Arriving Friday evening in Waldo County, you’ll want to check in at your accommodations to begin acquainting yourself with traversing the rural coastal county. While you might enjoy getting to know the hosts and fellow guests at your bed and breakfast (the most common accommodations in the area), you could also head in to Belfast, the county’s main town, stroll an energized downtown and perhaps pop into a gallery, or otherwise see quaint Searsport and have dinner at well-known Anglers Seafood Restaurant.
Saturday morning affords you the opportunity to meet your fellow travelers over breakfast at your accommodations. Then it’s time to get to know more about coastal Maine living and history. Start at the Belfast Historical Society & Museum and make sure to pick up the guide to a walking tour to acquaint you with town history. The Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport is another important destination and helps visitors appreciate the relationship between the ocean and Down East living. Historic Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrow Bridge and Observatory lets you experience the thrill of the tallest bridge observatory in the world and take in the region’s scenic beauty. Seek out local flavors for lunch at any number of seafood eateries and don’t be afraid of “lobster pounds,” which frequently offer fresh-from-the-sea crustaceans at amazing prices. In the afternoon, you’ll definitely want to check out the impressive ship models at the 100-plus-year-old Bluejacket Shipcrafters in Searsport and local products at the Belfast Co-op or one of the wineries/breweries in town (see sidebar). Lincolnville Beach and Sears Island provide different outdoor options, weather permitting. For dinner, choose from any number of good possibilities: Three Tides on the Belfast wharf, Weathervane Seafood and the uber-rustic Young’s Lobster Pound are all good choices.
Spend Sunday enjoying more local cuisine, shopping and a relaxing tour of Belfast Harbor, complete with both information and legends. This might be the highlight of your day.
Downeast Windjammer Cruises offers bay tours of varying lengths that are fun for the whole family, including private charters, from Belfast’s Thompson’s Wharf. Time permitting, catch a movie at Belfast’s Colonial Theater or continue to browse shops for local products, arts and crafts or anything that will help you fondly recall your Downeast adventure.
Stay In Style
You’re not going to run into posh resorts or high-tech business traveler oriented accommodations in Waldo County. What you will find are incredibly hospitable, comfortable and memorable bed and breakfasts including these options.
The Alden House Inn dates back almost 200 years and retains the era-appropriate charm inside and out. Classic architecture and an expansive garden make for a tranquil setting, augmented by two parlors, a library, dining area and shaded porch. Six different rooms offer varying environments with the Hiram Alden Room being the largest – complete with functional fireplace and perfect for a romantic getaway. www.thealdenhouse.com
The Wealthy Poor House doesn’t care about your economic condition – its name comes from when an owner named Poor married a woman named Wealthy. Regardless, you will be treated with a warm reception by the hosts at this 1824 federal-style home with three cozy guest rooms. Another chief benefit is that it’s located just three blocks from the harbor in quaint Belfast, as well as from its scenic town center. www.belfastwealthypoorhouse.com
The Jeweled Turret Inn is listed as a landmark on The National Register of Historic Places, and its Victorian look and feel permeate the property and its seven guest rooms. A restored interior boasts antiques, four luxurious parlors, four fireplaces and private baths in each room. Two lovely verandas with porch swings look over scenic downtown Belfast. www.jeweledturret.com
At a Glance
Waldo County is a quintessential coastal Maine community with its primary town of Belfast, a perfect example of the picturesque coastal New England town. Although close to expensive retreats, Waldo County is an egalitarian destination for all those who want a Down East experience complete with acclaimed art and artisans’ work, historical sites, nautical experiences, astounding dining straight from the sea and specific, unique attractions.
Access: Bangor International Airport offers the most convenient access to nearby Waldo County, with service from several carriers including a number of direct flights. Flying into Boston and traveling via car is another popular option.
Population: Approx. 40,000
Climate: The Atlantic Ocean takes some of the chill out of coastal Maine, although it is still cold generally from early to mid-fall through to the mild spring. Summers tend to be humid and warm, but not generally hot.
Main Attraction: Historic and aesthetic attractions are key to coastal Maine, as are maritime fun, arts and culture, outdoor activities, antiquing, shopping and local dining.
Eat: Sure, lobster is the most coveted coastal Maine treat, but the waters have other delights worth experiencing – notably Maine shrimp (red shrimp), Maine crab (rock crab) and Pemaquids and Sheepscots oysters.
Spirits: For a different local taste, drop by the Winterport Winery (www.winterportwinery.com), which offers numerous local fruit wines as well as microbrews; the scenic Cellardoor Winery (www.mainewine.com); or the playful beers at Marshall Wharf Brewing Company (www.marshallwharf.com).
Shop: New England handcrafted furniture is legendary, and the quality remains today. Windsor Chairmakers (www.windsorchair.com) in Lincolnville offers numerous treasures to remind you of your visit and to stay in the family for generations.