If this is what comes to mind when someone says, “Maine,” you will not be disappointed because it really is this beautiful!
Based on articles in my file, my husband’s multiple sailing trips along Maine’s coast, and our trip a couple of years ago, following are Maine’s most charming coastal towns:
MOST perfect! Historic, not touristy, peaceful small town, with beautiful houses, situated on the tip of a peninsula overlooking Penobscot Bay. The best introduction to the village of Castine is to read the history and then to follow the self-guided walking tour in the “Welcome to Castine” brochure, which describes historic sites and homes, and anecdotes about early citizens. It’s fun, easy and relaxing…oh, and a bit educational to boot!
STAY in Castine
- Castine Inn–What could be more welcoming than the Castine Inn’s front porch, below?! Built in 1898, one block from the harbor, wraparound porch, gardens, and its own pub. 19 rooms with private baths
STAY in Blue Hill
- Blue Hill Inn–Such a classically pretty inn! The bedrooms look every bit as nice, so check out BHI’s website for photos. Located on an acre of land in the center of the village of Blue Hill and a block from the head of Blue Hill Bay, the inn, built in 1835, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
EAT in Blue Hill:
- Wonderful Restaurant: Arborvine
- Excellent Carry-out: Blue Hill Co-op
- Kitsch-at-its-best diner: Fish Net (no web site, of course!)
- The Boatyard Grill: It’s a fun one! (no web site for this one, either)
- Blue Hill Country Club: The house we rented came with use of this private club, whose upscale casualness charmed us, so you might want to see if your club has reciprocity with the BHCC, which has golf, tennis, etc.
Perfectly charming! Stonington is one of the few working fishing villages left in Maine and boasts one of New England’s largest fishing fleets (lobstering, fishing, urchining, scalloping, clamming and musseling). Stonington sits on the southernmost tip of Deer Isle, with lovely panoramic views of fir-dense islands. What to do in Stonington and Deer Isle: hiking, kayaking, tennis, golf, bird watching, jogging, biking, and fishing.
STAY in Stonington
- Inn on the Harbor-This is not a fancy place BUT it is perched right on the edge of lovely Stonington Harbor, has a great view of the Penobscot Bay islands, and was built in the 1880’s. It is a bed and breakfast, with 13 simply furnished rooms, 10 of which face the sea, and a spacious flower-covered deck extending out into the harbor. Several rooms have wood burning fireplaces and/or private decks; all with private baths.
SEE THE SIGHTS in Stonington
- The Inn on the Harbor’s innkeepers will introduce you to Captain Walt Reed, who takes 1 to 4 passengers aboard his 21′ vessel to explore around the islands, see lighthouses, seals, and water birds. He will let you create your own tour, including the timing thereof. Stonington harbor is the departure point for daily cruises (by the Isle au Haut Boat Company) around the islands and to Isle au Haut, part of Acadia National Park, which offers hiking trails, rugged beaches and gorgeous sea vistas.
EAT in Stonington
- Aragosta–Breaking news: My cousins just visited Stonington and highly recommend this farm-to-table dining overlooking Stonington’s beautiful harbor.
SEE THE SIGHTS
In nearby small, sweet Brooklin, Maine (setting of E.B.White’s “Charlotte’s Web”):
- Brooklin Inn: has a good restaurant
- Brooklin Boat Yard, where E.B. White’s grandson builds beautiful, classic boats
- Wooden Boat School: great gift shop (selling boat models and books) & gorgeous location on a 64-acre campus on the water where you can learn to make your own wooden boat
SEE THE SIGHTS
A little farther afield:
- Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden at Seal Harbor; Martha Stewart owns nearby Skylands, former estate of Edsel Ford
- Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island
Miscellaneous well-rated hotels in Maine:
- Whitehall (Camden)–My cousins-with-good-taste recently returned from Camden and, while they agree with my sailor husband’s description of the town (“not bad, a little touristy”), they loved this hotel. And you will see why when you go to its website. Here are some photos to whet your appetite:
- Camden Harbour Inn–This is a Relais & Chateaux but as we all know, the hotels in that group are only guaranteed to be great in France. Outside of France, sometimes they’re great, sometimes not. The CHI’s website looked okay, with only a few hints of tackiness.
- The White Barn Inn (Kennebunkport)–This is the only hotel in Maine recommended by Mr. and Mrs. Smith, who have good taste. Here’s what they say, “Set on a prime plot of Atlantic coastline, The White Barn Inn hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine, captures the region’s nautical spirit without resorting to sailor stripes and ship-inspired design. The airy riverfront cabins and 19th-century guesthouse often include dual-sided fireplaces, marble bathrooms and antique furniture. As for the namesake barn, it’s home to a local-centric restaurant, which serves some of the best food in all of New England.” Based on a few articles I have read, I worry that Kennebunkport might be touristy, though I haven’t been there.
From Andrew Harper‘s always-helpful website (April 2016):
“Contrary to popular belief, not all of the Maine shoreline is rocky. Many of the beaches in the southern part of the state offer sandy shores.’Goose Rocks Beach is one of the best beaches in Maine, and quite possibly in all of New England,’ says Justin Grimes of Hidden Pond. ‘It’s protected by two small islands that shelter the bay and make it especially great for swimming.’ In case you think it’s too cold, Al Black of The White Barn Inn says water temperatures are typically pleasant from late June through early September. Plus, you get two-for-one in Kennebunkport: From the coast, drive a mere mile inland and you’re in the thick of the forest.”
AVOID BECAUSE PACKED WITH TOURISTS: Bar Harbor
AVOID BECAUSE STRIP-SHOPPING CENTER CENTRAL: Freeport
Reading companions to get into the Maine spirit: any E.B. White books, but especially E.B. White’s “One Man’s Meat” (witty essays on daily life at his Maine farm on Allen Cove, between Blue Hill and Brooklin) and, should you want to re-live your childhood, “Charlotte’s Web,” part of which is set in Brooklin
-posted June 2016