If you’re looking to explore fishing villages, indulge in seafood, and enjoy calm bay waters, a visit to Penobscot Bay is a must during your next Maine vacation. It is known for its fishing and lobstering industries, but the bay has so much more to offer.
From exciting water activities to museums to scenic state parks, there’s a lot to see and do in the Penobscot Bay area.
About Penobscot Bay
Located at the mouth of the Penobscot River, Penobscot Bay spans 35 miles south to north and 27 miles east to west. The Penobscot Bay area includes hundreds of islands and the bay’s coastline spans numerous picturesque villages and towns.
Penobscot Bay is a popular spot for sailing, kayaking, cruising, and other water activities. Visitors who sit by the scenic shoreline can sometimes spot marine life — like harbor seals and seabirds. While the bay is swimmable, water temperatures tend to stay fairly chilly even during warm weather months.
History of Penobscot Bay
Penobscot Bay’s ideal location made it easy for workers to transport materials to Bangor and Portland. In the 1800s, it was a major transportation route for vessels in Maine’s lumber business. The lumber that was transported through the bay was used for shipbuilding, furniture, paper, and firewood.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the bay was used to transport granite from the surrounding towns and islands. The granite and limestone found along Penobscot Bay helped to build buildings around New England.
Clay to create bricks was also dug from Penobscot Bay and transported from the bay to surrounding businesses and cities.
Outdoor Things to Do in Penobscot Bay
No matter when you plan to visit the Penobscot Bay area, there’s something to do outdoors year-round. From scenic views to hiking trails to snow activities, there’s undoubtedly something to keep everyone in the family entertained. Check out these outdoor options on your next visit to Penobscot Bay.
A visit to Penobscot Bay isn’t complete without admiring the amazing views of the bay at the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect Maine.
This observatory offers 360-degree views of the bay, river, mountains, and Maine woods that you won’t get anywhere else. The observatory is the tallest public bridge in the world and even taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Also on-site is Fort Knox, which is a well-preserved, historic military fortification. It was designed and used to watch for potential British naval invasions. You can wander around the fort and learn about the history of Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows.
Maine State Parks
Maine has 48 beautiful, well-maintained State Parks sprinkled throughout the state. When visiting the Penobscot Bay area, the parks not to be missed include Camden Hills, Moose Point, Owls Head, and Warren Island:
- Camden Hills State Park is open year-round and offers bird-watching, camping, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking trails.
- Moose Point State Park has lovely views of Penobscot Bay, hiking trails, and tidal pools to explore.
- Owls Head State Park has a clean picnic grove, a small beach, Owls Head Lighthouse, and scenic views.
- Warren Island State Park can only be accessed by private boat. Once on the island, there are a few campsites, hiking trails, and great fishing spots to enjoy.
Since Penobscot Bay is a body of water with miles of coastline and islands, there are several lighthouses. Each has its own history and architectural style.
Some of the towers can only be viewed via boat in the bay, while you can get up close to others via walking paths. Check out these popular Penobscot Bay lighthouses on your next visit:
- Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is situated at the end of a nearly 1-mile-long breakwater that you can walk down to view the lighthouse from the outside.
- Owls Head Lighthouse overlooks Penobscot Bay from an 80-foot bluff at Owls Head State Park.
- Dyce Head Lighthouse is located at a private residence but can be viewed via a footpath.
- Goose Rocks Lighthouse is located near North Haven and is best viewed by boat.
If you’re looking to get out in the bay and earn your sea legs, check out the Schooner Olad & Cutter Owl for sailing cruises. Let the professional sailors do the work while you sit back and relax on a two-hour sailing tour of Penobscot Bay.
Book the Schooner Olad if you have a large group of up to 22 passengers and want to set sail on a sailing yacht. Try the Cutter Owl for a small group of up to six passengers and a more intimate experience.
Special themed sailing trips are also available, such as a Full Moon Sail, Father’s Day Sail, 4th of July Fireworks Sale, and Sunrise Sail.
When planning a visit to Penobscot Bay in the winter, check out The Camden Snow Bowl. This ski resort has impressive bay views from the lifts. There are 20 runs, skiing and snowboarding lessons, machine-made snow, and a 4,000-foot triple lift on-site.
