Belfast + Lincolnville
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff:
Heidi Kirn, Art Director Maine Home+Design magazine
Heidi Kirn, Art Director Maine Home+Design magazine
It is the first real spring-like day, which is perfect for a road trip with the sunroof open. Lily, my twelve-year-old daughter, and I make a beeline for Belfast. The only other time I have been to Belfast was when I rode 180 miles in Trek Across Maine in honor of my mother. The event ended in Belfast, so it seems fitting that Lily and I will be enjoying a mother-daughter weekend here.
4:00 p.m. @ Belfast Bay Inn
This boutique hotel is located right in the heart of downtown in a renovated, historic mid-1800s row house. Eddie and Judy greet us in the elegant lobby and instantly make us feel like family returning home. The suite is enormous and luxurious. The living room has a wall of windows with beautiful French doors opening to a Juliet balcony that looks over Main Street. Lily describes it as “old-fashioned meets modern luxury with a twist.”
7:00 p.m. @ Delvino’s Grill and Pasta House
We walk just a couple doors down from the inn and slip into the exposed-bricked room. The restaurant offers classic Italian dishes with homemade pastas as well as grilled selections. Eben, our waiter, shares a bit of Belfast history with us. For a long time, he explains, Belfast was known as the broiler capital of the world. We enjoy dinner and share one of the best flourless chocolate cakes ever.
8:00 a.m. @ Belfast Bay Inn
Eddie and Judy personally deliver a lovely and healthy breakfast to our dining table in our suite. A spinach and feta frittata is accompanied by yogurt, fresh-cut fruit, coffee, and juice, garnished with edible flowers. We enjoy our breakfast while the sun shines in through the French doors.
9:15 a.m. on the waterfront
After breakfast we head out for a brisk waterfront walk. We spot tugboats, some cool houseboats, and also Front Street Shipyard, a yacht yard. We enjoy the beautiful views and make note of some on-the-water spots for happy hour, like Three Tides and Marshall Wharf. We stop into the Purple Baboon, a gift shop that has a little bit of everything, from Maine souvenirs to unique clothing and jewelry.
10:30 a.m. @ Belfast Co-op
We pop into the Belfast Co-op, a community-owned health food store, deli, and cafe that is located right out the back door of the Belfast Bay Inn. It has the kind of vibe that instantly makes you want to move to Belfast and live on a farm. There are lots of Maine products here. I grab a cup of coffee and realize I have forgotten my wallet! The person tells me to take the coffee anyway and come back to pay later.
10:45 a.m. on Main Street
It’s a beautiful, sunny day and we hit the street for some shopping. First, we go to Brambles, where we find soaps, hand-forged tools, and plants. Out of the Woods is full of all kinds of cool gift items. Lily finds her dad a fun wooden turkey caller and a peg game for her brother. We stop into Coyote Moon and spend some time poking around the creative clothing, inspirational books, and gifts. Then we hit Vinolio, which has a tasting room where you can sample specialty foods and olive oils. We head over to the Belfast Harbor Artisans, a co-op gallery of Maine artists and craftsmen. Artist Pat Field is working, cutting one of her lampshades at the front desk. We cross the street to Northern Lights Gallery, where a husky is napping in the sun on the stoop while Karen, the owner, paints the door. As she works, she tells us a bit about the renovations they’re doing in the gallery and about the Inuit art that they specialize in.
1:00 p.m. @ Laan-Xang
As our hunger sets in, we notice the outdoor deck at Laan-Xang. We chat with the owners, Salika and Dan. Salika tells me what she can modify to be gluten-free. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a Vietnamese iced coffee, some spring rolls, and pad thai while looking out at the water.
2:00 p.m. on Main Street
At Parent Gallery, Neal Parent’s photography lines the walls alongside dreamy oil paintings by Joanne Parent. There are a few other artists represented in this gallery, including Dan Bennett’s handmade jewelry. Next we are drawn into Yo Mamma’s Home because of the bold and eclectic window display. It’s bright, cheerful, and full of all kinds of things like vintage Pyrex collectibles, jewelry, stationery, purses, area rugs, and games. We wander into City Drawers and chat with Dee, the owner. She shows us her yoga clothing line and tells us about bra fittings. Down the road at Eat More Cheese, there’s cheese galore and accompanying foods, including salami, dried fruit and nuts, honeys, spreads, and chocolate. We try goat milk caramel in chai flavor from Big Picture Farm. It is delicious!
2:30 p.m. @ Chase’s Daily + The Green Store
Everyone says you have to stop in at Chase’s Daily, a vegetarian spot that has a bakery and a farmers’ market in the back. We admire gorgeous cherry tarts and breads. Lily wants to check out The Green Store, so we wander in and find books, toys, organic baby products, and home goods like nontoxic paints.
2:50 p.m. on High Street
At Conklin’s Maine Mercantile the owner, Gary, shows me around and tells me everything in the store is American made and many items are made right here in Maine. I fall in love with the Madder Root hand-screened organic cotton towels with graphic patterns of buoys and chickadees. We swing into Fiddlehead Artisan Supply, a sewing and craft-supply shop. It’s packed full of colorful fabric, art supplies, and lots of books.
3:00 p.m. @ the Colonial Theatre
This historic theater has been around since 1912. It has a funky retro feel to it and has a statue of an elephant on top. It adds so much personality to this downtown. We stop to take some selfies with the elephant.
3:15 p.m. @ Chocolate Drop Candy Shop + Daves’ Old Fashioned Soda Fountain
All this shopping has us in the mood to slow down and enjoy a sweet treat. We step back in time for a moment in this old-school soda fountain, where we sit at the counter on vintage stools and enjoy handmade local ice cream. There are also local handmade chocolates, jelly beans galore, and a great selection of nostalgic candy. 8:00 p.m. @ The Gothic This stunning building is festooned with spires, and inside the dining room there are amazingly high tin ceilings. We start our meal with heirloom popcorn with truffle butter, Parmesan, and sea salt. Lily orders smoked-Gouda pierogi and I order the gluten-free lasagna made with roasted beets, goat cheese, and cashew cream.
A spring day comes to a close in Belfast.
8:30 a.m. @ Belfast Bay Inn
Eddie made it his personal quest to bring me amazing gluten-free muffins from Moonbat City Baking Company, which serves all kinds of baked goods. He also delivers a full breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and yogurt with fresh fruit.
10:35 a.m. @ Windsor Chairmakers
Nance Brown is expecting us. She gives us a tour of the showroom, which is a historic farmstead. Her dog, Tilly, follows us around as we make our way through the antique rooms that have been set up to showcase the furniture in actual settings. The onsite workshop where everything is handcrafted is in an old barn. She tells us about her husband, Jim Brown, a furniture designer, who founded Windsor Chairmakers in 1987. While they are well known for Windsor chairs, they also make beds, tables, desks, and other custom pieces.
12:00 p.m. @ Dot’s
Nance recommends Dot’s for lunch, where there are some great daily specials and sandwiches. We get a salad and some butternut squash soup.
1:15 p.m. @ Lincolnville Beach
On this rainy day, we stop to take in the beautiful foggy harbor. We see cars lined up waiting to take the ferry to Islesboro. We pass the Mount Battie Motel on our drive. It has gorgeous water views and looks like a great place to stay when we return this summer.
1:30 p.m. @ the Cellardoor Winery
The view of the vineyard is hazy and gorgeous. We pick up some items from the new line of Cellardoor jellies and hot fudges for a gift basket before turning our wheels south, back toward Portland and home.