Blue Hill Peninsula
Photographs + stories by Maine magazine staff
Each time I visit the Blue Hill Peninsula I am struck by the stunning scenery, close-knit community, and passionate food scene. I’m excited to dive back in for the weekend with my wife Jocelyn and son Oskar. The weather looks good—we pack light and head north.
Friday 6:30 p.m. @ Barncastle Hotel and Restaurant
We arrive as the daylight is turning golden, check in, and secure a reservation for dinner. Our room is lovely, sizeable, and has all we need for our stay, with a fireplace opposite the bed. The Barncastle has an expansive foyer and grand, beautiful architecture. We discover it was built in the 1880s and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The inn’s restaurant is known for its wood-fired pizza and we all agree that we have to try it, as well as the Nachos Grande. There are numerous creative options for pizza, as well as a make-your-own option, which we do. Plenty of Maine beers are offered as well as wines by the glass. The crisp and smoky pizza with meatballs, onions, and ricotta arrives and it’s a little slice of heaven.
7:45 p.m. @ DeepWater Brewing Co.
Attached to Arborvine restaurant on Tenney Hill Road, near the center of Blue Hill, is this gem of a pub. Fish and chips, local beef, hand-cut duck-fat fries—you get my drift. The beer is produced in a solar-powered, painstakingly restored barn on the back of the property. A full array of offerings includes pale ale, lager, IPA, Bavarian wheat, and a 3 Sheets Porter. But we are here for something sweet. We order a couple of warm brownie sundaes.
9:00 p.m. @ Barncastle Hotel and Restaurant
We are back at the hotel, where the dinner guests have nearly all filed out. We are ready for a good night’s sleep before a day of exploring the peninsula.
Saturday 8:00 a.m. @ Barncastle Hotel and Restaurant
We are up and ready for the day. Our kind and knowledgeable innkeeper, Lori Robbins, greets us as we make our way downstairs. She has prepared a substantial continental breakfast to get us off to a good start; we enjoy slices of warm banana bread, coffee, and orange juice.
8:40 a.m. @ Blue Hill Co-op Community Market and Cafe
We are bound for the farmers’ market, but make a quick pit stop at the Blue Hill Co-op. Founded in 1974, this cooperative and cafe has continued to be a community staple. We grab another cup of coffee and this time we are treated to a cup of 44 North Coffee, which is roasted in Deer Isle. Keep an eye out for this young coffee company, which just opened a second cafe in Stonington.
9:00 a.m @ Blue Hill Farmers’ Market
This is as much of a community get-together as it is a farmers’ market. There are all the things you’d expect—veggies, baked goods—but also handmade goods, like wooden spoons, soaps, teas, and more. We pick up a fire poker made by Jeb Bush (nope, not that one), a left-handed spoon from Blue Hill Spoonworks (we three are all lefties), and ajarofFirestarterKimchi from Backstage Farm. We keep snacking too. It’s pretty hard not to when Tinder Hearth is serving breads and goodies and the Millbrook Company’s sticky buns are on display. We also sample some locally made granola from Lucy’s Granola. I grab some tea to refuel from Tempest in aTeapot; the company is based in Stonington and offers a tasty variety of teas to choose from.
10:00 a.m. @ Mainescape Garden Center
Just up the road from the Barncastle is Mainescape Garden Center. Run by Althea and Donald Paine, it is a paradise. The Paines have intentionally kept big trees on the property, which maintains a natural feel in the space. The massive glass greenhouse is a sight to behold—all 2,500 square feet of it. The radiant heat in the floor allows Mainescape to be the home of the winter farmers’ market; the center also hosts concerts, lectures, and events all year long. We spend some time coveting the array of delicate Japanese maples.
10:45 a.m. @ Kingdom Bikes
Dick Bartlett is well versed in all things bikes and runs a full- service shop. He can build you a new bike, take care of all your repairs, or build up an old frame with your selection of custom parts.
