Maine Places

Deer Isle Day Trips

Maine Places

For the last three years, I have kept a daily one-sentence journal. Every night, I write down something funny one of my kids said, or something we did, and relive memories from previous years. (There’s one page for each day of the year and each page holds five years’ worth of entries — or three if you’re a writer prone to windy reminiscences.) In addition to torturing me with tiny kid memories, and, right now, thoughts of a beloved dog we lost last summer, the journal has been useful for settling petty disputes with Mark (no, we did not stop at the supermarket on the way to Lake Willoughby last year). It also reminds me that however rapidly my children insist on aging, there are many things about our lives that remain comfortingly the same. Take the week of July fourth: We always spend this time at Mark’s family’s place on Deer Isle and, for the last several years, my records show that we have gone on the same excursions, in precisely the same order, while we’ve been there. Since we find them so enjoyable, I thought you might too. Here are our top five to-dos:

Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies

598 Sunshine Road, Deer Isle

Artist Peter Beerits’ ever-evolving outdoor sculpture garden always delights our kids and their cousins. Set on several acres, the whimsical hodgepodge of structures, figures, and creatures made of wood and “junk” includes a Western town with a general store, jail, blacksmith shop, saloon, and the perennial favorite among our crew: an occupied outhouse. Fifteen flavors of jam, chutney, and marmalade are made on site and available for tasting and purchase in a shingled café, which also offers coffee, tea, scones, and seating inside and out.

Barred Island Preserve

Goose Cove Road, Stonington

At low tide, you can hike a mile-long wooded trail to a curved sandbar connecting the mainland to stony, spruce-covered Barred Island. Swim on either side of the bar (both are equally brisk!) and take in a panorama of Penobscot Bay.

Stonington Village

We always make a few trips to this picturesque downtown, stopping for locally roasted coffee at 44 North Coffee (check out the Deer Isle Village location, too), ice cream at the Stonington Ice Cream Company, and to ogle the menu at renowned farm-to-table restaurant Aragosta (someday!). This year, we also took the boys to watch the fireworks over the working harbor on the Fourth of July. While most people focus on the waterfront, I am equally captivated by the charming houses here.

Deer Isle-Stonington Independence Day Parade

Deer Isle Village

This adorable procession — comprised of creative marchers and floats representing local businesses, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and even the Island Nursing Home — makes two passes through town. After some rough early years, I am happy to report that everyone in our family is on board with loud noises now.

Sand Beach

Sand Beach Road, Stonington

A rare (relatively) powdery stretch in a rocky region, Sand Beach provides peaceful swimming in a protected cove and sweeping island views.

Let me know if you go/have gone to any of these — I’d love to compare notes! — and if there are other places we should check out on our next visit.


  1. Thanks, Sarah, for your mention of Nervous Nellie’s! I would have thought the jail the favorite, though I do understand the fascination the outhouse holds. . . . Those jail bars and doors are from defunct cells in Lewiston, so a whimsical reuse of a piece of hidden Maine history.

    • Sarah Stebbins

      You’re welcome Anne — thanks to you and Peter for creating such a magical place. How cool about the jail bars/doors. I’d say the jail and the guy taking a shower are tied for our kids’ second favorite. 🙂 Enjoy the rest of the summer and see you again soon.

  2. March duPont

    we religiously stop at Nervous Nellie’s! Wouldn’t be summer or Maine without Nervous Nellie’s!

  3. Terry

    isnt this where Dan Fogelberg stayed for many a summer

  4. Linda Kocher

    This is also a favorite place for me and my husband, full of magic.

  5. Jan Wonder

    This is where Dan Fogelberg and his wife, Jean, lived for several years. Actually she still lives there. Dan’s song “The Reach” was written about a certain spot he loved to go. His ashes were scattered in The Reach after he passed away . Actually it’s Eggemoggin Reach. I’m a major fan of Dan Fogelberg!!!

    • Michael Kratky

      Thank you Jan for that information was unaware from all my trips to the Island, research said he spent his last 25 years in Maine, hope to follow the same path.

  6. Karen

    I spent a week on Deer Isle with my husband and boys a few years ago and I have longed to go back ever since! A favorite place of ours was a beach that I don’t know the name of…it had spectacular views of a lighthouse and we collected lots of pretty shells and beach glass.

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