Just 10 miles from French’s Point in Stockton Springs is Belfast, a vibrant coastal town with a unique selection of activities, shopping, and local food. From Camden, our most recent road trip stop, it’s a straight shot north about 19 miles on Rte. 1 to Belfast. Once here, stop at the Maine Coast Welcome Center at 169 Searsport Avenue. This is a good spot to get your bearings to see what’s available in Belfast and all around Penobscot Bay.
Belfast was originally a shipping village and over the years was also known for its shoe manufacturing and, after World War II, for its poultry industry. Today, the local economy is fueled by a strong creative community, which is evident in the galleries downtown, including the High Street Studio and Gallery; the Aarhus Gallery; the Northern Lights Gallery, with art from far-northern tribes; and the Parent Gallery, featuring the photography of Neal Parent, who specializes in capturing gritty and iconic Maine moments. For shopping, Belfast’s historic downtown offers a number of great boutiques and gift shops. But perhaps the most famous shop here is the one that’s a little out of the way, Perry’s Nut House, a gift shop established in 1927 that is known for its roasted nuts and homemade fudge. Perry’s is a half a mile out of the downtown at 45 Searsport Avenue (also called Rte. 1).
Want to tour the area? Consider getting out on Penobscot Bay to get a closer look at the islands, check out Fort Point State Park, and watch the wildlife with the Walter Waker Sea Kayak tours, the Belfast Bay Company, or the popular Coast to Island Sailing Charters.
Finally, for grub, check out The Lost Kitchen, Chase’s Daily, or Young’s Lobster Pound. Locally sourced cuisine is huge in coastal Maine and these three favorites make great use of the produce, seafood, and meats that are sustainably cultivated nearby. Only 20 minutes from French’s Point, this is a great opportunity to stock up on supplies. Stop by the Belfast Co-op Store for just about anything that you might need.
Whatever you do, make sure you give Belfast at least an afternoon of your time when you’re in the area. It’s a quirky little spot rich with history and creativity.