A trip to Maine would not be complete without a journey along the eastern coastline. With close to 500 miles of Atlantic coast to explore, Maine offers many interesting and beautiful places worth discovering.
Much of the eastern coast can be accessed from Route 1. But, while this may be the quickest route to take, you will likely want to take a variety of side trips along the smaller rural routes. These roads offer a far better view of the region and are the only way to access many of Eastern Maine’s best attractions.
At the southern end of the coast we will begin our journey at Bath. This town located at the mouth of the Kennebec River started out as a boat building center. Many wealthy merchants settled here, building fine mansions along the prosperous Washington Street. The history of the region is showcased at the local Maine Maritime Museum. To this day ships continue to be built in Bath at the bath Iron Works.
After enjoying Bath, take a side trip down Route 127 to Reid State Park. Here you can enjoy a mix of marshlands, sand dunes, and rocky shores. Bird lovers will enjoy spotting Piping Plovers and Least Terns as they nest along the beaches. If you enjoy rocks, take some time to scout out the calcite, garnet, mica, quartz, and hornblende deposits found in the region.
Back on Route 1 you will pass Wiscasset and Damariscotta, where you will reach route 130 which takes you down to Pemaquid Point. Here you can visit the famous 1827 lighthouse, enjoy the Fisherman’s Museum, and enjoy the Pemaquid Art Gallery.From here you will want to follow the coastline along Route 32. This will lead you to Waldoboro, another shipbuilding village.
Continue along Route 1 from Waldoboro to the picturesque Rockport. This is a nice place to stop for an evening. If you prefer camping or staying in your RV, pull into either the Camden Hills RV Resort or Megunticook Campground. For those looking for a room, the Spruce Ridge Inn is just one of many B&B’s in the area that will welcome you with a comfortable room, fabulous view, and great food. Try to catch the Spruce Ridge Inn Lobster Cookout which runs from late May to late October for a true taste of Maine. After dinner, enjoy one of the weekly classical concerts at the opera house. Art lovers can explore the Maine Coast Artists Gallery, while photographers will enjoy the Maine Photographic Workshops.
Begin your next day, by heading a bit north. Not far from Rockport lies Camden and the Camden Hills State Park. The 18th century Conway house is a neat place to stop, featuring an historically accurate household, barn, and blacksmith shop. The state park offers numerous nature trails through the 5000 acre wildlife refuge.
As you continue along Route 1 you will eventually reach Ellsworth, the commercial center of this part of the Maine coast. Architectural wonders worth seeing include the 1828 Colonel Black Mansion and the First Congressional Church. Nature lovers will enjoy a stop at the Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary which is known for the variety of birds who live around the Sanctuary’s three ponds. The Sanctuary is also home to a wildlife recovery center where injured birds are treated and returned to the wild when fully recovered.
About 25 miles past Ellsworth you will reach Route 186, which takes you on a tour of Schoodic Peninsula. Here you can find lovely hiking trails and enjoy the marine life found in the tidal pools of the area. On the way back up to Route 1 you may want to drop by the Bartlett Maine Estate Winery for some lovely fruit wines.
Another great stop for the fruit lover is Cherryfield, the “blueberry capital of the world”. While it is a bit out of the way, in blueberry season you are sure to enjoy some lovely berry treats.
The town of Machias is home to the Fort O’Brien State Historic Site. This locale is very close to the site of the first naval battle of the Revolution in 1775. If you travel a bit further down Route 92 you can stop at Jasper Beach, where you can enjoy the unusual jasper and rhyolite pebbles that make up the shores.
At the north end of Route 1 you will reach the town of Perry. From here you can take a short detour along Route 190 to the Pleasant Point Indian Reservation. Here you can learn about the Passamoquoddy Indians, where over 800 still live on the reservation. One of the world’s largest whirlpools can be found at the end of Route 190 near the town of Eastport. The Old Sow Whirlpool is by Dog Island. It is best seen around 2 hours before high tide.
Finally you can follow Route 1 along the Canadian border to Calais. You can enjoy the tremendous granite cliffs along the St. Croix River and see the island where Samuel De Champlain landed in 1604, forming the first white settlement north of St. Augustine, Florida. At Calais you can stop at the Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge, home to many rare birds including the American Bald Eagle.
The Maine coastline may be long, but it is filled with places to see and things to do. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to stop and enjoy the sites both on and off the main routes.
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