, lovely town, best known as an artists’ community; it’s another sweet seaside town with interesting old houses and lovely ocean views. Nearby Castine has a rich history, older than Plymouth Plantation and a once contested and strategic site at the mouth of the Penobscot river which was occupied at various times by indigenous Abenaki, French, Dutch, and English. The Castine post office is the nation’s oldest continuously operating post office, since 1814.

Arborvine restaurant
Blue Hill Coop
Blue Hill Bay Gallery
Leighton Gallery

Barncastle Hotel Blue Hill
Blue Hill Inn Blue Hill
Blue Hill Farm Country Inn, Blue Hill
The Brooklin Inn, Brooklin
Pentagoet Inn, Castine
The Manner Inn, Castine
Castine Inn, Castine
Hiram Blake Camp, Harborside
Surry Inn, Surry
Oakland House, Brooksville

Belfast, Maine 07 shops 

Belfast harbor _MG_0286 - BELFAST HARBOR




Belfast is a small city with a fun downtown area of galleries and restaurants, colorful storefronts, old brick buildings, a vintage movie theater, and cobblestone streets leading down towards the harbor. There is a great food co-op in Belfast that’s an excellent point to stop and pick up snacks and groceries to fuel your expedition.

Belfast food co-op
Young’s Lobster Pound
Scoops ice cream
Coastal Coffee House, Searsport

Yo Mamma’s home shop
Perry’s Nut House weird roadside attraction and candy shop
Left Bank Books, Searsport
Penobscot Art Books, Searsport
Belfast Chamber of commerce website
Water Walkers sea kayak tours
North Country Rivers white water rafting

Belfast Bay Inn, Belfast
The Jeweled Turret Inn, Belfast
The Alden House B&B, Belfast
The White House Inn, Belfast
Penobscot Bay Inn, Belfast
Carriage House Inn, Searsport
The Inn Brittannia, Searsport
Watchtide, Searsport

Blackberry Inn Camden Maine Harbor 

Restaurant Lobster traps in Maine

MC 142 Deck Behind the Mariner Grill, Camden, ME_MG_7893 Camden Maine Steeple Clam Chowder @ Cappy's Chowder House

Camden, ME


Camden is a quaint seaside tourist town with a busy harbor full of sailboats and a downtown of interesting shops, restaurants, cobbled streets and historic buildings. There seem to be an endless assortment of historic inns and B&B’s and gorgeous sea-captains’ mansions spreading outwards from the downtown, especially along Route 1.

Camden Hills State Park
Maiden Cliff hiking trail
Cellardoor Vineyard & Winery
Ducktrap Kayak tours
High Mountain Hall – yoga, movement and fitness
apple picking at Hope Orchards
Merryspring Nature Center
Summer Feet Cycle Touring

Maine Eats food guide
Francine Bistro
Atlantic Seafood Bistro

Castleview by the Sea B&B
Blackberry Inn
Inn at Camden Place
Victorian By The Sea
Belmont Inn

Rockland Harbor Lighthouse rockland, maine Lunch burger Rockport harbor 

Rockland & Rockport


Rockland & Rockport are side-by-side; Rockland is more of a busy little city while Rockport is more of a tourist town and artists’ community. They both offer historic ports and lots of interesting options for food, lodgings, expeditions and strolling around town. Maine State Ferry Service departs from Rockland to Vinalhaven, Matinicus and North Haven islands. Nearby Thomaston is worth a visit too.

Beech Hill Preserve, Rockland
Maine Lighthouse Museum, Rockland
Maine Eastern Railroad, Rockland
Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owl’s Head
Breakwater Vineyards, Owl’s Head
General Knox Museum, Thomaston
Heron Schooner Tours, Rockport Harbor

Cafe Miranda, Rockland
Primo Restaurant, Rockland
Maine Eats food guide

Farnsworth Art Museum
Dowling Walsh Gallery
Caldbeck Gallery


Monhegan Inn



Port Clyde & Monhegan – Port Clyde is a little port with a long history of shipbuilding and fishing, it’s a cute place to visit and it’s where you catch the ferry to Monhegan Island, an island ten miles off the mainland, home to a fishing village and artists colony, near two miles long and one mile wide. More than half the island is protected by a nature preserve and hiking trails lead through forests and along shorelines and cliffs.

