Deer Isle is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a unique and unforgettable Downeast vacation. With its stunning natural beauty, thriving arts scene, and quaint Deer Isle village it is the perfect backdrop for memorable vacations. Explore the best things to do in Deer Isle, discover the charm of Stonington and its surrounding islands, and experience everything this magical place offers with our guide below.
Exploring Downeast Maine
Deer Isle is located off the coast of Maine in Penobscot Bay, and is known for its stunning natural beauty and thriving arts scene. The island is home to several small towns, including Stonington famous for its lobster fishing industry and vibrant arts community. The surrounding areas are popular destinations for tourists and locals who enjoy the rugged coast of Deer Isle and charming villages, not to mention the 8 lighthouses scattered throughout the area. As you step from Stonington to the shore, you’ll immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of Deer Isle’s coastal landscapes, characterized by fir and spruce trees, rugged shorelines, and the unmistakable scent of sea salt.
Although Deer Isle is much quieter, and still somewhat of a hidden destination, it is cherished by those seeking a tranquil and more authentic experience. With its serene landscapes and unhurried pace, Deer Isle is the kind of island that invites visitors to slow down, unwind, and revel in the simplicity of life. Those lucky enough to spend a weekend or more can take leisurely strolls along the coastline, meander through charming fishing villages, or lose yourself in the ethereal fog forests that grace the island’s interior while exploring all Deer Isle has to offer.
Things to Do in Deer Isle
Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries’ Touch Tank
As you explore the captivating marine touch tank, prepare to embark on an immersive and educational adventure. This interactive exhibit allows visitors to get up close and personal with an array of fascinating marine creatures, creating a unique and educational adventure that is both captivating and enriching. The exhibit provides a hands-on experience that ignites a sense of wonder and curiosity and promotes conservation and appreciation for our oceans.
Scott’s Landing Preserve
A visit to Scott’s Landing Preserve is a must for nature enthusiasts. This picturesque preserve offers miles of well-marked trails meandering through pristine forests, marshlands, and the stunning coastline. Immerse yourself in the serene beauty of Deer Isle, enjoy birdwatching opportunities, and relish the tranquil atmosphere that envelops this natural gem.
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
Unleash your creativity and immerse yourself in the artistic world at the internationally acclaimed Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Join workshops or take a class led by renowned instructors, exploring a wide range of artistic mediums. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a curious beginner, Haystack provides a transformative experience where you can expand your skills and connect with a supportive artistic community.
Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies
Nervous Nellie’s is a jam and jelly shop located in a garden that spans several acres and is around one hour and 15 minutes from Bar Harbor. They make about 300 jars of jams daily, offering a delightful assortment of homemade jams, jellies, and preserves from locally sourced ingredients. Stroll through the beautiful sculpture garden, browse through unique handcrafted gifts, and savor the delectable flavors that capture the essence of Maine.
Solidago School of Herbalism
For those seeking to deepen their connection with nature’s healing wonders, the Solidago School of Herbalism offers a remarkable opportunity to explore the vast world of herbalism. With a range of classes and workshops, this renowned institution invites individuals to take classes on herbalism, learn the properties of the herbs grown, and uncover the vast array of healing properties of the Maine herbs.
Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society and Museum
Delve into the rich history of Deer Isle at the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society and Museum. Discover captivating exhibits that showcase the island’s maritime past, early settlements, and cultural heritage, with a national register of historic places. Immerse yourself in the stories of the island’s inhabitants, and gain a deeper understanding of the community’s evolution.
Deer Isle-Stonington Chamber of Commerce
Situated in the heart of this coastal town, the chamber serves as a valuable resource and guide for both residents and visitors alike. Step inside, and you’ll find a team of friendly and knowledgeable staff ready to assist you with any questions or inquiries you may have. Whether you’re looking for recommendations on local attractions, accommodations, dining options, or upcoming events, the chamber is a wealth of information. They can provide maps, brochures, and insider tips to help you make the most of your time on the island.
Island Culinary and Ecological Center (ICE)
For those with a passion for sustainable food systems, a visit to the Island Culinary and Ecological Center (ICE) is a must. This innovative center promotes ecological awareness and fosters a connection to locally grown food sources. Attend workshops, enjoy farm-to-table meals, and learn about the importance of sustainable practices in creating a resilient and vibrant community.
Island Country Club (Golf Course)
Tee off against the stunning backdrop of the coast of Deer Isle at the Island Country Club. This picturesque golf course offers golfers of all levels a challenging and enjoyable experience. Spend a leisurely day on the greens, soaking in the panoramic views and enjoying the tranquility of this hidden gem.
The Thriving Arts Scene
Deer Isle has long been a magnet for artists and creative minds drawn to its serene landscapes and inspiring seascapes. Immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene and admire exquisite sculptures made from recycled materials, explore gardens showcasing outdoor art installations, and browse the works of talented local artists. There is no shortage of artistic wonders in this captivating corner of Maine.
Lily Pond Gallery
This gallery showcases a diverse collection of works by local artists, including paintings, sculptures, and photography. The serene ambiance of the gallery creates the perfect atmosphere to appreciate the talent and creativity of the artists.
