A Day in Owls Head

Owls Head is easily overlooked.

A peninsula on a peninsula, it is not 
a place you pass through on the way to anyplace else. And should you happen to take that first left after crossing the Rockland-Owls Head town line, you might miss the village even as you drive right through it. “Don’t blink,” warns Bill O’Brien, the maintenance supervisor at nearby Knox County Regional Airport. “It’s that small.” Yet, with a little planning, Owls Head can easily be the destination for a daylong exploration.
Morning

1. Crescent Beach
A local secret, sandy Crescent Beach is hidden away on Ginn Point, a narrow finger of land poking into the Atlantic Ocean south of the village. Once home to an inn whose guests arrived by steamboat, most of Crescent Beach is now owned by summer cottagers, but the public is permitted on a sliver of sand opposite the small parking lot. Crescent Beach Road.

2. Owls Head Transportation Museum
With its large collection of classic cars, motorcycles, and airplanes, the Owls Head Transportation Museum appeals to all ages. Most of the vehicles still run, and on any given day you might see the world’s only working Fokker C.IVA flashing its wide white wings overhead or, if you’re really lucky, catch a ride in the open cockpit of an antique biplane. 117 Museum St. 207-594-4418.

Lunch

3. Owls Head General Store
One of two buildings that comprise Owls Head village (the other is the red-roofed post office), the Owls Head General Store makes what many consider to be the best burger in the state. Order your Seven Napkin Burger to go (they make a mean crab roll, too, if that’s what you’re looking for), then browse the locally made crafts and souvenirs while you wait. When your lunch is ready, head over to nearby Owls Head State Park for a picnic. 2 South Shore Drive. 207-596-6038.

Afternoon

4. Owls Head State Park
According to local lore, Owls Head derived its name from 18th-century sailors who thought this headland resembled the head of an owl. We can’t see it, but no matter: this is a glorious spot. Soak it in while you enjoy your Seven Napkin Burger at one of the oceanside picnic tables, then walk up to the white brick lighthouse perched on a cliff high above Penobscot Bay. Volunteers from Friends of Rockland Harbor Lights staff both the 162-year-old lighthouse and the keeper’s house, in which you’ll find a museum and gift shop. 186 Lighthouse Rd. 207-941-4014.

5. Breakwater Vineyards
Jeanne and Bill Johnson produce up to 18,000 bottles from the grapevines growing on their 32-acre farm. The winery, located in a renovated barn, sits behind a stately Greek Revival home that looks like it came straight out of Gone with the Wind. Wine tastings are offered Monday to Friday from noon to 5. A portion of the vineyard’s profits are donated toward restorations of nearby Rockland Harbor Breakwater Light. 35 Ash Point Dr. 207-594-1721.

Dinner

6. Ship to Shore Lobster Company & Wharf
Watch your dinner come ashore on Owls Head’s oldest working wharf, which dates to the 1860s. Owned by Rodney and Anna Mason, the wharf is piled high with lobster traps, colorful buoys, and other tools of the fisherman’s trade. The Masons operate a gift shop and a pound, and they’ll happily steam and pack lobsters for you to take to your next and final stop. 7 Wharf St. 207-594-4606.

7. Birch Point Beach State Park (Lucia Beach)
You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer spot to enjoy a lobster dinner than this quiet sandy beach overlooking Penobscot Bay. Thanks to the rocky headlands at either end of the beach, the surf is gentle for swimming (if you can stand the cold water). Bring your fishing rod and cast for striped bass and mackerel. Ballyhac Road.

Meadow Rue Merrill is an award-winning Maine journalist and frequent contributor to Down East.

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