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To the north and east of Portland, the coastline becomes more jagged, its fingers protruding like tentacles toward the sea between inlets, rivers and bays. This is the area where the "real" Maine starts. Poke down remote byways to Bailey Island, Popham Beach, Westport Island, Georgetown, Pemaquid Point and Port Clyde. Life is quieter here and the distances between points long and roundabout. Here also are two of Maine's leading resort areas snug Boothbay Harbor, a commercial fishing village surrounded by a choice and remote shoreline beyond and on either side, and upscale Camden, where the mountains meet the sea and the windjammer fleet sets sail from the colorful harbor. Busy Rockland, long a commercial center, is becoming a visitor destination as well.
Some guides tout Freeport as the birthplace of Maine, but hey, everyone knows its real claim to fame is L.L. Bean, the mail-order master that became the 24-hour-a-day retailing behemoth and attracts four million pilgrims a year. Colonial legislators signed the paper separating Maine from Massachusetts here, paving the way for statehood in 1820. Bean paved the way for more than 170 other name-brand outlet stores and became Maine's second most frequented tourist destination after Acadia National Park. There's more to Freeport than Bean's and its Disneyesque-look Main Street of outlet stores and hordes a fact overlooked by visitors bent on bargains. Gracious South Freeport surrounds a picturesque working harbor far removed in place and spirit from the center of Freeport. Explore the byways of Porter's Landing, Lower Mast Landing and the other settlements along Freeport's hidden coastline. Enjoy the waterside walking trails at Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park and the wildlife at Mast Landing Sanctuary.
>> Freeport Lodging and Dining Suggestions
Harraseeket Inn, 162 Main St., Freeport 04032. (207) 865-9377 or (800) 342-6423.
>> Freeport Lodging Suggestions
Kendall Tavern Bed & Breakfast, 213 Main St., Freeport 04032. (207) 865-1338 or (800) 341-9572.
Brewster House Bed & Breakfast, 180 Main St., Freeport 04032. (207) 865-4121 or (800) 865-0822.
Known for the Brunswick Naval Air Station and Bowdoin College, Brunswick is also a destination for Civil War buffs. Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain, a student and later professor and president of Bowdoin and governor of Maine, led the charge that halted a Confederate advance and helped turn the tide in the decisive Battle of Gettysburg. His partially restored Federal-style home across from the college, now the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum, 226 Maine St., documents his life and times. It's run by the Pejepscot Historical Society, which also has a museum of local history in the left-hand section of a brick Italianate "double house" at 159-161 Park Row, built in 1858 and occupied until 1925 by three generations of leading Brunswick families. The other side is the Skolfield-Whittier House, a house museum that is a perfectly preserved slice of Victorian life. The seventeen-room mansion was sealed from 1925 to 1982, leaving the furnishings and fixtures intact. A few steps from the Chamberlain House is the 1846 First Parish Church, one of the seminal sites in the Civil War story. It was here that Harriet Beecher Stowe, while listening to her husband preach, had the vision that inspired her to write Uncle Tom's Cabin. Her home at 63 Federal St. is now the Stowe House restaurant. The Bowdoin College quadrangle is notable for a variety of architectural styles as well as two museums open to the public. The well-endowed Bowdoin College Art Museum in the Walker Art Building has the oldest collegiate art collection in the country and one of the finest collections of ancient art in New England. The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum in Hubbard Hall shows a sizable collection of tools, mechanical instruments and photographs from what is widely recognized as the first successful trip to the North Pole. The museum is named for Arctic explorers and Bowdoin graduates Robert E. Peary and Donald B. MacMillan.
>> Brunswick Lodging and Dining Suggestions
The Captain Daniel Stone Inn, 10 Water St., Brunswick 04011. (207) 725-9898 or (877) 573-5151.
>> Brunswick Dining Suggestions
Star Fish Grill, 100 Pleasant St., Brunswick. (207) 725-7828.
Rural fingers of land stretching south from Brunswick into northern Casco Bay bear the collective name, the Harpswells, which boast the longest coastline of any town in the country. Great, Orr's and Bailey islands, connected by bridges, make up one finger (Bailey, the most seaward of the islands, is connected to Orr's by the world's last surviving granite cribstone bridge). Harpswell Neck forms another. Hidden coves, ocean vistas, quaint hamlets and lobster pounds portray Maine the way it used to be.