Monhegan Island Ferry
Working Lobsterboat Tours from Port Clyde
Marshall Point Lighthouse & Museum in Port Clyde
Port Clyde Kayak Tours

Ocean House Hotel, Port Clyde
Seaside Inn, Port Clyde
Mill Pond House B&B, Tenants Harbor
East Wind Inn, Port Clyde
Craignair Inn, Port Clyde

Monhegan Museum
Black Duck Emporium, Monhegan Island
The Barnacle, Monhegan Island
Fish House, Monhegan Island

The Island Inn, Monhegan Island
Hitchcock House, Monhegan Island
Shining Scales B&B, Monhegan Island
John Sterling Harbor House, Monhegan Island
The Trailing Yew, Monhegan Island
Tribler Cottage, Monhegan Island
Brackett Cottage Rentals, Monhegan Island

Wiscassett (like lots of multi-syllabic Maine towns, the name was inherited from indigenous language; I’m told it’s an Abenaki word that means “meeting of three tides”), located at the mouth of the Sheepscot River, calls itself “the prettiest village in Maine” and is probably best-known for its grand historic homes, slow-moving traffic on Route 1, and lobster rolls from Red’s Eats.

Castle-Tucker Home museum
Nickels Sortwell Home museum
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay

In The Clover beauty shop
Treats specialty grocer
Wiscasset Old General Store
Daybreak Manor (farm stand, antiques, vineyard, gardens, guest cottage, etc!)
Wiscasset Antiques listings
Red’s Eats

Tall Pines Bed & Breakfast, Wiscasset
Snow Squall Inn, Wiscasset
Squire Tarbox Inn, Westport Island
Brannon Bunker Inn, Walpole
Newcastle Inn, Newcastle
The Tipsy Butler, Newcastle

View from Five Islands Lobster Company, Five Islands, Maine Doubling Point Lighthouse, Maine 

Five Islands, Arrowsic Double Point Lighthouse



Georgetown, Arrowsic and Five Islands: follow route 127 from Bath down a peninsula and across a series of little bridges from one island to another, enjoying beautiful views of coastal salt marshes, old houses, crooked shacks, sunny bays and rocky shores covered in pine forest. The town of Georgetown includes a few little villages, one of which is Five Islands. Reid State Park has some of the state’s best sandy beaches, and the Josephine Newman Wildlife Sanctuary is a great spot for walking and birdwatching. Five Islands lobster shack is more famous and easier to find, but nearby Big Sam’s lobster shack, a bit harder to find, is worth the trouble if you want to save a few bucks and eat with the locals on a quiet dock with a great view.

Reid State Park has three great big beautiful sandy Atlantic beaches
Josephine Newman Audobon Sanctuary
Arrowsic Lighthouses
Georgetown Historical Society & Museum
Georgetown Pottery
Five Islands farm stand

Robinhood Meetinghouse is a highly-acclaimed restaurant
The Osprey Restaurant sounds like it’s worth visiting for the spectacular view, although the food’s not so great.
Big Sam’s Lobster Shack – this place is for the locals
Five Islands Lobster Company – and this place is for the tourists!

