Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Stonington, ME

  • Published 2022/07/18

Deer Isle, along the coastal area of Maine, is where you’ll find the quaint but charming town of Stonington.

Stonington is a fascinating and rare travel destination.

It is best described as a town linked by bridges and built with stones and lobsters because of its rich fishing and stoning industries.

There are various ways to reach Stonington: either to cross bridges through Deer Isle from the mainland or take a ferry for a scenic trip.

Regardless of your choice, heading to Stonington is already a worthwhile experience, but wait until you arrive in town.

Stonington is famous for its massive lobster fleet of more than 300 boats, harvesting this delicious seafood regularly.

At the same time, many of Stonington’s locals have worked in its stone mining industry back in the day, which is part of why the town got its name.

Natural beauty abounds in Stonington’s surroundings, making it an excellent travel destination for outdoor adventurers.

Check out this travel post for the best things to do in Stonington, Maine.

Soak under the Sun at Stonington’s Sand Beach

Scenic view of Sand Beach

Sara Armas /

Your visit to Stonington won’t be complete without spending a day at Sand Beach.

This famous local beach in Deer Isle is a short drive from Stonington’s downtown area or Main Street.

It is considered a local gem on Deer Isle because of its fine sandy beach, where everyone can enjoy swimming and other beach-related activities.

Sand Beach is famous for its relaxing ambiance and scenic beachfront view.

Boulders and rocks at Sand Beach shore

Sara Armas /

At the same time, it is a stone’s throw away from other local attractions such as the Mark Island Lighthouse.

Additionally, this beach in Stonington is known for its ice-cold waters, perfect for those who want to cool down, especially during summer.

Likewise, hiking, picnicking, and beachcombing are popular activities you can enjoy at Sand Beach.

Watch Shows at the Iconic Stonington Opera House

This famous opera house in Stonington has been operating since 1886, initially as a music and dance hall.

Until 1912, it was renamed Stonington Opera House, a familiar household name for entertainment in Deer Isle.

This beautifully-designed opera house was also listed on the National Register of Historic Places to preserve its heritage and historical value.

The Stonington Opera House is the best place to dive into history, entertainment, and heritage.

The opera house regularly hosts concerts, stage plays, and other community-related events in Stonington, making it a fascinating historical attraction in town to visit.

In addition, the Stonington Opera House serves as a multi-use facility in town where you can enroll in dance classes, play sports, and watch films.

Check Out the Miniature Houses at Stonington’s Mini Village

A unique and fascinating attraction you shouldn’t miss visiting when in Stonington is its “Mini Village.”

These cute miniature houses feature numerous buildings constructed by miniature hobbyist Everette Knowlton in 1947.

Today, it’s one of the most unique attractions in Stonington worthy of visiting.

Although the miniature buildings do not precisely recreate the local scenery of Stonington, they remain adorable and fascinating to see, especially if you take photos with them.

These miniature houses are displayed throughout the year in Stonington, except the winter season, to protect from the profuse snowfall and cold weather.

Visit the Stone Cutter Statue

Apart from being a significant fishing industry town, Stonington also has a rich stone-cutting heritage back in the day.

Stonington was renowned throughout the nation because of its abundance of granite.

Many of its locals spent their lives as stonecutters, paving a prosperous industry back in the day.

To pay homage to Stonington’s stone-cutting heritage, a statue featuring a stone cutter facing the town as he chisels granite stone was erected at the town’s harbor in 1994.

Visiting this place gives you more enlightenment about Stonington’s rich history and heritage, especially if you read its inscription.

The inscription mainly pays tribute to the stone cutters and workers who dedicated their lives to the industry.

Set Foot at Barred Island

Stonington has numerous small islets you can explore throughout your visit there.

One of them is Barred Island, famous for its hiking trails.

Getting to Barred Island is relatively easy through a motorized boat from town.

Getting to this small outdoor attraction in Stonington only takes a few minutes.

Upon arriving, you can hike its 4-kilometer out-and-back trail, giving hikers a moderately challenging route.

While hiking, Barred Island’s trails take you through spruce forests and moss-covered rock formations to a sandy beach where you can proceed swimming.

Treat Your Tastebuds at the Stonington Ice Cream Company

This local ice cream shop in Stonington’s Main Street is the most famous place in town for sweet treats.

Stonington Ice Cream Company serves over 16 ice cream flavors and is renowned for its award-winning lobster rolls.

Aside from enjoying a scoop of Stonington Ice Cream Company’s famous ice creams, don’t forget to order its exceptional offerings.

Don’t forget to order its famous lobster rolls, summer soups, sandwiches, lobster and crab quiches, and salads.

Stonington Ice Cream Company is an excellent place to cool down with your family for a scoop of ice cream or perhaps fill your tummy with its signature lobster dishes.

Explore the Settlement Quarry Preserve

This old stone quarry at Stonington’s Settlement Road is a famous outdoor destination that should be on your itinerary.

Settlement Quarry Preserve is a haven for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers because of its dense forested area.

Its trail is also excellent for hiking as it features a rugged path covered with leaves, gravel, and exposed tree roots.

These trails in the preserve turn into a popular snowshoeing destination during winter.

However, the Settlement Quarry Preserve is best explored or hiked during spring or summer to enjoy its miles of scenic trails passing through densely forested areas and quarry roads.

Before it became a famous outdoor destination in Stonington, it once served as one of the busiest granite mines in Deer Isle until it permanently closed somewhere in 1980.

