Today, Deer Isle is home to the towns of Deer Isle and Stonington, which retain much of the historic character of their mid-20th century appearance. The island is separated from mainland Maine by the waters of Eggemoggin Reach and is accessible via a suspension bridge constructed in 1939. Approximately 2,000 year-round residents live in the island’s towns, which encompass a total land area of nearly 30 miles.
The island is best known for its arts community, which offers an internationally-renowned art school, two performing arts venues, and a wide variety of art galleries and studios. Courses and workshops are offered throughout the summer months at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, which brings a large population of artists to the island both seasonally and year-round. Guided tours of the school’s campus are offered to the public on Wednesday afternoons. The Reach Performing Arts Center, located on the island’s high school campus, showcases local student and community theatrical productions and offers a summer arts camp for students in grades K-8. The Stonington Opera House presents a full season slate of annual productions, including theatrical performances and readings, film screenings, and public concerts. A wide variety of art galleries and studios are also located throughout the island, including the Stonington Art Market and the Deer Isle Artisan Market, which offer handcrafted pieces and goods from local vendors. Other galleries include the Avery Faulkner Studio, the Carolyn Walton Gallery, J.McVeigh Jewelry, and the Marlinespike Chandlery.
In addition to art studios, a variety of craft, antique, and souvenir stores are located on the island, including Dockside Books and Gifts, which offers nautical-themed volumes and gift items, Shore Shop Gifts, which sells items from a variety of local artisans, and Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies, which offers a jam and chutney manufacturing facility, sculpture studio, and tasting and tea room within a historic farmstead building. Throughout the summer and fall months, the Stonington Farmer’s Market, one of the largest farmer’s markets in the state of Maine, operates at the Island Community Center on Friday mornings. Restaurants on the island include organic small-batch roasting company 44 North Coffee, sustainable farming restaurant Cheryl Wixson’s Kitchen, farm-to-table Mexican restaurant El El Frijoles, and the casual seaside restaurant Stonecutter’s Kitchen. Additional dining options are offered at the Pilgrim’s Inn and Inn on the Harbor, which offer overnight accommodations in a historic setting. Campground, bed and breakfast, and cottage rental accommodations are also available throughout the island.