Castine is a quaint seaside village located on a beautiful peninsula in Penobscot Bay, mid-coast Maine. Its charm attracts many visitors each year, looking to explore the town’s rich history, relax on the beach, see Dyce Head Lighthouse or sail the seas. Castine is home to the Maine Maritime Academy, evidence of the continuing rich seafaring tradition here.
Occupied in the early 1600s, Castine is one of the oldest communities in Maine, and the historic charm is still present today through local historic Inns and beautiful old homes on tree lined streets, and well-preserved military sites. Castine is on the National Historic Register, with over 100 historic markers located throughout town, and considered one of the wealthiest towns in Maine.
Your passage to Castine from Stockton Springs is marked by the magnificent Penobscot Narrows Observatory Bridge. It is the tallest bridge observatory in the world, and the only observatory bridge in the Western Hemisphere at 420 feet (42 stories) extending 40 miles over the Penobscot River and beyond, the bridge itself expands 2,120-feet over Verona Island.
This spectacular Penobscot Narrows suspension bridge with obelisk towers made of local granite opened in 2006, at a cost of $85 million. The bridge provides spectacular views of the Penboscot River and Bay along its 2,120 foot expanse over Verona Island. This is also the location of Fort Knox, Maine’s largest historic fort, dating from 1884 strategically built on the narrows of the Penobscot River to protect from British naval attack.
The history of Castine is best explored by visiting the museums and sites operated by the Castine Historical Society. Wilson Museum has exhibits featuring ancient farming and home equipment, tools and other local historic items. The museum grounds also have the pre-revolutionary John Perkins House, a blacksmith shop and other cultural exhibits.
The historical society itself is located in The Abbott School, a restored old school house that still exhibits many Castine historical artifacts and memorabilia. The town of Castine is also home to a charming library and many local art galleries, ideal for browsing on a cloudy day.
Visitors can also explore the grounds of several old military forts, including Fort Madison, Fort Knox and Fort George, built during the nineteenth century for protection of the harbor. Only the grass bunkers remain at Fort Madison, but the location at the entrance to the harbor make it a beautiful and scenic location for a picnic lunch or relaxing day.
Fort George, built by the British in 1779, has been partially restored as a state memorial, marking the last fort surrendered by the British at the end of the Revolutionary War. Fort Knox, Maine’s largest historic fort, was built in 1884 to protect from potential British naval attack along the Penobscot River.
Fort Knox is one of the best-preserved historic military forts in New England, The Fort is only open to visitors seasonally, but the grounds are open year-round.
Castine’s Maine Maritime Academy is known for its excellent engineering, management, science and transportation schools. It is consistently ranked among the best colleges in the North. At the town dock, visitors can climb aboard the State of Maine, a 500-foot naval research ship re-commissioned as the official training vessel for the Maine Maritime Academy.
After its annual spring cruise, it is open the public through August. On weekdays, midshipmen give 30-minute tours of the vessel.
If you are looking to view a Maine Lighthouse during your stay in Castine, head over to Dice Head Lighthouse. Visitors are welcome to view the Castine Lighthouse via a short waterfront stroll but the grounds are not open to the public as the lighthouse is privately owned.
Although the light was discontinued in 1935, the original Keeper’s house, barn and oil house still remain on the property. Visitors may also take a Lighthouse cruise out of nearby Belfast Bay in order to view Pumpkin Island Lighthouse on Little Deer Isle, Owls Head Light in Rockland Harbor or Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park.
If you want to relax on a Maine beach in Castine, take a trip to Wadsworth Cove and Backshore Beach. The protected cove offers smooth pebbly sand and gentle surf for a peaceful and serene beach setting. The ideal western exposure also offers a great place to watch a gorgeous sunset.
Visitors may also take a drive to Sand Beach in Acadia National Park or Craig’s Pond and Alamoosook Lake for a refreshing swim.
There are plenty of things to do in Castine Maine for those looking to be adventurous and outdoors-y!
Kayaking in Castine is ideal on the Penobscot Bay and Bagaduce River Watershed because of the smooth and gentle flowing waters. Some rental boat outfitters offer scenic tours for beginners to experienced paddlers.
Water-lovers can also choose to travel aboard a classic yacht, sailboat or tour boat to explore the scenic rocky coast and nearby islands. Rental stores also offer bike rentals, great for exploring the area to visit lighthouses, beaches or to simply enjoy the ride along the coast.
Witherle Woods is a 185-acre preserve on the Castine peninsula, with 4.2 miles of trails for hiking, walking or picnics. In the winter, trails are used for cross-country skiin. Athletes can visit Castine Golf Club, where they are happy to accommodate visitors for golf, tennis or yachting.
