What to Expect
The Bold Coast Scenic Byway gives travelers personal access to a way of life historically bound to the wild and scenic coastal environment.
Active fishing villages, working-forests, family farms, and prolific blueberry barrens reflect this relationship as people continue to harvest the seasonal bounty of land and sea, much as their ancestors have done for centuries.
The Bold Coast Scenic Byway provides a first-hand experience of a hard-working, hands-on culture. Communities are functional rather than flashy, and relationships are steeped in genealogical and geographical history. People are proud, resourceful, cautious, and humble just as much as they are quick with a witty comment and an invitation to join them for supper. Visitors are welcomed unassumingly to this far-flung world, to learn, share, and enjoy the daily rhythms of living, working, and playing in the Bold Coast region of Maine.
All it takes is patience, curiosity, and a casual conversation with a local for the visitor to become well along their way to discovering the hidden treasures, unique characters, and unforgettable experiences of the Bold Coast of Maine.
- Life is Art, Beals Island
Nowhere else will a visitor find such a comprehensive first-hand experience of a natural resource-based culture as they will in the Bold Coast region. Travelers can dig clams, harvest “wrinkles” and seaweed, pick blueberries, milk goats and make cheese, tour a sea-salt “farm” or a cranberry farm, or collect maple sap and wreath brush alongside the locals who perform these and other tasks each and every day. Travelers to the Bold Coast region will learn the stories of this place directly through the words of locals, all while standing in the very spot where those stories take place.
- Processing rake-your-own Blueberries, Beddington Ridge Farm
A typical summer morning along the Byway might include a gentle early morning paddle about the bay to watch eagles and ospreys feeding at the changing tide. Lunch may consist of a haddock sandwich eaten on the pier while watching fishing boats unload their wares, and the afternoon might bring a whale watch/natural history tour followed by a visit to the sardine museum or the sea salt “farm.” The evening might evolve into a beachside seaweed bake of freshly dug clams and lobsters purchased off the boats at the local wharf.
- First-Time Clam Digger!
A typical early spring visit might include a tour of a historic maple syrup operation and then an ecology lesson at the smelting nets, followed by a pancake feast including deep-fried smelts and flash-frozen blueberries. Afternoon might bring you snowmobiling on the Downeast Sunrise Trail, with an evening of storytelling, music, or art, and locally produced wines and chocolate at the community library.
- Wine, Cheese, Music, and Friends at Catherine Hill Winery, Cherryfield
Working Landscapes, working people
Travelers will definitely see the accouterments of a working landscape in action as they travel about—from smelt nets stretched across a river to lobster buoys being painted on a front lawn to blueberry harvesters bumping across the fields to trucks laden with fir boughs lined up in front of wreath factories to a gang of four wheelers congregated in front of a local restaurant.
- Freshly Painted Lobster Buoys
The Bold Coast landscapes are filled with people and the tools of their trades. This is not a region of manicured lawns, freshly painted houses, or carefully landscaped businesses. Traps, drags, boats, engines, winches, trucks, tractors, fuel tanks, ATV’s, old appliances, buckets and boxes, stacks of lumber, piles of logs, containers of bait, and miscellaneous stockpiles of “useful stuff” are seen everywhere, sometimes neatly organized, but usually just right out there in a convenient location of the front dooryard, where it will be used eventually. Clam and worm diggers work the mud flats early and late according to the tides. Fishing boats roar off from their moorings before sunrise.
- Burning the Blueberry Barrens
Blueberry growers, loggers, and boat shops transport their oversize loads very slowly down the middle of the roads. The roads themselves reflect the focus on a working culture that relies on trucks and heavy equipment…potholes in spring, crumbling shoulders, muddy logging road intersections, tractor-trailers parked outside gas stations, and sharply winding narrow roads that must accommodate everyone safely.
- Fresh Local Seafood
Cellular and Wireless Service
Although the Bold Coast region is rich in visitor attractions, the plethora of technologies and goods of the world are a bit harder to find in these parts. Many visitors appreciate the “unplugged” experience and come here specifically for quiet, solitude, and relaxation from the bustle of other parts of the world. For those who desire technology and shopping, never fear, they do exist, but like many things here, can require patience, and sometimes a little perseverance.
