- Where to Go
- The Best of Vermont
- Rumblings of Revolution
- New, New England Dining
- Boston’s Artistic Expression
- Vermont Leaf Peeping
- Into the Wild
- Vermont Skiing at Its Best
- Visit Vermont’s Maple Sugar Shacks
- Connecticut for Kids
- Vermont’s Covered Bridges
- A Shore Thing
- Vermont with Kids
- Portland Maine Art Galleries
- Small-Town Flavor
- Connecticut’s Wine Trails
- New Hampshire’s Farmers Markets
- A Weekend of Vermont Art
- Family Matters
- Maine Wilderness Camps
- Vermont Cheddar Houses
- Connecticut Spas
It hits you like a dream—one minute you’re driving along a scenic back road of the Blue Hill Peninsula, the next you are confronted with the awesome sight of the soaring suspension bridge that brings you across Eggemoggin Reach to the magical refuge of Deer Isle.
A first-time visit to Deer Isle is filled with moments like these. The surprisingly large island was only connected to the mainland in 1939, and seems permanently stuck in that year. Even the profusion of pottery shops, art galleries, and low-key eateries on the waterfront of Deer Isle Village doesn’t detract from the small-town quality or views of misty coves and smaller islands that surround it.
While it has become a popular destination for moneyed tourists-in-the-know, Deer Isle is a working island first, with lobster boats and fishing gear crowding out the yachts in the Stonington harbor. For devotees who come here to get away from it all, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Enough artifacts and curiosities to while away a rainy afternoon are contained in the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society Museum (416 Sunset Rd., Deer Isle, 207/367-2629, 1–4 p.m. Wed. and Fri. Jul.–mid-Sept.), which includes displays of period clothing, maritime instruments, ship models, and photos relating to the granite trade.
Originally built in 1893 as a dance hall, The Stonington Opera House (Fish Pier, Stonington, 207/367-2788, www.operahousearts.org) was recently renovated into a multi-purpose movie theater, performance center, and community space. Offerings on any given night might include a play-reading, chamber music, or black-and-white film.
The island is particularly well-known for its many pottery studios. In the center of Deer Isle Village, Blue Heron Gallery (22 Morey Farm Dr., Deer Isle, 207/348-6051, www.blueherondeerisle.com, Jul.–Sept.) features work by faculty at the island’s own Haystack School of Crafts, as well as other local potters.
Of the island’s many art galleries, the Hoy Gallery (80 Main St., Stonington, 207/367-2777, www.jillhoy.com, by appointment June.–Sept.; closed in winter) is a standout for owner-artist Jill Hoy’s colorful Maine seascapes.
To really juice up your PB&J, stop by Nervous Nellies Jams & Jellies (589 Sunshine Rd., Deer Isle, 800/777-6845, www.nervousnellies.com, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily May–Dec.), a local jam maker producing fresh and fruit-filled concoctions with everything from hot peppers to local Maine blueberries for 25 years. Ninety percent of its production is sold out of their little shop on Deer Isle, which doubles as a miniature museum of imaginative sculptures—a lobster playing checkers, a 10-foot flamingo—made by the proprietors from materials foraged from the town dump.
The Fisherman’s Friend Restaurant (5 Atlantic Ave., Stonington, 207/367-2442, www.stoningtonharbor.com/fishermansfriend, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun.–Thu., 9 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., late May–mid-Oct., $6–20) lives up to its name, serving the working men of the waterfront with hearty lobster stews, steamed mussels, and homemade pie à la mode.
For years, the eclectic Mediterranean cuisine of the Cockatoo restaurant was a staple in Deer Isle vacations. Now chef/owner Susan Carter has moved upscale with a new restaurant at Goose Cove Lodge called, what else, the Cockatoo Portuguese Restaurant (300 Goose Cove Rd., 207/348-2300, www.goosecovelodgemaine.com, noon–10 p.m. daily, $17–25). Gone is Carter’s pet cockatoo, which used to sing and cackle over seaside table. It’s replaced by refined versions of Portuguese favorites like bacalhau and paelha, as well as prime beef and pork dishes. The seafood, caught daily by Carter’s husband Bradley, is flapping fresh; and the sunset view over Goose Cove is out-of-this-world.
© Michael Blanding and Alexandra Hall from Moon New England, 2nd Edition