Blue Hill Peninsula

Welcome to a place filled with small-town coastal charm and character.
View of Stonington Harbor from the water
Lobster boats moored in Stonington Harbor.

Sheltered harbors, lighthouses, and picturesque islands make this one of the finest areas in Maine for a maritime experience. The area is further beautified by secluded nature preserves and timeless villages dating to our nation’s infancy. 

Penobscot Narrows Bidge and Observatory in Bucksport, Maine
Take in the view from Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory.

bucksport area

Shop, kayak, enjoy a movie, wander the riverfront trail, or relax with a great cup of coffee in Bucksport. As home to the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory, visitors can get a birds eye view of the Penobscot River as it cuts across the spectacular coastal landscape from the to of the 420-foot observation tower. Then enjoy a day exploring nearby Historic Fort Knox, one of the best-preserved examples of Civil War-era coastal defense fortifications.

Historic film buffs should make extra time when visiting the Alamo Theater on Main Street; it is home to Northeast Historic Films three story archive of over 10 million feet of film. The Alamo is one of the oldest purpose-built cinemas in all of New England that became an integral part of Bucksport in 1916, and was then rescued in 1992. Visitors can enjoy showings of historic movies in the 

Boating in Penobscot Bay is a great way to enjoy the warm months. While in the winter, a vast network of trails welcomes snowshoers, Nordic skiers, and snowmobilers. Don’t forget to ask about that eerie mark on founder Colonel Jonathan Buck’s gravestone for a bit of local lore! 

Orland

Situated on the banks of the Narramissic River, Orland is home to some wonderful trails and conservation efforts. Visit the hiking trails of Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust for views of Camden Hills, Mount Desert Island, and Mount Katahdin. Nearby Toddy Pond is dotted with traditional camps and cottages.

Originally called Alamoosook by the Wabanaki, a word meaning “place of many fish,” it is now known for its alewife harvest and salmon hatchery. Tour the Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery to see how they return native Atlantic Salmon to Maine’s rivers. 

If you find yourself spinning through the radio dial, stop in at WERU at 89.9 on the dial. Since 1988, this community supported, volunteer run radio station has been the region’s “voice of many voices.”

Orland and Toddy Pond in Autumn
Toddy Pond, near Orland, in Autumn.
Castine Harbor
The Wilson Museum sits on the edge of Castine harbor.

castine

Further down the peninsula, along the Bagaduce River, the town of Penobscot boasts a classic rural character and tiny village area. The area offers miles of shoreline and interior marshes in addition to ponds for leisurely fishing, kayaking, and sightseeing. Several B&Bs provide comfortable, friendly lodging for visitors.

One of the oldest towns in New England, Castine is home to several historic sites, parks, Dyce’s Head Lighthouse, and a deep water harbor. Its streets are still lined with Federal, Greek Revival, Cape Cod, and other antique style houses, shaded by large elms. The Castine Post Office is in one of the oldest  in continuous operation in the US.

Today, Castine offers visitors a delightful mix of gracious hospitality, fine dining, shops, and galleries dotting the hilly streets leading down to the waterfront. Visitors interested in maritime ventures can tour the 35-acre campus of Maine Maritime Academy. 

Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, and Sedgewick

Nestled between Blue Hill Mountain and the protective arm of Blue Hill Bay lies the town of Blue Hill. By the mid-1800s, the town became a summer destination. A tradition which remains to this day. Blue Hill is vibrant with artists and craftspeople, excellent food, lodging, art galleries, and small shops. The town continues to welcome visitors to hike its forests, climb Blue Hill Mountain and to canoe, kayak, and sail its waters.