Today, it remains an outdoor attraction on the island featuring over three miles of trails and sceneries.

Camp at the Saddleback Island

Another famous island in Stonington you should check out is Saddleback Island.

Suppose you’re searching for Stonington’s best campgrounds that you can stay during your visit to town; Saddleback Island is your go-to place.

This small island, a popular ski resort back in the day, is now a top-notch outdoor destination in Deer Isle.

However, this island on the eastern end of Deer Isle is an outdoor haven spanning 78 acres filled with exciting activities.

Saddleback Island is famous for its picturesque and cozy campgrounds, highlighting the beautiful sunset at Merchant Row.

Kayaking is the island’s other famous outdoor activity where you can navigate through Stonington’s calm waters.

Also, you can explore this famous island in Stonington by hiking.

You’ll be taken to its southern portion, with a picturesque view of the open sea and granite shoreline.

Spend Your Day or Night at the Little Freese Island

You should prepare for more island explorations in Stonington because this town has dozens of them.

However, not all are worth visiting, except Little Freese Island.

This unspoiled gem, which is half a mile off Deer Isle’s shores, is famous for its tranquil environment.

Although it’s considered a residential islet near Deer Isle and Stonington, Little Freese Island is a fascinating location famous for its scenic beaches and granite ledges.

Suppose you’re looking for a scenic backdrop for your photoshoot while in Stonington; Little Freese Island is a perfect destination.

Wander through the Woods of Edgar M. Tennis Preserve

To see up close the local flora and fauna of Deer Isle and Stonington, head to the Edgar M. Tennis Preserve.

This nature preserve in Deer Isle was established by Dr. Tennis’s family as his wish to provide his beloved community with a natural area spanning over 100 acres.

The Edgar M. Tennis Preserve is a fascinating nature preserve that will fascinate nature lovers.

You’ll see Deer Isle’s unspoiled natural beauty through its trails and forested areas in this nature preserve, which also serves as an educational and research area.

For those who want to explore the Edgar M. Tennis Preserve, you can visit the Pickering Farm on the east and the Davis Farm and trails on its western portion.

Each section of the preserve offers a unique outdoor experience for visitors.

Stay at Spruce Island’s Famous Lodge

This remote private island off the shores of Stonington is famous for its stone lodge that can fit up to 18 visitors, open for rent.

Spruce Island is a unique and fascinating place in Stonington.

You can explore over 80 acres of its unspoiled natural area.

However, this island in Stonington is also famous for its traditional lobster bake, which everyone can experience.

There are plenty of areas on this Stonington Island to explore and exciting things to do.

Aside from staying at the lodge and enjoying its lobster bake, you can also hop on a kayak and cruise through its surrounding waters.

At the same time, toddlers and kids can also dress up as pirates as part of the campfire activities available at the stone lodge.

Engage in Various Outdoor Activities at Devil Island

Its name may sound intimidating, but Devil Island is a fun place to have a quality family bonding while in Stonington.

This small private island off Stonington’s coast is a popular summer destination because of its pristine beaches that span over 60 acres.

Devil Island is an excellent place to relax and unwind with your family since it has the needed amenities for a day out and camping.

According to local lore, Devil Island was named in the 1700s after a grumpy old squatter forced his children to swim from one island to another until they washed up ashore.

Since you’re in Stonington, exploring Devil Island for relaxation or to uncover its famous lore would be fascinating and exciting.

Sweat Out at the Island Community Center

This famous local recreation center along Memorial Lane in Stonington is an excellent place to sweat out and get active.

The Island Community Center is a multi-use facility with various sports activities and community-related affairs.

It has numerous sports facilities for badminton, basketball, and other sports.

At the same time, it has a fitness center, a dance class, a yoga class, and other community-related programs that are fascinating to join.

Indeed, the Island Community Center is an excellent place to spend with your family.

Discover Stonington’s Local Arts Scene

Stonington has a vibrant local arts scene worthy of checking out.

While discovering various art studios, galleries, and centers, you’ll be fascinated with each artist’s specialty and artworks, mainly showcasing the beauty of Deer Isle.

To start your local arts scene adventure in Stonington, check out Lorraine Lens Studio if you’re fascinated by impressionist painting.

Meanwhile, the D. Mortenson Gallery is renowned for its contemporary art, featuring the original works of Debi Mortenson and her aspiring artists.

The Art of Evelyn Kok features magnificent watercolor portraits and paintings at her gallery in Stonington.

Lastly, check out the artworks and paintings in Shari Ciomei’s gallery centered on realism arts.

Eat Mouthwatering Seafood Dishes at The Cockatoo Portuguese Restaurant

Make one last stop at the Cockatoo Portuguese Restaurant before returning home from your trip to Stonington.

This famous local restaurant in Stonington is famous for its exquisite fresh seafood and prime meats prepared in Portuguese culinary specialties.

The restaurant, headed by chef Suzen Carter, offers guests a unique and mouthwatering dining experience, featuring Deer Island’s fresh seafood.

At the same time, you’ll also appreciate Cockatoo Portuguese Restaurant’s scenic ocean views and gorgeous sunsets in its outdoor seating area.

Final Thoughts

That’s the best thing to do in Stonington, Maine, but it is surefire that dozens of hidden gems are waiting for you in this charming town on Deer Isle.

Stonington, Maine, is an excellent outdoor destination for a family vacation or a lone traveler without burning your wallet.

Lastly, don’t forget to pin or bookmark this travel post as your handy itinerary during your visit to Stonington, Maine.

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