There is also more challenging hiking on nearby Blue Hill Mountain or further north, the famous Acadia National Park.
Castine has several different lodging options to fit the needs of any traveller. Castine has many beautiful historic inns in the heart of town, perfect for intimate getaways or an elegant, gourmet meal. There are also many affordable places to stay in nearby areas, including Deer Isle, Blue Hill, Orland, Brooksville or even Acadia National Park.
Castine is a perfect stop along your journey up the coast, one that captures visitors every year with its rich history and charm, worth a visit for a day or a week!
Castine is a delightful seaside village perched on the tip of a peninsula in Penobscot Bay, mid-coast Maine. Castine is one of the oldest and wealthiest communities in Maine, with a deep history of battles and occupations since the 1600s. From Natives to the Dutch and French Noblemen Castine who gave the town its name in1796 to The British, and now college students at Castine’s Maine Maritime Academy – Castine’s story is rich and complex.
There is so much to see and do in Castine, from the busy waterfront to the fabulous seaside cottages and hillside campus, to beaches and beautiful natural walking paths and Dyce Head Light Castine is also home to beautiful inns and BnB’s, waterfront restaurants serving fresh Maine seafood, shops and art galleries.
Our List of the The Best Things to Do in Castine Maine
Go to Dennetts Wharf for lunch or dinner – ideally sit outside on the deck. Great seafood by the sea, a picture perfect setting with a casual but fresh menu. They boast the longest Oyster Bar in Maine, and a huge beer list. Pin a dollar on the wood beam sail loft rafters. Dollars accumulated have been donated to 911, Hurricane Katrina and to a local fireman in the past to the sum of $12k at each.
Shop Castine’s Main Street – Four Flags, Lucky Hill, art galleries, Dolphin Books, books stores and ice cream shops.
Stroll up the hill to Battle Ave to see over 100 historic markers, monuments and bunkers, this was a stronghold against the British during the 1700 and 1800s. Pick up a historical Castine walking map for reference as you tour the sights, Federal, Italianate and Victorian homes lining the grand elm tree lined streets of Castine.
Dine at Pentagoet Inn for the best food in Castine and friendly service steps from the waterfront. Stay at this charming 1894 BnB too. Pentagoet is the French word denoting the Penboscot.
Walk the campus of Maine Maritime Academy founded in 1941. About 1,000 students attend the maritime and oceanographic college on a beautiful seaside campus in Castine. The waterfront campus is an impressive training vessel -The State of Maine – a 500-foot naval research ship on on the dock unless it’s out for a semester at sea with student aboard. Only strategic drawback to Maine Maritime is its 87% male… #maletime academy.
Visit the grassy knolls of Castine’s Fort Madison, Fort Knox and Fort George, built during the nineteenth century to protect the harbor. Only the grass bunkers remain at Fort Madison, at the entrance to the harbor – its a scenic park for a pleasant picnic now. Fort George, built by the British in 1779, has been partially restored as a state memorial, marking the last fort surrendered by the British at the end of the Revolutionary War. Fort Knox, Maine’s largest historic fort, was built in 1884 to protect from potential British naval attack along the Penobscot River. Fort Knox is one of the best-preserved historic military forts in New England, The Fort is only open to visitors seasonally, but the grounds are open year-round.
Dyce Head Lighthouse is privately owned, not open to the public. Although the light was discontinued in 1935, the original Keeper’s house, barn and oil house still remain on the property.
Witherle Woods is a spectacular 185-acre preserve on the Castine peninsula, with 4.2 miles of trails for hiking, walking or even enjoying a picnic lunch at Blockhouse Point with views of Penobscot Bay and Wadsworth Cove. Wear sneakers or hiking shoes for these great but rustic trails that bring you to old battle batteries and spectacular lookouts. There are more challenging hikes on nearby Blue Hill Mountain or further north – the famous Acadia National Park.
Castine’s best beaches are Wadsworth Cove and Backshore Beach, this protected cove offers smooth pebbly sand and a gentle surf. The western exposure provides great views of Penobscot, the Camden hills and is a perfect place to watch the sunset. Pack a cooler – no services here.
Kayaking in Castine is ideal on the Penobscot Bay and Bagaduce River.
History buffs will love Wilson Museum run by Castine’s Historical Society loaded with ancient farming equipment. Visit the pre-revolutionary John Perkins House, blacksmith shop and The Abbott School -a restored old school house. Castine Public Library is another beautiful building.
Travelling by boat to Castine, arrive at 3 for a slot on the Town Docks, and go out to Pond Island for a picnic by day, bring your dinghy to explore this gem of an island surrounded by beaches, a tidal pond sits in the center with views of the Camden Hills and neighboring Hog Island.