The Best Things to Do in Castine Maine This Year
Castine Maine is a quaint seaside village located on a beautiful peninsula in Penobscot Bay in the Downeast region of the state. Each year, visitors are attracted to the plethora of things to do in Castine Maine — learn the town’s rich history, relax on the beach, or sail the seas.
We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you plan your Castine Maine vacation at any time of year.
An Overview of Castine Maine
Castine is the perfect stop along a journey up the Maine coast, capturing visitors every year with its rich history and charm.
Occupied in the early 1600s, Castine is one of the oldest communities in Maine. From the Natives to the Dutch and a French nobleman, who gave the town its name in 1796, to the British and now college students at Castine’s Maine Maritime Academy — the town’s story is rich and complex.
Castine’s historic charm is still present today through local historic inns, beautiful old homes on tree-lined streets, and well-preserved military sites. With over 100 historic markers located throughout town, Castine is on the National Register of Historic Places. Also, it’s considered one of the wealthiest towns in Maine.
Getting to Castine Maine
From Mid-Coast Maine, you can drive to Castine on the magnificent Penobscot Narrows Bridge on the north side of Stockton Springs. It’s the world’s tallest bridge observatory and the only observatory bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
The bridge provides spectacular views of the Penobscot River and Bay along its expanse to Verona Island. Continuing on Route 1, you’ll cross a shorter bridge onto the mainland and travel east to Orlando. Then, you’ll follow ME-166 south to Castine Maine.
Castine Maine Weather
Over the year, temperatures in Castine Maine range from an average low of 14 degrees Fahrenheit to an average high of 77 degrees. In the summer, the weather is generally comfortable and rarely rises above 85 degrees. Winter is mainly freezing but rarely falls below -2 degrees.
Castine Events & Seasonally Highlights
Besides the biggest annual attractions, including the Fourth of July celebrations (which will include the return of the Pentagöet BBQ this year), Bastille Day with the Picnic en Blanc, the Castine Classic Yacht Race, and Open Lighthouse Day, Castine Maine is a year-round destination.
Spring in Castine
Spring is a good time to visit if you want to see blooming wildflowers and wildlife coming out of hibernation. Temperatures average in the 60s around mid-May, which is usually when the flowers start to bloom.
Castine in the Summer
If you’re planning to enjoy warm-weather things to do in Castine Maine, the best time to visit is from late June to early September. August is the best month for swimming with an average water temperature of 57 degrees. But, that’s still pretty chilly, so you might only want to dip your toes.
Fall in Castine
Fantastic red, orange, and gold foliage make Castine look brilliant in the fall. The colors usually peak in late September when the temperature drops to the mid-to-low-60s. Simply walking the streets is beautiful, but we recommend heading to one of the nature areas to hike among the changing leaves.
Castine in the Winter
For snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, you want to visit Castine from early January to early February, which is when snowfall is most common in the town. In fact, January gets an average of 13.2 inches of snow every year. Just remember to bundle up well before you go out!
“There are so many things to do in Castine Maine, from the busy waterfront to the fabulous seaside cottages and hillside campus, to beaches and beautiful natural walking paths and Dice Head Lighthouse. The town is also home to beautiful inns and B&Bs, waterfront restaurants serving fresh Maine seafood, and shops and art galleries.”
Indoor Things to Do in Castine Maine
When it comes to indoor activities, there’s nothing like learning about the area’s history or reading a good book. Here’s where to go in Castine Maine.
Castine Historical Society
The history of Castine is best explored by visiting the museums and sites operated by the Castine Historical Society. It’s located in The Abbott School, a restored old school house that still exhibits many historical town artifacts and memorabilia.
The Wilson Museum has exhibits featuring ancient farming and home equipment, tools, and other local historic items. The museum grounds also have the pre-Revolution John Perkins House, a blacksmith shop, and other cultural exhibits.
The museum also features interactive shipbuilding and woodworking for kids. Family-friendly programming includes live music & movie viewings throughout the summer.
Witherle Memorial Library
Established in 1801 with a small private collection of books, Witherle Memorial Library has grown to house 13,000 volumes, from books to DVDs. On top of that, the library has a museum collection of artifacts, maps, and paintings for you to explore.
