Road Trip: Christmas Cove
By H. Joie Crockett, Special to the Sun Journal
Published on Saturday, Dec 24, 2011 at 12:12 am | Last updated on Friday, Dec 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm
There's only one place in Maine — that we know of! — that is named after tomorrow's special day: Christmas Cove. This destination, a small cove on the western side of Rutherford Island in the town of South Bristol, is home to . . . well, mostly homes and coastal beauty. Despite the picturesque nature of the area, it is not a tourist or shopping mecca, and for that reason and others, it is well worth a road trip.
Christmas Cove is 11 miles south of Damariscotta and about 65 miles from Portland. Rutherford Island is connected to the mainland at what locals call "the gut" by one of three remaining swing bridges in Maine, soon to be one of two when the Naples causeway swing bridge is replaced. The other swing bridge is in Southport connecting to Boothbay Harbor. The South Bristol swing bridge may not be large, but the harbor is very picturesque and offers a good photo opportunity.
If you drive a few miles north of the swing bridge and take Old Pemaquid Road/Harrington Road off Route 129 over to Route 130, and then head south a few miles, you'll arrive at Pemaquid beach and lighthouse, beautiful any time of year.
Closer to Christmas Cove, there are some worthy stops — depending on the season. There is Coveside Marina and Restaurant, a good place to take a break during the season, but currently closed. There is Miss Ashley's on the Wharf at the swing bridge — a nice restaurant with a view of the harbor — and the Unique Yankee B & B — just as the name says: both open year-round.
Visit this amazing B & B for some quiet time during the holiday season and take advantage of their winter rates. More than just a B & B, they also have an art collection, along with what owners Richard and Cheryl Munson call their "Ocean Observatory" – a small room at the top of the inn with a telescope allowing you to see St. John's Bay, Pemaquid and, on a clear day, Monhegan Island. Off Route 129. Visit their website for more information and specials.
And the area offers plenty of peace, quiet and beauty, something we all can use this time of year. So take in Christmas Cove, where "toes can meet the sea in summer" and the "snow meets the sea in winter". And since you'll likely drive through Damariscotta, stop there for some shopping or noshing — oh, and don't forget Reny's!
The Unique Yankee B & B
53 Coveside Road
Miss Ashley's on the Wharf
At the swing bridge on Route 129 in South Bristol
Open seven days a week, you can eat in or take out. A great local restaurant with a view of the working harbor filled with fishing boats. They boast the best Philly Cheese Steak in Maine.
On Route 129 connecting RutherfordIsland to the mainland.
Stay long enough to see it in action as it is only one of three remaining swing bridges in Maine. And take some photos while you are there.
The S Road one-room schoolhouse
Just north of the swing bridge at the corner of S Road and Route 129.
The small schoolhouse has been restored by the South Bristol Historical Society to its original condition in the 1930s. Inside, you'll find the pot-bellied stove and all the old school desks that seem to be waiting for the children to fill.
Across the road from the S Road Schoolhouse on Route 129
The town of South Bristol has a preserve — donated to the town by the Maine Chapter of the Nature Conservancy in 1980. Take a walk through the preserve and enjoy the outdoors.
At the end of Route 130 at Pemaquid Point
Take the Old Pemaquid Road from Route 129 over to Route 130 and drive south to the end to visit this well-known lighthouse. Wear good shoes and bring your camera.
If you have a special place you'd like to get the word out about or a road trip you'd like to suggest, contact writer Joie Crockett at firstname.lastname@example.org.