Castine is a village where everything is within walking distance. Estabrooke Cottage, in the heart of the village, is the ideal getaway, offering the slow pace of small-town life along with abundant activities for active visitors.
Please call with your reservation request, as summer has begun. Our calendar is updated with every reservation, so please check there first. Feel free to call with any questions you may have or special needs for your visit. We are happy to share our local knowledge!
You can walk to everything Castine has to offer. Folks wander down to the Back Shore to watch the sunset or amble over to the lighthouse -- one of the oldest on the coast -- to see it light up at dusk. The views down Penobscot Bay from the rocky promontory on which it sits are spectacular; even the fog is mesmerizing, with the bell buoy signaling the harbor entrance and the foghorn moaning its warning.
Acadia National Park gets crowded during the summer, but an hour's drive over is worth the trip. Go during the week and enjoy the spectacular views from Cadillac Mountain, popovers at teatime at the Jordan Pond House and the invigorating hike to Sieur de Mont Springs -- or lounge on the crushed-shell 'sand' at Sand Beach.
MarKel sends out heavenly aromas every morning, where coffee, muffins, pastries and cookies take center stage. In the evening there is informal dining at The Manor, or savor the exquisite menu at The Pentagoet Inn, which includes High Tea on the porch; more casual fare is available at Dennett's Wharf or Danny Murphy's Pub and a fast lunch is available at The Breeze for eating on the Town Dock; the Variety is our corner snack shop where finger food and snacks are also available -- as well as the Sunday New York Times.
Walk around the town and look for the signs that tell the story of Castine's history. There are five Revolutionary War forts in Castine, and dozens of signs describing what took place there -- some of them gruesome! Witherle Library has richly varied children's programs and Emerson Hall hosts musical and artistic activities and gatherings throughout the year. The Wilson Museum has an extraordinary collection of Revolutionary War items, as well as pre-Colombian artifacts, and the Castine Historical Society, on the Town Common, displays documents and maps of many sites and historic events. Outdoor activities abound: collect shells and stones on the back shore beach; tour the TS State of Maine, Maine Maritime Academy's training ship; maintain your workout routine at the MMA fitness center and pool; wander through Witherle Woods and walk the old Indian Trail; find Murder Alley and seek out its dark secrets; go fishing across the harbor and end the day on Dennett's Wharf listening to live music while you wait for your Shore Dinner.
Summer is high season and Castine gets pretty lively -- for us, anyway. The Farmers Market is on the Town Common every Thursday morning; the Retired Skippers' Race takes place on Penobscot Bay waters off Castine; sailors, yachtsmen and their boats fill our harbor. Walk down to the Town Dock to watch the windjammers glide into the harbor, take a kayak tour of the islands that dot the bay, rent a boat to explore on your own; play golf or tennis at Castine Golf Club; relax with a picnic supper on the Common and let the Castine Town Band regale you with music. Travel to the next peninsula to Brooklin, where the Wooden Boat School offers classes (short and long) to teach boat-building. Go over to nearby Blue Hill for a variety of shops, galleries and shopping, or visit the Nearing Farm, where 'Back to the Land' was practically invented and now offers tours, classes and internships.
Too much excitement? Relax on the deck at Estabrooke Cottage, catch up on summer reading, grill fresh fish or nice thick steaks. . . perfect your relaxing skills; it's a vacation!
Estabrooke Cottage is named for my Great Aunt, who built it, and it has been in the family ever since. Castine offers everything I love about Maine: gorgeous scenery, a lively waterfront, neighborly activities, Town Meeting governance, warm greetings on the street and a leisurely pace of life.
As a native of Castine, I treasure what Castine has: a strong sense of place with a history, a place where community and neighbors are important.
The eastern shore of Penobscot Bay is where Down East Maine really begins. This is where there are still working fishing villages, saltwater farms, pristine waters and gorgeous vistas over the bays and the Atlantic Ocean. This is territory too far away and too sparsely populated for coffee baristas to propagate; this is where you come to get away, not live the same life with different scenery. This is where you come to find your true self.
Some morning when you are here, you will awaken to an early-morning fogbank. It blankets the town, softens the canopy of American Elms that line our streets, muffles the sounds of an awakening village. Go down to the dock. Pick up a coffee and pastry at MarKel's. Sit on a bench or a piling and watch the fog burn off. It is a mystical, quieting, slow process, and absolutely worth the wait.
Bicycling, mountain biking and walking are great in the Witherle Woods and the Hatch Preserve. Roads within Castine have little traffic. Mornings bring out the walkers, the bicycle enthusiasts and the early-morning kayakers. The waters of the harbor tend to be calm in the early morning -- perfect for exploring all of Castine Harbor and the islands at the edge of Penobscot Bay.