The Witherle Library also has a weekly Saturday book sale, with tons of hidden treasures to scoop up.
Outdoor Things to Do in Castine Maine
While there are ways to learn about Castine indoors, there are some outdoor sites to check out as well. Some of them offer unique experiences that you won’t find anywhere else.
Dice Head Lighthouse [aka Dyce Head Light]
If you’re looking to view a Maine Lighthouse during your stay in Castine, head over to Dice Head Lighthouse. Although the light was discontinued in 1935, the original keeper’s house, barn, and oil house still remain on the property.
The Dyce Head Light grounds are open to the public, but the tower itself is not unless you visit on Bastille Day or Open Lighthouse Day.
Also, you can take a Maine lighthouse cruise out of nearby Belfast Bay to view Pumpkin Island Lighthouse on Little Deer Isle, Owls Head Light in Rockland Harbor, or Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park.
Near the Wilson Museum are the remnants of Fort Madison. Only the grass bunkers remain, but the location at the entrance to the harbor makes it a beautiful and scenic spot for a picnic lunch or relaxing day.
Next to the Castine Golf Club is Fort George, which was built by the British in 1779 to protect the harbor. It has been partially restored as a state memorial, marking the last fort surrendered by the British at the end of the Revolutionary War.
Fun Fact: Fort George has an annual writers-vs-artists softball game in August!
Walk Battle Ave
If you want to see more than 100 historic markers, bunkers, and monuments in one swoop, take a walk along Battle Ave. This whole road, which includes Fort George, was a stronghold against the British during the 1700s and 1800s.
You can get a walking map at the Castine Visitor Center to use as a reference for the sites.
Maine Maritime Academy Campus & TS State of Maine
Castine is home to the Maine Maritime Academy, evidence of the continuing rich seafaring tradition here. Founded in 1971, it’s known for its excellent engineering, management, science, and transportation schools. It’s consistently ranked among the best colleges in the North.
You can walk the Maine Maritime Academy’s campus, or climb aboard the TS State of Maine, a naval research ship recommissioned as the official training vessel for the Maine Maritime Academy.
After its annual spring cruise, the Naval Oceanographic Research Vessel is open to the public through August. Midshipmen give 30-minute tours on weekdays.
Summer Things to Do in Castine Maine
With summer being the best time to visit Castine, you might want to make the most of the warm weather. And, the town certainly delivers in the way of summer activities!
Castine Touring Company
For a tour of Castine Maine by true locals, book with the Castine Touring Company. The guided 60 to 90-minute tours are run by trained volunteers who are happy to share their vast knowledge and personal experiences of the area. They drive Scarlett, a six-passenger golf cart, through town.
Castine Golf Club
Athletes of all skill levels can visit Castine Golf Club, which is happy to accommodate visitors for golf, tennis, or yachting. This Maine golf resort has a 9-hole course designed in 1921 by Willie Park Jr. and four Har-Tru tennis courts for all ages.
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. Since there aren’t any facilities here, we recommend packing a cooler with drinks and snacks.
You could drive to Sand Beach in Acadia National Park or Craig’s Pond and Alamoosook Lake for a refreshing swim too.
Kayaking Bagaduce River & Penobscot Bay
There are plenty of things to do in Castine Maine for those looking to be adventurous and outdoorsy! Maine kayaking in Castine is ideal on the Penobscot Bay and Bagaduce River Watershed because of the smooth and gently flowing waters.
Some rental boat outfitters offer scenic tours for beginners to experienced paddlers. We recommend using Castine Kayak Adventures, which also offers bike rentals for exploring the area and coastline.
Boat & Sailing Tours
Water-lovers can travel aboard a classic yacht, boat cruise, or windjammer tour to explore the scenic rocky coast and nearby islands. Castine Cruises offers tours around Castine Harbor and Holbrook Island on its Lil’ Toot boat.
Winter Things to Do in Castine Maine
One thing is for sure — Mainers love to explore the great outdoors, and the state has plenty of natural beauty to do that. In the winter, you have the opportunity to go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating in Castine Maine.
