Things to Do in Belfast Maine – Cool Midcoast Maine Attractions

Driving around Maine in autumn is the perfect time to see New England foliage at it’s best and enjoy delicious seafood. But there’s more to Maine than great food and amazing fall colors. In this article you’ll discover I found lots of cool things to do in Belfast Maine. You will find that Maine is one of the best East coast weekend getaways for enjoying outdoor activities.

While choosing where to stay after I left Nova Scotia in mid-September I found a great Airbnb near Belfast ME. That’s mid-coast Maine, with Bar Harbor to the north and Portland to the south. I love staying in smaller towns and exploring all the attractions within the surrounding area. People are generally friendlier in small towns in the United States and New England’s small towns are no exception.

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Picturesque downtown Belfast Maine is one of the many charming small towns along midcoast ME

Picturesque downtown Belfast Maine is one of the many charming small towns along midcoast ME

 

As a way to socialize more and save some cash, I often book shared accommodation through Airbnb. So far I’ve enjoyed staying with great roommates in Austin TX, Crystal River FL, Fort Collins CO, Lafayette LA, and Northport ME just a few miles from Belfast. Staying with Laura, a local artist, at her house on a small acreage in Maine was a great choice for me.

I could drive to Belfast in about 10 minutes and get to Acadia National Park in less than an hour and a half. So it’s a great location for exploring midcoast Maine. Plus I had a cool Airbnb host. Laura is a talented artist – have a look at some of her Maine oil paintings here.

Now let’s check out the list of Belfast Maine things to do, and enjoy the beauty of New England through art, food, and nature.

First, just for fun let me share 10 facts about Maine that you may not already know.

 

Squirrel standing on a rock posing for a photograph

Squirrel standing on a rock posing for a photograph

 

Ten Facts about Maine

  1. Mount Kathadin in the Appalachian Mountain range is the endpoint of the Appalachian Trail
  2. The population of Maine is 1.35 million (2017) making it the 41st most populated state in the USA
  3. Portland is Maine’s most populous city – with a population of 66,882 (2017)
  4. Maine’s nickname is The Pine Tree State
  5. Capital city of Maine is Augusta – located 45 miles west of Belfast ME
  6. Maine borders New Hampshire, two Canadian provinces – Quebec and New Brunswick, and the Atlantic Ocean
  7. The first sawmill in the USA was built in 1623 along the Pistcataqua River near York Maine
  8. Janet Mills became the first woman elected as governor of Maine in January 2019
  9. Eastport Maine is the easternmost city in the United States
  10. Mainers are some of the BEST people you will ever meet

 

Kayaking at Knights Pond in Northport Maine in the fall

Kayaking at Knights Pond in Northport Maine in the fall

 

Things to do in Belfast Maine

Wondering what to do in Maine? Belfast is the perfect location to explore many points of interest in Maine.

Since Belfast is on the coast you can enjoy the outdoors on foot or on a boat. You can spend time on a fishing boat, go canoeing, kayaking, or rowing.

Day trips from Belfast are plentiful, from antiquing and exploring charming coastal towns, to visiting Acadia National Park, it’s all within a short drive. Book your hotel in Belfast and explore!

 

Buskers performing during the Art Walk event in downtown Belfast ME

Buskers performing during the Art Walk event in downtown Belfast ME

 

Art Walk

Check out the local talent in the galleries and enjoy music in the streets of downtown Belfast. Art Walk is a good time plus you get a chance to talk with the artists. This is a fun free event for the whole family. And for solo travelers it’s a great way to get out and meet people in a casual setting. I often look for these types of events while traveling so that I can get out and mingle with locals and tourists. Plus it’s a great way to find souvenirs for friends and family.

Every fourth Friday 5:30 to 8 pm from May through September plus holiday art walk in December.

 

Gail Savitz Front Street Pottery gallery in downtown Belfast Maine

Gail Savitz Front Street Pottery gallery in downtown Belfast Maine

 

Farmers Markets

One of the best things to do in Maine in summer is visiting the local farmers markets to buy fresh foods. Select from eggs, meats, fruits and veggies, preserves, seafood and more. You’ll find plenty of home baked and home cooked goods as well as locally made arts and crafts.

