The Ellsworth area is at the heart of many diverse and inviting regions. Explore the breathtaking landscapes of Acadia National Park, the serenity of our coastal communities, and the bustling charm of our town center. You’ll find something for everyone – from outdoor enthusiasts to history buffs. Discover the Ellsworth Area Regions and fall in love with our variety!
- Once the playground for the upper crust of society, Bar Harbor has become a huge destination for tourists from all over the world.
- Located close to the entrance to our own Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor provides ample opportunities for summer fun. Visitors can enjoy a day of nature and an evening of fun in one of Bar Harbors’ many restaurants or pubs, and shop in some of the quaint stores and galleries. Learn about Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island as well as the Maine way of life on several cruising options and museums. Summertime on the Island is full of possibilities.
- A yielding ridge runs south towards the ocean on a peninsula just west of Mt Desert. It ends, first by jumping across the Eggemoggin Reach to become Deer Isle, then just from the sea to become Isle au Haut, a forty-minute ferry ride into the Atlantic Ocean.
- Bordered on the east by Blue Hill Bay, photo-quality views of Mount Desert Island show across the island-dotted ten-mile span. Westward views from the heights of Caterpillar Hill display the whole of Penobscot Bay, its islands, and the Camden Hills beyond. Sunrises and Sunsets can be spectacular here.
- Small towns are scattered across the whole length. Blue Hill at the head of the bay is backed by its namesake, Blue Hill Mountain, an easy climb on good trails to the 800 ft. summit. To the west and south are Brooklin, Sedgwick, Brooksville, Penobscot, Orland, Castine, and out to sea, the purple shape of Isle au Haut is a majestic presence on the southern horizon. A part of Acadia National Park, Isle au Haut has a network of interesting trails for day trippers, but don’t miss the boat back to the mainland! Libraries, Art Galleries, and restaurants as well as potters, weavers, and organic farms enliven a day trip adventure. Fishing and boat building compete with artists, writers, and musicians.
- Blue Hill has an active theater group, as well as Kniesel Hall, the Bagaduce Music Lending Library, and the MERI, a marine research center. Brooklin, once home to Charlotte and Wilbur’s creator, E.B. White, is now home to The Wooden Boat School. Brooklin also leads the state in the harvesting of steamer clams. Lobsters and Scallops are important Brooklin resources. Holbrook Island Preserve beckons with more woodland walking and guided nature trails. Across the Bagaduce River sits stately Castine, home of Maine Maritime Academy. Once a hotbed of colonial intrigue and hot dispute, Castine is content now to offer its Elm-shaded streets, antique and art galleries, and several fine restaurants to those seeking quieter times.
- A stunning waterfront walkway and a sparkling harbor greet visitors to Bucksport– long a seafaring port at the upper end of Penobscot Bay, founded by the legendary Jonathan Buck in 1764. Though burned by the British in 1779, Buck rebuilt the shipbuilding and import/export center.
- During the height of the schooner trade, ships of every description filled the harbor. Later, the “Boston Boat” steamship made regular stops; and in 1930, the Maine Seaboard Paper Company built its mill in Bucksport. Blessed with a central location, historic Bucksport is a “gateway,” intersecting Acadia Highway (US Route 1) to Bar Harbor and Camden with Route 15 reaching Blue Hill and the Peninsula as well as Bangor. Though central, Bucksport is less bustling than some, offering spectacular views of the famous Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory and historic Fort Knox, Maine’s most visited historic site, just across the harbor. The charming waterfront walk and park is a great place to picnic, relax, and enjoy the views of this working harbor and marina. Visit nationally recognized Northeast Historic Film archives, theater, and Visitor Center, as well as the Bucksport Historical Society Museum. Bucksport hosts the family fun of the annual Bucksport Bay Festival in late July.
