Day Trips

Waterville: Your Central Maine Hub

With much to offer in and around Waterville, let us be the hub for your next trip to central Maine. Unique day trips await you, while our local restaurants, shops, and businesses are ready to meet your daily travel needs.

Skowhegan

Gateway to the northern Kennebec River region, and emerging rural food hub, featuring the Somerset Grist Mill, Bigelow Brewing, and the nearby LC Bates Museum on the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Good Will-Hinckley school campus.

Located at the junction of Route 2 and Route 201 along the Kennebec River, the town of Skowhegan is an arts destination and emerging rural food hub. Take a walk down Main Street and you’ll find a plethora of great restaurants, art galleries, shops, and more waiting to be discovered. And don’t be afraid to venture off Main Street—Skowhegan is full of hidden gems. For instance, Skowhegan is home to Maine Grains at the Somerset Grist Mill (https://mainegrains.com/), the only stone-ground flour mill in Maine. Maine Grains features a café called The Pickup (http://thepickupcsa.com/the-pickup-cafe/) where you can enjoy a delicious and locally sourced lunch or dinner. If you’re in the mood for a drink, head down to the Old Mill Pub, an Irish-style pub with scenic views of the Kennebec. Old Mill Pub (http://www.oldmillpub.net/index.html) features craft brews from the Bigelow Brewing Company (http://bigelowbrewing.com/), a small family-owned microbrewery that operates out of a barn in Skowhegan. And if you’re craving something sweet, be sure to stop by the Bankery (http://www.thebankerycakes.com/), an old bank converted into a bakery that makes delicious cakes and pastries daily.


Skowhegan’s art scene is just as fresh and local as its food scene. River Roads Artisans Gallery (http://www.riverroadsgallery.com/) showcases a variety of work from some of Maine's most talented artists and artisans, including wood, fiber, clay, paintings, and more. Central Maine Artists Gallery also features a wide array of original work from local artists. In addition, Skowhegan is home to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (http://www.skowheganart.org/), which is nationally renowned for its nine-week intensive summer residency program. Though the School itself is located off the beaten path, its presence brings an artistic spirit to all of Skowhegan.

If you’re looking for an ideal spot to enjoy the Maine outdoors, look no further. At Coburn Park, you can view the flower gardens and attend summer concerts. At the nearby 320-acre Lake George Regional Park, which is open year-round, you can go swimming, fishing or hiking. Park facilities include a public boat launch, playing fields, and picnic areas. Whether you’re looking for outdoor fun, art gallery hopping, or tasty local eats, Skowhegan is a great place to spend a weekend.

Union

Home to tours, tasting, and shopping in a traditional Maine community, featuring Sweet Grass Winery + Distillery, delicious European classics at Morse's Sauerkraut + Deli in nearby Waldoboro.

Home of the annual Union Fair since 1869, Union is a town rich in natural beauty and resources. Union’s abundance of family-owned farms makes it a great destination for anyone looking to experience Maine’s agricultural tradition. Locally produced food and goods, fresh seasonal vegetables, seedlings, specialty and heirloom flowers, wool yarns, and wild blueberries are just a few of the Maine-made products available for purchase at the farmer’s market. In addition, Union features two wineries. At Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery (http://www.sweetgrasswinery.com/), a warm welcoming tasting room opens up to a working winery and distillery where you can see wine and spirit production from the tasting bar. Sip and enjoy the views from the hilltop farm or discuss winemaking and distilling with the owners. Sweetgrass Farm wines and spirits have been awarded numerous medals; its Back River Gin was named one of the top 50 spirits in the world and one of the best American gins ever made. If you prefer wine to spirits, we’d recommend a visit to Savage Oakes Vineyard & Winery (http://www.savageoakes.com/), which offers the state’s largest selection of Maine grown grape wines. Savage Oakes invites visitors to take a self-guided tour of its charming vineyard, wild blueberry fields, and working farm. After you see where the grapes are grown, sit down to sample some of these award-winning wines. Savage Oakes also has a large selection of naturally raised meats available for purchase.

To get a taste of the local art, stop by Union Pottery (http://www.unionpottery.com/), one of Maine’s premier pottery studios. Tucked away among the hills and lakes, surrounded by antique roses and assorted fruit trees, Union Pottery produces ceramics and stoneware that reflect this area of Maine, including dinnerware, bakeware, lamps, and home accessories. Another artistic niche in Union is Weaving the Joy! (http://www.mainemadebaskets.com/), a unique, made-in-Maine handcrafted basket company whose sole purpose is sharing the artisan’s joy of her creations. Each basket is individually fashioned with a great deal of attention to detail as well as uniqueness.