Farmers markets are another great place to buy made in Maine souvenirs. I love farmers markets not just for the great food and crafts but because I also get to chat with the vendors. I bought some delicious locally made cheese at the farmers market from The Creamery at Bristolhof and learned about their cheese making process.

Belfast Farmers’ Market

Established in 1980 to provide local growers and craftspeople an outlet to sell their goods. Check out their website for more info.

Summer location and hours

  • 256 High Street (in the yard of Waterfall Arts Building)
  • Summer hours: Fridays from 9 -1 from April to October

Winter location and hours

  • 231 Northport Avenue (in the greenhouse at Aubuchon Hardware)
  • Winter hours: Fridays from 9-1 from November to March

United Farmers Market of Maine

Indoor farmers and artisans market operating year round. You can visit their website for a vendor list and details about special events.

Location

18 Spring Street

Hours

9 – 2 every Saturday

 

Belfast Restaurants and Bars

It’s no surprise that you can find amazing seafood in Belfast restaurants. You can also get outstanding Neapolitan pizza and farm to table meals at locally owned and operated restaurants in Belfast.

A common thread with most places to eat in Belfast is made from scratch homemade goodness. That’s another plus when staying in the small coastal towns in Maine.

Many of the eateries in Belfast have seasonal hours and days of operation so check the websites and call to check current opening hours.

Here’s the list of best places to eat in Belfast. All these eateries are located in downtown Belfast unless otherwise specified.

Belfast Co-op is a membership owned and controlled natural foods store with a great deli and cafe. Enjoy burgers, sandwiches, salads from the regular menu but check out the board for specials of the day. I highly recommend their homemade soups and the oatmeal raisin cookies are ginormous scrumptious treats. You can also find grab-n-go meals to take on a hike or day trip, or do your full grocery shopping here too.

Bell the Cat is a deli and coffee shop with a good selection of baked treats, great breakfast menu, along with soups, salads, and sandwiches and a kids menu. Bell the Cat is about one mile west of downtown.

Chase’s Daily serves up baked goods and farm to table vegetarian cuisine. Highly recommended by my Airbnb host but I didn’t manage to grab a meal from Chase’s Daily, so it’s on my list for next time around. I’m not vegetarian but I do love my veggies and I try to eat healthy…most of the time :)

Daily Soup offers take-out and delivery from their small shop located across from the Belfast Coop. There’s a couple small tables inside but mostly people grab their soup and other eats to go. In the summer they put a few tables outside so you can enjoy your meal on the spot. All the food is homemade, prepared with love, from scratch. Is there anything better than homemade soup? I think not.

Laan-Xang Cafe is another place at the top of my list for next visit to Belfast. Laotian and Thai cuisine. I’ve had a serious love for Thai curry ever since I visited Thailand and hung out in Koh Tao for three weeks and got my PADI open water diver certification.

Meanwhile in Belfast is the only certified Neapolitan Pizzeria in all of Maine. Alessandro and Clementina are both from Italy and they will treat you to delicious pizza. I ate here with Laura, my Airbnb host, and we both loved the food and the service. The pizza is uncut so you tear a slice off with your hands, or you could use utensils but I prefer to play with my food :)

The Hoot is officially in Northport but it’s only a five-minute drive from Belfast. Farm to table eats and adult beverages in a big old house with several rooms and plenty of seating plus an outdoor patio. Most of the meat is sourced from their family farm, Breludin, in Northport. Not only did I eat at The Hoot I also saw a few of their sheep and the porkers out in the pasture. The owners and staff were friendly and welcoming, I even got some hiking tips from my server.

  • Seasonal days and hours. Closed in winter months from December through March
  • Check their website for days and hours during April through November

Three Tides & Marshal Wharf Brewing Company is another place I loved. Located at on the wharf they serve up tapas and, you guessed it, beer. I tried the crab stuffed mushroom caps and the mussels, both superb. There’s a bar indoors plus beer garden and a deck with views of the water. There’s a huge wood stove in the beer garden. Check their website or Facebook page for music happenings. They have an annual mussel festival in October.