- Visit Fort Knox by crossing Verona Island, a quiet island town and once home to a beehive of shipbuilding activity, including Admiral Peary’s arctic exploration vessel Roosevelt, launched in 1905 at what is now one of Bucksport’s waterfront parks. Traveling east on U.S. Route 1, the town of Orland, incorporated in 1800, provided England with timber for ship masts. Picturesque Orland Village on the Narramissic River is the site of the oft-photographed United Methodist Church. In East Orland, just off Route 1, is Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery, the oldest salmon hatchery in the nation. Visitors enjoy displays, swimming, picnicking, hiking trails, and climbing beautiful Great Pond Mountain. Orland is home to the annual River Days in early July. The Orland and Bucksport area boasts fifteen lakes and ponds, providing a myriad of recreational and nature activities.
- While you are visiting our corner of Maine make sure you head to Washington County. The entire region is peppered with unique and charming villages as well as busy and historic shopping and business districts all nestled into the beautiful landscape of Downeast Maine.
- There are many “must-see” spots while you are visiting Downeast. Roque Bluffs State Park and Quoddy Head State Park are both popular spots for visitors to swim, picnic, and hike. People come from all over to travel along the Sunrise Trail. Covering over 85 miles from Ellsworth straight through to Calais you can hike, bike, or take an ATV or snowmobile the entire trial or enjoy the rugged coastal scenery along the Bold Coast Byway.
- Summertime in the Downeast Area is full of family fun including Eastport’s annual Salmon Festival and Pirate Festival and the Blueberry Festival in Machias.
- Whether exploring by land or by water, Ellsworth offers the convenience of small-city life with all the qualities of Maine’s spectacular coastal amenities – including hiking and boating. As the county seat for Hancock County, Ellsworth hosts government and professional offices as well as historic buildings.
- In historic Downtown Ellsworth, Maine’s historic gem on the Union River, you’ll discover the real Maine – close to coastal attractions, away from the crowds. We’re a small waterfront city that is a vibrant, year-round community where people live and work. Our heritage is reflected in the historic architectural gems-City Hall, the library, stately courthouse, and lovely churches-all still used for their original purpose. Today our lively downtown offers shops, an art-deco theater, professional offices, galleries, a museum, coffee houses, pubs, great restaurants, arts and entertainment, outdoor recreation, and business and personal services.
- History is in the walking, so free parking is easily found for discovering the nature trails, pocket parks, and neighborhoods tucked around town. Shopping centers, hotels, inns, and restaurants are scattered minutes from the historic district.
- Our waterfront park offers a boat launch, free summer concerts, and picnic areas for the family along with an amazing display of wildlife. Visit Waterfront Park and there’s a good chance you’ll see one of our resident bald eagles!
- All roads lead to Ellsworth.
- Find us on your journey as you drive or cruise the coast of Downeast Maine. Ellsworth is the place to begin and end your visit, or even better a place to settle down and stay awhile … Discover Ellsworth!
No trip Downeast could be considered complete without visiting the easternmost point of land in the continental United States, Lubec. This rural community retains much of its rustic charm of bygone eras as it grows into an artistic and cultural community. Lubec’s tradition as a true fishing village can still be appreciated as you explore the town’s 96 miles of pristine coastline and visit its historic sites. Two lighthouses, including the world-famous West Quoddy Light, will compete for your attention. You can picnic and hike in the Quoddy Head State Park while enjoying its unique variety of flora and fauna. Some of the area’s best seafood can be found here, and the restaurants are both generous and reasonably priced. Accommodations include a motel, campground, several B&Bs, and a large selection of vacation rental homes, with all the charm you would expect from this historic and untouched area.
Eastport is a city of superlatives: freshest seafood, oldest ship’s chandlery (1818), biggest Fourth of July celebration, most diverse cultural community, last stone-ground mustard mill, first sunrise, most fun at Pirate Festival. Whether you’re interested in art by local artists and artisans or in antiquing, classical or bluegrass music, theater or poetry, whale watching, or traditional baskets made by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, you’ll find lasting memories in Eastport. Water Street has a long history and a thriving present, with its fishing boats, its Historic District, and its variety of shops, galleries, and restaurants.
You can come by car, boat, or plane and stay in area accommodations that range from motels and campgrounds to lakeside cabins and gracious B&Bs. Bring your passport so you can visit Canada across the Bay and make it a true three-nation vacation.
