48 Hours in Belfast, Lincolnville + Northport
These midcoast communities are filled with plenty of outdoor recreation options and vibrant businesses, including unique restaurants and shops.
We all know the feeling—exciting plans for the weekend, and you just can’t get on the road early enough. My friend KC and I are heading east, toward the beauty of the midcoast and the warmth and sparkle of the people who live and work in the region year-round. We arrive in Northport by 7:30 p.m. to a warm reception at the fabulous Point Lookout Resort and Conference Center. We are welcomed with a list of all of the places still open for dinner and a long list of activities on the property, including hiking, snowshoeing, bowling, a fitness room, and squash courts. We are ready to get the weekend started!
We check in to Cabin 77, a cozy two-bedroom cottage that is perfect for our weekend getaway. It has an inviting log-cabin style with pine flooring and beams and a sweet screened-in porch with rocking chairs. Hungry, we head straight to Whale’s Tooth Pub and Restaurant in Lincolnville, an establishment that has been serving up delicious food from the current owners for over 20 years. Our waitress has been here 26 years! KC settles on the Captain’s Cut steak, and I order baked haddock—generous portions of quality comfort food, all served with a smile.
Up bright and early in the mild weather, I enjoy the perfect cup of tea on our front porch before we head to Dot’s in Lincolnville. New owner Susie Barnes has infused the daily selections and market items with a fresh energy. I imagine it being the perfect place to stop before catching the ferry to Islesboro, but today we decide to linger, enjoying breakfast biscuit sandwiches.
We go for a walk on Bald Rock Mountain in the Lincolnville portion of Camden Hills State Park. Due to damage from the past winter’s storms, we have to cut our hike short. Trees as large as three feet wide have been blown down, and they block our trail to the summit. One of my favorite things about living in Maine is the variety of hills, cliffs, and mountains to hike and explore up and down the coastline, offering majestic views of island dotted shores and bays.
Excited to see the newest place in town, we set off to the Lincolnville General Store. Owners Briar and Jon Fishman (Jon is best known as the drummer of the band Phish) have restored this architectural gem in Lincolnville Center. Daily offerings of wood-fired pizza, a hot food bar, and a deli case filled with fresh salads and produce make this the perfect place for any meal. We purchase a crusty loaf of bread, a bottle of Sancerre, dinosaur shaped pens for my niece and nephew, and a new lawn sign with a big red heart. There’s even a vehicle charging center in case your battery is running low.
On the corner of Main and High Streets, we are immediately drawn to the Parent Gallery, where artwork by photographer Neal Parent and painter Joanne Parent is on view. Neal is a lifetime photojournalist and has captured the people and life of Maine for decades. Joanne’s ethereal landscape paintings express the emotion of the Maine coastline. We are feeling a bit hungry, and Neal recommends nearby Darby’s Restaurant, where you can enjoy locally and internationally inspired fare.
Over a delicious lunch of homemade clam chowder (seriously, maybe the best I’ve tasted) at Darby’s Restaurant, we strike up a conversation with co-owner Cory Chase. Cory and his wife, Lisa, took over ownership in 2016 (Lisa had worked for the previous owners, the Savitzes, for years and decided to continue the tradition). In 1985, when the Savitzes were renovating, they uncovered an 1860s-era bar behind the drywall, and it is the centerpiece of the restaurant today.
A friendly welcome sign and the smell of freshbaked cookies lure us in to The Good Table. I dream about my upcoming kitchen makeover and purchase items by Mason Cash. I find myself lingering and smiling over the creative kitchenware items for children, which bring up fun memories of cooking in the kitchen with my own kids when they were young.
As if being pulled by a magnetic force, KC is walking across the street to Home Supply Center. Whether you need gardening tools, sewing supplies, a camp percolator, or just the right nut and bolt, this old-school hardware store has it— and more.
Thinking ahead to summer parties, we stop in to Colburn Shoe Store, where I find the perfect pair of sandals for dancing the night away.
Looking for birthday presents for my daughters and a few friends, we head to Yo Momma’s, which describes itself as “a cheeky little department store.” This fun and funky store has everything that I am looking for. Owner Beverly Mann was the general manager for eight years before buying the business and continues to keep the creative vibe going at this destination store.
Looking to build up an appetite, we hike to the top of Point Lookout and take in the amazing views of Penobscot Bay. Even though the sky is overcast, this view is gorgeous in all kinds of weather. Back in Belfast, we decide on local favorite Delvino’s Grill and Pasta House for dinner. We are well taken care of by our server, Brenda. We settle on delicious spinach-stuffed ravioli with lobster and a perfectly cooked medium-rare rib-eye steak. Finishing with a glass of port, we reflect on all that we experienced in the day and head back to the hotel for an early night.
Up early and with the sun trying to peek out, we head for a walk on Lincolnville Beach. There is shallow water for swimming, and shops line the other side of the street. I dream of coming back in the hot days of summer to enjoy.
Heading south, we pop in to the Green Tree Coffee and Tea. Greeted by the delicious smell of fresh coffee and a smile from owner John Ostrand, we learn about his move from Louisiana to Maine and how he has continued his own version of the family business (his father worked for Folgers for many years).
Properly caffeinated, we are off to find the Belfast Curling Club. With the Winter Olympics still fresh in our minds, we need to see some of this sport live. Welcomed by Tilly Atkins, a longtime member of the club, we soon find ourselves down on the ice. Soon we are “throwing the stone,” releasing it on the pebbly ice while yelling “sweep, sweep, sweep” and “hurry hard” until the 44-pound piece of granite rests in the “house.”
The sun is out, so we head to the Belfast waterfront and rail trail, a beautifully restored path along the Passagassawakeag River. When it’s time for lunch, we find Meanwhile in Belfast, located in the lower level of the historic Ocean House. Owners Alessandro Scelsi and Clementina Senatore offer a tantalizing menu, specializing in Neapolitan pizzas, sandwiches, and baked goods, prepared in their handmade Italian oven. We settle on fresh oysters, wood-fired pizza with fresh ingredients, a chilled glass of prosecco, and tiramisu with fresh fruit.
With time for one last stop, we go upstairs to Brambles, a unique combination of a gardening, antiques, flower, and gift shop. Armed with a full bunch of fresh pussy willows, we are ready to head home.
With full bellies and a car loaded up with gifts galore, we start our journey back. In many places we went, new owners were breathing life into businesses, committed to the customers they know and love, and fueling the vibrancy of these midcoast communities