>> The Harpswells Lodging Suggestions
Log Cabin - An Island Inn, Route 24, Box 410, Bailey Island 04003. (207) 833-5546.
Little Island Motel, 44 Little Island Road, Orr's Island 04066. (207) 833-2392.
Harpswell Inn, 108 Lookout Point Road, South Harpswell 04079. (207) 833-5509 or (800) 843-5509.
Tower Hill Bed & Breakfast, Route 24, RD 1, Box 688, Orr's Island 04066. (207) 833-2311 or (888) 833-2311.
Bailey Island Motel, Route 24, Box 4, Bailey Island 04003. (207) 833-2886.
>> The Harpswells Dining Suggestions
J. Hathaways' Restaurant & Tavern, 923 Harpswell Neck Road (Route 123), Harpswell Center. (207) 833-5305 or (800) 649-5305.
Situated on the west bank of the wide Kennebec River, Bath has been a shipbuilding center since the early 17th century. North America's recorded maritime history began just twelve miles down the Kennebec when the first ship built by settlers in the New World was launched 400 years ago. Shipyards once lined the river's edge and Bath-built vessels sailed across the world. The Bath Iron Works, the region's largest employer, continues to turn out large ships for the U.S. Navy from its prime riverfront site just south of downtown, which itself is undergoing rejuvenation and beautification. Two of mid-coast Maine's best beaches are located south of Bath. Popham Beach State Park, located off State Route 209 at the tip of the Phippsburg peninsula, offers a wide beach and views of two lighthouses. Down the road are a waterfront tower and bunkers of the 19th century granite Old Fort Popham, site of the first attempt by the British to colonize New England. Across the Kennebec River off Route 127 on the Georgetown peninsula is Reid State Park, with a mile-and-a-half-long beach with dunes, marshes and a warm saltwater pool.
Maine Maritime Museum, 243 Washington St., Bath. Relics from Maine's 400 years of seafaring heritage are preserved at this ten-acre site where many of this country's schooners were built at the turn of the last century. Five buildings from the Percy and Small Shipyard, the country's only surviving wooden shipbuilding yard, have been saved. Visitors can see how they were used in the construction of 44 huge wooden schooners between 1897 and 1920. The handsome, brick and glass Maritime History Building contains exhibits and collections showing prominent shipbuilding families, sailing memorabilia, navigational tools, ship models, artifacts, paintings and interpretive exhibits of life at sea and maritime technology. "Lobstering and the Maine Coast" is one of the interesting displays. Visiting vessels may be boarded when they are docked on the site. Daily 50-minute boat cruises are offered along the Kennebec River on the museum's boat, the Linekin II. (207) 443-1316. www.bathmaine.com. Open daily, 9:30 to 5. Adults $9.25, children $6.25.
>> Bath Lodging Suggestions
Galen C. Moses House, 1009 Washington St., Bath 04530. (207) 442-8771.
>> Bath Dining Suggestions
Kristina's, 160 Centre St., Bath. (207) 442-8577.
Maryellenz Caffe, 99 Commercial St., Bath. (207) 442-0960.
>> Georgetown Lodging Suggestions
Coveside Bed & Breakfast, 5 Gott's Cove Lane, Georgetown 04548. (207) 371-2807 or (800) 232-5490.
>> Georgetown Dining Suggestions
The Robinhood Free Meetinghouse, Robinhood Road, off Route 127, Georgetown. (207) 371-2188.
>> Westport Lodging and Dining Suggestions
The Squire Tarbox Inn, 1181 Main Road (Route 144), Westport 04578. (207) 882-7693.
Once the state's chief port, this town sloping toward the Sheepscot River lays claim to being "the prettiest village in Maine." Listed as an historic district in the National Register, it was rated the best example of a preserved New England village as early as in the 1930s by Samuel Chamberlain, author of Old New England Villages. Its reputation leads to monumental traffic jams in summer, as U.S. Route 1 travelers slow to a crawl along Main Street and perhaps wonder what all the fuss is about. The landmark Red's Eats snack bar at Main and Water streets upstages some of Wiscasset's prettier, more historic sites, which are hidden along side streets. Lately doubled in size with an expansion into an adjacent Main Street storefront is Treats, an exemplary food and wine shop featuring soups, sandwiches and takeout items prepared in its kitchen.
