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A Tank Away

Twice the riverside strolling, sightseeing

Damariscotta and Newcastle, Maine, are separated by the Damariscotta River. Damariscotta and Newcastle, Maine, are separated by the Damariscotta River. (Tom Nangle for the boston globe)
By Hilary Nangle
Globe Correspondent / October 19, 2011

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Plunk down in the riverfront town of Damariscotta, and its twin, Newcastle, for a few days, and the best of the Pemaquid Peninsula is within easy reach. A relaxing time awaits visitors as they stroll the shop-lined main street spanning both towns, meander byways dotted with coastal villages, ramble trail-laced preserves, peruse plentiful antiques shops, and snap some of the most picturesque lighthouses in the state.

STAY

The Newcastle Inn (60 River Road, Newcastle, 207-563-5685, www.newcastleinn.com, $145-$245) is an elegant, 1860s riverfront sea captain’s home within walking distance of downtown. The Mill Pond Inn (50 Main St., Route 215, Damariscotta Mills, Nobleboro, 207-563-8014, www.millpondinn.com, $140, no credit cards) is a waterfront 1780 colonial just a five-minute drive from downtown. Walk to downtown shops and restaurants from The Tipsy Butler (11 High St., Newcastle, 207-563-3394, www.thetipsybutler.com, $165-$205), a grand 1845 mansion with views over town and river, or from Alewives and Ales Bed & Breakfast (22 High St., Damariscotta, 207-563-1562, www.alewivesandales.com, $150-$200), a handsome circa 1847 Federal tucked on a side street.

DINE

Damariscotta River Grill (155 Main St., 207-563-2992, www.damariscottarivergrill.com, $17-$27) executes carefully prepared foods, with an emphasis on ultra-fresh seafood and an excellent wine list; even better, all entrees are available as small plates or as part of a three-course fixed-price meal. Bridging the gap between pub and restaurant, the Newcastle Publick House (Main St., Newcastle, 207-563-3434, www.newcastlepublickhouse.com, $8-$21), serves local brews and specializes in wood-grilling local meats and seafood. The Salt Bay Cafe (88 Main St., 207-563-3302, www.saltbaycafe.com, $8-$22) has mainstream, vegetarian, and kids’ menus. Down the peninsula, pop into The Cupboard Cafe (137 Huddle Road, New Harbor, 207-677-3911, www.thecupboardcafe.com) for made-from-scratch breakfasts, lunches, and treats.

DURING THE DAY

Shops and galleries pepper Damariscotta’s Main Street. Anchoring them is Reny’s, with two locations, one selling clothing (116 Main St., 207-563-5757, www.renys.com), the other (163 Main St., 207-563-3011) selling everything else, and all at can’t-be-beat prices. After exploring downtown, loop around the Pemaquid Peninsula, following Route 30 south to the point, then returning on Route 32 to the Biscay Road. En route are numerous barns-turned-shops selling everything from fine antiques to old stuff. The Pemaquid Craft Co-op (Route 130, New Harbor, 207-277-2077) has 15 rooms filled with quality works by Maine artisans. The Granite Hall Store (9 Backshore Road, Round Pond, 207-529-5864) is an old-fashioned country store with a few surprises. Although officially closed for the season, the grounds of the region’s historical sights are open. Two worth a visit are the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (end of Route 130, Pemaquid, www.lighthousefoundation.org), the icon depicted on the Maine state quarter, and Colonial Pemaquid State Historical Site (Huddle Road, Newcastle, 207-677-2423, www.friendsofcolonialpemaquid.org), home to Fort William Henry, a reconstruction of a 1692 fort, the Fort house, archeological digs, and an 18th-century cemetery. Colonial architecture fans should detour by the Old Walpole Meeting House (Route 129, Walpole) dating from 1772, and the Harrington Meeting House (Old Harrington Road, off Route 130), built 1772-75. Take advantage of autumn breezes and fly a kite at either Colonial Pemaquid (Colonial Pemaquid Drive, New Harbor, 207-677-2423, www.friendsofcolonialpemaquid.org) or Pemaquid Beach (Snowball Hill Road, Pemaquid). The Salt Bay Preserve Heritage Trail (Route 215, Newcastle, across from Lincoln County Publishing) loops 3 miles around Newcastle’s riverfront Glidden Point, site of ancient oyster-shell heaps called middens. The trails in 512-acre Dodge Point Preserve (River Road, Newcastle) weave through woodlands, by a freshwater pond, and along much of the preserve’s 8,000 feet of Damariscotta riverfront.

AFTER DARK

See what’s on the docket at the Lincoln Theater (2 Theater St., Damariscotta, 207-563-3424, www.lcct.org), which presents musicals and dramas, concerts, films, and other events. The Newcastle Publick House (see Dine) has live acoustic music on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Hilary Nangle can be reached at hilary@mainetravelmaven.com.


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