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Maine's Mid-coast Region is defined by coastal Route 1, which skirts an irregular rockbound shoreline that changes dramatically from the sandy beaches of Maine's South Coast. Not only is the pace slower than at the South Coast, scenic harbors, working waterfronts and saltwater fishing opportunities abound.
In addition, peninsulas jut out from several spots along the Mid-coast and each contains a flavor all its own, from historic Pemaquid Point to the commercial development of Boothbay Harbor.
However, while the Mid-coast is known primarily for its rocky coast, some of the most beautiful and sandy beaches in Maine are found at Reid State Park in Georgetown and at Popham Beach. Reid State Park features nearly a mile and a half of sand beaches, dunes, marshes, ledges and ocean, plus a warm saltwater pond for swimming.
Swimming is also encouraged in any of the numerous lakes, ponds and fishing holes found just a few miles inland from the coast. In fact, there are more than a few lovely lakes and quiet estuaries inland to explore and enjoy. Picnic spots abound throughout that part of the region, and bird watching is a favorite sport for many visitors and residents.
Much of Maine's maritime history is found in this region, from the historic and well-known Maine Maritime Museum in Bath to the finely restored row of Captains' homes along Route 1 in Searsport.
Of course, with the ocean so predominate, it's only natural much of the recreational activities in the region center on the sea, from puffin watching to whale watching, from deep-sea fishing to lobster bakes on remote islands.
Some of Maine's most famous "clam shacks" are also found here and, of course, lobster, fresh fish and "chowdah" are always on the menu. Moody's Diner on Route 1 in Waldoboro, for instance, is a favorite stop for locals and visitors alike. Wait till you try their pies!
In addition, there are numerous coastal villages such as Camden, Boothbay Harbor and Belfast, some where you can go right out on the pier and watch the lobster and the fish brought in daily. In fact, in many spots you can choose the lobster that looks just right for your evening meal and often eat on a dock and enjoy the view.
The Mid-coast is also home to Maine's historic windjammer fleet and the schooners can be found nestled alongside lobster boats and pleasure crafts in both Rockland and Camden.
Not all activities are waterrelated, of course. Naturally, there are art galleries galore throughout the Mid-coast Region, and antique shops and small handcrafted jewelry and knickknack stores are everywhere. There are flea markets and garage sales; there are auction barns and auction houses, and the region offers some of the most diverse, interesting and memorable ar t galleries in Maine.
Two of Maine's most famous festivals - Windjammer Days held each June in Boothbay Harbor, and Rockland's Lobster Festival held each August, are found in the Mid-coast Region and there are numerous strawberry festivals, church suppers, bean hole suppers and chowder dinners to please even the most discerning of visitors.
While there is plenty to see and do here, most of the fun is exploring on your own. However, here are a few opportunities to get you started:
- The Theater Project in Brunswick is a great place to take children for a special afternoon or evening of theater. The 80-seat theater features "live" actors and plenty of fun.
- The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath includes indoor and outdoor exhibitions and features paintings, ship models, carvings, boats and other marine artifacts.
- Eagle Island in South Harpswell is located about three miles off the coast. The summer home of North Pole explorer, Admiral Robert E. Peary, the island is equipped with a pier so visitation is possible for picnickers, nature enthusiasts and history buffs.
- The Woolwich Historical Society Museum depicts life as it was 80 to 200 years ago displayed in a farmhouse of the period and a post and beam barn.
- The Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset - which calls itself "Maine's Prettiest Village" - includes a collection of restored antique musical boxes, player pianos and related items displayed in fine period settings in an 1852 sea captain's mansion.
- The Boothbay Railroad Village is a great family spot. You can experience a steam train ride which wends its way through a peaceful village and beautiful gardens. There is also an outstanding exhibit of more than 50 antique vehicles.
- Colonial Pemaquid is situated on a point of land at the mouth of the Pemaquid River in Bristol. Archeological excavations have unearthed 14 foundations of 17th and 18th century structures. Fort William Henry is adjacent to the settlement site.
- The Maine State Prison Showroom in Thomaston features furniture, novelty items of a nautical nature and ship models all hand made by inmates and all for sale at reasonable prices.
- Owls Head Transportation Museum includes a collection of historic aircraft, automobiles and engines. During the summer and fall, special exhibits are on display and include everything from WWI aircraft to early Corvettes. A number of events are also held, including several antique/classic vehicle show days.
- The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland ranks among the finest regional art museums in the nation. The collection includes many works by the Wyeth family and other major American artists from Colonial times to the present.
- The Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport is a village of eight buildings, and the finest collection of marine art in Maine.
- The Fort Knox State Historic Site in Stockton Springs is a splendid example of granite craftsmanship. Construction began in 1844 and continued for 25 years. The fort was built to protect the Penobscot River Valley, and the structure, including spiral staircases of granite, have remained in excellent shape for more than a century.