Route 1 links the seaside communities of Midcoast Maine, and while it’s got some stunning views, the real gems are farther off the beaten path. All the way from Brunswick to Rockland, tiny roads wind south from Route 1 onto fractured peninsulas dotted with lobster shacks, deep harbors, and old-fashioned country stores.
Drive down Harpswell peninsula to tiny Orrs Island and Bailey Island, whose granite bridge is one of the most scenic drives in the state. The granite bridge on Bailey Island is noteworthy and interesting in another way. It is the world’s only cribstone bridge, a design that allows the tide to flow more freely through the narrow channel.
If you love oysters, you are already familiar with the Damariscotta River – which enjoys the ideal oyster-growing conditions: just the right level of salinity with a freshwater mix. You will want to plan a stop in charming Damariscotta, known world-wide oyster lovers' paradise. Taste them in just about any restaurant in town, or head out on the river for a narrated cruise and shuck your own. Delicious!
But don’t stop there. The Midcoast is the perfect spot to stay in Maine for daytrips to venture off and explore. Head offshore! Island hopping is easiest here. There are more than 4,000 islands off the coast of Maine. Many have a ferry service, like Vinalhaven, Monhegan and Isleboro. Most of the islands that have ferry or car access are populated year-round, which means you’ll find shops and restaurants, and usually a historical tidbit or two.