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Let’s go for a drive…    Castine

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Whether you start out from Blue Hill or Deer Isle – or some other place in between – your drive to Castine will take you through some of the most beautiful parts of this area.     Wherever you begin, you’ll head in the direction of Penobscot on Route 175 (check a larger map if you aren’t sure where that is!).
    Continue on past Penobscot, following signs for Castine anywhere there’s a junction choice. Just outside of Penobscot, you’ll see the waters of Northern Bay on your left.     If you packed a lunch, there’s a little picnic area with a couple of picnic tables right by the shore.     Don’t worry if you didn’t bring lunch – there’s also a takeout place less than a quarter mile further on your left. Don’t be too hasty though.     You might want to save your appetite for lunch in Castine…

KEY (click on highlighted advertiser links below to go to their website)
1. Adam Gallery
   140 Battle Ave.
2. Birdsong (@Pentagöet Inn)
2. Pentagöet Inn

3. Tarratine Gallery
4. Wilson Museum
    120 Perkins St.

Download a PDF of the Castine Drive here (868 kb).
A bout 3 or 4 miles outside Penobscot, Route 175 takes a right and you will continue straight on Route 199. About five miles further on, you’ll come to a stop sign where Route 199 meets Route 166; take a left and follow Route 166 all the way into Castine – approximately four miles more.
About two miles past that turn, watch for a sign on your right for Dolphin Books and Prints. They weren’t open when I cruised through in early May, but it looked like a good stopping point for book and print lovers.

Just before you get to Castine, you’ll come to the crest of a hill and below is one of the prettiest little bays you could hope to see. There’s a sign where the road crosses over the water that identifies it as The British Canal – dating to Revolutionary times.

Castine takes great pride in its strategic position during the Revolution, and you’ll find signs all over town marking different events from colonial times. I encourage you to walk around town and check them out.

After the British Canal, you’ll drive uphill and bear right as the road bisects Castine’s beautiful golf course. Watch out for golf carts!

You are now on Battle Avenue (remember that history folks!). Take the first left onto Main Street and get ready for the quintessential colonial Maine town. Castine’s seafaring history is evident in its homes, and the town is proud to say that they still have 350 of their original elm trees — quite an accomplishment!

Take your time and appreciate the shady Main Street, the stately old homes – the feel of this beautiful town – before you reach the end of Main Street and find a parking space. Park on Main St, or the waterfront parking lot.

Lunch anyone?
If you arrive at lunchtime, you may want to refuel before you walk around town. There are several choices, depending on what and how you want to eat.

For a perfect, sitdown lunch by the water, there’s Dennett’s Wharf. A longtime fixture in town, Dennett’s has inside and outside seating. If the weather is favorable, I’d opt for the deck. They have a great selection of Maine micro brewed beers including their own Wharf Rat Ale as well as a full menu from burgers and fish sandwiches to complete meals. On the waterfront, look for the bright yellow awning!

The Reef, located next to Dennett’s also serves lunch and dinner, as well as being the place to go in town for pizza and beer for many years. If you want to hang out with the locals, The Reef is the place to do it.

You could also walk on over to “The Breeze,” offering excellent takeout food including fried fish and chips, fried clams, lobster and crab rolls, hamburgers and hotdogs. This is also a good place to get an ice cream on a hot day.

At the corner of Main and Water Streets, the Castine Variety, has its original 1920 ice cream counter still in place. Stop in and sit down for coffee or a bite to eat, including breakfast and lunch specials, lobster and crab rolls.

Across the street, T&C Grocery offers lunch and pizza to go, gas for the car, and gorceries. Walking up Main Street a little, there’s Bah’s Bakehouse – tucked up a short alley between the buildings that house Compass Rose Bookstore and Castine Historical Handworks.
Bah’s offers excellent soups, sandwiches, and light fare in a deli setting, with tables inside and out.

At night, head downstairs to Stella’s Jazz Nocturnal for an elegant, sophisticated and slightly eclectic restaurant. Relax and enjoy the live jazz/blues music atmosphere and some down home New Orleans southern style cooking. Reservations strongly suggested.

