Day Trip to Stonington in the Off-Season/Winter
Activities: Theater, art, walking, sightseeing, dining, shopping, coastal towns
Region: DownEast and Acadia
Stonington in the Off-Season
This bustling coastal town is known for landing more lobster (in pounds) than any other Maine port, in addition to its history of granite production. Its cheerful harbor town, accessible by bridge, is picturesque: a serene waterfront dotted with bobbing fishing boats, surrounded by colorful shops, galleries and restaurants. Come winter, its already-storybook-like scene transforms into something out of a fairytale: White-capped boats glisten on the icy water, contrasting with the warm, yellow light emitted from the surrounding village homes. The picture-perfect scene holds much to be discovered — winter in Stonington and nearby Deer Isle will satisfy outdoor lovers, theater enthusiasts and downtown explorers alike.
Though the wind may be blustery, many of the town shops and galleries either stay open through Christmas or reopen for Christmas shopping. You’ll also have the chance to visit a historic opera house that has been in the business for more than 100 years!
Cozy up for a show at the Opera House
This restored opera house, originally constructed in 1886, has a rich history being a center for performance and community gathering. Today, it’s open year-round, offering professional theater, film, concerts and more.
Shop nautical treasures at Marlinespike Chandlery
This shop is typically open year-round, though the owner recommends calling ahead if you are making a special trip. In case you are not familiar with the term, a chandlery is a general store often found in seaport towns — and today, it’s a perfect way to take some island life home with you. Peruse intricate “marlinespike” ropework, maritime artifacts, antiques and more.
Visit Geoffrey Warner Studios
This furniture design workshop and gallery of Owl Furniture uses innovative design to beautifully handcraft furniture of natural hardwoods. The workshop is well known for the ergonomic owl stool.
Stonington and Deer Isle’s year-round island communities don’t hibernate in the wintertime. Discover the season’s offerings and festivities, island-style.
Participate in Winterfest
Nonprofit organization Healthy Island Project puts on this frosty fun extravaganza toward the end of January — a weekend full of activities including fireworks, a pickleball tournament, arts and crafts, dancing and delicious foods.
Join in the merriment
The island communities celebrate the holidays in a special way. Picture decked-out lobster boats, a lighthouse aglow in red and green, and Christmas “trees” — built from lobster traps, decorated with lights and buoys. Often, the local churches have holiday fairs.
There are ample opportunities to explore the beauty of the outdoors, even during the chillier months. Island Heritage Trust protects and maintains 24,000 acres and 112 miles of shoreline, some of which, conditions permitting, are available for your winter enjoyment. Hike or snowshoe the pathways of Edgar Tennis Preserve, and keep an eye to the sky for circling eagles. For cross-country skiers, Crockett Cove Preserve offers a spruce-lined, winding forest trail that lends itself well to the winter sport. For additional outdoor trail ideas, check out Island Heritage Trust’s map.
Eat and Drink
For a bite to eat, stop in at these town favorites:
Conveniently located beside the community’s bustling waterfront, this store caters to the hardworking lobstermen, but is also perfect for anyone seeking ready-to-eat items.
This waterfront cafe boasts a lengthy menu featuring hearty plates, like fresh seafood platters.
Enjoy beautiful views of the harbor while dining on seafood specialties and wood-fired pizzas.
For a great cup of coffee, the Deer Isle location is open year-round.
If you decide to stay longer and spend the night, Boyces Motel, in the center of downtown, is open year-round.
From Ellsworth: 38 miles
From Bangor: 58 miles
From Augusta: 102 miles
From Lewiston/Auburn: 138 miles
From Portland: 160 miles