Castle Tucker House Museum, Lee and High Streets, Wiscasset. This odd-looking, 1807 Georgian mansion sits atop a hill overlooking the Sheepscot. Operated by the Society for the Preservation of New England antiquities, it reveals extravagant architectural details, a freestanding elliptical staircase, and the original Federal and Victorian furnishings and wallpaper. Carriages and sleighs are displayed in the barn. (207) 882-7169. Open June to mid-October, tours on the hour, Wednesday-Sunday 11 to 4. Adults $4, children $2.
Nickels-Sortwell House, 121 Main St., Wiscasset. Another 1807 mansion, this was the residence of prominent shipmaster Capt. William Nickels and served many years as a hotel. Early 20th-century furnishings remain from the time when it was owned by Alvin Sortwell, a mayor of Cambridge, Mass. The handsome elliptical staircase is illuminated by a third-floor skylight. Across Federal Street, created from the ruins of an old inn, is the Sunken Garden donated by the Sortwell family. (207) 882-6218. Open June to mid-October, tours on the hour, Wednesday-Sunday 11 to 4. Adults $4.
Musical Wonder House, 18 High St., Wiscasset. More than 1,000 new and antique music boxes spanning two centuries are on display in this unusual museum that lives up to its name. The architecturally interesting, 1852 sea captain's home also holds player grand pianos, wind-up phonographs, crank organs and reed organs, which are shown and played during a variety of guided presentations. Full presentations of the contents of two floors are available by appointment. (207) 882-7163 or (800) 336-3725. www.musicalwonderhouse.com. Open June-October, daily 10 to 5. Half-hour presentation $10, one-hour presentation $18, three-hour presentation $30.
>> Wiscasset Lodging Suggestions
Snow Squall B&B, 5 Bradford Road, Wiscasset 04578. (207) 882-6892 or (800) 775-7245.
>> Wiscasset Dining Suggestions
Le Garage, 15 Water St., Wiscasset. (207) 882-5409.
Unlike the well-known resort towns that precede it along the Maine coast, Boothbay Harbor is not directly on the ocean and has no broad, sandy beach. Its harbor lies island, sheltered from the elements by myriad coves, islands and peninsulas. The protected position made it an early haven for fishing, lobstering and boat building, whose heritage is still evident today. From the hilly village of Boothbay Harbor, three protuberances Southport Island, Spruce Point and Ocean Point stretch out toward the sea. The village seems much bigger than its year-round population of 1,300 would suggest, because of the influx of summer visitors. Tourism is rampant, and boats are everywhere. Boat cruises leave from the town piers on all sorts of water excursions. For a quick introduction and a vista that epitomizes Boothbay, check out the dory monument overlooking the harbor at Fisherman's Memorial Park along Atlantic Avenue, across from the Catholic Church. Two free attractions for visitors with special interests are the Boothbay Region Historical Society museum and the new Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, with nature trails along the tidal shoreline of the Back River. Although Boothbay Harbor proper is the focus for many, others prefer the solitude of the peninsulas and islands beyond. They are away from the hustle and bustle and portray the Maine coast the way it ought to be.
Boothbay Railway Village, Route 27, Boothbay. The area's biggest tourist attraction is a restored New England village from the beginning of the 20th century on a ten-acre property along the access road to Boothbay Harbor. Its 28 exhibit buildings show aspects of small-town life, from various types of transportation including quite a collection of classic cars to a blacksmith shop and a one-room schoolhouse. After buying a ticket in the restored 1911 railroad station relocated here from Freeport, visitors board semi-open passenger trails cars powered by a 1938 steam locomotive for a fifteen-minute journey past railroad yards, through woods and over the covered bridge. With steam spewing and whistle tooting, it's a nostalgic trip back to yesteryear via the last coal-fired, narrow gauge train left in Maine. Visitors then meander through the re-created village complete with a toyshop and doll museum. The village green is flanked by the 1847 Town Hall and the 1923 Spruce Point Chapel. The Model T Fords and Stanley Steamers are highlights among the 60 antique vehicles shown. (207) 633-4727. www.railwayvillage.org. Open daily 9:30 to 5, mid-June to mid-October. Adults $7, children $3.
