Jessica Fletcher’s Maine: 4 quaint seaside towns that inspired the fictional village of Cabot Cove

Mystery fans can channel the coastal vibes of 'Murder, She Wrote' at these real-life New England destinations

Boothbay Harbor. | Photo: Visit Maine

Like the long-running television show of the same name, many of the Murder, She Wrote tie-in mystery books are set in Cabot Cove, Maine. My dad, Donald Bain, wrote 46 of the novels, which feature Jessica Fletcher, a writer and amateur detective portrayed in the show by Angela Lansbury for 12 seasons. Spoiler alert: There is no real village of Cabot Cove. But where exactly is Fletcher’s beloved town supposed to exist? That’s been an ongoing debate and remains an unsolved mystery.

Although the show was actually filmed at Universal Studios in California, there are clues to be found along the stunning coastline of Maine—dotted with darling harbors and waterfront restaurants—that suggest they may have been the inspiration for Cabot Cove. Maine is celebrated, in the summertime and fall especially, with all the things Fletcher loves: lobster, wild blueberries, beautiful gardens, and ideal scenery for bike rides and other outdoor activities. 

From Kennebunkport to Rockland, fans of the show and books will find several towns along this stretch of coastline that share similarities to Cabot Cove. While you can take I-95, Route 1 offers a more scenic drive. Traveling parallel to the Atlantic Ocean, this trip features several lighthouses and breathtaking waterfront views—plus, many opportunities to stop for fresh fish and lobster (or solve a mystery or two) along the way.

a small cottage with two chairs on the porch surrounded by flowers and greenery
Cottages at Cabot Cove. | Photo courtesy of the Cottages at Cabot Cove

1. Kennebunkport

Some fans think that Cabot Cove’s allure is best captured in lovely Kennebunkport. With a year-round population of around 1,000, the town swells with tourists during the summer months.

Dock Square sits in the middle of this picturesque southern Maine coastal town, which is located about a 90-minute drive from Boston and home to the Bush family compound. Fletcher would love the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in neighboring Wells, a sweet spot for nature outings. Goose Rocks Beach is a magnet for sunbathing, strolling, and swimming. The tiny lobster fishing village of Cape Porpoise is about 2 miles from Dock Square, and home to the seasonal Nunans’s Lobster Hut, celebrating 69 years in operation this summer. 

The Cottages at Cabot Cove is a collection of 16 one- and two-bedroom cabins (some with full kitchens) that offer proximity to nearby beaches, fishing villages, and lobster shacks. Formerly known as the Sleepy Hollow Motor Lodge, the cottages are named not for the show, but for the saltwater Cabot Cove Inlet. However, Fletcher would love the complimentary beach cruiser bicycles, available for guests to use throughout their stay. Visitors can also rent a surrey bike, which can accommodate several people. For a limited time, fans can book the Murder, She Wrote package, which includes a Cabot Cove souvenir tote, a novel, keepsake recipe cards, and other goodies. Check the website for more details.

several boats on the water
Boothbay Harbor. | Photo: Visit Maine

2. Boothbay Harbor

Similar in population to the fictional Cabot Cove, Boothbay Harbor is a bucolic coastal village, with a working waterfront dotted with lobster and fishing boats, as well as a handful of restaurants. Fletcher loved to spend time out on the water fishing with her local pals; The Maine Mutiny mystery details her escapades on a lobster boat. Learn first-hand about the Maine lobstering industry by booking a harbor cruise with Cap’n Fish’s Cruises, offering plenty of photo opportunities of lighthouses and seals basking on the rocks. 

Like Cabot Cove’s Mara’s Luncheonette, the Blue Moon Cafe is a quaint, local diner on the harbor. Come for breakfast and order the homemade blueberry pancakes (with syrup tapped from local trees) or lunch of lobster rolls finished with a slice of homemade blueberry pie.

a family orders at a walk-up window of a small red and white lobster shack
McLoons Lobster Shack. | Photo: Visit Maine

3. Sprucehead Island

McLoons Lobster Shack, a popular spot in gorgeous South Thomaston, is something right out of Cabot Cove, with a no-frills menu featuring what you’d expect—lobster rolls, steamed lobster dinners, lobster stew, and Whoopie pies, which were invented in Maine (a treat that could’ve come straight out of Sassi’s Bakery). Lobsters are caught daily from local fishers, and you can buy lobsters to-go at McLoons Wharf. 

people walk among red and white striped tents near a waterfront harbor full of boats
Rockland Lobster Festival. | Photo: Visit Maine
a tray with a whole lobster, corn on the cob, a roll, coleslaw and butter on a table with a bowl of clams
Rockland Lobster Festival. | Photo: Visit Maine

4. Rockland

Travel north to Maine’s Midcoast region for Rockland. A canvas for art lovers and writers, this village-by-the-sea is home to the popular Center for Maine Contemporary Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum. The town hugs the Penobscot Bay; the dock is a busy destination, especially in summer and fall when photogenic schooners set sail.

Murder, She Wrote fans might remember when Fletcher offers to write an article about the local lobster fishermen for Cabot Cove’s first Lobster Festival. Rockland’s annual Maine Lobster Festival takes place in early August at Harbor Park and features 5 days of lobster-themed cuisine and events and an all-you-can-eat blueberry pancake breakfast.