This contemporary art gallery features an eclectic mix of works by established and emerging artists. From paintings and ceramics to jewelry and textiles, each piece exudes creativity and individuality. Explore the vibrant displays and discover pieces that speak to your soul. The Turtle Gallery is a testament to the thriving art scene on Deer Isle.
Island Heritage Trust Thrift Shop
If you’re looking for a different kind of treasure, pay a visit to the Island Heritage Trust Thrift Shop. This hidden gem offers an array of secondhand items, including clothing, accessories, home decor, books, and more. Browse through the carefully curated selection and find unique items that reflect the charm and character of Deer Isle. The best part? Your purchases support the Island Heritage Trust’s conservation efforts, making it a win-win.
Island Treasure Toys
A stop at Island Treasure Toys is a must for families and children at heart. This delightful toy store offers a wide selection of high-quality, educational toys and games. From classic favorites to innovative new releases, there’s something to ignite every child’s imagination. Take your time browsing through the aisles, and let the friendly staff guide you in finding the perfect toy or gift.
The Culinary Delights of Deer Isle, Maine
The island not only captivates visitors with its natural beauty and serene landscapes but also tantalizes the taste buds with its vibrant culinary scene. The island boasts exceptional restaurants showcasing the freshest ingredients, including aromatic herbs grown locally. Indulge in a culinary adventure as we explore some of the local restaurants.
The Whale’s Rib Tavern
Nestled within the historic Pilgrim’s Inn, The Whale’s Rib Tavern offers a charming and cozy atmosphere, where you can savor a delectable meal infused with local flavors. The restaurant embraces herbs grown in Maine to enhance its dishes, creating a harmonious blend of freshness and culinary creativity. Delight in their seasonal menus, which feature classics and innovative twists on traditional recipes.
Aragosta at Goose Cove is a culinary gem that combines a stunning location with an exceptional dining experience. This waterfront bistro focuses on using locally sourced ingredients, including the flavorful herbs grown in Maine, to craft dishes that showcase the essence of the region. Each plate tells a story of Maine’s coastal bounty, from fresh lobster to succulent seafood.
Things to Do in Stonington and Its Surrounding Islands
If you visit Deer Isle, you might as well take a trip to one of the coastal towns around Deer Isle. A day trip to the charming town of Stonington, located on the island’s southern edge is definitely one of this trip’s highlights. Stonington harbor is the lobster port of Maine, and lobstering is one of the main sources of livelihood in Maine. There are various things to do in Stonington, such as enjoying the art scene, including the Stonington Opera House. This historic opera house hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts, plays, and other performances. Downtown Stonington enjoys a stunning location, surrounded by the natural beauty of Maine’s rugged coastline.
Visit Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is a stunning national treasure just a short drive from Deer Isle. The park features scenic hiking trails, beautiful beaches, and stunning views of the Maine coast. It is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of Maine.
Explore Blue Hill and Its Surrounding Towns
The town of Blue Hill is a picturesque town located near Deer Isle. It is known for its quaint shops, charming bed and breakfasts, and beautiful scenery. Visitors can also explore the surrounding towns, including Castine and Brooklin.
Take a Kayaking Tour Around the Islands of Deer Isle and Stonington
Kayaking is a popular activity throughout Downeast, and several tour operators offer guided tours of the surrounding islands. Visitors can explore secluded beaches, hidden coves, and stunning vistas as they paddle around the island contours. Visitors can take the Isle au Haut Mail Boat to Isle au Haut, or explore the nearby islands of Penobscot and Vinalhaven. There are many tourist amenities on Isle Au Haut, such as the Duck Harbor Campground for camping and picnicking, the light station, and the ferry service to Isle Au Haut.
Experience Life on a Lobster Boat
For a truly unique experience, visitors can tour a lobster boat and learn about the lobster fishing industry. Discovery Wharf and Old Quarry Ocean Adventures both offer tours for visitors.
Discover Barred Island Preserve and the Granite Quarries
The Barred Island Preserve is a beautiful nature preserve located near Deer Isle. It features scenic hiking trails, a picturesque beach, and stunning ocean views. Visitors can also explore the nearby granite quarries, a testament to the island’s rich history.
Marvel at the Majestic Shore of Seal Island
Located just 18 miles offshore, Seal Island is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers. Take advantage of low tide to maximize the visibility of various animals and marine life. Join a guided tour to observe the stunning array of seabirds that call this island home, including puffins, razorbills, and terns. As you witness these magnificent creatures soaring through the air or diving into the ocean, you’ll develop a deeper appreciation for the delicate balance of nature.
Why You Should Visit Maine Year-Round
Maine is a beautiful destination no matter what time of year you visit. In the colder months visitors can enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and other winter activities. The Crockett Cove Woods is a popular destination for winter sports.
A visit to Maine would not be complete without a trip to Deer Isle and Stonington. With its stunning natural beauty, thriving arts scene, and unique culture, these two charming towns are a must-visit destination on any Maine coast vacation. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore all that Deer Isle offers, from the historic lighthouses and lobster traps to the galleries and studios that showcase the island’s vibrant arts community. Whether you are looking for adventure or relaxation, these islands are sure to provide an unforgettable vacation experience.