11:30a.m. @ Peter’s Brook Trail
We take the advice of Lori at the Barncastle and head out of town on Route 176 towards East Blue Hill to walk the Peter’s Brook Trail. This easy half-mile-long trail takes us through the woods, along Peter’s Brook and up to a waterfall. There are numerous trails throughout the area that are managed by the Blue Hill Heritage Trust.
12:30 p.m. in Blue Hill
Back in town for a little more walking and shopping, we stop into the newly moved MAE. This well-appointed shop is a stunner, as owner Wendy Hays has outfitted the store with high-quality fashion, items for the home, and accessories. Just around the corner on Water Street is the juice and smoothie bar Greenspeed Juices, where we grab made-to-order drinks and stroll down to the harbor. In addition to bright and beautiful flowers at Fairwinds Florist, it’s also home to artisanal handcrafted chocolates from Black Dinah Chocolatiers. We buy an iced mocha and a few beautiful and delicious chocolates.
2:00 p.m. @ Dudley’s Refresher
We head west on 177 to make our way around the Northern Bay of the Bagaduce River with our sights on Castine. On the pier we line up for the new Dudley’s Refresher (run by the owners of El El Frijoles in Sargentville). We try the beer-battered haddock alongside mushy peas and fries, as well as knockout fish tacos and poutine.
3:15 p.m. @ Dennett’s Wharf
Across the pier sits Dennett’s Wharf, a restaurant and oyster bar. They have a huge selection of Maine brews, serve up classic Maine fare, and offer a killer slice of blueberry pie, which we devour.
4:30p.m. in Blue
Hill Back in Blue Hill we stop into the Meadow of Blue. Karen Brandenburg has curated a shop that offers a choice selection of gifts and items for the home. Next door is the Blue Hill Wine Shop, which has been run by the knowledgeable Max Treitler for the last 11 years. Treitler offers an extensive array of wines, choice teas, baked goods, and fine cheeses. On Parker Point Road are both the Liros Gallery and the Cynthia Winings Gallery. Although her shop is closed, Cynthia Winings is out front gardening and she opens up the gallery. This well-lit barn with its exposed beams and white walls provides a clean and warm feel.
7:30 p.m. @ Farmhouse Inn
North of town on Route 15 is the newly remodeled Farmhouse Inn. The barn’s post-and-beam structure, high and low tables, and comfy couches provide a relaxed atmosphere for eating. For dinner we split a house salad, crab cakes, and a steak, while Oskar has a baked burrito with pulled chicken.
Sunday 9:30 a.m. @ Barncastle Hotel and Restaurant
We wake to an overcast day with threats of rain. While it slows us down a bit we look forward to meandering around the peninsula before winding our way home. Downstairs there are warm pastries and hot coffee. We say goodbye to our host and head down the road.
11:00 a.m. in Brooklin
We drive south on Route 175, hug the coastline, and make our way towards Brooklin, passing E.B. White’s house and stopping at the Brooklin General Store for some drinks. Up the street is the Brooklin Inn, which has five rooms and a year-round restaurant; this longstanding establishment is a local favorite. We arrive at the campus of the WoodenBoat School and Publications. I take a walk around the quiet campus and head down to the water to see the handcrafted boats moored along the shore.
12:00p.m @ El El Frijoles
Just up 175 in the town of Sargentville is El El Frijoles. We met owner Michael Rossney down at Dudley’s yesterday, and see him today alongside his wife Michele Levesque, their son, and the staff. Michael and Michelle are all smiles. They are in their ninth season, have just opened a new restaurant, and are serving a packed house this early afternoon. We dive into a plate of nachos and a pair of divine carnitas tacos.
1:00 p.m. on Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge
Before we head off the peninsula, we drive down Route 15 and cross the Deer Isle suspension bridge. It’s a magnificent bridge to behold and equally enjoyable to traverse its narrow path. Now, with full bellies, big smiles, and an amazing weekend behind us, we make our way up Route 175 off the peninsula and back home.