Blue Hill Peninsula
As my husband Mark and I drive north with our five- and three-year-old sons, Luke and Noah, and Be a our Lab mix, I snap a family selfie and dash off an Instagram post: “Blue Hill, are you ready for this?” We armed with fruit snacks and a playlist of the kids’ favorite Top 40 music (Uptown Funk, anyone?) to keep spirits up during the car ride, but once we are turned loose in the quaint, seaside town? Let’s just say I’m hoping the residents are OK with a little noise.
6:45 p.m. @ Barncastle Hotel & Restaurant
The backseat contingent is restless after the long trip and we need dinner to be a slam-dunk. Barncastle delivers: wood- fired pizza served with milks for the boys, prosecco for me, and a pint of Strong Brewing Co.’s Localmotive (made in nearby Sedgwick) for Mark. The 1880s inn offers dinner in its pub, parlor, and library, where we are seated with our kind of crowd: a boisterous bachelorette party and a family playing checkers, one of several games available on the room’s open shelving. Luke and Noah pull wooden cars off the shelves and play on the floor while we wait for our meal.
8:05 p.m. @ Blue Hill Inn
In the Cape House Studio apartment, an outbuilding of the 1830s Federal-style inn, the
kids make a beeline for a plate of local Black Dinah chocolates and stretch out on the king-size bed to eat them. The pet-friendly accommodation is also equipped with a bed, leash, and treats for Bea. Before we pack it in, innkeeper Sarah Pebworth stops by to welcome us and wish us goodnight.
6:45 a.m. @ Blue Hill Harbor
Bea and I walk down Union Street to Water Street, which follows the harbor and dead ends at the grassy Blue Hill Town Park. We scope out the park’s playground we’ll be visiting later. Back at the inn, the boys are having their first Cocoa Krispies experience, thanks to the room’s complimentary cereal selection.
8:15 a.m. @ Blue Hill Inn
The morning ’s sugar-fest did not ruin the kids’ appetite for grilled blueberry muffins, fresh fruit, and blueberry pancakes. Mark orders an omelet made with eggs from nearby Old Ackley Farm and I have organic oatmeal with blueberries, raisins, and toasted pecans. Inside an antique glass-front cabinet in the dining room is a stash of childrens’ books and games that keep the boys busy while we discuss the day’s itinerary with Pebworth. She also introduces us to new innkeeper Duncan Hamilton, who will be taking over after our stay.
9:30 a.m. @ Blue Hill Town Park
We all walk to the weathered wood playground at the park where you (er, kids) can zip-line while taking in wide harbor views. After a few rides—and slides—I leave the crew here and set off for the shops.
10:00 a.m. @ Three Wishes
In a tiny cottage just down the street from the park, Kim Williamson and Samantha Politte sell colorful linens and ceramics, delicate jewelry (I pick up a pair of gold necklaces to layer), bath products, and baby gifts.
10:15 a.m. on Main Street, Blue Hill
On a wall inside Mae Accessories for Modern Living, a Frank Lloyd Wright quote, contained within an elaborately scrolled painted design, sums up how I feel as I survey the artful dishes, furnishings, clothing, and jewelry on display: “Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities.” The creator of the painting, set designer Julie Jo Fehrle, collaborated with owner Wendy Hays on the store’s scheme
and both are on hand when I visit. Across the street at the tin-ceilinged Handworks Gallery, owner Diane Allen introduces me to paintings, pottery, jewelry, and handwoven textiles by dozens of Maine artists. Next I meet Mark and the kids at Fairwinds Florist, which shares a space with the Black Dinah Chocolatiers tasting room. The place is packed on the day before Mother’s Day but the wait for handmade truffles and sea-salt caramels is worth it.
11:30 a.m. @ Mainescape Garden Center
The winter farmers’ market, which runs from October through May at Mainescape Garden Center, is winding down when we arrive, but we manage to grab a cup of artisanal coffee from barista David Dillon, who operates Bucklyn Coffee on Main Street, and some treats from Sarah Brown of Sarahndipity Pies and Baked Goods, including a scrumptious egg-and-spinach breakfast sandwich with jalapeno jelly.
