48 Hours in Blue Hill, Brooklin + Brooksville
The Blue Hill peninsula is home to a warm and welcoming community that offers visitors a taste of small-town hospitality on the coast of Maine.
We make our way through Blue Hill’s downtown to the Barncastle Hotel for a late-night check-in after the three-hour drive from Portland. Upon our arrival we find our room key and a kind note from the owner, Loralie Robbins, welcoming us to Blue Hill and wishing us a good stay. We make our way upstairs to settle for the night in the Turret Room, a spacious room with a fireplace.
Sean wakes up before sunrise to photograph the harbor. While the overcast weather has other plans, the soft light of daybreak breaks out the grandeur of Blue Hill Mountain.
After the day starts to considerably brighten, we head over to the Blue Hill Co-op for breakfast. Baskets hang from hooks on the deck, and locals head in and out with coffees in hand. We make our way to the deli counter to order some of the co-op’s well-known breakfast sandwiches: bacon, egg, and red pepper on sourdough and a lox bagel with lemon, a hard-boiled egg, and a mug of coffee. Lamia finds some freshly cut orange tulips to brighten the overcast morning, and we discuss the photography that adorns the walls of the co-op’s dining area, frames captured by a local documentary photographer.
Next we visit the winter farmers’ market held in a greenhouse at Mainescape Garden Shop. Inside, we are completely overtaken by the scents, sounds, and images of a bustling farmers’ market and vendors selling everything from bread, pastries, and sandwiches to seasonal vegetables and tulips in vibrant spring colors. Lamia heads over to the crepe stand for a homemade Nutella and banana crepe only to find that it is run by Loralie from the Barncastle Hotel and Restaurant with her chef, Tim Gunderson.
On a drive around the area, we spot a pottery shop, Rackliffe Pottery, where Margaret and Dennis Rackliffe have been spinning, firing, and glazing clay for decades. They make custom pieces and source their clay from the earth on their family farm. We introduce ourselves, and Dennis takes us through the process of creating the finished pieces, from the clay pit to the drying table to the wheels to the kiln to, finally, the glaze.
We drive south to Brooklin in search of the E.B. White House and Brooklin Boat Yard. En route we come across Brooklin Candy Company. Owner Blossom Kravitz moved to Brooklin from Brooklyn, New York, a few years prior to converting the first level of her home into her business’s storefront and cafe. Blossom also utilizes the space for a monthly dinner party for which she creates a multicourse menu for between 10 and 20 people. Lamia buys some of her
irresistible raspberry truffles on the way out.
Author E.B. White’s connection to the Blue Hill region is one of the few things we knew about the area before our trip. Following a tip from Blossom we visit Friend Memorial Public Library and find a collection of White’s work, including a signed book written out to the library. We continue our drive through Brooklin before reaching Brooklin Boat Yard. We take in the serene views looking out at Eggemoggin Reach, then go back to the inn by way of Brooksville.
At Barncastle’s bar, we reenergize with some snacks and drinks before dinner. Tim fixes us some Old Fashioneds, and we order spicy meatballs and empanadas for appetizers.
With the light fading fast and the skies finally showing some blue, we head over to Arborvine Restaurant for dinner. Sitting at an intimate, cozy table by a window, we start with a refreshing half- dozen Bagaduce River oysters and a summer salad with strawberries, walnuts, and goat cheese. For our main, we order the tournedos Bordelaise on a dollop of Seal Cove Farm chevre. We finish with a raspberry sorbet and a glass of sambuca (with the necessary coffee beans for luck). On our way back we pick up a bottle of wine, and when we arrive we discover Tim has already gotten the fireplace in our room going.
The weather is still overcast, but a lack of sun isn’t going to stop our plans. We make our way downstairs for a perfect light breakfast with croissants, cereal, coffee, and orange juice.
We drive to a trailhead for Blue Hill Mountain and begin our ascent. A quick 30-minute hike later, we reach the summit. Although the hike was short, the view of Blue Hill Bay and the downtown is spectacular. While we catch our breath, we witness a cast of hawks flying around the mountain in search of prey.
We take some downtime before lunch to chat with Loralie and the hotel staff about the area, then we head to The Fish Net on Main Street in Blue Hill. With an ice cream counter and picnic tables outside and cozy booths inside, it is a perfect lunch spot. We dive in to stuffed clams, then a lobster roll, fried haddock, and fries. To top it off, we grab a kiddie- sized soft-serve swirl cone with rainbow sprinkles.
We head to nearby Sedgwick, home of Strong Brewing Company. Five years ago Al and Mia Strong began brewing beer in their basement, and they have since converted the space into a brewery and tasting room producing several year-round beers and a few seasonal varieties. A few games of rummy and great conversations about beer complete the experience.
We go back to Blue Hill for chocolate and espresso at Black Dinah Chocolatiers. The storefront shares a space with a florist and a few shop cats that make the atmosphere perfect on this overcast day. We discuss all the people we met and the places we visited despite the rainy weather. We collect our notes and leave town, looking forward to the next time we find ourselves on the Blue Hill peninsula.