Ellsworth, Maine – Gateway to Downeast and More

Ellsworth MaineEllsworth, Maine is a charming city on the Union River in Hancock County. It’s location along U.S. Route 1 is a major crossroads for Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, thus why it is known as the Gateway to Downeast Maine. Ellsworth has a lot more to offer than just passage, however!

If you find yourself on the road to Acadia National Park or Bar Harbor during your visit to Maine, you should really consider adding a stop in Ellsworth to your itinerary. Their downtown is the largest shopping district in the county, and you’ll find plenty of area attractions that are well worth your time and attention.

The Ellsworth area was first settled by the British in 1763. It was known as New Bowdoin at the time and was also considered part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Lumber and boat building were the town’s main industries. A lot has changed since then.

Today, Ellsworth is firmly planted in Maine and home to wonderful shops, restaurants, museums, a lively public marina, and much more.

Getting There

Getting to Ellsworth from our Maine coast bed and breakfast, Captain Nickels Inn, is a simple, 40 minute drive.

Head northeast from the inn on US-1 and stay on it for approximately 31 miles (49.9 km) until you find yourself in Ellsworth. It’s really that easy.

You’ll pass some amazing Maine Coast scenery and attractions along the way. Breathtaking and historic points of interest like Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory and Fort Knox. Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory is open from May 1st to October 31st and definitely worth a stop!

Exploring Ellsworth, Maine

Union River Ellsworth MaineVisitors to Ellsworth will find plenty of things to do. Hiking, sightseeing tours, museums, shopping, dining, the Union River waterfront, and more all vie for your attention.

One of the biggest attractions is Birdsacre, aka Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary and Homestead. This 200-acre sanctuary serves as a unique natural museum with interconnecting nature trails, small ponds, picnic areas, and a bird nesting area.

Another big draw is the Telephone Museum. It sounds rather mundane at first blush but when you think how much things have changed with the telephone over the years, you just know it will be fascinating. And it truly is, especially for the younger set.

Woodlawn Museum, aka The Black House, is the former home of a wealthy lumber merchant. The stately 1828 mansion and 180-acre estate has been meticulously preserved, with original furnishings, traditional gardens, walking trails, and a tournament-sized croquet court.

Downeast Scenic Railroad in Ellsworth MaineTravel back in time with a ride on the rails of the Downeast Scenic Railroad! This 1.75 hour, ten-mile, train ride travels through the Maine countryside on the historic and scenic Calais Branch Line. A truly unbeatable experience.

Downtown Ellsworth is a cornucopia of excellent shops and galleries. Places like the Old Creamery Antique Mall, Big Chicken Barn, the LL Bean Outlet, and Rooster Brother specialty cookware and coffee roasters, to mention just a few.

You’ll also discover a variety of excellent dining possibilities. Cafes, lobster shacks, and other small eateries as well as upscale and international dining options. Some favorites include The Union River Lobster Pot, Serendib, Finn’s Irish Pub, Taste Jamaica, Margaritas and Provender Kitchen.  Be sure to save room for dessert, Momo’s Cheesecakes Bakery is open 24/7 via their self-serve honor system.  Stop by and score your favorite variety of cheesecake!

We’ve only just scratched the surface of all there is to see and do in Ellsworth, Maine. If this trip sounds like something you’d enjoy, let us know. We’re very familiar with the area and would love to help you plan your day’s itinerary!

At The End of the Day …

… it’s back to the warmth and comfort of your guest room at Captain Nickels Inn.

Our authentic Maine bed and breakfast is the ideal home base for all your Maine adventures. Let us help you make the most of your Maine coast explorations!



UPDATED: March 2024

Looking Towards Spring

A tapestry of vibrant blooms, where sunlight dances on shimmering shores

After a busy summer season, the inn will be quiet for most of the winter as we continue our renovation projects and grab a few quiet weeks rest for ourselves. Our hearts are turning towards spring, eager to bask in its transformative magic.

Consider a stay in the Willard Room – our newest luxury accommodation! Located on the third floor, it offers added privacy. Updated amenities such as a walk-in jetted shower and sitting room provide luxury comforts.