The northernest bit of New England has a classic grace all its own. Ditch the big highways and take coastal Route 1 from the outlet town of Freeport up to Searsport, the “Antique Capital” of Maine, spinning through tidy port towns—stopping to scarf plenty of fresh seafood along the way.
Start out by gearing up at the famed outdoor store L.L. Bean (open 24/7). Ask if you can check out the 1911-and-forward archives library, then get a head start on the local signature dish at Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine Lobster Roll, a hole-in-the-wall next door to the main emporium. L.L. Bean, 95 Main St., Freeport, llbean.com; Linda Bean’s, 57 Main St.
Less than an hour north, in tiny and picturesque Damariscotta, fuel up on the freshest oysters around at Glidden Point Oyster Co. 707 River Rd., Edgecomb, oysterfarm.com.
If you prefer them cooked, go for a fried-oyster po’boy at the nearby Newcastle Publick House. 52 Main St., Newcastle, newcastlepublickhouse.com
In Rockland, it’s not hard to take a shine to the 159-year-old Owl’s Head Lighthouse, perched on a dramatic rocky peninsula and still in use. The grounds—but not the lighthouse itself—are open to the public. Penobscot Bay at entrance to Rockland Harbor.
It echoes the amazing collection of Andrew Wyeth paintings at the famed Farnsworth Art Museum nearby. 16 Museum St., Rockland, farnsworthmuseum.org
In the well-heeled harbor retreat of Camden, stop by Cappy’s for a cup of chowder or a lobster roll. 1 Main St., Camden, cappyschowderco.com.
Browse the extensive selection of nautical tomes at Stone Soup Books just down the street. 35 Main St., Camden
It’s an understatement to call Salt Water Farm,situated on several acres overlooking Penobscot Bay, a cooking school. It offers everything from foraging excursions to rugged cooking classes, home brewing sessions and bespoke farm feasts. Book in advance for classes or the “Sunday Supper,” beginning at 5 p.m. Salt Water Farm Rd. (Woodward Hill Road), Lincolnville, saltwaterfarm.com
Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. in Belfast features some of New England’s best craft beer and has its own waterfront bar, Three Tides. 2 Pinchy Ln., Belfast, marshallwharf.com
Call it a night at the Carriage House Inn in Searsport, a Victorian mansion built by a ship captain where Hemingway reportedly visited his artist pal Waldo Peirce. In the morning, hit the antique stores in town. 120 East Main St., Searsport, carriagehouseinmaine.com