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Blue Hill: 136 miles NE of Portland; 23 miles N of Stonington; 14 miles SW of Ellsworth

Forming the eastern boundary of Penobscot Bay -- though you must drive north and then south to get there, diverging from Route 1 by a good 15 miles or more -- the Blue Hill Peninsula is a little back-roads paradise. If you like to get lost on country lanes that end at the ocean, or loop back on themselves with nothing but green trees and salt air for company, this is the place for you.

In contrast to the western shores of Penobscot Bay, this area has much more of a lost-in-time character. The roads are hilly, winding, and narrow, passing through forests and along old saltwater farms, touching on the edges of inlets here and there.

Better still, this peninsula is largely overlooked (or even unknown) by the majority of Maine's tourists, especially those hell-bent for Bar Harbor. And that has made all the difference; it's beautiful, pastoral country but tough living for locals, something the essayist E.B. White recognized when he bought a farm here and memorialized the experience in such great little books as One Man's Meat and the famous Charlotte's Web. (White's ashes are buried in a village cemetery on the peninsula.)

They take extra time to reach, but villages like Castine and Blue Hill are well worth building into any Maine-coast itinerary. They'll hold you captive with their simple water views, boatyards, tiny artists' communities, local fresh eats, and grassroots radio.