- Wi-fi Cafe in Machias
Most gateway communities offer cellular and wireless services. Route 1 between Milbridge and Machias offers uninterrupted cellular service, and north of Machias is intermittent. Most community libraries offer free Wi-Fi, although hours are limited, and many local eateries also offer free Wi-Fi. Wi-fi will be available in motels and hotels, and in many private cottages.
- Whitneyville Public Library
Restrooms can be difficult to locate in the smallest communities, although during open hours most town offices and libraries accommodate public users, and convenience stores and eateries are scattered along the entire byway route. Porta-potties are sometimes the only public option, offered up behind small gas stations, beside trails, and near municipal buildings.
See the Visitor Information
page for a list of visitor services and their hours of operation. Wi-Fi and restrooms are available to the public at most of these locations.
- Antiques on the Lawn, Machias
One thing the Bold Coast region is NOT is a run-of-the-mill strip with big box stores and shopping malls. In fact, there are 93 miles between Walmarts once you head east of Ellsworth – the next Walmart you’ll arrive at is in Calais! So, if you didn’t pack your pajamas or your tent, you might want to stop in Ellsworth or Calais before heading too deep into the Bold Coast region.
The local shopping experience focuses on either the basic necessities of life or provides a venue for creative genius.
- Unique Shopping Experience in Columbia Falls
Fun shopping opportunities are richest in Milbridge, Cherryfield, Jonesport, Machias, Lubec, and Eastport, where one will find antiques, gifts, art, local crafts, and local foods. A great number of home-based “cottage industries” are sprinkled all along the way, so be sure to watch out for road signs and do check in at area Chambers of Commerce
for business listings that match your interests. Most “cottage industry” owners are delighted to receive visitors, give spontaneous tours, and tell as many stories as can be told in a short amount of time!
- Food Cart, Lubec
You will not see many flashing lights or illuminated signs in the Bold Coast region. One of the greatest things about the night time here is that it is REALLY DARK and you can actually see the stars! Opportunities to view the night sky abound, including guided night walks, guided night paddles
, and scheduled events at the Downeast Observatory
, the nation’s most easterly observatory. Nighttime also is a great time for birding if you are interested in owls
, for watching fireflies light up the meadows, and for viewing marine phosphorescence
. In spring and early summer, the nights explode with the choruses of breeding amphibians
. Whatever you choose, don’t forget the bug spray, because mosquitoes and blackflies also love the night life here! If you are camping, it is also wise to inform yourself about food safety precautions regarding bears, racoons, and other mischievous critters that come out at night.
- Acadia Night Sky Festival
If being outside at night isn’t your scene (and even if it is!) the Bold Coast region also boasts a rich and growing arts and music culture. Live music can be found on most summer evenings/weekends in Calais, Eastport, Lubec, and Machias, and many musical special events are held in Cherryfield. Live theater, art walks and special art events occur regularly in these communities as well. Check the local newspaper and with local Chambers, Destination Cherryfield
, restaurants, the Eastport Arts Center,
and Artsipelago’s Culture Pass
for music, art, and theater listings.
- Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge, Stormy Day
As with many places, the weather can be fickle along the Bold Coast, and it can also vary greatly depending on if you are on the water, on the shore, in the woods, or five miles inland. The best advice is pack for sun, rain, wind, and fog, carry several layers while hiking or boating, and expect to be surprised (and perhaps even delighted) by what you encounter! If you don’t mind a little damp, the landscape is actually quite stunning on stormy days, and even in the fog.
- Storm Cloud, South Addison
Although the Bold Coast region is known for its beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures, there are some pretty great opportunities for indoor entertainment in the form of aquaculture institutions in East Machias, Columbia Falls, and on Beals Island, and museums and galleries throughout the region. Libraries, restaurants, galleries, whimsical shops, and education and art centers also provide opportunities to learn about the region, meet local people, and explore regional cuisine and arts.
For a list of things to do on a rainy day, see Itineraries
- McCurdy's Smokehouse Museum, Lubec