You may wonder why there are so many grand mansions in Searsport’s bustling but charming small town, including our Italianate-style Captain Nickels Inn. Along with museums, shops, restaurants, and outdoor activities, make sure you put a drive-by of the historic homes on your list of best things to do in Searsport, Maine. In the 19th century, nearly 300 deep-water sea captains began their voyages to China and India from our port, so many chose to build their homes here.
Searsport continues to charm visitors today with multiple historic districts, an updated shopping area, numerous dining options, a Maritime Museum, and stunning coastline views. If you need help deciding what to do first, give us a call; we are happy to help you plan an amazing stay in Maine.
1. Stroll the Streets
Searsport Historic Districts
There are two designated historic districts in Searsport. The first is the heart of downtown on Main Street, with 13 historically significant buildings built between 1840 and 1891. As you stroll along the vibrant mercantile district, you will discern Searsport’s initial prosperity through shipbuilding and shipping.
The second is the East Main Historic District, which incorporates five homes built by sea captains. They are all situated on Rte. 1 between Black Rd. and Navy St. At one time, Captain Jonathan Nickels owned all of the property where these homes sit. Drive or bicycle past these elegant buildings, some at the sea’s edge.
2. Retail Therapy
While admiring the brick Greek Revival and Italianate buildings on Main Street, take some time to stop in the shops! These are some of our favorites:
Trove — Locally owned artisan boutique and gift shop
Splendiferous Sweet Shoppe — Mother and daughter owned chocolate, ice cream, and coffee shop with an Alice in Wonderland theme
Treasures and Trash Barn — One of several antique shops on Main St, they have architectural salvage from doorknobs to garden tools
3. Visit the Marine Museum
The Penobscot Marine Museum is Maine’s first maritime museum. In it, you will find collections of marine art and artifacts. In addition, expect to see historical photography, ship models, and small craft. There are also events and demonstrations.
4. Shipbuilding in Miniature
BlueJacket Shipcrafters has been hand-crafting high-quality wooden boat models for over 100 years. The original designs were for museums, but now they are available as kits for completion at home. Don’t worry; they are available for all skill levels.
Searsport has several fun and tasty dining options. Our favorites include:
Rio’s — Located in a wonderfully remodeled garage, Rio’s offers a European-style small plates menu.
Hey Sailor — A fun vibe of tacos, art, and booze with innovative and bold flavors.
6. Outdoor Adventures
You want to enjoy the elements in Maine, no matter the season! The Atlantic Ocean figures prominently in all activities.
Sears Island is a 940-acre nature preserve just off the coast of Searsport. Park your car at the end of the causeway, and proceed to explore on foot or by bicycle. There are trails, beaches, and, of course, stunning views.
Moose Point State Park
Moose Point State Park offers trails along the waterfront and through the woods. Bring a picnic lunch or snack, and stop on one of the strategically located benches to soak in the glorious panorama of the nearby islands.
7. Stay in a Sea Captain’s Mansion
To cap off a day exploring the best things to do in Searsport, Maine, make sure you have your reservation at the Captain Nickels Inn. Newly restored to its original glory, you will appreciate the well-appointed rooms and suites that pay homage to the home’s maritime history. You will return again and again to the comforts of MidCoast Maine’s seaside sanctuary.