Nestled on the coast of Maine lies Ellsworth — a charming city with a rich history and plenty to offer visitors. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean or want to explore the quaint downtown area, Ellsworth Maine has something for everyone.
Despite the Maine axiom, “You can’t get there from here”, this is certainly not the case for the city of Ellsworth. Served by US Route 1, travelers can continue through Ellsworth further Downeast, following US Route 1A north to Bangor or take US Route 3 to Mount Desert Island.
Ellsworth is the perfect stop for those touring the Maine coast for vacation. Travelers can easily find numerous lodging accommodations in Ellsworth thanks to the main routes passing through the city.
Now, let’s take a closer look at Ellsworth’s history, attractions and activities, and everything else you need to know about visiting this beautiful city.
Getting to Know Ellsworth Maine
Ellsworth is a picturesque city situated on the coast of Maine. It was first settled by Europeans in 1763 when it was known as Plantation No. 7. Later, the area was renamed in honor of Oliver Ellsworth, a chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Like many Maine communities, Ellsworth has a lot of history. After the Great Fire during The Depression, which destroyed much of the downtown commercial district, planners had completely redesigned the layout of the city creating a more easily navigable village as well as adding Ellsworth’s shopping district.
Today, High Street in the Downtown area is titled the largest shopping district in Hancock County. Despite the fire during a difficult economical era, today the city of Ellsworth is flourishing – making this city perfect for a vacation or weekend getaway to the Downeast region.
Growth in Industry
During its early years, Ellsworth was primarily an agricultural community but began to grow in size and importance with improved transportation via riverboats and railroads. In particular, Ellsworth became a hub for shipbuilding due to its convenient location near coastal ports.
By the late 1800s, Ellsworth also developed shoe manufacturing and granite quarrying industries. Several mills in town produced lumber and shingles as well. These industries brought economic growth to the region throughout much of the 19th century.
Ellsworth continued to develop in the 20th century with improvements in infrastructure, such as paved roads and electricity. Today, it is a thriving community that attracts tourists and residents alike with beautiful scenery and rich history.
As you walk through Ellsworth’s charming streets, it’s hard not to feel a sense of wonder at all that has happened here throughout history. From its early agricultural roots to its important role in industrialization, Ellsworth has played a key part in shaping Maine’s past and continues to shape its present today.
Interesting Facts & Trivia
Ellsworth Maine played an important role in World War II efforts thanks to Eastland Woolen Mill, which produced wool blankets for U.S. soldiers overseas under military contract starting in August 1940. The mill hired more than 1,000 local employees who worked around-the-clock shifts seven days a week producing blankets for service men up through the Korean War.
Ellsworth is also the birthplace of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Peter Tristram Coffin, who was born in 1892. Coffin grew up to become one of Maine’s most well-known writers and poets, and he used his works to capture the unique beauty and essence of life on the coast.
Outdoor Things to Do in Ellsworth Maine
There are tons of things to do in Ellsworth. Visitors will find themselves torn by the many choices for area attractions. Anyone with an itch to revel in nature can find both hiking and biking routes within the city as well as maintained trails in the Stanwood Wildlife bird sanctuary. Visitors can trek 200 acres of diverse terrain and observe wildlife or find a place for a picnic.
The location of Ellsworth makes it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wealth of opportunities for adventure in nature. From hiking to kayaking and fishing to cycling, it has an endless array of outdoor activities for adventurers that encompass every preference and skill level.
Whatever your outdoor passion, Ellsworth will not disappoint. So, pack your gear and head out for an adventure of a lifetime.
The region around Ellsworth boasts numerous hiking trails that range from easy to challenging. One of the most popular hikes is in the Great Pond Mountain Preserve just outside of town. This preserve offers several trails with varying difficulty levels and spectacular views.
For a more moderate hike, try out a Frenchman Bay Conservancy trail, which takes you through scenic forests and allows you to enjoy amazing vistas.
Cycling is another great way to experience Ellsworth’s natural beauty while staying active. Several biking tours are available, including the Acadia National Park tour that takes you through stunning coastal landscapes and rocky shores.
Another option is the Downeast Sunrise Trail, which stretches across eastern Maine and provides an unparalleled view of tidal estuaries, historic landmarks, and wildlife habitats.
Bring the kids to Knowlton Park, a six-acre open space natural park, the park hosts a big screen movie night on Thursdays during the summer months. In the winter, Knowlton Park is host to a public ice skating rink for all to enjoy.
Though Ellsworth is not technically a coastal town, this is the place for water exploration. Abutting the Union River, Ellsworth’s waterfront is open for boat launches.
For those without a boat, Ellsworth has its share of boat rentals convenient for those with a hankering to get out on the canoe or kayak to explore the brooks and bends of the river.
If you love exploring waterways, kayaking in Ellsworth might be perfect for you. Paddle along the Taunton Bay Estuary where you can witness sea turtles basking and even spot seals sunbathing on rocky beaches.
Alternatively, try kayaking through the beautiful Blue Hill Bay with a guided tour provided by one of the local shops.
