On the little ferry to Isle au Haut, we watched lobster pot floats dancing in the waves like colorful beads, and soon spied the slender Point Robinson lighthouse. The four guest rooms at adjacent The Keeper's House Inn are simply furnished but lovely, and share two baths. The gas and candlelit atmosphere is charming and relaxed, the meals tasty and healthy, but best of all are the breathtaking sunset views and the wonderful hikes along the shore. No electricity, no credit cards; try to stay two nights if you possibly can. $255-294 double, all-inclusive; byob.

With more than 60 lighthouses--more than any other state--it's not surprising that Maine is sometimes known as the "Lighthouse State". It's also home to even more welcoming B&Bs and inns where the porch light is gladly left on for sea-loving travelers.

Shopping
We start our visit to Maine with a visit to the Lighthouse Depot®..."the World's Largest Lighthouse Gift Store®" on Route 1 in Wells and bought the Maine Lighthouse Map and Guide ($4.95).

Portland/Cape Elizabeth:
Blending the weathered shingle style of an 1890s Victorian hotel with all modern amenities, the Inn by the Sea offers unobstructed ocean views from most guest rooms. Nearby, be sure to visit the dramatically sited Portland Head Light, built in 1791, now an informative museum. More inns.

Camden/Rockland:
Lighthouse lovers, plan to spend several days in this mid-coastal region. Attractions include nine local lighthouses on the coast or nearby islands, plus the fascinating Shore Village Museum in Rockland with a fascinating collection of lighthouse material. Equally appealing nearby is the Rockland Breakwater Light; you can hike the mile-long breakwater to reach the lighthouse, now being restored. Sign up for a Sunday lighthouse boat cruise, departing 8:30 am from Camden Public Landing aboard the Lively Lady Too (800-755-3567); cruises run from Memorial Day weekend through early October. This area has a plethora of delightful B&Bs: favorites in Camden include the Blue Harbor House, the Captain Swift, the Hawthorn, A Little Dream, the Maine Stay, the Nathaniel Hosmer Inn, The Elms (with a lighthouse themed décor); and the Windward House. Bear in mind that most Camden inns are right on Route 1; traffic is heavy in summer, so ask for a room away from the street. More inns.

Blue Hill/Deer Isle:
From Camden, we drive north along Route 1, detouring briefly to take a short walk through historic Belfast, then an irresistible stop at Mainely Pottery (207-338-1108), which displays the handsome wares of 25 area potters. We cross the Penobscot River in Bucksport, and pick up Route 15 heading south onto the Blue Hill Peninsula and the town of Blue Hill, home to one of our favorite places, the welcoming Blue Hill Inn; its in-town location is within walking distance of shops and galleries, restaurants, and pubs. Eggemoggin Reach B&B is another fine choice, located about ten minutes from town, with breathtaking views of the water and the Pumpkin Island Lighthouse in the distance. A good choice for families is Oakland House, with 15 cottages set amid the pines, overlooking the water. More inns.

At long last the winding road brings us to the narrow suspension bridge to Little Deer Isle, the causeway to Deer Isle and the hamlet of Stonington. Each of the island's three recommended inns has drop-dead water views and attractive accommodations: Our favorite room at the Inn at Ferry Landing is the suite, but the apartment is ideal for longer stays. The Inn on the Harbor, is right in the middle of picturesque Stonington village; ask for a room on the water side. The historic Pilgrim's Inn is known for its convivial dinner-party atmosphere each evening. More inns.







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