No visit to Union is complete without stopping for a swim at one of its three scenic ponds: Seven Tree Pond, Crawford Pond, and Round Pond. Old farms and blueberry fields roll to the water’s edge of these unspoiled ponds on the Pemaquid Peninsula of the midcoast region of Maine.

Gardiner

Historic charm, shopping, food, and outdoor activities. Home of the famous, gourmet A1 Diner and local fine arts and crafts at Monkitree Gallery, the Center for Maine Craft, and the Harlow Gallery in nearby Hallowell.

Centrally located in the heart of Maine and at the interchange of I-95 and I-295, the city of Gardiner offers a wealth of activities for visitors seeking arts, entertainment, shopping, outdoor fun, and historical sightseeing. A visit to Gardiner is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a world of shipbuilders and tradesmen, 18th century entrepreneurs and 19th century merchants, brick-lined sidewalks and the historic homes of world-class poets, authors, scholars and intellectuals. Its beautiful downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Combine the living history of downtown Gardiner with the sparkling waterfront, distinctive eateries and unique shops, and you’ll see why this little city is such a wonderful place to visit.

The Artdogs Studio Arts Collective (http://www.theartdogs.com/) keeps the city bustling with creative energy. On the first Friday of May, August, and December, Artdogs hosts an Art Walk where visitors can enjoy a fun-filled evening featuring local art, entertainment, and more. Artdogs also provides studio space for artists looking to set up shop. If you’re an artist or art lover, you’ll want to check out Monkitree (https://www.monkitree.com/), a delightful little gallery that features rotating exhibitions as well as jewelry, pottery, kitchenware, textiles, and ornaments. And if you’re a crafter, you’ll want to stop by the Center for Maine Craft (http://mainecrafts.org/center-formaine-craft/), the central location for craft sales, education, and activities in Maine.

In addition to being a prime destination for art and history lovers, Gardiner is home to the northernmost deep water harbor on the tidal Kennebec River, where boaters and families enjoy the waterfront park, public boat launch, and canoe/kayak put-in. Every June, Gardiner hosts the kick-off to the Kennebec River Whatever Family Festival (https://www.augustamaine.com/index.php/events/whatever-family-festival) in Waterfront Park and the downtown area. This community day includes food, crafts, community events, dance, arts, games and a very popular talent show on the waterfront. The night ends with an incredible fireworks display over the river. It’s no surprise then that Gardiner was ranked one of the top 10 Maine communities for young families.

Unity

Home to Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the oldest and largest state organic farming organization in the country; environmentally-friendly Unity College and Unity Village, kayaking on Lake Winnecook, and "The Lost Kitchen" locavore restaurant in the Mill at nearby Freedom Falls.

Every September, people from around the state flock to the small town of Unity to attend the Common Ground Fair, a celebration of rural living that promotes organically grown Maine produce, alternative lifestyles, and a common ground for a variety of organizations. The Fair has been going on for 40 years and never fails to draw huge crowds of enthusiastic, environmentally conscious fairgoers. However, the Fair is not the only reason to visit Unity— far from it. All year round, Unity is a haven for environmental activism, arts and culture, and even gourmet food.

Unity College (http://www.unity.edu/) is well known for its outstanding environmental science programs and its unyielding commitment to sustainability. Plus, the College’s Center for the Performing Arts (http://uccpa.unity.edu/) is a great place to go see a show or a concert. If it’s visual art that you seek, be sure to check out Unity Pond Pottery (http://www.unitypondpottery.com/), where you can watch a free pottery demonstration or simply browse the shelves of exquisite handmade mugs, vases, plates, and more. Unity is also home to Unity Forge (http://www.unityforgemaine.com/), a blacksmithing studio run by Steve Murdock and Chia Roberts, two artists who specialize in handcrafted custom metalwork.

For all you foodies out there, Unity might not immediately seem like a prime destination. However, if you’re willing to take the time to scout out some hidden gems, Unity offers many unexpected and delightful dining options. For instance, Unity features an artisinal Amish delicatessen called Charcuterie that makes pepperoni, pastrami, sweet bologna, beef chorizo and more. The store is located in a converted cabin tucked away in the woods, but it is well worth the trip. Inside the store, ropes of smoked sausages and cheeses dangle enticingly over the counter. As an added bonus, the owner of the charcuterie happily gives customers generous samples of his wares. Once you’ve had your fill of delicious smoked meat at the charcuterie, take a ride down to Younity Winery & Vineyards (http://younitywinery.com/) to sample some of the finest wines Maine has to offer. Good food, great wine, and amazing art—what more could you ask for? All these things combined make Unity a wonderful place for anyone looking to enjoy weekend entertainment in a pristine small town setting.