There’s also Compass Rose – yes! that’s right.Their bookstore café offerings include their famous cookies to enjoy with great coffees, cappuccino, teas, or chai, and (usually) light lunch items including homemade soups and sandwiches.

Now that you are fed and ready to go, let’s get walking. Castine is so picturesque and so filled with history, that you may have trouble deciding where to go first.

Let’s begin on Main Street. Check out Compass Rose Bookstore, an independent bookseller offering a wide-ranging fiction & nonfiction collection of best sellers, new publications, and all-time favorites, as well as books, postcards, note and greeting cards, CD’s, and a variety of gift items. Personally, I love supporting these great independent bookstores.

Four Flags, a unique gift shop on Water Street, offers a diverse collection of gifts made in Maine and from around the world. With its four flags on display outside, it’s hard to miss.

Continuing up Main Street, start off with the Tarratine Gallery (next door to Compass Rose Books), a contemporary fine arts gallery featuring sculpture, paintings, jewelry, tiles, pottery, art quilts, and photography by several regional artists.

Across the street, in the Pentagöet Inn, you’ll find Birdsong, a charming space offering vintage inspired gifts, antiques, and just plain “whimsy” – and not to be missed!

Going further up Main Street – past the beautiful Castine Inn – you’ll see the Post Office on your right. It’s seen over 175 years of continuous service, and I think it boasts being the oldest post office in the country.

Beyond the post office, you’ll come to Leila Day’s Antiques and Gallery, located in the historic Parson Mason House, offering formal and country antiques, Chinese porcelain, paintings, nautical accessories, and folk art.

When you leave Leila’s place, take a right and continue up to Battle Avenue. Take a left, and walk a couple of shady blocks to the Adam Gallery (140 Battle Avenue) on your right.

Open most days from Memorial Day through October, Josh and Susan Parrish Adam both do fabulous paintings in oils. If their green flag is out, they say they’re open, so come on in. The gallery is housed in a beautiful carriage house behind their house.

When you come out of the Adam Gallery, Tarrantine Street is directly across the road. Head down to Perkins Street and wander on over to the Wilson Museum. Located in a brick building right on the water, it’s hard to miss. Featuring anthropology, geology, and history of the area around Castine, the Museum also has a Blacksmith Shop on the grounds. The blacksmith shop is open Sundays and Thursdays from 2-5PM in July and August, providing demos and information. An interesting stop for those history buffs in the group.

After the Wilson Museum, continue exploring – there’s lots to see. Walk over to the old town common and visit the Castine Historical Society. Located in the Adams School, the Historical Society also has a small museum – an interesting stopping point for anyone interested in more history of this beautiful town. Open six days a week in summer (closed Mondays).

Along the way, watch for those historical marker signs I mentioned earlier. They contain fascinating glimpses into the history of Castine – sometimes gruesome, but always interesting.

Kayaking anyone?
The folks at Castine Kayak Adventures offer naturalist ecotours, exploring marine sea life, geology and Castine’s rich historical past. Top of the line equipment is provided with personalized instruction and customized trip planning. In addition to sunrise, morning, afternoon, and sunset, full moon trips and overnight tours, they offer what would be my ideal – bioluminescent night tours! Imagine watching the phosporescence swirl away from your paddle in the dark!

How about dinner?
There are several choices, all walkable. The Pentagöet Inn offers fine dining and lodging in an 1894 Queene Anne Victorian right on Main St. Nancy English wrote in “Chow Maine” that the experience was “one of the best meals on the Maine coast for ambience, service, and great food.”

The Manor Inn on Battle Avenue offers a pub and restaurant with international cuisine.
Stella’s Jazz and Dennett’s Wharf (mentioned earlier at lunch) are open evenings as well.

Stella’s Jazz and Dennett’s Wharf (mentioned earlier at lunch) are open evenings as well.

All in all, Castine is a small town with a lot to offer. Take a drive out and see for yourself!

©2010-2012 Arts Guide – a publication of Mozelle! Studio

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