Ellsworth Maine is renowned for its fishing opportunities, with several freshwater ponds and lakes nearby to enjoy a day of fishing. Graham Lake is one of the most popular fishing spots where you can catch trout, salmon, and bass year-round.
Another great location to check out is Green Lake, which offers stunning views and multiple game fish, such as smallmouth bass, pickerel, and landlocked salmon.
The Ellsworth waterfront is not exclusive to boaters. This area is a perfect place to attend a free waterfront concert or picnic.
If you want to stay longer in Ellsworth and experience the great outdoors to the fullest — pitch a tent or rent an RV at one of the many camping sites.
Mount Desert Narrows Camping Resort boasts panoramic views of Mount Desert Island across Frenchman’s Bay and has plenty of amenities — like restrooms with hot showers, laundry facilities, pet-friendly areas, and campsites surrounded by pine trees.
Indoor Things to Do in Ellsworth Maine
While Ellsworth Maine is undoubtedly abundant with outdoor recreational opportunities, sometimes the weather or other factors may make it necessary to enjoy indoor activities.
Fortunately, this charming town offers many unique places to explore and things to do that are perfect for rainy days, cold winter weather, or just when you want to take a break from the great outdoors.
Whether you want to go shopping, learn some history, create artsy glass designs, or just stretch your legs while being sheltered from harsh weather — this charming town has it all.
The Grand Theater
Located in downtown Ellsworth, The Grand Theater is one of the most popular cultural attractions in the city. This historic theater has been completely restored and updated with modern technology while still retaining its classic charm.
You can catch one of its many performing arts productions, concerts, and other events all year around. Past shows have featured comedy acts including Maine’s Bob Marley, music concerts, and musical plays.
L.L.Bean Outlet Store
For those who love shopping or have an appreciation for quality outdoor gear, the L.L.Bean Outlet Store might be a perfect option for spending time inside.
All merchandise sold here comes from returns and overstock, putting them at discounted prices all year. Buy some warm clothes during the winter season or any equipment needed for summer adventures.
Woodlawn Museum & Estate
Travel back in time with a visit to the beautiful Woodlawn Museum & Estate where you can learn about local Maine history through interactive exhibits and displays. Woodlawn Museum offers a day of fun with doors open for sightseeing tours of the historic house as well as lawn space to play croquet, walk the beautiful gardens, or stop to picnic.
This historic 1800s estate includes a museum showcasing the history of Ellsworth’s founding family, art galleries exhibiting local artists’ works, and several walking trails with stunning gardens to explore.
Woodlawn hosts many programs throughout the year too, such as house tours and workshops for all ages. The Woodlawn Estate also has snowmobile trails for winter recreation.
Atlantic Art Glass
Get creative and crafty with a visit to Atlantic Art Glass, where you can create your own unique glass artwork at the open studio. No experience needed!
You’ll have the help of a professional instructor who will teach you how to cut and fuse glass into shapes. You’ll leave not only with new skills but also a one-of-a-kind souvenir from Ellsworth Maine.
Volta Climbing Gym
If you’re an active person who would like to stay in shape during your trip, consider visiting the Volta Climbing Gym not far from Ellsworth.
This indoor rock climbing facility has walls for all skill levels, including a bouldering area that is popular amongst visitors who want to challenge themselves on shorter distances without being secured atop that high up in the air.
The Telephone Museum
The Telephone Museum is also worth a visit for young and old alike. The Telephone Museum in Ellsworth is a fascinating destination for those interested in the history of communications technology. You can take a trip down memory lane and learn about how the telephone evolved from its earliest days to become an indispensable part of modern life.
Telecommunication devices of old are displayed for exhibition, some of which are just for show, while some antiquated devices are actually functioning. How fun it is for the kids to see the first real phones and the progression from dial phones to today.
The museum houses an impressive collection of antique telephones, switchboards, and other telecommunications equipment that showcase the ingenuity and innovation of early inventors.
Delicious Ellsworth Maine Restaurants
Ellsworth is a food lover’s paradise with a variety of dining options to suit any taste or budget. From casual eateries to fine-dining establishments, coffee shops to ice cream parlors, and breweries to wineries, there’s something for everyone in this charming city.
This selection merely scratches the surface of what Ellsworth Maine has to offer food lovers visiting this picturesque town but provides a great starting point for those seeking casual eats or fine dining experiences.
Regardless of whether you’re searching for sweet sugary treats or beer crafted uniquely by local artisan breweries — Ellsworth will undoubtedly fulfill all palates.
If you’re in the mood for burgers or tacos while exploring Ellsworth, 86 This! should be your go-to destination. The portion sizes are generous and the prices are affordable, which makes it an ideal option for families with kids looking for a fast yet scrumptious meal.
Provender Kitchen & Bar
Provender Kitchen & Bar is a fine-dining restaurant that offers a relaxed yet elegant atmosphere. Known for its creative American cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients, the menu at Provender changes seasonally to reflect the freshest ingredients available.
This restaurant has gained a reputation among locals as one of the best places to dine in the area.
Flexit Cafe & Bakery
Flexit Cafe & Bakery is famous among locals for its wide range of menu options, cozy ambiance, and in-house baked goods.