Remember to check the days and hours especially in winter as many places have seasonal days and hours of operation. Bon appetit!

 

Weathered New England barn on a beautiful day in Northport Maine

Weathered New England barn at Breludin Farm with porkers enjoying a beautiful day in Maine

 

Belfast Harbor Walk

This is an enjoyable walk from the Belfast Boathouse to the Armistice footbridge over the Passagassawakeag River (pronounced pas-uh-gas-uh-WAH-keg). That’s fun to say but it’s a mouthful, locals call it the ‘Passy’ for short.

I parked by the Boathouse at the end of Commercial Street. You’ll walk along the river and pass by the Belfast Common, Steamboat Landing Park, Heritage Park, Harbormaster office, Marshall Wharf, and the Front Street Shipyard to the footbridge.

Remember to buy comfortable walking shoes for your trip! And also remember to break them in a bit before your trip – your feet will thank you :)

 

Beautiful view of the boats in Belfast Harbor Maine

Beautiful view of the boats in Belfast Harbor Maine from the Armistice Footbridge

 

I found it interesting to see the shipyard and the work in progress on some of the yachts. You can take a free guided tour from the folks at Front Street Shipyard, tours are 2:30 pm each weekday from Memorial Day in May through to Labor Day weekend in September. Tours meet at Building 5 and you should show up a few minutes early. For group tours you should complete the request form on the website.

Walking across the footbridge you get a nice view of the Belfast Harbor and lots of pretty boats.

The Belfast Harbor Walk is about 3/4 of a mile but you may as well continue across the footbridge for a total of 1 mile (one-way). It’s a nice walk and you can reward yourself with some ice cream at the Wild Cow Creamery along the way. Or enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants along the wharf.

 

Belfast Rail Trail map - a wheelchair accessible trail in Maine

Belfast Rail Trail map

 

Belfast Rail Trail

This 2.3 mile (one-way) pathway along the Passagassawakeag River is wheelchair accessible. The south trailhead is close to the Armistice footbridge at Pierce Street, where you’ll find a map and information board. The north trailhead is located near the City Point Central Railroad Museum and you can park in their lot.

Remember to bring your refillable water bottle while hiking – I love my Klean Kanteen insulated stainless steel water bottle.

 

Belfast Maine Rail Trail is a wheelchair accessible 2.3 mile trail along the Passagassawaukeag River

Belfast Maine Rail Trail is a wheelchair accessible 2.3 mile trail along the Passagassawaukeag River

 

Take a train ride

While you’re at the rail trail you may as well take a train ride to Unity ME on the historic Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad. Train excursions run from the Memorial Day long weekend in May through to late October. For more information on tickets and schedules visit the BMLR website.

  • Belfast train station is located at 13 Oak Hill Road
  • Unity train station is located at 212 Depot Street

 

Belfast In-town nature trail

I found the info about this trail when I walked the Rail Trail, there were some brochures for the Belfast In-town Nature Trail with a map and info about the walk. I didn’t do the whole walk in one go because I got hungry along the way. The Belfast nature trail is grouped into 4 sections making it convenient to split up into separate walks.

  • Segment 1 – Boathouse to the Armistice Footbridge (same as the Harbor Walk listed above)
  • Segment 2 – Boathouse to City Park
  • Segment 3 – City Park to Kirby Lake aka “The Muck”
  • Segment 4 – Kirby Lake to the Armistice Footbridge

The whole 4 section loop is a 5 mile walk.

 

Belfast Maine In-Town Nature Trail map with 4 sections making a 5-mile loop

Belfast Maine In-Town Nature Trail map with 4 sections making a 5-mile loop

 

Maine Blueberries

Stuff your face with some Maine wild blueberries! I find they are tastier than the bigger conventional blueberries. I used to think British Columbia blueberries were the best, but nope. Nova Scotia and Maine wild blueberries are my faves! Belfast Coop and the Farmers markets are great places to buy local blueberries.