Along with skiing and snowboarding, there are other snow activities — tubing and tobogganing — so that there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
If you’re ready to immerse yourself in Penobscot Bay, go for a swim at Lincolnville Beach. Located in Lincolnville Maine this small, half-mile-long beach is a no-frills beach and perfect for cooling off on a hot day, sunbathing, relaxing, and enjoying views of the bay and boats.
The beach does not have a lifeguard or facilities, so plan ahead and stay safe.
Indoor Things to Do in Penobscot Bay
The Penobscot Bay area has many indoor activities to keep you busy during your visit. There’s no shortage of museums, galleries, and interesting shops to explore, but here are some popular attractions.
Rather than one building, the Penobscot Marine Museum is a campus filled with historic houses and buildings to explore. Located in the picturesque village of Searsport Maine, the museum buildings sprawl across 3 acres, each telling a different story of the area.
With 16 sites containing a collection of over 300,000 photographs, hundreds of artifacts, textiles, vintage furnishings, and well-preserved architecture, this museum campus has enough to keep you busy for hours.
Start at the Main Street Gallery in the Whitcomb & Pendleton Block and work your way through the Merithew House of 1826, the Dutch House of 1848, the Old Town Hall of 1845, the Duncan Barn, and more. And, be sure to get a view of the Camera Obscura on a bright day.
You don’t have to travel to the big city to see America’s most famous artists’ artwork. Check out the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland Maine to see over 15,000 pieces of artwork in a 20,000-square-foot gallery.
Open year-round, this family-friendly museum has a collection that includes Andrew Wyeth, N.C. Wyeth, Jaime Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, and many more notable artists with connections to Maine.
Also, the Farnsworth Art Museum owns the Farnsworth Homestead, a 19th-century Greek Revival house.
If you’re looking for somewhere to keep the kids busy, the Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor is the perfect stop. Spread over three floors, the museum is fully interactive with exhibits focusing on science, geography, children’s books, art, and numerous STEAM activities.
Themed rooms include a reptile room, tradewinds, a pet vet, a dinosaur dig, and a doctor’s office. Think of it as a children’s museum meets a science museum. The kids will be busy having fun and exploring, and you may even learn a little something about the history and ecology of Maine too.
The Owls Head Transportation Museum in Owls Head has a collection of over 150 airplanes, carriages, motorcycles, automobiles, bicycles, and engines. After exploring the various vintage modes of transportation, check out the exhibits, which feature loads of historical information and interesting facts.
The exhibits focus on everything from Maine’s history to World War I to women’s history. And, stop by the ‘Fads & Failures’ display to learn about unique vehicles that no longer exist today.
Looking for the perfect souvenir to remember your trip to Penobscot Bay Maine? Stop by the BlueJacket Shipcrafters in Searsport. It has model kits for all abilities — from easy to advanced to radio-controlled. There are sailboats, power vessels, half hulls, and limited edition kits.
If you’ve never made your own model kit before, don’t worry. The experts at BlueJacket can help you find the perfect kit to match your abilities and interests.
The Alamo Theater was built in 1916 and has been a staple in the Bucksport community ever since. Throughout the years, it has served as a movie theater and a live show theater. Today, it maintains its original charm while still showing films.
The Alamo Theater is also home to Northeast Historic Film. Though small, the theater plays a few movies, typically independent films or local films. The theater is open to the public and even has a vault for film researchers to explore.
Popular Restaurants in Penobscot Bay
The Penobscot Bay region has many dining options, ranging from casual to fine dining. Check out some of these popular, highly-rated spots.
The Marshall Wharf Brewing Company in Belfast Maine is a trendy spot to meet with friends for a drink and some tasty food. The brewery has a Beer Atrium with a wood-burning stove that’s perfect for cold days by the water. It’s dog friendly, so bring your four-legged best friend along too!
With over 30 beers on tap — from IPAs to stouts — there are so many beers to sample. Food options include soups, pretzels, flatbread pizza, and bratwurst.
McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack is located on Lincolnville Beach, making for a scenic, enjoyable meal with a view. A trip to Maine isn’t complete without visiting a lobster shack, and McLaughlin’s knows how to do Maine lobster right — it has been in business since 1956.
McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack has full lobster dinners, lazy lobster, and lobster rolls. In addition, it has burgers, fish tacos, beef brisket, clams, fish ‘n chips, and oysters. It also has a cocktail, beer, and wine menu.
Looking for a unique pizza? Wolfpeach in Camden Maine has specialty pizzas, including a pizza with mussels on top and another with smoked pork. If you’re up for a more traditional pizza, try the Margherita, mushroom, or pepperoni.
Other menu items include oysters and salads. There is a wine, cocktail, and beer menu available as well. The menu offerings change by the season, so expect some interesting pizza concoctions on your next visit.
Natalie’s Restaurant is the perfect spot for an intimate evening out in Camden. This restaurant has a fine dining atmosphere overlooking the harbor and mountains in the distance. Even the lounge area makes for a great date spot with a fireplace to dine by.
The menu has A La Carte dishes like scallops, foie gras, cauliflower ravioli, cornish hen, and vegetable terrine. Desserts include dishes like polenta cake with orange and chocolate panna cotta. The menu is subject to change seasonally, though.
Stonecutters Kitchen is a nice spot for family-friendly dining or a group gathering in Stonington Maine. It features all freshly caught seafood sourced by local fishermen. The seafood dishes have generous portions and include offerings like haddock and shrimp.
For non-seafood eaters, there are plenty of options — like chicken sandwiches, burgers, salads, and pizzas. There’s something for every appetite at Stonecutters.
Warren’s Waterfront Restaurant in Bucksport Maine has an amazing breakfast that includes fluffy pancakes, hot waffles, eggs, sausage, and home fries. Omelets, Benedicts, corned beef hash, French toast, and muffins round out the mouthwatering breakfast menu.
Warren’s also serves lunch and dinner. Lunch includes sandwiches, salads, and burgers. The dinner menu is small and includes fried haddock, chicken fingers, liver, maple salmon, and side dishes.
There’s no better way to cool off on a hot day than with ice cream. The Stonington Ice Cream Company has creamy, homemade ice cream in flavors like wild blueberry, strawberry, coffee, maple walnut, and mint chocolate chip.
Along with delicious ice cream, it serves a heaping lobster roll, fish sandwiches, and tenderloin sandwiches.
Comfortable Lodging Options in Penobscot Bay
Since Penobscot Bay’s shoreline spans many villages and towns, there are great options when it comes to accommodations. From cottages to inns to cabins, there are rooms for families, couples, or solo travelers.
Point Lookout in Northport Maine has 39 cabins available for rent. The cabins come with one, two, or three bedrooms and feature Adirondack chairs, a parking spot, and screened-in porches to keep out bugs.
Amenities include all of the kitchenware you need to cook and serve, a refrigerator, microwave, coffee pot, soap, TV, Wi-Fi, linens, and towels. Each cabin also has a charcoal grill and fire pit. On-site, there are courts, hiking trails, and a fitness center. These cabins are truly a home away from home.
The Cedarholm Garden Bay Inn is a relaxing place to crash after an exciting day out and about. This Lincolnville Maine inn is peaceful and secluded, offering a romantic retreat that’s perfect for couples.
With just six cottages, the innkeepers can focus on offering individual attention to each guest. Cottage rentals include a complimentary fresh breakfast. After breakfast, explore the amazing gardens on the sprawling grounds.
Look out your window at the Beach Cottage Inn in Lincolnville and you may spot a lobster boat on Penobscot Bay. This inn is no frills but is clean and perfect for short or long-term stays. Each room is equipped with a spacious deck, TV, and private bathroom.
If you’re looking for somewhere to walk on the beach, enjoy views of sailboats, take in the sunset, or sip on a cocktail, you’ll love the Inn at Sunrise Point. This inn has amazing views, private decks, and homemade breakfasts. The rooms are bright, airy, and clean, and they feature luxurious linens and cheery decor.
Plan Your Visit to Penobscot Bay This Year
When you think of Maine, you may think of scenic ocean views, delicious seafood, and picturesque villages. If you’re looking to experience all of this firsthand, check out the Penobscot Bay area on your next trip. You’re sure to get the ultimate Maine experience while exploring Penobscot Bay.