Belfast, Maine is a historic, MidCoast shipbuilding city located at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River, on Penobscot Bay. Belfast was voted “Best Places to Live in Maine” for 2022 by Down East Magazine readers. The small but charming city’s collection of historic buildings, unique shops, annual events, and lively art scene have made it a long-time, popular tourist destination. Best of all, it’s just a ten minute drive down the coast from our Searsport bed and breakfast, Captain Nickels Inn.
Visitors to Maine soon learn that you don’t have to venture far up or down the coast to find something unique and fun to do. Our MidCoast Maine location in Searsport has us surrounded by a variety of attractions. Our historic hometown of Searsport, itself, is well worth your explorations.
For those looking for a short jaunt to stretch their legs a bit, however, we cannot recommend Belfast, Maine enough.
Belfast, Maine was first incorporated in 1773 and thrived as a shipbuilding seaport during the latter half of the 19th century. After shipbuilding came manufacturing, then the collapse and reshuffle caused by the 1970’s recession. Today, the lively little city of nearly 7,000 is a fun and friendly tourist destination.
Getting to Belfast from our Searsport inn is an easy, ten-minute drive south along the coast on US Route 1.
Once you’ve crossed over the Passagassawakeag River (feel free to call it the “Passy” – many of us do), look for the Belfast Downtown/Harbor exit on your right.
Take the exit and follow High Street as it leads to downtown Belfast.
Exploring Belfast, Maine
Many start their visit of Belfast near the top of Main Street, by the post office. This location provides great views of the scenic, downtown historic district. Window shopping your way down Main Street to the water and back can be great fun. Don’t forget to explore High Street as well to find my favorite bookstore, Grump & Sunshine Bookshop.
Belfast’s strong roots in the 18th and 19th centuries are reflected in the town’s grand sea-captain’s houses and ornate brick buildings. Historic downtown Belfast is a nationally designated Main Street Community. The working waterfront is home to a variety of restaurants, shops, galleries, and more.
Want to learn more about Belfast’s working harbor? Free, guided shipyard tours can be had at Front Street Shipyard. The free tours are available at 2:30pm, Monday and Thursday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. No advance reservations are required. Be sure to be there by 2:15pm so you don’t miss this fun opportunity!
The Belfast Rail Trail is another lovely walkway in the area. The 2.3 mile (3.7 km) long, converted railroad bed follows the Passagassawaukeag River for a scenic walk, jog, or bike ride.
Young’s Lobster Pound and The Back and Forth
Spend too much time exploring Belfast and you’re going to get hungry. Luckily, you’re surrounded by plenty of excellent dining options, including one of our favorite Maine lobster destinations: Young’s Lobster Pound. Young’s offers some of the freshest and best Maine seafood around, and visiting Young’s can be an experience in itself, if you’d like.
The restaurant overlooks the Penobscot Bay offering indoor or outside deck seating. Lunch and dinner is served daily from 9:00am ~ approximately dusk and they allow you to bring your own wine or beer. Let us know you are dining at Youngs, and we will send you with a picnic basket containing a tablecloth and cutlery, so you blend in with the locals.
The Back and Forth and The Out and About are two classic wooden lobster boats promising to provide a unique nautical experience. The Back and Forth is a traditional wooden lobster boat located in downtown Belfast which offers a variety of jaunts around Belfast Bay. New in 2023 a second vessel was launched and is named “The Out & About.” The Out and About will be running full day trips and overnight camping trips to surrounding islands. You will be looked after by Captain Sawyer, a registered Maine guide and a Captain! What a guy! Whether onboard The Back and Forth or The Out and About, they look forward to getting you on the water in Belfast, Maine. One of their most popular is a quick passage across the river from downtown to Young’s Lobster Pound. Great fun!
Belfast hosts a variety of special events throughout the year. Festivities like, Arts in the Park, the Maine Celtic Celebration, Belfast Harbor Fest, the fall Poetry Festival, Maine Wienerfest, and more.
And That’s Not All …
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the fun things to see and do in Belfast, ME. The town’s eclectic collection of historic buildings, artist galleries, dining, theaters, sight-seeing, and more will enchant you. All the more so because they’re so close by!
There is no end to the adventures you can have in MidCoast Maine and Captain Nickels Inn is here to help you make the most of them. Plan your Maine getaway at Captain Nickels Inn today!
Updated February 2024