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10 Charming and True Fishing Towns


by SSN Staff

Hit the road for the quintessential summer getaway, one where afternoons are measured in strolls on docks and baskets of fish and chips. These 10 authentic fishing villages in the U.S. and Canada are little gems where the local economy still depends on catching fish and hauling in seafood. Cute shops, day cruises, and great restaurants make for a fantastic weekend in villages from the Chesapeake Bay to Kodiak, Alaska.

 

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Population: 2,313
The Catch: Lobster, scallops

 
 
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

On Nova Scotia's eastern coast near Halifax, Lunenburg is a colorful sample of maritime life in Canada. Well-preserved 18th-century British-Colonial-style buildings, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, sit close together in a community originally designed around the offshore Atlantic fishery. Old salts still work a big fleet of deep-sea trawlers, and one of North America's largest fish processing plants is based here. Walk the waterfront and you can see tradespeople building boats at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, hear live maritime fiddle music floating from seafood restaurants, and tour the iconic Bluenose II schooner that appears on the tailside of the Canadian dime.

Local Eats: Downtown's Salt Shaker Deli is known for smoked seafood chowder and fresh mussels in eight different flavors. A favorite for lobster is the Old Fish Factory, housed in a former fish processing plant on the waterfront.

Featured Hotel

Image not available
 
Ashlea House
42 Falkland
Lunenburg, Canada
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Newport, Oregon

Population: 9,989
The Catch: Dungeness crab, shrimp, albacore tuna

Newport, Oregon

In Newport's historical bayfront, forklifts constantly move loads of fresh seafood. Crab pots sit in stacks on docks, and marine supply stores are steps away from Oregon's largest commercial fishing fleet. Here, local fishermen keep the seafood processing companies working around the clock. Last year's season netted more than 7 million pounds of Dungeness crab and 14 million pounds of Pacific pink shrimp. In this historical working port, trendy restaurants and shops sit alongside well-worn fisherman hangouts. The sound of barking sea lions fills the air in summer. Save time to see the town's beaches, two lighthouses, and the touch tank at Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Local Eats: You can order Dungeness crab whole or by the half at Local Ocean Seafoods. Try fish and chips with locally caught albacore tuna at Ocean Bleu at Gino's.

 

Stonington, Deer Isle, Maine

Population: 1,152
The Catch: Lobster, crabs, scallops, shrimp

 
 
Stonington, Deer Isle, Maine

Almost 90 percent of all American lobster is trapped in Maine. And the majority of those tasty crustaceans meet their doom on the 300+ lobster boats in Stonington and Deer Isle. The town is the state leader in pounds and dollar value of lobster landings. Although lobstering is the economic mainstay, the boats and picturesque harbor also inspire the artists who live here and work at the popular Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Their studio galleries dot the island. Take a self-guided tour, go antiquing, or see live theater in Stonington's 100-year-old Opera House, one of the many sights that give this small downtown a back-in-time look and feel.

Local Eats: Fisherman's Friend Restaurant on the waterfront serves fresh-caught lobster 18 ways. Visit nearby Rockland for the 65th annual Maine Lobster Festival in August, when 20,000 steamy pounds will be dished out.

 

Apalachicola, Florida

Population: 2,231
The Catch: Oysters, shrimp, redfish, mullet

 
 
Apalachicola, Florida

In its 19th-century heyday, this northwestern Florida town was the third largest port on the Gulf of Mexico. Today more than 900 historical homes and buildings remain. Old net factories and ship chandleries are now trendy shops, restaurants, and galleries; meticulously restored homes are B&Bs. But Apalachicola is hardly a polished tourist area like nearby St. George Island. Nearly half of the hardworking locals wear rubber oyster boots around town. They harvest oysters (90 percent of those sold in Florida) by hand with large tongs in small wooden skiffs. Spend an afternoon on the beach, kayaking the Forgotten Coast barrier islands, or at the 1921 Dixie Theatre.

Local Eats: Hole in the Wall Seafood & Raw Bar serves some of the freshest local oysters, and the popular buttermilk pie sells out almost daily. For a table overlooking the Apalachicola River, try Owl Cafe or Boss Oyster.