>> Boothbay Harbor Lodging and Dining Suggestions
Spruce Point Inn, Atlantic Avenue, Box 237, Boothbay Harbor 04538. (207) 633-4152 or (800) 553-0289.
Newagen Seaside Inn, Route 27, Cape Newagen 04552. (207) 633-5242 or (800) 654-5242.
The Lawnmeer Inn, Route 27, Box 505, West Boothbay Harbor 04575. (207) 633-2544 or (800) 633-7645.
>> Boothbay Harbor Lodging Suggestions
The Anchor Watch, 9 Eames Road, Boothbay Harbor 04538. (207) 633-7565.
1830 Admiral's Quarters Inn, 71 Commercial St., Boothbay Harbor 04538. (207) 633-2474 or (800) 644-1878.
Five Gables Inn, Murray Hill Road, Box 335, East Boothbay 04544. (207) 633-4551 or (800) 451-5048.
Linekin Bay Bed & Breakfast, 531 Ocean Point Road, East Boothbay 04544. (207) 633-9900 or (800) 596-7420.
>> Boothbay Harbor Dining Suggestions
Christopher's Boathouse, 25 Union St., Boothbay Harbor. (207) 633-6565.
DAMARISCOTT / NEWCASTLE / PEMAQUID POINT
The twin towns of Newcastle and Damariscotta lie across a bridge from each other along the undulating Damariscotta River, which flows from Damariscotta Lake south to Christmas Cove and Pemaquid Point. Damariscotta is the commercial and cultural center for the area. The Round Top Center for the Arts, which stages drama and music festivals year-round, has a gallery with changing arts and crafts exhibits. The first permanent settlement in Maine was established in 1625 at Pemaquid Point, the tip of a long peninsula jutting into the Atlantic. A museum at the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site displays artifacts excavated from the area. Nearby is the Fort William Henry State Historic Site, on the site of a fort built in 1677. The landmark Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, commissioned by John Quincy Adams in 1827, is visible up to fourteen miles at sea.
>> Damariscotta/Newcastle/Pemaquid Point Lodging and Dining Suggestions
The Newcastle Inn, 60 River Road, Newcastle 04553. (207) 563-5685 or (800) 832-8669.
The Bradley Inn, 3063 Bristol Road, Pemaquid Point, New Harbor 04554. (207) 677-2105 or (800) 942-5560.
>> Damariscotta/Newcastle/Pemaquid Point Lodging Suggestions
The Harbor View Inn at Newcastle, Box 791, Newcastle 04553. (207) 563-2900.
The Flying Cloud Bed & Breakfast, 45 River Road, Box 549, Newcastle 04553. (207) 563-2484.
Of all coastal Maine's off-shore islands, Monhegan is the one whose fame among artists, birdwatchers and nature lovers most exceeds its size. The island, ten miles out to sea, is 1.4 miles long and half that wide. Its population of 75 swells ten-fold in summer, when overnight accommodations are scarce and booked far in advance. Artists George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent and Jamie Wyeth are among those who have painted its dramatic cliffs, the highest on the New England coast. A wildlife sanctuary contains more than 600 varieties of wildflowers and 200 kinds of birds. Seventeen miles of trails and a tranquil area of spruce trees and moss called Cathedral Woods also lure visitors. The island is reached by passenger boats from Port Clyde and New Harbor. Accommodations and meals are available in season at The Island Inn, 1 Ocean Ave., (207) 596-0371, and at The Monhegan House, 1 Main St., (207) 594-7983 or (800) 599-7983.
THOMASTON / CUSHING
Thomaston's main street (U.S. Route 1) is flanked by historic houses across from the Maine State Prison and the prison's store and showroom, which sells furniture and handcrafts created by the inmates.
Olson House, Hathorn Point Road, Cushing. The people and places of the Cushing peninsula provided some of the most enduring images for Andrew Wyeth. Outside the Olson House he painted Christina's World, one of the most famous American paintings. The evocative house near the water, once the home of Christina Olson and her brother Alvaro, had magnetic appeal for Wyeth, who found it the essence of Maine. "I just couldn't stay away from there," he once remarked. It's open to the public following its donation to Rockland's Farnsworth Art Museum. Octogenarian Dudley Rockwell, longtime Olson neighbor and Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, gives tours and lectures there. (207) 596-6457. Open Memorial Day to Columbus Day, daily 11 to 4. Adults, $4.