Campobello Island, New Brunswick
The island that captured the heart of a president, Campobello Island, one of the three Fundy Isles, is in the Bay of Fundy, across the international bridge from Lubec. A special part of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, Campobello Island has two wilderness areas, the Herring Cove Provincial Park with a nine-hole golf course as well as camping/RV sites, and two lighthouses including Canada’s most-photographed – East Quoddy (Head Harbor) Light.
Of special interest is the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, which includes the historic Roosevelt “summer cottage” and a multi-media visitor center. Come and see FDR’s summer home, observe the island’s working fishing villages, or take a whale-watching tour. A variety of accommodations and restaurants on the island will ensure that your visit will be a special experience.
- The Quiet Side of Mount Desert Island lies west of the long Somes Sound. Three towns comprise this delightful part of the island: Tremont, Southwest Harbor, and part of the Town of Mount Desert. At the head of the Sound sits the beautiful village of Somesville, the first settlement on the island.
- Noted for its boat building and related maritime interests, Southwest Harbor occupies a strategic position at the mouth of the Sound. Tremont has several small villages. Bass Harbor and Bernard are devoted mainly to lobster fishing and the small harbor between them is often filled with fishing boats.
- Much of the Quiet Side is part of Acadia National Park. Many hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging climbs, are found in the hilly part of the area. Two nature trails, Wonderland and Ship Harbor, are on the south shore and lead one to the tide pools where sea life can be found. The Seawall, a barrier of rounded cobbles thrown up by wave action, is evidence of the power of the sea and is an exciting place to visit during a storm. Two large lakes within the park area, Long Pond and Echo Lake, are available for quiet paddling on a summer day or for sailing an iceboat in the depths of winter. Bass Harbor Head lighthouse is easily accessible and is a challenging subject for photographers.
- In summer, the historic Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor hosts a croquet tournament in which serious players play for bragging rights. Summer is capped off in the town by Octoberfest–a happy celebration. Museums, interesting restaurants, and small shops make even a brief visit to the Quiet Side of Mount Desert Island a memorable experience.
- Located a little east of Ellsworth along historic Route 1, the Schoodic region is the beginning of the Downeast Acadia trail. Route 1 and Route 186 were designated the Schoodic National Scenic Byway in June 2000. The Schoodic Byway is your chance to enjoy this region’s unique historic, scenic, and recreational opportunities. Visit the Taunton Bay Gateway on Route 1 in Hancock for up-to-date information.
- Whether you are seeking the excitement of kayaking through sea spray, hiking the Maine woods, paddling clear lakes, or searching out the ambiance of a small New England sea-side village, (sitting quietly atop a rocky perch watching lobster boats pulling in their catch), the Schoodic region is a treat. At night experience a brilliant starlit sky, the call of loons across the water, and a hearty lobster dinner.
- Traveling the 27-mile Schoodic Byway you will see tidal falls that reverse direction every six hours, historic architecture, piers piled high with lobster traps, clam diggers working knee-deep in muck, and a largely undiscovered portion of Acadia National Park. Shop in country stores, galleries, and antique shops; buy bread from local bakers, sample the catch-of-the-day, go fishing and catch your own, or rent a bicycle or kayak to tour Acadia and its surroundings. Stay in one of the many local area campgrounds, inns, or bed and breakfasts.
- The earliest inhabitants were small groups of Indians who settled here several thousand years ago. Clams were a staple of their diets and could be easily dug from the mud of the tidal flats. Because clam shells can take thousands of years to deteriorate, the buried mounds of shells that are revealed by shore erosion still mark those earliest settlements.
- Historians and architects will enjoy the preserved rural character of the Schoodic area. There are more than 20 lighthouses in Downeast Maine and some of the most noteworthy are found right here. Heritage visitors not only get to see historic architecture like the Stone Store on Route 1 and the West Gouldsboro Village Library on Route 186 but can even live in it. Several local inns and bed and breakfasts are themselves registered historic buildings reviewed in Downeast and Yankee magazines.
- Fishing, lumbering, shipbuilding, small-scale gold and silver mining, and granite quarrying played an important role in this area’s development. Fishing and boat building continue to dominate the Schoodic economy and culture to this day.