Craggy fingers of spruce-clad land reach out for the sea. The fragrance of beach roses permeates the air. Traditional fishing villages survive in the shadows of more cosmopolitan towns. Choose among fine restaurants and lobster-in-the rough; large resorts and cozy inns; galleries and boutiques; antiques and flea markets; nationally renowned museums and historic meeting houses. Add in a wealth of offshore islands, a handful of beautiful sand beaches, an abundance of lighthouses and historic forts, and scores of postcard-perfect towns. Top it off with a rich cultural scene including frequent festivals, concerts and live theater. The blend makes Mid Coast Maine shine.
A trip through the Mid Coast will dip you into Maine’s maritime history, from past to present, from five-masted schooners to Aegis cruisers. It all began at the Popham Colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Popham’s settlers abandoned the colony in 1608, after building the first English ship constructed in the Northeast. Listen for the ghostly footsteps of marching soldiers as you clamber through the ruins of Forts Popham, Edgecomb, William Henry, Pownall and Knox. Maine’s shipbuilding and seafaring heritage is documented at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, and at Searsport’s Penobscot Marine Museum. Learn about Maine’s own Civil War hero at the Joshua Chamberlain Civil War Museum in Brunswick. Stop by the Shore Village Museum in Rockland to view the world’s largest collection of lighthouse memorabilia.
Artists have long flocked to this region, inspired by the natural beauty of soaring headlands, rugged shores, cozy harbors and sleepy villages. You can view their works at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland and Rockport’s Center for Contemporary Maine Art. Take home a treasure from a Belfast gallery, a Wiscasset antiques shop or an area arts and crafts show.
Mid Coast Maine is a great to get physical, too. Hike to the summit of Mt Battie for a birds-eye view of Camden. Explore the coast by sea kayak. Take a swim in the clear waters of Damariscotta or Megunticook Lakes. Explore the peninsulas of island by bicycle. Most of Maine’s historic windjammers are based in this region, and you can take a cruise on one of a few hours or a full week. Ferries from several ports carry passengers to the islands; excursion boats from Boothbay Harbor and other ports take visitors out to see seals, puffins and whales. You can even go out on a working fishing boat. End your day with a lobster dinner, either a traditional one at a dockside shack or an inspired rendition created by one of the region’s nationally recognized chefs.