Witherle Woods is a 193-acre preserve on the Castine peninsula with 6.5 miles of trails for hiking, walking, or picnicking. In the winter, you can use the groomed trails for cross-country skiing.
From Blockhouse Point, you get scenic views of Wadsworth Cove and Penobscot Bay. You’ll also come across old battle batteries and other lookout points along the rustic trails.
In winter, the Witherle Woods also features a decorated tree walk through the month of December, where local Castiners decorate living trees.
You’ll find more challenging trails at nearby Blue Hill Mountain or farther north in the famous Acadia National Park.
Greenbie Natural Area
For a short snowshoeing walk, check out Greenbie Natural Area. This 43-acre property has a 0.5-mile trail through mixed woods and across two small streams to the edge of a beaver flowage. Some of the trees in the woods are more than 100 years old and look majestic in the snow cover.
Rene Henderson Natural Area
If you’re in the mood for ice skating during the winter, head to Rene Henderson Natural Area. It has an open, beaver-generated pond that safely freezes for ice skating during winter. You can snowshoe the 2.5-mile network of trails too.
More Things to Do Near Castine Maine
While you can easily keep busy with the tons of things to do in Castine Maine, you might want to visit some historic and unique places outside of town. Here’s a look at what the surrounding area has to offer.
Fort Knox, Maine’s largest historic fort, was built in 1884 to protect the area from a potential British naval attack along the Penobscot River. It’s 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.
Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observatory
If you decide to visit Fort Knox, why not explore the observatory on Penobscot Narrows Bridge along the way?
At 2,120 feet long and 447 feet tall, this spectacular suspension bridge with obelisk towers is made of local granite from Waldo Mountain in Frankfurt, the same granite used to build the fort. It cost $85 million to build and opened in 2006.
The crowning achievement on the bridge, though, is the observatory, which opened about five months later. At 420 feet high (42 stories), it’s the state’s tallest occupied structure, giving you a 360-degree view of the Maine countryside, river, and bay.
Holbrook Island Sanctuary
On Penobscot Bay, Holbrook Island Sanctuary is a scenic natural area with rocky shores, an offshore island, and upland forests. It’s a great spot for hiking, kayaking, fishing, swimming, and bird-watching in the warm months. When it’s cold and snowy, you can go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Pond Island Picnic
You could rent a boat from Castine Maine to go out to Pond Island for a picnic. This gem of an island is surrounded by beaches, and a tidal pond sits in the center with views of Camden Hills State Park and neighboring Hog Island.
Shopping in Castine Maine
There’s nothing like shopping for unique gifts and souvenirs when you’re on vacation. And, Main Street in Castine Maine is the place to go. These are some of our favorites:
- Mary Margaret’s Mercantile in the Castine Emporium has yarn, clothes, gifts, and more, and it’s open all year.
- Compass Rose Books is an independent bookshop with books, notebooks, cards, puzzles, and curated gifts. It has a cafe as well.
- Analog Attic in the Castine Emporium is a record store with more than just vinyl and turntables. You can find cassettes, stereos, vintage speakers, and posters too.
Alongside the quaint shops in Castine Maine are a few galleries that are ideal for browsing on a cloudy day. Gallery B., Adam Gallery, and Julia Parish Jewelry Gallery are a few that you can peruse.
Local Castine Maine Restaurants
Nothing says good eats like a local restaurant. Although the restaurants in Castine Maine are limited, a few of them serve mouthwatering dishes. And, when you’re adventuring outside of town, a few nearby restaurants have great reviews too. Let’s take a look!
Dennett’s Wharf is the premiere dining destination for Castine. Dennett’s was featured in the Boston Globe for their innovative take on Maine food, and it will be open during peak summer. The Pentagöet will be reinstating its full supper service this year.
The Captain’s Catch
A food stand on the town pier, The Captain’s Catch is open seasonally, like most businesses in Castine Maine. You can look forward to crab and lobster rolls, haddock burgers, fish tacos, and fried clams.
You can even order Maine’s famous red hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled cheese, and other land-lover baskets. All baskets come with coleslaw and French fries.