Montpelier/The General Henry Knox Museum, U.S. Route 1 at State Route 131, Thomaston. As different as night and day are the simplicity of the Olson House and the majestic replica of the 22-room, plantation-style home of Gen. Henry Knox, first U.S. secretary of war in George Washington's cabinet, who retired here in 1795. Costumed guides conduct tours of the 22-room hilltop mansion, which is notable for its circular, columned entrance quite a sight when arriving along Route 1 as a huge cement factory tower wouldn't you know, the only one in New England? looms behind. The 1926 reproduction of the manse was financed by Camden summer resident Cyrus Curtis, publisher of the Saturday Evening Post. The house contains original furniture, family portraits, silver and personal papers from the 1700s. (207) 354-8062. www.generalknoxmuseum.org. Open early June to late September, Tuesday-Saturday 10 to 4. Adults $6, children $3.
The coastline veers sharply to the north at Penobscot Bay and the once-scruffy seaside town of Rockland, the area's busiest commercial center and one of Maine's largest fishing ports. Its downtown lately has undergone remarkable rejuvenation, thanks to the Wyeth family's connection with the much-expanded Farnsworth Art Museum and an improved harborfront area. Having laid claim to nearby Camden's title as the windjammer capital of Maine, it has served notice on Camden that it also has a competitor in terms of art galleries, shops and restaurants.
The Farnsworth Art Museum and the Wyeth Center, 356 Main St., Rockland. What began as a modest art museum and library in 1948 has blossomed into one of the nation's leading regional art museums. With the Andrew Wyeth family deciding to make it the repository for their Maine-related works, the Farnsworth doubled its size in 1998 and again in 2000. It has sprawled across five new or restored buildings into a "campus" covering two and a half city blocks. The heart of the complex remains the original Georgian-style brick museum and library funded by the estate of Lucy Copeland Farnsworth, which grew to the point where it now has probably the best collection of Maine art in the world. The opening of the Wyeth Center in 1998 in the former Pratt Memorial Methodist Church put Rockland on the art map nationally. The Jamien Morehouse Wing in 2000 was the icing on the cake. Occupying the site of a former five-and-dime store, it offers more gallery space for the growing collection (now 9,000 works) as well as an excellent museum shop fronting on Main Street, which has inspired the opening of more galleries, shops and restaurants nearby. Despite rapid growth, the Farnsworth retains a sense of the personal, as reflected in its exhibit descriptions and catalogs. Included in the museum admission is the adjacent Farnsworth Homestead, considered one of the most beautiful Greek Revival houses in the country and full of original family furnishings. (207) 596-6457. www.farnsworthmuseum.org. Open daily, 9 to 5, Memorial Day to Columbus Day; Tuesday-Saturday 10 to 5 and Sunday 1 to 5, rest of year. Adults, $9.
The Island Institute, 386 Main St., Rockland. Philip Conkling, co-founder and president of the Island Institute, spearheaded the new headquarters of Maine's island and coastal preservation movement, whose move to a restored former department store coincided with the opening of the latest addition to the Farnsworth Art Museum, the wing honoring his late wife, artist Jamien Morehouse. The main floor holds interesting island displays, revolving exhibits and the terrific institute store, Archipelago. It showcases works by island artists and artisans, "all inspired by our beautiful coastal setting." (207) 594-9209. www.islandinstitute.org. Open Monday-Saturday 9 to 7, June-September; Tuesday-Saturday 10 to 5:30, rest of year.
The Owls Head Transportation Museum, Route 73, Owls Head. One of the country's largest collections of working antique aircraft, autos, motorcycles, bicycles and carriages is shown at this establishment, located next to the Knox County Airport and known for its special auto and air shows. The exhibition hall covers the evolution of transportation over more than a century. Highlights are World War I bi-planes, an extensive collection of Woodie wagons, luxury autos from the Silent Film era, a 1935 minivan, the world's first Ford Mustang and the largest motorcycle ever made. (207) 594-4418. www.ohtm.org. Open daily, 10 to 5, April-October; 10 to 4, rest of year. Adults $6, children $4.
>> Rockland Lodging Suggestions
The Berry Manor Inn, 81 Talbot Ave., Rockland 04841. (207) 596-7696 or (800) 774-5692.
Captain Lindsey House Inn, 5 Lindsey St., Rockland 04841. (207) 596-7696 or (800) 523-2145.
