Tucked away down on the Maine coast away from popular tourist towns is the little harbor town of Stonington. It takes some effort to get here – nearly 40 miles off coastal Route 1 and two bridges later you reach Stonington and realize it was worth the drive. Stonington continues to rank as a top nearby destination for us and our coworkers. When someone says they are going to Stonington for the day, we affectionately say, “aww, we love Stonington.” Maybe we like it so much because it is a real working harbor. Tacky t-shirt shops, cheesy gifts, and chain restaurants are no where to be found. Downtown buildings still house a working Opera House, library, a general store that meets locals needs, and restaurants appropriately named “Fisherman’s Friend” and “Harbor Cafe” proudly serve local seafood.
The harbor is alive with lobster boats coming and going as this profession is still a way of life for many of the 2,400 year round residents. But fishing came by accident as early settlers hadn’t come looking for a life at sea instead they focused on the land and farming. When soil conditions deteriorated from over farming and deforestation residents turned to the sea for their livelihood. Like many other coastal towns shipbuilding and fishing became big business.
Granite mining (hence the reason the town was named “Stonington”) which was once a booming business in years past still clings to life today and a statue down by the harbor pays homage to the industry. Stonington granite has proudly made its way to such prestigious places as the U.S. Naval Academy, Smithsonian Institution, and John F. Kennedy’s tomb at Arlington National Cemetery.
On our way to Stonington we stopped at the Edgar M. Tennis Preserve on Deer Isle for a beautiful walk that wound through the piney woods along the waters edge. Spirit found the cold ocean water perfect to frolic in and made us laugh when she found a lobster buoy to retrieve. What an appropriate toy for a Labrador retriever in Maine . . . and the reminder of fresh lobster that gave us an idea for dinner!
We strolled the downtown streets admiring the harbor and historic waterfront buildings that grace its streets. Lunch was a deli sandwich on a park bench overlooking the harbor and smelling the sweet ocean air. There are certainly no complaints when we spend a summer day on the coast of Maine with the sun shinning brightly and the cool ocean breeze that keeps the temperatures in the 60’s.
Finally, we had to tear ourselves away and head back for home but were so glad that we made the drive down to Stonington.