Ellsworth, Maine Vacation Guide
Many people visiting the Acadia region of Maine head straight to Bar Harbor, skipping dozens of beautiful, charming coastal towns. Ellsworth, a town of just under 8,000 people, is worth a visit for its numerous sites of historical and cultural interest. It is also well-known in the region for its excellent shopping opportunities, with an L.L. Bean outlet, boutique clothing stores, and art galleries. The nearby towns of Mariaville, Otis, Waltham, Eastbrook, Franklin, and Hancock offer small-town Maine hospitality. Lamoine, located just south of Ellsworth, is home to the stunning Lamoine State Park. This oceanfront park provides excellent access to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, rocky islands, and several Acadia lighthouses.
The Ellsworth area was originally inhabited by the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes. After French settlers arrived in the early 17th century, the English and French had repeated skirmishes over ownership of the area. When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, Ellsworth officially became part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which later became the independent colony of Maine. Ellsworth was the fastest growing city in Maine from 2000 to 2010, with a 20% growth rate.
Attractions and Places of Interest
The Woodlawn Museum, sometimes called the Colonel John Black Mansion Museum, is one of the most important historic homes in Ellsworth. Built in 1824, three generations of the Black family called this 180-acre estate home before donating the property to the county in 1928. Today, the house, gardens, and public park are preserved for their historic value. The Federal-style house features portraits, mid-19th century carpeting, antique books, family photographs, china, glassware, American and European furniture, sleighs, and carriages. The grounds include a Colonial Revival style formal garden, fruit orchards, two miles of woodland trails, and a croquet court.
The Stanwood Homestead Museum and Bird Sanctuary is the former home of Cordelia J. Stanwood, who was the first female ornithologist photographer in the United States. Stanwood lived on her parents’ homestead during the 19th century, photographing and documenting numerous species of local birds. Today, the 200-acre property offers a historic home decorated in turn of the century style, Stanwood’s avian field notes and photographs, extensive gardens, and the Richmond Nature Center. The bird sanctuary is open every day during daylight hours, while the museum and nature center operate seasonally during summer months.
Harbor Park and Marina offer incredible views of Ellsworth’s undeveloped shoreline. There is a large gazebo and multiple picnic shelters, giving you a place to bring a snack and relax. The wooded shoreline provides serenity as well as scenic walking opportunities. There is an ice cream and concessions stand on the park premises.
The Telephone Museum offers a fascinating peek into the history of the telephone network. This museum leads visitors from the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell through today’s digital telephone technology. Among the unique exhibits in the museum are several large switching systems that served towns in Maine. Visiting the Telephone Museum provides an opportunity to understand the history of the telephone from its humble origins to today’s technologically advanced smart phones.
One of Ellsworth’s interesting buildings is the Grand Auditorium. This 70-year-old building, constructed in Art Deco style, was recently renovated. The auditorium draws music concerts, theater performances, films, and dance shows, fostering Ellsworth’s burgeoning artistic community
The Downeast Scenic Railroad is a popular tourist destination in Ellsworth. The Downeast Rail Heritage Preservation Trust is dedicated to preserving the region’s railroad history and educate future generations about this important industry. The trust restored a vintage 1948 diesel engine, passenger car, and caboose that are available to the public. The Downeast Scenic Railroad travels in a loop from Ellsworth to Ellsworth Falls to Washington Junction before returning back to Ellsworth. Trains run two times per day during summer weekends. Visitors often spot osprey, blue herons, bald eagles, deer, moose, beavers, and other wildlife on this exciting train journey.
Ellsworth hosts one of Downeast Maine’s best farmer’s markets. Each Monday, Thursday, and Saturday during the summer, vendors come to the market to sell ice cream, cheese, plants, organic produce, locally-raised meats, baked goods, and freshly cut flowers.
Each summer, the Grand Auditorium offers a free concert series at Harbor Park. These concerts are typically held on Friday nights and are open to the public. Bring a blanket and picnic foods to relax and listen to music under the open skies.
Other local events include an annual Chocolate Festival, held in February, to raise money to benefit the Next Step Domestic Violence Project. The Maine Coast Memorial Hospital also hosts an annual Poinsettia Ball each December as a fundraising event.
The Ellsworth area is well-known for its recreational opportunities. The Stanwood Homestead and Museum Wildlife Sanctuary offers several miles of walking trails. Keep an eye out for interesting bird species as you pass through the area. Biking through the Ellsworth area is another great way to experience Maine’s natural beauty.
Ellsworth offers easy access to the stunning Maine coastline. Rent a kayak to explore the Downeast region’s rocky coastlines or spend the day fishing in the ocean or nearby Graham Lake. If you prefer a guided tour experience, Ellsworth is the launching point for several boating tour companies. Take one of these sea tours to see Frenchman Bay, view ocean wildlife, experience Acadia National Park from the water, and enjoy the fresh sea air. Although Ellsworth’s shoreline is undeveloped, Sand Beach and Hadley Point Beach are located nearby. These sandy beaches offer swimming opportunities surrounded by incredible scenery.
Lodging and Dining
Because Ellsworth is a popular tourist hub, there are a variety of chain lodging options, from budget motels to higher-end hotels. If you prefer to stay somewhere with a local flavor, choose one of the town’s multiple bed-and-breakfasts or historic inns. These establishments are often family-owned and operated, giving you the opportunity to support a local business.
Ellsworth has several fine dining options, including a waterfront restaurant that serves seafood and local Maine specialties. Other restaurants feature American, Chinese, Thai, Mediterranean, Italian, and other world cuisines. Bring your family to a local cafe for a more affordable dining option, or stop by the ice cream parlor for an after-dinner treat.
Ellsworth Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Ellsworth, Maine area.