The Breeze & Castine Variety
Serving quality takeout, The Breeze & Castine Variety is a chef-owned restaurant with daily specials that feature authentic cuisines and freshly baked goods. From the marinades and sauces to the pastries and cookies, everything is made from scratch.
For breakfast, you can order pancakes or a breakfast sandwich. For lunch, you can order a wrap or burger with fries. You can choose from a range of seafood dishes as well. And aside from baked goods, you can get some Gifford’s Ice Cream for dessert.
Bucksport Maine Restaurants
If you’re looking for a bite to eat while visiting Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, there are a few great restaurants in Bucksport.
For example, Warren’s Waterfront Restaurant serves American breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. And, Glenn’s Place is a restaurant and pub with burgers, pizza, and seafood.
Brooksville Maine Restaurants
If you venture east to Holbrook Island Sanctuary, there are a couple of restaurants in nearby Brooksville.
You can get some of the best bakery items in Maine at Tinder Hearth. Wednesday through Saturday, it makes a variety of bread and pastry items. Tuesday through Friday, it makes takeout pizza. Everything is made with local produce and organic flour.
Also, Buck’s Restaurant offers a fine-dining experience. Open during the summer, it’s located at the end of a granite walkway. The menu features creative dishes made with locally grown produce, premium meats, and fresh seafood. Plus, it has a raw bar with local clams and oysters.
Places to Stay in Castine Maine
Castine has a few lodging options to fit the needs of any traveler. The beautiful historic inns in the heart of town are perfect for intimate getaways or an elegant, gourmet meal.
Built in 1898, Castine Inn is a historic inn just one block from Castine Harbor. First, you’ll see the wraparound porch and beautiful perennial gardens.
When you walk inside, you’re greeted by a large front hall and lovely sitting room. The cozy Madockawando’s Pub is on the main floor as well. The historic pub offers wine and a full bar for cocktails.
The guest rooms are on the second and third floors, featuring fine European linens, private bathrooms, and other modern amenities.
Pentagoet Inn & Wine Bar
The Pentagoet Inn & Wine Bar is Castine’s oldest and original “summer hotel,” a bed and breakfast in an 1894 Queen Anne Victorian, featuring gorgeous gabled rooftops and a rising turret, that overlooks Castine and its harbor.
Many guests love lounging on the wraparound porch, especially on Tuesdays when a live jazz trio brings the inn to life. Other live entertainment includes a jazz pianist and other special musical guests throughout the season.
Breakfast is offered to guests of the inn, and the evening supper service (offered Tuesdays-Saturdays) is a town favorite, featuring dishes such as lobster linguini and Deer Isle crab cakes.
The main house features 11 rooms with luxury linens, modern amenities, and elegant details. The property also has five pet-friendly accommodations in its Perkins House annex, a building which dates to the 1790s, located across the main inn through the English-style gardens.
Wine Bar & Pub
The Wine Bar at Pentagoet serves small plates and tapas that feature the best local ingredients from nearby farms and the water.
The inn is also home to The Baron Pub, which has an eclectic style. You can order from an extensive list of wines and local and international beers, and the full bar prepares craft cocktails. Small plates from the Wine Bar are available as well.
Located on the Bagaduce River, the Castine Cottages is a row of six, two-bedroom cottages with stunning views of the water and a private beach, dock, and boat ramp. Each has a fully efficient kitchen, outdoor grill, a living and dining area, and a private, screened-in porch. Plus, well-behaved pets are welcome!
Jonathan Lowder House
If you want to experience one of the oldest homes in Castine, book the Jonathan Lowder House. This four-bedroom home was built in the late 1700s and has been renovated while maintaining its historical character and offering modern amenities.
Also, it’s located next to the oldest operating post office in the country and near other local sites and restaurants.
There are many affordable places to stay in nearby areas as well, including Deer Isle, Blue Hill, Orland, Brooksville, and even Acadia National Park.
Start Planning Your Castine Maine Adventure
With so much history and nature to see, as well as local restaurants and shops to visit, Castine is a picturesque New England town in The Pine Tree State. Now, all that’s left to do is see how many things to do in Castine Maine you can fit into your trip!