Beyond eating the sweetly seductive berries you should take a look at the blueberry fields in the fall when the colors are turning. Did you know that wild blueberry leaves also make for a healthy cup of tea? I didn’t know that! But the folks at Highland Berry Farm tested the leaves and found they were higher in anthocyanins or antioxidants than the organic wild blueberry fruit.

 

Maine wild blueberries bushes in autumn colors ranging from pale orange to deep red

Maine wild blueberries bushes change to colors ranging from yellow to deep red

 

Historical Info and Museums in Belfast

Belfast Maine was incorporated as a town on June 29, 1773 and incorporated as a city on August 17, 1850. Of course there’s a lot of history throughout the east coast towns and cities but before the European settlers arrived there were several indigenous tribes inhabiting the area.

Today there are five federally recognized tribes in Maine. Click on the name of each tribe to reach the official website for more information on their history, culture, and current events.

 

Belfast Museum in the Streets

One thing I noticed right away while walking around Belfast ME was the Museum in the Streets signs with photos and historical information about Belfast.

The Museum in the Streets in Belfast features 30 panels and 2 larger map panels with text in English and French. While bilingual signs are common in Canada, Belfast is one of the few places you’ll see bilingual English/French signs in the USA.

 

Belfast Historical Society and Museum

10 Market Street – downtown Belfast

  • Reopening for regular hours on June 8, 2019
  • The Belfast Historical Society Museum is open by appointment only during the off season – call 207-338-9229

The Belfast Historical Society holds monthly meetings from April through October at Belfast Free Library. The fee to attend is $5.

 

Belfast Maine Museum in the Streets features 30 historical panels around town

Belfast Maine Museum in the Streets features 30 historical panels around town

 

Check the latest midcoast Maine hotel deals now!

 

Day Trips from Belfast Maine

For a change of scene you can take a day trip from Belfast to go exploring more of midcoast Maine and beyond. Many of these day trips are only a 30-minute drive from Belfast so you can add two or three stops to your road trip to see more attractions.

 

Solo hiker at the summit sign of Gorham Mountain Trail at Acadia National Park in Maine

A beautiful hike! Gorham Mountain trail summit sign at Acadia National Park

 

Acadia National Park

I visited Acadia National Park on a busy Saturday in October and returned for a midweek visit on a foggy day to escape the crowds. But you will likely see crowds at Acadia park especially during the fall foliage season in New England. I lucked out and found a parking spot at the Gorham trail and enjoyed a fairly moderate hike with great views of the ocean.

My advice is get an early start if you want a chance to see more of the park and avoid some of the tourist crowd. Or visit in winter when there are fewer visitors.

Click here to visit the Acadia NP website for maps, hiking trails, and all the info you need for a great visit to one the most popular national parks in America.

If you would like to turn your day trip into a weekend getaway check for hotel prices and deals in Bar Harbor –  it’s the closest town to Acadia National Park.

 

Acadia National Park coastal Maine day trip

 

One good thing about driving through Acadia NP is the designated parking areas on the right lane of certain parts of the park. There is also a loop section that is one-way traffic only so it helps reduce congestion. Pick a sunny day if you want to see the view from Cadillac Mountain. If it’s cloudy you can enjoy hiking along the rocky shoreline instead and watch the waves crash in spectacular fashion.

An easy hike at Acadia (although the AllTrails app rates it moderate) is the Jordan Pond loop trail. Follow it up with a visit to the Jordan Pond House Restaurant for some of their famous popovers. After my I hike I enjoyed a lunch of scallops accompanied by a refreshing local beer. And yes I followed up with the popovers for dessert.

 

Two visitors at Acadia National Park sit upon the rocky shoreline watching waves and a sailboat

Two visitors at Acadia National Park sit upon the rocky shoreline watching waves and a sailboat

 

Camden

Camden is yet another picturesque small town located in mid-coast Maine. Camden’s population is about 5,000 but more than triples during the summer months. Camden ME is a popular spot for vacationing New Yorkers and other big city folks wanting to escape to a scenic and relaxing setting.

