17 Best Sights in Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle, Maine

Barred Island Preserve

Fodor's choice

Famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted once owned Barred Island Preserve. His grandniece, Carolyn Olmsted, donated it to the Nature Conservancy in 1969. The island is accessible only at low tide. The mile-long trail leading to the island offers great views of Penobscot Bay. Pick up a brochure at the Deer Isle–Stonington Chamber of Commerce for a map of the islands you can see from the area. The parking area fills quickly, so arrive early.

Castine Historical Society

Fodor's choice

This local museum digs into Castine's rich history with exhibitions and live reenactments that showcase important artifacts and ephemera from the past. It's newest exhibit features the work of world-renowned sculptor and Castine resident, Clark Fitz-Gerald. In addition, the society offers guided walking tours of the town on most Mondays during the summer. It's also a good place to get your bearings, find out what's going on in town, and maybe pick up a self-guided walking tour booklet.  

Wilson Museum

Fodor's choice

The 4-acre campus of this museum has multiple historic structures. The main building houses anthropologist-geologist John Howard Wilson’s collection of prehistoric artifacts from around the world. The John & Phebe Perkins House is a restored 1763 residence originally built on what is now Court Street. The house fell into disrepair until the 1960s, when the Castine Scientific Society had it taken down piece by piece and reassembled on the grounds here. Inside, you can find Perkins family heirlooms and 18th- and early-19th-century furnishings. On the lower level, exhibits in the Perkins Gallery share stories and objects from 19th-century Castine, Penobscot, and Brooksville. The museum shop here features a curated selection of books for all ages, historical maps and prints, souvenirs, crafts, and educational toys.

The Hutchins Education Center offers year-round programs and seasonal exhibits. The Blacksmith Shop holds demonstrations showing all the tricks of this old-time trade. In addition to displays of small traditional boats, the Wood Shop has woodworking demonstrations and a workshop where boats are often under construction. The Bagaduce Engine Company showcases early firefighting memorabilia, including Castine’s 1917 fire alarm, which still works!

Recommended Fodor's Video

Deer Isle Granite Museum

This tiny museum documents Stonington's quarrying tradition. The museum's centerpiece is a working model of quarrying operations on Crotch Island and the town of Stonington at the turn of the last century. Granite was quarried here for Rockefeller Plaza in New York City and for the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, among other well-known structures.

Duck Harbor

This half of Isle au Haut is part of Acadia National Park and has more than 18 miles of trails winding through quiet spruce woods, along beaches and seaside cliffs, and over the spin of the central mountain's ridge. The park's small campground, with several lean-tos, is open from mid-May to mid-October and fills up quickly. Reservations are essential. 

Dyce Head Lighthouse

Built in 1828 at the mouth of the Penobscot River in Castine Harbor to guide mariners upriver to the lumber port of Bangor, the light was discontinued in 1935. The tower was damaged in a storm but rebuilt in 2008. The original keeper’s house, barn, and oil house still remain, but are privately owned. You can see them all from an adjacent public footpath, which is is short, steep (made less so by wooden stairs), and leads to a quiet view of the islands in the harbor. There's limited street parking available. 

Dyce Head Rd., Castine, Maine, 04421, USA
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Rate Includes: Free

Edgar M. Tennis Preserve

While enjoying miles of woodland and shore trails at the Edgar M. Tennis Preserve, you can look for hawks, eagles, and ospreys, and wander among old apple trees, fields of wildflowers, and ocean-polished rocks.

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts

Want to learn a new craft? This school 6 miles from Deer Isle Village offers one- and two-week courses for people of all skill levels in crafts such as blacksmithing, basketry, ceramics, jewelry making, printmaking, weaving, and writing. Artisans from around the world present free evening lectures throughout summer. Tours of the school and studios are available on Wednesday.

Holbrook Island Sanctuary

The 1,230-acre Holbrook Island Sanctuary protects the region’s fragile ecosystem and has nine hiking trails (pick up trail maps in the parking lot), a gravel beach with splendid views, and a picnic area. There's a good chance you'll spot a blue heron, osprey, or bald eagle here. Note that the sanctuary, which is open from 9 am till sunset, is on the mainland; Holbrook Island itself is privately owned.

Isle au Haut Light

The Isle au Haut Lighthouse is best seen from the water, where the Isle au Haut mailboat passes within a hundred feet of the tower. Built in 1907 as the Robinson Point Fog Station, its purpose was to guide the New England ground fishing fleet into safe harbor during northeast storms. As the most modern of the 60 lighthouses along the Maine Coast, it introduced architectural advancements unseen in other stations and featured a behemoth 42-inch fog bell hanging over the water. In 1934, as a cost-saving measure during the Great Depression, the keeper’s house was sold off. The lighthouse tower ownership was transferred from the federal government to the town in 1998. Today it is maintained by the town’s Lighthouse Committee, while still serving as a registered aid to navigation.

Mariners Memorial Park

For picnics, bird-watching, or launching kayaks and canoes, visit Mariners Memorial Park, overlooking secluded Long Cove. There is a half-mile walking loop and a small garden maintained by the Evergreen Garden Club.

Naskeag Point

A few miles south of Brooklin, take Naskeag Point Road to a broken shell beach at the tip of the point. From there you'll have a view of the small islands of Jericho Bay while you sit on a bench dedicated to "all the fishermen who brave the sea."

649 Naskeag Point Rd., Brooklin, Maine, USA
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Rate Includes: Free

Parson Fisher House

Jonathan Fisher, the first permanent minister of Blue Hill, built this home from 1814 to 1820. It provides a fascinating look at his many accomplishments and talents, which included writing and illustrating books, painting, farming, and building furniture. Also on view is a wooden clock he crafted while a student at Harvard; the face holds messages about time written in English, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and French. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Shaw Institute

Based here and in New York, this institute was founded in 1990 by environmental health scientist Dr. Susan Shaw to study how pollution affects humans, the oceans, and the planet. The institute has programs for all ages, including guided walks along the beach, as well environmental speakers series throughout the summer.

Shore Acres Preserve

A mixture of hard and softwood trees makes an excellent habitat for songbirds at Shore Acres Preserve on the eastern edge of Deer Isle. Walk the perimeter trail to see light sparkling off Greenlaw Cove, native plants like juniper, blueberry, and cranberry, as well as mushrooms, mosses, and ferns. You might even spot a fox, a red squirrel, or a hawk.

The Good Life Center

The Good Life Center is on the site of Forest Farm, the historic homestead built in the 1950s by Helen and Scott Nearing, a back-to-the-land couple who practiced and advocated for simple, sustainable living. Sign up for one of the lectures or workshops, take a garden tour, or peace out in the meditation yurt. The center is open to the public from 1 to 5 pm, though opening days vary by season.

372 Harborside Rd., Maine, 04642, USA
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Rate Includes: Free, but donations encouraged, Closed mid-Oct.–mid-June; Tues. and Wed. mid-June–Labor Day; and weekdays Labor Day–mid-Oct.

The WoodenBoat School

This school, which sits on a 60-acre oceanfront campus, is renowned for its weeklong woodworking and boatbuilding workshops. It also offers sailing and kayaking courses, as well as coastal-theme photography and art classes. The school is off the road to Naskeag Point, a sleepy, serenely beautiful spot at the end of the peninsula road with a small rock beach, a teeny park, and a lovely view across the harbor.