Breakfast items with freshly brewed coffee to give you the energy to start your day are combined with a variety of pastries and sandwiches. Lunch specials are available into the afternoon, and the homemade soups are a must-try.
Airline Brewing Company Pub
Airline Brewing Company Pub should be on every craft beer enthusiast’s bucket list while exploring Ellsworth. This local brewery offers an assortment of handcrafted beers that go perfectly well with its mouth-watering pub-style food menu.
Airline features Trivia Nites, music events, and more throughout the week, making it a perfect location for socializing while enjoying high-quality brews.
Union River Lobster Pot
For an authentic taste of Maine Cuisine and fresh seafood, you’ll find some of the best Maine lobster and seafood dishes in town at the Union River Lobster Pot. The menu includes fresh clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp, as well as a variety of lobster — from small to jumbo size — caught fresh off the Maine coast.
Enjoy your meal indoors or outdoors on the patio with scenic views and blues music in the background. This restaurant is open seasonally, so call ahead to make sure it is open.
Ellsworth offers incredible opportunities for outdoor activities, fascinating cultural attractions, and mouth-watering cuisine. Whether you’re here for a quiet weekend getaway or an adventure-packed vacation, you’ll need to find the perfect place to stay in Ellsworth.
Luckily, this charismatic city has plenty of unique lodging options to meet every traveler’s needs and preferences. The following suggestions are diverse to cater to every budget and taste while still being close to Ellsworth Maine, making it easy to explore the city and its surrounding areas.
Regardless of which lodging option you choose, you are guaranteed to experience Maine’s winding coastal beauty and classic New England hospitality.
The Sanctuary Inn And Art Gallery
The Sanctuary Inn And Art Gallery is an elegant retreat featuring six rooms — each with its own fireplace and private bath. As the name suggests, this inn feels like a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of daily life with serene grounds, delightful breakfasts, and luxurious amenities.
This charming inn also boasts an outdoor hot tub and fire pit perfect for relaxation after a day exploring Acadia National Park or downtown Ellsworth Maine.
Homestead Motel & Cottages
For guests searching for budget-friendly lodging options that aren’t cookie-cutter chain establishments, Homestead Motel & Cottages fittingly spans over 12 acres, leaving plenty of space to unwind while experiencing the scenic surrounding views.
The rustic barn-inspired inn and cabins are equipped with all the necessary amenities plus daily housekeeping services, making it ideal for long weekend getaways or families seeking adventure without spending too much.
The Lucerne Inn
Nestled on Penobscot Bay close to Bangor, The Lucerne Inn is known for its breathtaking natural beauty. This elegant inn offers stunning views of the bay and nature preserve, making it a perfect retreat for nature lovers who wish to indulge in style.
The Lucerne Inn has spacious rooms and suites equipped with fireplaces, private balconies, or patios that overlook the water or landscaped garden. Make time in your day to dine on the superb farm-to-table cuisine.
FAQs About Ellsworth Maine
What are some of the top attractions in Ellsworth?
Ellsworth Maine has many attractions for visitors to enjoy.
Top destinations include Acadia National Park — which is nearby and offers breathtaking views and hiking trails — and The Grand Theater — which shows films and hosts other performing arts shows.
When is the best time to visit Ellsworth Maine?
The best time to visit Ellsworth depends on what you want to see and do. Many tourists come during the summer months of June through August when local festivals and events take place under warm weather conditions.
Others might prefer visiting in autumn as the leaves change color, resulting in stunning vistas around the city.
What kind of accommodations are available in Ellsworth?
Ellsworth Maine has various accommodations — from budget motels to high-end resorts.
How do I get around town while staying in Ellsworth?
Ellsworth Maine is very walkable depending on where you stay. If you want more freedom, consider renting a bike or car from one of several providers.
Are there any restaurants or dining options in downtown Ellsworth?
Yes, downtown Ellsworth Maine features plenty of eateries that serve seafood favorites, such as lobster rolls or clam chowder, alongside artisanal cheeses, bread, pastries, and more crafted by locals.
What local events should I be aware of when visiting Ellsworth?
Ellsworth Maine has many fun annual events worth experiencing firsthand — like its famous Autumn Gold celebrations taking place every fall with music performances and craft fairs across area parks and activities ideal for all ages.
Start Planning Your Getaway to Ellsworth Maine
Ellsworth is a charming coastal Maine city that mesmerizes people of all age groups with its wealth of outdoor activities, historical landmarks, intriguing culinary scenes, and comfortable accommodations.
The spirit of Ellsworth captures you the moment you arrive, surrounded by breathtaking views of Acadia National Park and serene nature refuges filled with hummingbirds, moose, and bald eagles.
No matter your preferences — hiking trails with astonishing views or fresh local seafood — Ellsworth Maine has it covered while still being a true hidden gem in New England. Whether you’re planning a family-friendly vacation, an intimate couple’s retreat, or an outdoor adventure, Ellsworth will exceed your expectations.
So, start planning your trip to Ellsworth today. Explore the outdoors while embracing incredible art galleries and museums and tasting delicious cuisine. It’s time to create unforgettable experiences in one of Maine’s most awe-inspiring cities.