Visitors can find locally made pottery and hand-loomed blankets, a one-of-a-kind music library at Bagaduce Music, plus sculptures and paintings by area artists. Blue Hill also offers community events such as the traditional blueberry pancake breakfast at the Congregational Church, a summer concert series, classical music at Kneisel Hall as well as the Bagaduce Chorale

The annual Memorial Day Parade begins with cannon fire, and includes tolling of church bells, scouts, color guard, and playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” The Blue Hill Fair—the true “Down to Earth” Country Fair we all read about in Charlottes Web—is always scheduled around Labor Day weekend.

A small, lively village at the southern end of the peninsula, Brooklin is home to boat builders, artists, writers, musicians, and potters. Brooklin’s beautiful, rural landscape provided the setting for E.B. White’s books classic children’s tales.

The picturesque town of Brooksville, dotted with century-old farmhouses and summer retreats, encompasses several villages. Harborside on Cape Rosier, North and South Brooksville, and Brooksville Corner each have their own unique character. This area is known as the inspiration for Robert McCloskey’s book Blueberries for Sal. With vast tracts of conservation land and the 1230-acre Holbrook Island Sanctuary, there is plenty of elbow room and lots to explore. 

Blueberry barrens dot the landscape of Sedgwick. The town’s coastline stretches along the shores of the Eggemoggin Reach, which separates the peninsula from Deer Isle. The mouth of the Benjamin River offers sailors and boaters a quiet cove, and the nearby village of Sargentville is the jumping-off point for Deer Isle.

Historic Home in Blue Hill
Visit Holt House Historic House Museum in Blue Hill.
Brooklin General Store
Stop by the Brooklin General Store.@theblessingbucket
Pumpkin Island Light, Little Deer Isle
Pumpkin Island Light, Little Deer Isle ©Sally Littlefield
Summer View in Stonington
Stonington Harbor View

Deer Isle & STONINGTON

Linked to the peninsula by a bridge, Deer Isle is home to a few shops and a historic inn. Its scenic coastline is home to fishermen, artists, writers, and a good many people who live by doing “this or that” in the manner of generations who came before.

Hikers and kayakers can find quiet spots to explore. Shoppers will enjoy visiting artists and craftspeople in their studios, often in a barn attached to the house. Make sure to check out the Deer Isle Lighthouse Trail, consisting of eight lighthouses and a passport stamp for each!

The bridge back to the mainland starts at one end of Little Deer Island. Additionally, on the westernmost point of this oblong-shaped island, visitors will find Pumpkin Light. 

At the tip of Deer Isle, you will find picturesque Stonington, where windjammers, kayaks, and day cruises make way for more than 300 lobster boats that are the lifeblood of this bustling seaside community.

This working waterfront town is home to the historic Opera House Arts offering live theater, music, dance, or film events year-round. Visitors will also find a lobster hatchery and research station, one of Maine’s liveliest weekly Farmers Markets, a consortium of galleries from fine handmade furniture to plein air painting, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

ISLE AU HAUT

It may be that only a few hardy tourists find their way to Isle au Haut because, as an island, it is only accessible by boat. For those that do make the journey, about 60% of the island is part of Acadia National Park, with the remainder privately owned by a combination of full-time and seasonal residents.

The island offers incredible hiking, biking, and kayaking opportunities, as well as the chance to relax and enjoy the island’s natural beauty. Five primitive camping sites are available at Duck Harbor Campground from May 15 through October 15. You must reserve in advance to camp. A point of interest for many is Isle au Haut Light, also called Robinson Point Light.

Spend a day or more. Walk along the island’s rugged coast to spot porpoises and seals, windjammers, and sailing ships, and enjoy some the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises, ever (even for spectacular Maine).

Duck Harbor on Isle au Haut
Duck Harbor, Isle au Haut, ANP

Planning Tools

To help you plan your trip we provide  information on drive time and distances to and around the region. Plus info on other commercial transportation options.

Once you arrive in DownEast Acadia, you will want to access local sources of visitor information, state laws, recreation rules, and road conditions.

To help you pack or plan your day, check out the current weather in the region or learn about year-round averages of temperature and precipitation.

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