>> Rockland Dining Suggestions
Primo, 2 South Main St. (Route 73), Rockland. (207) 596-0770.
Amalfi, 421 Main St., Rockland. (207) 596-0012.
Cafe Miranda, 15 Oak St., Rockland. (207) 594-2034.
Blink and you could miss Rockport, a picturesque art colony and town of summer homes that separated from neighboring Camden in 1891. The center of the village, bypassed by Route 1, rises above Penobscot Bay. The restored Victorian-era Rockport Opera House is the setting for chamber music and jazz concerts year-round. Rockport Marine Park, beside the harbor, is best known for its statue of André the seal, the legendary harbor seal who made the harbor his summer home for years. Vesper Hill Chapel, atop a rock ledge overlooking Penobscot Bay, is a tranquil retreat of formal perennial and Biblical herb gardens along a hillside beneath the open-air sanctuary that resembles a Swiss chalet. The Conway Homestead-Cramer Museum, run by the Camden-Rockport Historical Society, includes a restored 18th-century farmhouse, a barn displaying antique carriages and sleighs, a blacksmith shop and an 1820 maple sugar house.
>> Rockport Lodging and Dining Suggestions
Samoset Resort, 220 Warrenton St., Rockport 04856. (207) 594-2511 or (800) 341-1650.
Nestled between hills and Penobscot Bay, Camden is the place "where the mountains meet the sea." The mountains distinguish the area from most others along the Maine coast. They give residents and visitors the opportunity to enjoy traditional mountain pursuits hiking, biking and skiing, among them in close proximity to attractions associated with the sea. Some of the East Coast's most scenic hiking is available on trails in Camden Hills State Park. With an elevation of 1,380 feet, Mount Megunticook is the highest of the three mountains that make up the park and the second highest point on the Eastern Seaboard. A toll road to the 790-foot summit of Mount Battie rewards motorists with a skyscraper view of town and bay. The presence of the financial services company MBNA has helped make Camden a prosperous year-round community. It retains a small-town charm, yet is one of the most affluent and cultured areas in Maine. Windjammers and boat excursions sail out of Camden's harbor. The village downtown offers the state's most sophisticated shopping opportunities north of Portland. Perhaps no road in Maine is more majestic than U.S. Route 1 as it ascends High Street, its leafy flanks lined with the sparkling white homes that one associates with the Maine coast.
Kelmscott Farm, Vancycle Road off Route 252, Lincolnville. Twenty rare breeds of livestock are raised on this unique working farm dedicated to the preservation of endangered species. Cotswold and Shetland sheep, Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs, Kerry cattle, Toulouse geese, Aylesbury ducks, Ancona chickens and Nigerian dwarf goats are housed in barns, arks and even a piggery. Most of the 200 animals that visitors see there or in pastures lost their commercial value years ago because they are not as productive as modern farm animals. The old Wool Shed in the center courtyard is the farm's compass rose, a visitor center with museum exhibits and a farm shop. Special events every weekend draw those in the know for wool festivals, border collie trials, cooking demonstrations and even a pig's birthday celebration. (207) 763-4088. www.kelmscott.com. Open daily except Monday, 10 to 5, May-October; 10 to 3, rest of year. Adults $5, children $3.
>> Camden Lodging and Dining Suggestions
Hartstone Inn, 41 Elm St., Camden 04843. (207) 236-4259 or (800) 788-4823.
The Belmont, 6 Belmont Ave., Camden 04843. (207) 236-8053 or (800) 238-8053.
>> Camden Lodging Suggestions
Norumbega, 61 High St., Camden 04843. (207) 236-4646 or (877) 363-4646.
A Little Dream, 66 High St., Camden 04843. (207) 236-8742 or (800) 217-0109.
The Camden Windward House, 6 High St., Camden 04843. (207) 236-9656 or (877) 492-9656.
Camden Maine Stay, 22 High St., Camden 04843. (207) 236-9636.
The Hawthorn, 9 High St., Camden 04843. (207) 236-8842.
Inn at Ocean's Edge, U.S. Route 1, Lincolnville (Box 704, Camden 04843). (207) 236-0945.
The Inn at Sunrise Point, U.S. Route 1, Lincolnville (Box 1344, Camden 04843). (207) 236-7716 or (800) 435-6278.
