I spent a few days in visiting family in Downeast Maine this summer and it was great! I always forget how big Maine is until I’m halfway through a 5 hour drive and realize that if I was driving South and not North that I could almost be in NYC! I have a couple of aunts who live in Lubec for the summer and they have been pestering me to come visit for years, so my mom and I took the 5 hour drive up to visit them in this beautiful easternmost town.
Mainers have a slightly different sense of direction and “Downeast” actually means “Northeast.” If someone says they went “down” to someplace, it’s best to check a map before assuming they went south. In all likelihood, wherever they went “down to” is north of where they are standing now…I know we’re confusing but it’s a Maine quirk.
Lubec is a small town on the coast of Maine, only about 1,300 people live here year round. Since it’s the easternmost town in the USA it’s the first place to see the sunrise. Unfortunately it was super foggy in the early morning hours so we were not able to see the sun come up near West Quoddy Head. In fact, the fog was so thick and dense here that my mom thought it was raining one morning. Nope just fog that covers everything with such moisture that it drips off the leaves and sounds like rain…we don’t get fog like that in South Portland.
Even though we weren’t able to see the sunrise we had a great visit to West Quoddy Head. The iconic candy cane striped lighthouse is a must see when you are in the area and the views are beautiful. The lighthouse was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, and was first built in 1808. The present tower and house, which date back to 1858, were staffed by resident lightkeepers until 1988 when the U.S. Coast Guard automated the light. The name Quoddy Head, means fertile and beautiful place and comes from the Native American Passamaquoddy tribe.
The state park also has some great walking trails. They are full of raised roots and steep inclines so be careful! The views are worth the occasional stumble over a root though.
Downtown Lubec is full of cute little shops and restaurants. Like most Maine towns they have a brewery, I stopped by a few times but they never seemed to be open. I was able to find their beer at the local grocery store and sampled some as in the afternoon sunshine.
Across a bridge in Lubec is Campobello Island, where the Roosevelt family vacationed in the summer. You can visit the property that the family owned and take a tour with one of the fantastic tour guides.
If you arrive when the park first opens you can secure a free spot at “tea with Eleanor” it’s first come first served but if you miss the free one you can pay to attend the afternoon tea. When the Roosevelts were on Campobello it didn’t matter what she was doing at 3:00 Eleanor had tea, whether she was out on a sailboat or at the cottage 3:00 was teatime and everyone knew it. The staff at the cottage would get worried when Eleanor would ride her bike into town in the morning because she would invite anyone and everyone she spoke to for tea, so they never knew how many people would attend the afternoon tradition.
Tea with Eleanor was a highlight of my trip, the ladies who hosted the tea were so informative and I feel like I leaned so much about the former First Lady. The tea and gingersnaps were really good as well.
East Quddy Lighthouse is also on Campobello Island. It’s a popular spot for tourists but you really need to keep an eye on the tides, if it comes in while you’re out there you’re stuck.
We also took a little detour over to Eastport for lunch and shopping. It was your typical small seaside town with fresh seafood and quaint shops. It’s very similar to Lubec but it has a mermaid statue which was pretty cool.
My aunts are neighbors in Lubec so they would do Happy Hour on the deck in the afternoons and then cook dinner for us. You really can’t complain about the view.
On the way home we stopped at Wild Blueberry Land. I have to say I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have any wild Maine blueberries to purchase, I guess it was too early in the season. We did stumble across a wild blueberry farm about an hour later so I got my blueberry fix.
Wild Maine Blueberries always taste better, they are nice and tart and make a great coffee cake! Let me know if you want the recipe.
I had a great time with my mom visiting with family in Lubec. I would definitely make this a summer tradition, we just need to make sure we have a good playlist for the drive 😉