 


 

Steveston Village, Richmond, British Columbia

Population: approx. 6,000
The Catch: Salmon, crab, halibut, prawns

Steveston Village, Richmond, British Columbia

A tiny historical corner of Vancouver's Richmond suburb, Steveston Village sprung up in the early 1800s during the fishing cannery boom. Its location at the mouth of the Fraser River, one of the world's largest salmon sources, was ideal. At one point, 15 canneries were in operation with a workforce of mainly Japanese and Chinese employees. And their influence continues today. You'll see Japanese street names, language schools, and cultural centers here. You can visit National Historic Sites like the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and the Britannia Heritage Shipyard, or sit back and watch more than 500 commercial fishing vessels ply the waters.

Local Eats: Stevestonites debate about which outfit has the best halibut and chips: Dave's Fish & Chips, the original F&C joint, or Pajo's on the Fisherman's Wharf docks.

 

Port Clinton, Ohio

Population: 6,056
The Catch: Walleye, yellow perch, white bass

Port Clinton, Ohio

Known affectionately as the "Walleye Capital of the World," this small Lake Erie town is the source of 80 percent of all walleye. Port Clintoners are so enamored with the fish that on New Year's Eve at midnight they drop a 20-foot-long, 600-pound fiberglass walleye Times Square-style. Lake Erie is the warmest and shallowest of the Great Lakes, making it the most productive fishery. Walk along the waterfront and you'll see marina after marina packed with fishing boats. You can toss in a line from the pier, pick up the day's catch at the fish company, or hop a ferry to the popular Put-in-Bay island.

Local Eats: Try the Saturday seafood buffet or "Walleye White" wine at Mon Ami Restaurant and Historic Winery. Jolly Roger is a casual spot for perch and walleye. At Dock's Beach House you can take your drink onto the beach.

 

Kodiak, Kodiak Island, Alaska

Population: 6,130
The Catch: Salmon, halibut, pollock, cod, crab

Kodiak, Kodiak Island, Alaska

About 400 miles south of Anchorage, this town in the Kodiak Archipelago is consistently one of the top three in the U.S. for volume and value of fish hauled in. You don't have to walk far to see someone with salty skin. In Kodiak, one in three jobs is related to commercial fishing. The best place to hear big-fish stories is at Harborside Coffee & Goods, often a crew's first stop after a day's work. You can trace Kodiak's fishing history at the Alutiiq Museum and the Russian Baranov Museum downtown. Two-thirds of the island is protected in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, where you can take a tour to see Kodiak bears.

Local Eats: Henry's Great Alaskan Restaurant is a Kodiak seafood mainstay. For fresh sushi and sashimi, the Old Powerhouse overlooks boats coming and going in the channel.

 

Bayou La Batre, Alabama

Population: 2,706
The Catch: Shrimp, red snapper, grouper, oysters

Bayou La Batre, Alabama

If you've seen Forrest Gump or the History Channel's Big Shrimpin' reality series, you've seen Bayou La Batre. But not many visitors have walked the streets of this Gulf of Mexico shrimping town. In fact, if you want to stay, the closest hotel is across the bridge on the touristy Dauphin Island. Bayou La Batre is as authentic as it gets. Instead of shops and upscale restaurants, the waterfront is lined with shrimp boats by the hundreds, processing plants, and oyster shells piled in 100-foot heaps. Fishing is back in full swing since recovering from the BP oil spill. Shipbuilding is also big business here. The Black Pearl, of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, was built and launched in Bayou La Batre.

Local Eats: Try Captain Frank Smoke Shack's shrimp-loaded gumbo, always a contender in the gumbo cook-off at the annual Blessing of the Fleet event. On Dauphin Island, Common Loon Cafe serves big fried shrimp and po' boys.

 

Tilghman Island, Maryland

Population: 970
The Catch: Blue crab, oysters

 
 
Tilghman Island, Maryland

A true working waterman's village in the Chesapeake Bay, Tilghman Island is a place where locals are more at home on a boat than on land. Find your sea legs as you pursue the prized catch: the Chesapeake Bay blue crab. You can go boat crabbing or dock crabbing then have your B&B or hotel steam your feast. Climb aboard a skipjack for a day cruise. These traditional oystering boats are part of the last commercial sailing fleet in North America. For a real taste of the relaxed life on the island, rent a bicycle.

Local Eats: On Friday nights the dining room at The Harrison House serves its popular oyster buffet with the delicacy on the half-shell and in stews and stuffings. The Bay Hundred Restaurant and The Tilghman Island Inn are also renowned for seafood.