>> Camden Dining Suggestions
Atlantica, 1 Bayview Landing, Camden. (207) 236-6011 or (888) 507-8514.
Cork Restaurant, 51 Bayview St., Camden. (207) 230-0533.
The Waterfront Restaurant, Harborside Square off Bay View Street, Camden. (207) 236-3747.
>> Lincolnville Dining Suggestions
The Youngtown Inn & Restaurant, Route 52 and Youngtown Road, Lincolnville. (207) 763-4290 or (800) 291-8438.
Chez Michel, Route 1, Lincolnville. (207) 789-5600.
USA Today ranked this former chicken-processing center one of the country's top five most "culturally cool" small towns. It's lately undergoing a renaissance, thanks partly to the economic shot-in-the-arm provided by the new offices of MBNA. Maine Times readers said its scenery, history and artsy nooks make Belfast the state's "best little-known town to walk around in for an hour." A brochure outlines a mile-long walking tour along Church and High streets past splendid period homes, some of them converted into B&Bs. The main street is flanked by interesting shops as it descends to a park beside the harbor. The Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad offers 90-minute train excursions from the Belfast waterfront along the Passagassawakeag River to the inland village of Waldo and back.
>> Belfast Lodging Suggestions
The Harbor View House of 1807, 213 High St., Belfast 04915. (207) 338-3811 or (877) 393-3811.
The White House, 1 Church St. Belfast 04915. (207) 338-1901 or (888) 290-1901.
The Jeweled Turret Inn, 40 Pearl St., Belfast 04915. (207) 338-2304 or (800) 696-2304.
The Alden House, 63 Church St., Belfast 04915. (207) 338-2151 or (877) 337-8151.
>> Belfast Dining Suggestions
The Twilight Café, Searsport Avenue (Route 1), Belfast. (207) 338-0937.
Spring Street Café, 38 Spring St., Belfast. (207) 338-4603.
Once a leading seaport and shipbuilding town, Searsport launched more than 200 multi-masted ships in the 19th century, a heritage showcased in the heart of town at the Penobscot Maritime Museum. In 1870, it was the home of more than 280 resident ship captains fully 10 percent of the captains in the U.S. Merchant Marine. That accounts for the inordinate number of old sea captain's homes strung out along Route 1, many of which seem to have been turned into an ever-changing array of sometimes musty B&Bs. Today the town bills itself as the center of antique collecting in Maine. The Searsport Antique Mall is the largest of several cooperatives. Flea markets tend to be the most obvious presence. Just south of town is 183-acre Moose Point State Park, which offers scenic picnic sites with an unobstructed view of Penobscot Bay.
Penobscot Marine Museum, U.S. Route 1 at Church Street, Searsport. Part of the original townscape at the edge of downtown Searsport is this old seafaring village made up of thirteen buildings, ten of which are open to the public. The Museum Store at the corner is the most visible presence. Another is the modern Stephen Phillips Memorial Library, which has extensive maritime, photographic and genealogical holdings. Gathered off the main street around the Congregational church are a tight collection of eight structures listed on the National Register. Among them are an 1805 sea captain's home, a couple of barns and the 1843 town hall buildings. They contain collections of ship models, paintings, photographs, shipbuilders' tools, regional watercraft, early American furnishings and China Trade art. The Capt. Jeremiah Merithew House (1830) features the second largest public collection of works by marine master painters Thomas and James Buttersworth. A new Small Craft Boathouse, opened in 2001 for the museum's 65th anniversary, holds a recently acquired Beal's Island lobster boat. (207) 548-2529. www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org. Open Memorial Day weekend through Oct. 15, Monday-Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 5, Adults $8, children $3. .
>> Searsport Lodging Suggestions
Brass Lantern Inn, 81 West Main St., Searsport 04974. (207) 548-0150 or (800) 691-0150.
Watchtide B&B By the Sea, 190 West Main St., Searsport 04974. (207) 548-6575 or (800) 698-6575.
>> Searsport Dining Suggestions
The Rhumb Line, 200 East Main St. (Route 1), Searsport. (207) 548-2600. Entrées, $21 to $25. Dinner nightly in summer, from 5; weekends in winter.
This content is excerpted from New England's Best, by Nancy and Richard Woodworth, copyright 2002, published by Wood Pond Press.