Grey Havens Inn
Coveside B&B
The Mooring B&B
River Bend Cottages

Seagontz 2010 Stairwell, Fort Popham, Maine 

Phippsburg: Morse Mountain Preserve, Fort Popham



On the next peninsula over, Phippsburg was the site of the first English settlement attempted in New England, the Popham Colony, in 1607. These days Phippsburg is a quiet little town with lots of quiet forests, hidden coves and beautiful views and a handful of interesting historic buildings. Popham Beach State Park has another great sandy Atlantic beach with lots of soft sand and mighty surf. Bates-Morse Mountain Preserve is one of my favorite places in the entire world! You can park at the entrance and hike 2 miles through woods (bring plenty of bug spray!), crossing salt marshes and leading up to a beautiful lookout from the summit and ending at the huge and pristine Seawall Beach, which is accessible only via this hiking trail and therefore very special and much quieter and than Popham Beach!

Popham Beach State Park
Fort Popham
Morse Mountain hike

North Creek Farm has a fun and eclectic shop, cute cafe, a few fresh groceries and a spectacular rose garden
Lobster House
Water’s Edge Restaurant
Spinney’s Oceanfront Restaurant

The 1774 Inn, Phippsburg

Shores edge, Harpswell Sound, Bailey's Island, Maine Fishing Boats in Mackerel Cove JN005074 

Bailey’s Island



Bailey’s Islandcribstone bridge that connects Bailey’s to Orr’s Island. Bailey’s Island has a lovely, walkable little town including the picturesque Mackerel Cove filled with lobster boats, Land’s End rocky beach, and The Giant’s Stairs, a rock formation leading down into the surf.

Cook’s Lobster Housee – a little pricey, nice view of the bridge
Giant Stairs seafood restaurant
Land’s End gift shop
Jigs & Reels charter fishing trips, Harpswell, ME

Log Cabin Inn, Bailey’s Island
Harpswell Inn, Harpswell

Maine Street IMG_4921 




Brunswick is a small city, home to Bates College and Brunswick Naval Air Station; Bath is a historic shipbuilding center (still home to Bath Iron Works), right up the coast. They’re probably the biggest cities in the mid-coast area, both interesting towns in their own right and they are surrounded by lovely coastal scenery.
Maine Maritime Museum in Bath
Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick
Theater at Monmouth in Monmouth
Maine State Music Theater in Brunswick
Joshua Chamberlain museum in Brunswick
Long Reach Cruises

Morse Lobster Shack, Brunswick
Frontier Cafe, Brunswick
Eat Maine Brunswick food guide
Solo Bistro, Bath
Mae’s Cafe, Bath
Beale St BBQ, Bath

The Brunswick Inn, Brunswick
Captain Daniel Stone Inn, Brunswick
Black Lantern B&B, Topsham
Harpswell Inn, Harpswell
The Inn at Bath
The Galen Moses House, Bath
Kennebec Inn, Bath
Pryor House B&B, Bath

Maine Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster, Freeport, ME Mike with the giant boot 




Freeport is most famous for shopping, including the giant LL Bean flagship store and a mass of upmarket discount outlets. It’s also got a cute and historic downtown (many of the meetings leading up to Maine’s separation from Massachusetts in 1820 took place in Freeport’s Jameson Tavern, which is still in operation today), and some nice waterfront areas including Harraseeket harbor and Wolf’s Neck Park.

Wolf’s Neck Woods State Park is a great place for hiking and nature, completely opposite (but not too far away) from Freeport’s Main St. bustle. In the fall, the brown-tail moths here can cause allergic skin reactions for some folks.
Maine Audobon Society Mast Landing Sanctuary
Seaspray Kayaking
Atlantic Seal Cruises
Desert of Maine
LL Bean Flagship Store
Freeport Factory Stage

Harraseeket Lunch & Lobster
Mediterranean Grill
Conundrum Wine Bistro

Brewster House B&B
The James Place Inn
Maple Hill Bed & Breakfast
Captain Briggs House
Kendall Tavern Inn
Nicholson Inn
White Cedar Inn

One Comment on “Local Attractions: Mid-Coast Maine”

  1. 1 Sarah said at 11:29 am on June 6th, 2011:

    What a superb overview. You honed in on the look and feel of the area in a very effective, evocative, realistic way. Thank you for including my B&B in your resource list.

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