Handsome Blue Hill, Maine, once a center for shipbuilding and granite quarrying, now lures laid-back travelers with gentle hiking, historic homes, and plentiful art galleries.
The classic, antiques-filled Blue Hill Inn (Union Street, Route 177, 207-374-2844 or 800-826-7415, www.bluehillinn.com, $185-$315), located steps from Main Street’s shops and restaurants, has been welcoming guests since 1840. Barncastle (125 South St., 207-374-2330, www.barn-castle.com, $135-$185), a late-19th-century shingle-style cottage listed on the National Register of Historic Places, doubles as a restaurant. About 30 minutes from downtown Blue Hill, the oceanfront Wavewalker Bed and Breakfast (28 Wavewalker Lane, Surry, 207-667-5767, www.wavewalkerbedandbreakfast.com, $160-$225) has views to Mount Desert Island. Oakland House Cottages by the Sea (435 Herrick Road, Brooksville, 207-359-8521, www.oaklandhouse.com, $169-$352), about 20 minutes south of Blue Hill, edges the shoreline of Eggemoggin Reach.
On Saturday mornings, nibble through the Blue Hill Farmers’ Market (Blue Hill Fairgrounds). Black Dinah Chocolatiers (5 Main St., 207-374-5621) makes to-die-for chocolates and ice cream. For healthful fare, pop into the Blue Hill Co-op and Cafe (4 Ellsworth Road, Route 172, 207-374-2165, cafe 207-374-8999). Half sports bar and half restaurant, Marlintini’s Grill (83 Mines St., Route 15, 207-374-2500, www.marlintinisgrill.com, $8-1$8) has a family-pleasing menu ranging from burgers to steak. Barncastle (see above, $8-$20) specializes in wood-fired pizzas. Deep Water Brew Pub (33 Tenney Hill Road, 207-374-2441, www.deepwaterbrewing.com, $9-$15) serves pub-style fare such as ribs, burgers, and tacos. For fine dining, try Arborvine (33 Upper Tenney Hill, Main Street, 207-374-2119, www.arborvine.com, $28-$35). Worth the drive: Perry’s Lobster Shack and Pier (1076 Newbury Neck Road, Surry, 207-667-1955, market rates), a traditional Maine lobster shack; El El Frijoles (41 Caterpillar Hill Road, Sedgwick, 207-359-2486, www.elelfrijoles.com, $5-$16), for California-Mexican fare with a decidedly Maine accent; and Bagaduce Lunch (145 Frank Flats Road, Penobscot, 207-326-4197, $8-market), a takeout spot overlooking tidal reversing falls.
DURING THE DAY
Pedal back roads or paddle local waters with a rental bike, canoe, or sea kayak from The Activity Shop (61 Ellsworth Road, 207-374-3600, www.theactivityshop.com). Hike 943-foot Blue Hill Mountain (The Blue Hill Heritage Trust, 207-374-5118, www.bluehillheritagetrust.org) for summit views encompassing Penobscot Bay, Mount Desert Island, and the Camden Hills. Tour the Parson Fisher House (44 Mines Road, Route 15, 207-374-2459, www.jonathanfisherhouse.org, $5), built in 1814 by a Harvard-educated preacher who doubled as an accomplished painter, poet, mathematician, naturalist, linguist, inventor, cabinetmaker, farmer, architect, and printmaker. Galleries salt downtown. The newly opened Cynthia Winings Gallery (24 Parker Point Road, 917-204-4001, www.cynthiawiningsgallery.com) shows contemporary works by local artists. Liros Gallery (14 Parker Point Road, 207-374-5370, www.lirosgallery.com) specializes in Russian icons and carries Currier & Ives prints, antique maps, and 19th-century British and American paintings. Blue Hill Bay Gallery (Main Street, 207-374-5773, www.bluehillbaygallery.com) represents contemporary artists in various media. Jud Hartmann (79 Main St., 207-374-9917, www.judhartmanngallery.com) crafts limited-edition bronze sculptures of the woodland Native Americans of the Northeast. Handworks Gallery (48 Main St., 207-374-5613, www.handworksgallery.org) sells utilitarian and fine crafts by more than 50 Maine artists. Browse North Country Textiles (Main Street, 207-374-2715, www.northcountrytextiles.com) for handwoven throws, rugs, clothing, and table linens. Just outside downtown are Rackliffe Pottery (Ellsworth Road, Route 172, 207-374-2297, www.rackliffepottery.com), noted for its vivid blue wares, and Mark Bell Pottery (Route 15, 207-374-5881, www.markbellpottery.com) for exquisite, award-winning porcelain.
Reserve tickets for a Friday night or Sunday afternoon concert at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music School (Pleasant Street, Route 15, 207-374-2811, www.kneisel.org, $20-$30). The Blue Hill Congregational Church is home to the Vanderkay Summer Music Series (22 Tenney Hill, 207-374-2891, through Aug. 10, $15 donation), with concerts ranging from Bach to gospel. The immensely popular Flash in the Pans (www.flashinthepans.org, donation), a community steel band, usually performs in the region on Monday nights.Hilary Nangle can be reached at www.MaineTravelMaven.com.