Camden is known for cultural events and the arts in general – there is an annual International Film Festival focused exclusively on documentary films. The Camden Opera House hosts concerts, films, dance and theatrical performances – check website for tickets and upcoming shows.

The first library in Camden Maine opened in 1796 with approximately 200 books servicing a tiny population. Today the Camden Public Library is an impressive piece of architecture and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. There is now a park and amphitheatre as well as a history center.

Check the latest hotel deals now!

 

Camden Harbor in one of midcoast Maine's most popular small towns

Camden Harbor in one of midcoast Maine’s most popular small towns

 

Camden Hills State Park

If you want to get a great viewpoint of Camden and Penobscot Bay the perfect sightseeing spot is from Megunticook Ocean Lookout Trail at Camden Hills State Park. Other popular hikes are Bald Rock Mountain, Cameron Mountain Trail, Maiden Cliff, Mount Battie, and Tablelands. Summer camping info is included in my post about Megunticook trail. Winter camping in a rustic cabin is available by reservation only – call 207-236-0849 and note there is no water available during winter season.

Snowshoeing is allowed on all trails. Cross-country skiing is allowed on trails marked with the skiing icon.

 

Hikers relax and enjoy the ocean view at Camden Hills State Park in mid-coast Maine

Hikers relax and enjoy the ocean view at Camden Hills State Park

 

Fort Point State Park

Three miles from Stockton Springs along US Route 1 the Fort Point State Park points of interest include the Fort Point Light Station, the remaining bits of Fort Pownall, the stone marking the original 1759 burial site of General Samuel Waldo, for whom Waldo county is named. Apparently some folks thought Waldo should be buried in the city of his birth, so they dug him up and buried him again in Boston.

I visited Fort Point State Park on a windy day in late September, disappointed that the lighthouse interior is not open to visitors. There’s an easy little hike called Grant’s Cove out to a beach.

Summer activities include hiking, biking, fishing and paddling. During winter the trails are open for cross-country skiing.

Open from 9 am to sunset from May 15 to October 15 but you can still visit the park in off-season (park outside the gate)

 

Lincolnville

If you want the perfect place to enjoy a seafood lunch or dinner and do a little beachcombing then Lincolnville is the place. Popular eateries include The Lobster Pound, McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack, Whale’s Tooth Pub and Restaurant, and the more upscale Chez Michel.

Lincolnville is also the ferry terminal where you catch a ride to the island of Islesboro. The 3-mile crossing takes only 20 minutes and you can check the schedule and fares here.

I adore Lincolnville! If you can’t find the perfect lodgings in Belfast or Camden then try Lincolnville – check the latest deals and read reviews here.

 

Whale's Tooth Pub in Lincolnville Maine offers a waterfront dining experience

Whale’s Tooth Pub in Lincolnville Maine offers a waterfront dining experience

 

Visit an apple orchard

Visiting mid-coast Maine in the fall? Then you may be interested in visiting Sewall Organic Orchard – apple season usually begins late September and lasts until early November. Sewall farm is known for their apple cider vinegar and apple cider. For more info check their website.

  • Address: 259 Masalin Rd, Lincolnville, ME
  • Hours are 9:30 – 4:30 Friday to Sunday

 

Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory and Fort Knox are popular tourist attractions in Maine

Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory and Fort Knox are popular tourist attractions in Maine

 

Penobscot Narrows Bridge

On my arrival to Maine I drove by the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and had to stop to grab a few photos. It’s a cool looking bridge plus you can visit the observation tower for some outstanding views of the Penobscot River. The Penobscot Narrows Observatory is the tallest bridge observatory in the world and it’s a fun thing to do for a day trip from Belfast.

Admission to Fort Knox, or maybe I should say the other Fort Knox, is included with the admission fee for Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory. History buffs will definitely enjoy visiting both of these Maine attractions. You can download the visitor info brochure here.

 

The "other" Fort Knox is an historic site located at Penobscot Narrows Bridge in midcoast Maine

The “other” Fort Knox is an historic site located at Penobscot Narrows Bridge in midcoast Maine

 

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

Although you may see the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse listed as a hike it’s actually a walk along the one-mile long breakwater to the lighthouse building. Completed in 1900 the breakwater, constructed from locally quarried granite, protects the Rockland Maine harbor from storms.

