Winter Harbor, Maine Vacation Guide
Winter Harbor is a small village of approximately 1,000 residents that is located in Hancock County. This classic Downeast fishing community became a desirable port for fishermen because it did not freeze over in winter, a characteristic that gave the village its name. During Queen Anne’s War, Winter Harbor was raided several times by the French and Native Americans. Today, Winter Harbor is popular among visitors to the Downeast and Acadia region. Visitors to the area appreciate the charm of Winter Harbor and its Schoodic Peninsula neighbors, including the towns of Gouldsboro, Sullivan, Sorrento, Corea, Franklin, and Prospect Harbor. Its rugged beauty and outdoor opportunities draw people from across the country to this charming part of Maine.
Attractions and Places of Interest
The Schoodic Scenic Byway begins in Sullivan and travels south through West Gouldsboro, South Gouldsboro, and Winter Harbor before curving around the coast of the Schoodic Peninsula to end in Prospect Harbor. When travelling this byway, on Route 186, note the historic buildings, quaint fishing villages, numerous lighthouses, and beautiful scenery.
The Channing Chapel in Winter Harbor is an excellent example of coastal Maine religious architecture. The building was constructed in 1887 to serve as a Unitarian chapel. Today, it serves as the Winter Harbor Public Library, but visitors come to admire its stained glass windows and field stone walls.
Several lighthouses dot the Schoodic Peninsula area. Mark Island Light is found just off the coast from Winter Harbor. Although the lighthouse is privately owned and not open to the public, there is a spectacular view of the lighthouse from Grindstone Point in Winter Harbor. Petit Manan Lighthouse, Maine’s second tallest, can be photographed from nearby Corea. Egg Rock Lighthouse, built in 1875 and nicknamed “Maine’s Ugliest Lighthouse,” is best viewed from the top of Schoodic Head. Another lighthouse in Prospect Harbor is used to this day, although it is not open to the public.
Although much of Acadia National Park is located across Frenchman Bay on Mount Desert Island, a portion of the park is located on the Schoodic Peninsula. This 2,000-acre section of the park has spectacular views, picnic opportunities, a scenic drive, and hiking paths.
One of the most interesting things to do in Winter Harbor is to make your way to the waterfront and observe the lobstermen on their boats. Winter Harbor still has an active fishing fleet, allowing you to observe the continuation of a decades-old fishing tradition.
One of the most important events on the Schoodic Peninsula is the annual Winter Harbor Lobster Festival. Held each year on the second Saturday in August, this is one of Maine’s largest lobster festivals. Come to watch the lobster boat races, shop at the extensive craft fair, eat a delicious Maine lobster dinner, or enjoy the annual parade.
Winter Harbor is the gateway for dozens of recreational opportunities. Several local outfitters offer day cruises through Frenchman Bay and the greater Schoodic Peninsula area. Winter Harbor is a popular jumping-off point for kayakers who wish to explore the Acadia region from the water. Kayak rentals and guided tours are available from outfitters.
To explore the greater Winter Harbor area, consider renting bicycles and biking along the Schoodic Scenic Byway. This can be a great way to savor views of Mount Desert Island, Frenchman Bay, and the craggy Maine coast.
The Schoodic Peninsula has several golf courses. Grindstone Neck Golf Course, located in Winter Harbor, is one of the 100 oldest golf courses in the United States, at over 120 years old. Golf enthusiasts enjoy its magnificent views of the bay and harbor.
Acadia National Park offers world-class hiking opportunities along the Maine coast. Most of the trails in the Schoodic Peninsula section of the park are 1 to 2 miles long. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing is permitted on these hiking trails during the winter.
Winter Harbor is a popular vacation area and has a variety of accommodations options. Many visitors stay in bed-and-breakfasts or inns, such as Elsa’s Inn on the Harbor in Prospect Harbor, the Main Stay Inn in Winter Harbor, Oceanside Meadows in Prospect Harbor, or the Bluff House Inn in Gouldsboro.
If you are bringing your whole family to Winter Harbor, consider renting a vacation home, cottage, or cabin. These lodging options provide the group with more space and the independence to cook your own meals.
After watching the lobstermen taking in the daily catch, head to a local restaurant to sample some of Maine’s finest seafood. Fisherman’s Inn is the premier dining option in Winter Harbor for fresh seafood. Chef Carl Johson was named Maine Chef of the Year by two chapters of the American Culinary Federation. Bunker’s Wharf Restaurant in nearby Gouldsboro also serves excellent seafood. Alternatively, several cafes and delis dot the Schoodic Peninsula, providing more casual dining options.
Winter Harbor – Schoodic Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Winter Harbor, Maine area.
- Corea Maine
- Franklin Maine
- Gouldsboro Maine
- Prospect Harbor Maine
- Sorrento Maine
- Sullivan Maine
- Winter Harbor Maine