Discover DownEast & Acadia
Discover the DownEast & Acadia region of Maine. If “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, DownEast & Acadia is in the hearts and minds of its visitors and the people who live here. One of the first things that strikes many visitors to our region is that you actually go up to get DownEast. By the best accounts, the term “down east” derived from sailing days when ships from Boston sailed down wind in an easterly direction (if you check the map, you will drive as much to the East as North to explore our region).
But you can sail down wind from Boston to the East thus DownEast. Most of all DownEast & Acadia is a state of mind unique to each person who visits this special place. Whether you are seeking history, nature, or peace of mind, you can find it in DownEast & Acadia.
A unique combination of geology, natural forces and climate have combined to produce a region of unparalleled beauty that reveals itself subtly in the constantly shifting backdrop of each passing season. The glories of summer offer warm sun-filled days and breeze-filled evenings. Summer gives way to fall with the hills ablaze with color and brilliant canopied roads. Winter drapes the shores and lanes with a blanket of peace and solitude broken only by the sigh of the wind and the crunch of the snow underfoot.
Spring brings a renewal of the land with a palette of pastels across the landscape with lupines, wild roses, sugar plums and more shades of green than you can count.
There is so much to see and do here, it is hard to see where to begin. Start at one end of the region at the beginning of American history with a tour of American Revolutionary War sites, or visit Campobello Island, where Franklin Delano Roosevelt vacationed. See a waterfall that goes up as well as down, or stop by the old mill stream that inspired the early American ditty of the same name. Stand astride the 45th parallel and be just as close to the equator as to the North Pole. Fill in the blanks on your birding list with one of the more than 300 species in our region, like the puffin. Sail in one of our many bays on a schooner or into the Atlantic Ocean looking for whales.
Shop ‘til you drop in one of the many small towns of the region where antique shops, gift shops and galleries abound. Prepare your palate for feasting, whether you are coming for our famous lobster or our wild blueberries, our food will be sure to please – fresh from the sea and the land.
Of course, there is Acadia National Park with its 100 miles of hiking trails, 50 miles of groomed carriage trails, and a 27 mile paved Park loop road. Acadia includes more than 40,000 acres and miles of rocky shore between its sites on Mt. Desert Island and Schoodic Peninsula. Acadia is one of the most accessible parks in the nation. Favorite stops include Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Otter Cliffs, Precipice Trail and Cadillac Mountain – the highest point on the eastern seaboard north of Rio de Janiero.
But we have many more parks and wildlife refuges in the region with trails and wildlife to occupy even the most avid outdoorsman. Whether you are seeking hiking trails, bird watching, wildlife watching, camping or something more adventuresome, DownEast & Acadia has it. Catch and release bass from the St. Croix River on the Canadian border, paddle a sea kayak out to one of our many islands, stroll through historic homes and gardens, take in a music festival or a play, or just sit and relax.DownEast & Acadia is actually comprised of two of Maine’s sixteen counties – Hancock and Washington. Washington County is the easternmost county with hundreds of miles of rugged coastline. Explore the wonders of the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge or Cobscook Bay State Park. This county boasts the highest tides in the continental U.S. near Calais and the easternmost point in America at Lubec. From the Blueberry Festival in Machias and the Salmon Festival in Eastport, you can enjoy local culture and food. Investigate the rich heritage of fishing, logging, and “blueberrying” in DownEast’s many little towns such as Milbridge, Cherryfield, Jonesport, Steuben and more. Some say you are not truly DownEast until you reach Washington County, but judge for yourself where DownEast begins.
Hancock County is the other half of the DownEast Acadia region. Along with Acadia National Park, there is much more to this county. Carved by glaciers, this area of the region features a fjord, countless islands, and the same rockbound coastline. From Bucksport’s Fort Knox to Winter Harbor’s Lobster Festival there is much to do and see in the picturesque villages of this part of the region. Discover Deer Isle and Stonington’s little shops, Ellsworth’s historic Colonel Black Mansion, and Castine’s Maritime Academy.
Throughout the region music, history, and festivals abound. Bar Harbor has two music festivals – Arcady and Bar Harbor Music Festivals. The Schoodic Peninsula has a two week arts festival every summer. There are museums and historical societies and historic homes in most villages – The Abbe in Bar Harbor, Burnham Tavern in Machias, Ruggles House in Columbia with its flying staircase, Wendell Gilley Museum of Bird Carving in Southwest Harbor and many, many more.
So whether you are yearning for the peaceful sound of the waves lapping the shoreline, the fun of a local festival filled with food, music and local character or the thrill of seeing nature up close, DownEast & Acadia offers a great escape to Maine that is sure to please.