12:30 p.m. @ Buck’s Harbor
While Noah snoozes in the car, Luke and I recreate his favorite scene from Robert McCloskey’s One Morning in Maine, toting our “broken motor” from Buck’s Harbor in Brooksville to Condon’s Garage, which is no longer open but still stands on Coastal Road. We then walk over to “Mr. Condon’s store,” a.k.a. Buck’s Harbor Market, where we find the cashier opening up for the season. Sadly, he isn’t selling ice cream yet.
1:15 p.m. @ Bagaduce Lunch
We meet my mother- and father- in-law, Carolyn and Sam, who live in Surry, at this seasonal lobster shack and James Beard “American Classic” award winner in Penobscot. After ordering at the window, we carry a tray loaded with fried clam platters, lobster and crab rolls, and a hot dog and chicken nuggets for the kids, to a picnic table overlooking the tidal Bagaduce River.
3:00 p.m. @ Brooklin Boat Yard
Carolyn and Sam have taken the boys to their house for an overnight, and Mark and I are off for a tour of Brooklin Boat Yard in Center Harbor with project manager Eric Blake. Opened in 1960 by famed boatbuilder Joel M. White (E.B. White’s son), the yard is now operated by Joel’s son, Steve White. Blake shows us a 70-foot sloop his team is building for a Spanish naval architect and brings us aboard Aphrodite, a recently refinished 1937 commuter yacht tied up at the dock. Designed for a businessman who made daily commutes from Long Island, New York, to the city, the vessel features mahogany paneling, chrome- plated bronze hardware, and a kitchen for whipping up meals and cocktails.
4:30 p.m. @ Blue Hill Wine Shop
Several people have told us this shop, owned by “the cello-playing wine seller” Max Treitler, is a must-visit. Treitler is out of town but we are in excellent hands with Jetsun Penkalski, who tells us the store’s motto is “plethora.” Then, noting the dazed looks on our faces as we take in the rows of bottles arrayed on rustic wood shelves, he directs us to two new favorites: Gruet Brut Rosé and Château Coupe Roses, Minervois, a slightly fruity red Penkalski describes as “joyously happy.”
7:00 p.m. @ DeepWater Brewing Co. + Arborvine
At the bar at DeepWater Brewing Co., operated by the Hikade family, Mark orders a flight of beers made in the on-site microbrewery and we strike up a conversation with bartender and local teacher Jerome Lawther. We learn that Lawther’s wife, Charlotte Clews, owns Mountain Studio, the yoga studio I noticed on Mines Road; her mother,
a midwife, “birthed most of the people in town.” For dinner, I’m excited to head over to Arborvine, the Hikades’ celebrated fine dining restaurant attached to the pub. Our flavorful spring salad with grapefruit, candied walnuts, and fennel, followed by Bagaduce River Co. oysters, roasted Gulf of Maine halibut, seared Blue Hill Bay diver scallops, and lemon mousse Napoleon live up to the hype.
8:30 a.m. @ Blue Hill Inn
Still kid-free, we take Bea for a walk to the town park. At the inn, we order the blueberry pancakes and Mark tries to wrestle the recipe from Pebworth. “Lots of sour cream, yogurt, and butter,” she says. Then: “I’ve already said too much.” Before we check out, she gives us a whimsical little hand-painted boat for the boys crafted by George Allen, who sells his toys at the farmers’ market.
9:45 a.m. @ Blue Hill Mountain
We take the Osgood trail up the 934-foot-tall mountain, part of the nearly 7,000 acres conserved by the Blue Hill Heritage Trust. At the top we’re rewarded with a view of…thick fog, but we enjoyed the peaceful climb.
11:15 a.m. @ Blue Hill Co-op
On our way out of town we stop at this beloved natural food grocer and cafe for cups of Deer Isle-based 44 North Coffee and a bag of Lucy’s Granola, made in Lucy Benjamin’s home kitchen in East Blue Hill.
12:30 p.m. @ Millbrook Company
Carolyn, Sam, and the kids meet us for a Mother’s Day brunch at this roadside restaurant in Sedgwick overlooking an expansive tree-ringed field. Before we leave, chef-owner Jill Smith hands us a box of glistening, walnut-topped sticky buns, her specialty. Five minutes into the ride home, the boys pass out, heads bent toward each other and happy.