 

This seagull caught a young starfish for dinner at the Rockland Breakwater in midcoast Maine

This seagull caught a young starfish for dinner at the Rockland Breakwater

 

Rockland Breakwater is open to the public and is a free attraction. During sunny days you can see the lighthouse and nearby ships as they sail past but on foggy days you will have to walk almost to the end of the breakwater before you see the lighthouse.

Waves often wash over the granite walkway so wear decent footwear with good traction. I always wear my Ahnu hiking shoes because they’re waterproof and have soles with a good grip. A lightweight backpack is also a good idea for a day bag to keep water, maps, snacks, etc.

 

A view of the lighthouse from the Rockland Breakwater hike in Maine

Walking the 1-mile trip along the Rockland Breakwater to the lighthouse

 

Rockport

An attractive small town on the coast, Rockport is only 2 miles from Camden. In fact Rockport was part of Camden years ago but after a fight they decided to breakup. Apparently the disagreement was about the cost of a bridge.

These days Rockport’s main claims to fame are Andre the Seal, Belted Galloway cattle, and looking pretty.

Andre the Seal was found and adopted by Rockport local Harry Goodridge who raised the seal pup and figured it would return to explore the sea but Andre stuck around. There’s even a movie about Andre the Seal. You can see a marble statue of Andre at the Rockport Marine Park.

Belted Galloway cattle, commonly known as “Oreo” cows or “Belties” due to the big white band encircling their midsection, originated from the Galloway region of Scotland. You can visit the Aldemere Farm to purchase beef or take a tour. Hours are Mon – Fri from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm with tours operating during late June through late August – more info on their website.

And finally, Rockport is known for being pretty according to a Forbes magazine list of America’s Prettiest Towns. I have some news for Forbes though, pretty towns are pretty common in Maine :)

Check out Booking.com for hotel reviews, photos, and the latest deals in Rockport Maine! I use Booking.com a lot when planning my multi-day road trips around the USA.

 

Tall sailing ship in the Penobscot Bay near the Rockland Breakwater

Tall sailing ship in the Penobscot Bay

 

Searsport

Visit the oldest maritime museum in Maine at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport. Open 7 days a week from Memorial Day weekend through the 3rd weekend in October.

Drive out to Sears Island via the causeway from Searsport and explore nature.

Visit Moose Point State Park along the Penobscot Bay and explore the tidal pools. Click here for a pdf brochure of the park.

Find a hotel room in Searsport – the Captain Nickels Inn is highly rated!

 

The Captain A. V. Nickels Inn is a popular historic B&B on the Penobscot Bay in Searsport ME

The Captain A. V. Nickels Inn is a popular historic B&B on the Penobscot Bay in Searsport ME

 

Fall foliage in New England

Every autumn in New England nature puts on the most spectacular event in the region with a fall foliage show. This extravaganza does not have an exact schedule but usually begins by late September and finishes by late October to early November. Generally the fall colors start earlier in the northern regions and gradually work down the whole of the New England region.

As you can see with my Instagram photo below, the autumn colors were looking extraordinary by early October in midcoast Maine.

Check hotel availability and deals now!

 

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Maine USA east coast road trip with hiking at Acadia NP and scenic harbors in small towns

Maine East Coast vacation wth fall colors reflecting on the water

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

4 Replies

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  1. Jo Harmon says:

    Maine is such a gorgeous State. Wonderful article with beautiful pictures.

    • Thanks Jo! Who knows, maybe you will drive all the way from AZ – camping along the way! Maine was on my list for a road trip to see the fall colors but now I want to go back to experience each season!
      Cheers,
      Susan

  2. upasana says:

    Maine is a beautiful state and definitely would to love visit someday. Loved your blog and how beautifully you integrated the pictures.

    • Thank you Upasana! I hope you get to take a road trip around Maine, there’s so many beautiful towns along the coast and cool hikes with amazing views. And if you get there around mid-October you should see the fall foliage at it’s peak.

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