If exploring an authentic, coastal Maine fishing town is part of your vacation wish list, consider a visit to Stonington, Maine. Stonington, on Deer Isle, is Maine’s top lobster-landing port. The historic town’s picturesque working waterfront, downtown art galleries, and natural beauty make it an ideal day trip destination from our Searsport inn.
Stonington, Maine is located on the southern tip of Deer Isle, about two-thirds of the way up the Maine coast. Native Americans settled the area some 5,000 years ago, followed by Europeans in the 1600’s.
Originally known as “Green’s Landing,” the town’s first claim to fame was granite, thus the name change to “Stonington” in the late 1800’s. After granite came boat-building, then fishing, naturally. Cod was the first big catch, followed by lobster. When the cod collapsed, lobster remained. According to local sources, Stonington continues to hold the top spot for lobster landings statewide, with nearly 12 million pounds caught at a value of just over $44 million.
This historic, working harbor town, is nestled into a hillside that provides long Penobscot Bay views. It is clustered with quaint homes, commercial buildings, and a busy waterfront, alive with scores of working lobster boats.
Stonington remains a well-preserved, historic fishing village with a traditional way of life. It’s also an artist’s enclave, a nature-lovers paradise, and a lovely, relaxing, Maine Coast, day trip destination.
Stonington is but a short hour’s drive from Captain Nickels Inn. Breakfast at the inn is served from 7:30 am to 9 am, an opportunity for you early-birds to get a well-fueled start on your day.
Now it’s out the door and head northeast on Main Street/US-1 to the ME-15 S junction. Along the way you’ll pass by some amazing Maine Coast scenery and attractions, including the stunning Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory and Fort Knox.
If you haven’t yet had the chance to explore these two worthy attractions, we recommend it. The bridge observatory, open May 1st to October 31st, offers truly incredible views.
Continue NE on US-1 to the ME-15 S junction turn off; about 7 miles past the bridge observatory. Stay on ME-15 S for almost four miles, then turn right onto ME-199 S. Travel south along ME-199 S to the town of Penobscot, where you’ll turn left onto ME-175 S.
Head south along ME-175 S, continuing straight as the road changes to ME-176 N, then to ME-15 S. ME-15 S will take you off the mainland, over the suspension bridge to Deer Isle, and down Deer Isle to Stonington, Maine.
Exploring Stonington, Maine
Stonington is quaint and friendly, with streets that rise up steeply from the harbor. The working docks are clustered with lobster traps and downtown’s narrow, winding streets are lined with picturesque, 19th century buildings.
Fans of art will enjoy perusing the local art galleries. Stonington and, in fact, all of Deer Isle are very much steeped in the arts. Though small, Stonington also offers some outstanding dining opportunities, such as the highly rated Aragosta Restaurant and the and the Fin & Fern.
Tucked away on the very tip of a remote island, Stonington is surrounded by natural beauty. Hiking trails, sea-kayaking opportunities, and breath-taking views abound.
Explore beyond Stonington to the surrounding cluster of islands in the Merchant’s Row archipelago, including Isle au Haut, part of Acadia National Park. There are a variety of providers in the area offering sailing tours, lobster-fishing tours, lighthouse tours, and more.
… And Back Again
After a day’s adventures on Deer Isle, head back to the comforts of your Maine coast home away from home, Captain Nickels Inn.
Enjoy a rejuvenating sip and snack at the Inn’s 1874 Tavern or simply sit back in one of our Adirondack Chairs and soak in those stunning, 180-degree views of Penobscot Bay. Perfect.
Updated March 2023