Insider Tips for Visiting the Blue Hill Peninsula
Known as a creative mecca, thanks in no small part to the “rusticator movement” that brought artists from populous (and expensive) cities into downeast Maine, the Blue Hill peninsula has become a destination for artists, writers, musicians, and food artisans—some famous, although the locals are notably low-key about that. We asked Chrissy Allen, president of the Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and development director at the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, who also happens to be a multigenerational native of the area, what an ideal weekend looks like in Blue Hill.
EXPLORE THE TOWN
The Blue Hill Inn is a nearly 200-year-old bed-and-breakfast in the middle of the peninsula, making it a great central location for an overnight stay. A number of the 11 guest rooms offer woodburning fireplaces as well as novelties like clawfoot tubs and antique furnishings. “They serve a gorgeous breakfast,” says Allen. “The owner, Duncan Hamilton, is an expert in his field; the inn is easy, lovely, comfortable, and fun.” From there you can take a short walk to many of the town’s eclectic shops, like Out on a Whimsey Toys, which is stocked with toys, puzzles, games, and books for all ages. Fairwinds Florist has not only a wide array of flowers grown just a few miles away at the owner’s farm, but also a selection of locally made chocolates, cookies, and other gifts. Next door to that is Pet Provisions, which offers high-quality foods, treats, toys, and supplies for cats and dogs. One of the two owners, Whitney Thurston, is a dog trainer who can help you find the right toy or treat for your pup. Her specialty? Toys that decrease destructive behavior. Just a couple of blocks away and around the corner on Pleasant Street is Blue Hill Books, an expertly curated independent bookstore founded in 1986 and taken over by Samantha Haskell, a longtime bookseller there, in 2017.
PICNIC IN A PRESERVE
Grab lunch at Humblebee Cafe, a quick-service sandwich shop and deli, and take it on a hike on one of Blue Hill Heritage Trust’s trails, ideally Penny’s Preserve, a beautiful gem in the woods with both views and water features. “It’s a nice hike for anybody, and it’s also kind of a longer hike, which some people really like,” says Allen. But if you’re looking for a more mountainous climb with grander views, Blue Hill Mountain is a fan favorite. There are multiple trail options based on hiking ability and comfort level, which can be found on the trust’s website.
Head to Surry and get a cone at Pugnuts Ice Cream, where the gourmet ice cream and gelato is all made on-site. “Then you can enjoy going down to the Surry Town Landing and watching osprey dive for fish in the ocean there, which is a common occurrence,” says Allen.
BEST BURRITOS IN MAINE
In the evening have dinner at El El Frijoles, a California-style taqueria in a barn in Sargentville, about a 15-minute drive from Blue Hill. Food and Wine says the spicy lobster burrito is a must-get. After your meal, drive two minutes to Caterpillar Hill, which boasts one of the most beautiful views in the state. The sunsets here are striking, looking out over sweeping blueberry fields, the Deer Isle Bridge, Deer Isle itself and the Penobscot Bay, and all the way over to the Camden Hills. “We’ve had people who have never been to Maine elope on Caterpillar Hill because they saw photos of the sunset,” says Allen. To top off the evening, check out what’s happening at Strong Brewing Company, about four miles down the road back toward Blue Hill. You can catch some live outdoor music and end your day with a fresh, locally crafted beer.