There’s still time before the snow flies to visit one of Maine’s most scenic areas, the lovely Schoodic Peninsula and the villages of Down East. To get there, begin by taking I-295 North from Portland to Brunswick, then travel Route 1 North to Ellsworth.
Lumber trucks rumbling by as you near Ellsworth are a reminder that Maine’s vast woods lie just to the north. Consider a stop at Helen’s for coffee and their famous pie before continuing on to Winter Harbor, one of the state’s most scenic spots. I love the Winter Harbor 5&10 where you can find all kinds of stuff you had no idea you needed. At this time of year the tourist crowds are gone and you can enjoy this pretty town just as the locals do.
From Winter Harbor, turn east on Route 186 and follow the signs to Acadia National Park. That’s right — a small portion (about a 6-mile driving loop) of the park is here on the mainland. You may well have it all to yourself, so if it’s not too cold, it’s a great chance to get out and walk in the scenic woods.
While you’re in the area, also visit the pretty little towns of Prospect Harbor and Corea. Then leave the Schoodic Peninsula and head toward Machias, stopping first at Jonesport and Beals Island for a look at fishing villages that seem untouched by time. Then it’s on to Machias, site of the first naval engagement of the American Revolution. You’ll find lots of historic buildings in this area and lots of friendly people eager to tell you about their town. Keep in mind that many historic sites and restaurants keep seasonal hours from now through spring, so it’s always wise to call ahead. Bundle up and enjoy late autumn Down East!