Damariscotta, Maine Vacation Guide
A trip to Maine’s Midcoast region is like stepping back in time. The villages are immaculately preserved. Main streets are lined with redbrick buildings, white clapboard houses with neat black trim, gazebos and village greens. Each town seems to be in competition with the next for the title of Prettiest Village in Maine. There are world-class oysters and more antique stores than you could possibly visit in one holiday. From the coastline of Bristol to the wooded river valley of Whitefield, Maine’s Midcoast region is like flipping through a stack of postcards, each town, village and community as beautiful and well-defined as the next.
While the name of this community might be something of a tongue twister to the casual visitor, Damariscotta, which is nestled below Route 1 on the Damariscotta River, was the moniker given to the area by the Abnaki Indians. The Abnaki Indians named the region after the alewives (tiny fish that are part of the herring family) that run up the river in the spring. Damariscotta is a quaint and well-preserved village. Its 19th century architecture is a mix of redbrick buildings, old mills, touristy boutiques and seafood restaurants. Damariscotta is well known for two things: oysters and antiques. The Damariscotta Shell Heaps are the famous site of the Abnaki oyster feasts, and this quiet town continues to take their mollusks seriously today. Over the years, Damariscotta has made a name for itself as one of Maine’s leading antiquing hotspots.
The village of Newcastle is located across the Damariscotta River. Newcastle and Damariscotta are linked by the Maine Street Bridge, and they are commonly called the Twin Villages. Newcastle was first settled by fishermen in the 1630s. At that time it was known as Sheepscot Plantation. In 1978, Sheepscot, which is located in western Newcastle, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. With architectural styles ranging from Greek revival and Federal to Italianate, there are over fifty historic buildings in the area.
Alna was settled in 1760. It covers 22 square miles, and for a town with a population of only 700, Alna has a couple of notable points of interest. It is the home of the first fish hatchery in Maine. It is also the site of the Wiscasset, Waterville and Farmington Railway Museum. Head Tide, a historic mill village, is also part of Alna.
Primarily a farming and fishing community, Bremen was settled as part of Bristol in 1735. The small town is located on the eastern side of the Pemaquid Peninsula. The villages in Bremen include Broad Cove, Turners Corner and Muscongus. You will also find Bremen Long Island, Cow Island and Hog Island in Bremen. Hog Island is an outpost for the Maine Audubon Society.
Bristol is located on Pemaquid Peninsula and is comprised of five villages: Round Pond, Chamberlain, New Harbor, Pemaquid and Bristol Mills. Spectacular natural beauty and historic sites abound in Bristol. Spend the morning exploring the beach and the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. In the afternoon, visit the Fort William Henry. Top off your day trip with a lobster dinner.
South Bristol spans the Pemaquid Peninsula and Rutherford Island. A swing bridge connects the islands, which is one of only three swing bridges that exist in Maine. South Bristol includes the villages of Walpole and Christmas Cove. There are three nature preserves in South Bristol, including a sanctuary on Witch Island. Places of interest include the Thompson Ice Harvesting Museum and the Walpole Meeting House.
Settled in 1744 and known as Freetown until 1774, Edgecomb is located 37 miles north of Portland. Comprised of roughly 1000 residents, the 20-mile span that makes up Edgecomb includes Davis Island. Fort Edgecomb, on Davis Island, is the town’s most famous landmark. This wooden, octagon-shaped fortification was built to protect Wiscasset harbor. Davis Island is a popular and scenic spot for summer vacationers.
In 1807, Jefferson was incorporated into Lincoln County, Maine. Located on Damariscotta Lake, Jefferson is composed of 57 square miles. The Damariscotta State Park is situated in Jefferson. Its 17-acres of meadows and woodland make an ideal place for outdoor activities.
Nobleboro skirts Duck Puddle Pond, Pemaquid Lake and Damariscott Lake. There is a cluster of 100-year-old homes in Nobleboro Center as well as in Damariscotta Mills. From early settler landmarks and shipbuilding areas to Nobleboro’s grange and Leatherboard factories, a walking/driving map will take you to all of Nobleboro’s historic settings. Fishing and camping are also popular in this area.
Waldoboro was settled before the Revolutionary War by a colony of Germans. The Old German Meeting House, a structure dating from the 1770s, is a testament to the town’s heritage. Over the years, Waldoboro became a shipbuilding center. Today, people make their living clamming on the Medomak River. An entire industry has also been built around the run of the alewives. Waldoboro’s downtown is small. It is nestled on a hill overlooking the Medomak. You will find old homes and beautiful river vistas around every corner.
The Sheepscot River winds through Whitefield as well as King’s Mills and Coppers Mills, the two other communities that make up this area. The fertile, wooded river valley has been the lifeblood to farmers, millers and woodsmen for generations. At one time, this region of Maine had a total of twelve mills. The waterwheels that produced flour, wooden beams, cider and woolens are long gone, but this area still has some of the best freshwater fishing in Maine. Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout can both be found in the Sheepscot River.
As you enter Wiscasset, there is a sign declaring it the Prettier Village in Maine. Situated on a hill overlooking the Sheepscot River, the town is definitely a pretty place. Furthermore, being that this section of Route 1 is notorious for summer traffic tie-ups, chances are you will be enjoying (from the cramped comfort of your car) Wiscasset’s Victorian-era brick buildings, Federal style and Greek revival homes and antique stores for quite some time. In other words, find a place to park, get out and take a stroll. Wiscasset’s prettiest neighborhoods fan out from its Main Street. Wiscasset is also home to one of the greatest lobster roll destinations in the state. You will know it when you see it. In the summer, that line of people stretching halfway down the street is your first clue.
Damariscotta Region Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Damariscotta, Maine area.
- Alna Maine
- Bremen Maine
- Bristol Maine
- Damariscotta Maine
- Edgecomb Maine
- Jefferson Maine
- Newcastle Maine
- New Harbor Maine
- Nobleboro Maine
- Somerville Maine
- South Bristol Maine
- Waldoboro Maine
- Whitefield Maine
- Westport Maine
- Wiscasset Maine
Damariscotta Maine Map