Tucked away from the coastline along the New Hampshire border, you’ll find a trio of sister cities collectively known as The Berwicks. Berwick, South Berwick, and North Berwick have similarities, but like any siblings, they have different personalities.
The things to do in Berwick and the two surrounding smaller communities range from charming main streets to river activities to history lessons that are too often overlooked for the more touristy Maine cities.
A benefit of The Berwicks is being far from the maddening coastal crowds while providing a four-season destination split between two states, a river, and wilderness areas where you’re more likely to see a moose or bear than another tourist.
About The Berwicks in Maine
The location of The Berwicks was once part of the first Maine settlement — Kittery. Berwick became its own town in 1713, named after Berwick-upon-Tweed in England. South Berwick split from the town in 1814, and North Berwick drew its own town lines 17 years later.
Have you ever seen mill waterwheels in idyllic towns? The nation’s first one was right here in Berwick Maine. This location along the Salmon Falls River encouraged more milling industries.
Since the towns were inevitably separated, some of the Berwick historical locations now reside in South or North Berwick. The towns we know today aren’t one-size-fits-all for travelers, so let’s look at a few differences.
Berwick Maine Facts
The original Berwick Maine is still the largest of the three small towns and its motto is “Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow.”
Its signature is vast wilderness experiences, and it’s closer to ski resorts in New Hampshire and Northern Maine. However, the town has a small gathering of shops and stores along the Salmon Falls River and across from Somersworth New Hampshire.
Keep in mind that fewer hotels and vacation rentals are available here than in the other Berwicks, and there aren’t many museums and tours either. Because of that, backcountry and traditional campers might prefer this area.
South Berwick Maine Facts
Nicknamed SoBo, this town gets most of the tourism attention, and it’s the only one of The Berwicks with its own section on the Maine Office of Tourism website. Its riverfront downtown is a charming blast from the past, and you can see Rollinsford New Hampshire just across the river.
The hometown of beloved author Sarah Orne Jewett, it’s the perfect home base for visitors seeking great hotels, attractions, and outdoor spaces. It has several great historical sites to tour and plenty of restaurants too. That’s why it tends to be the most crowded Berwick town.
North Berwick Maine Facts
As the only Berwick not set on the river or state line, this inland community has a quaint downtown area closer to The Kennebunks. With the motto “The Power to Choose,” it has more formally designated outdoor areas than Berwick with wilderness areas and trails in all directions.
While not as much a hotel desert as Berwick, lodging options are limited in size and availability in North Berwick. Also, keep in mind that historic buildings have been turned into residences and businesses rather than attractions.
- The Parrish Shoe Factory from the 1995 movie “Jumanji” was shot at the North Berwick Woolen Mill site.
- Pratt & Whitney’s location in North Berwick is the largest manufacturing facility for airplane engine parts in the state.
Weather in The Berwicks
Maine winters are legendary — or notorious — depending on how you approach them. They are blustery, cold, snowy, and at times, dangerous if you aren’t prepared for extreme winter conditions.
On average, more than 4 feet of snow falls each winter season in Berwick, South Berwick, and North Berwick. The Berwicks are among the least snowy regions statewide.
Mid-March through mid-May is a time of the year known as Mud Season. The snowmelt and rain mix with the top layer of dirt during the freeze-thaw cycles, while the deeper layers of the earth are still frozen.
With The Berwicks being remote and having so many wilderness spaces, the area’s unpaved roads, logging roads, and trails can fill with mud more than a foot deep.
Summers in The Berwicks are warm with average highs around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and cooler evenings. Berwick is among the warmer parts of the state for winter lows and summer highs.
Fall in The Berwicks is pleasant with insatiable foliage. But, you’ll need at least a jacket, and plan for the first snowfall to come in October.
Berwick Maine Outdoor Things to Do
The Southern Maine Coast (and nearby New Hampshire) are truly the Great Outdoors. As a four-season destination, you’ll find more outdoor things to do in Berwick, South Berwick, and North Berwick in the off-season than in the more tourism-driven coastal towns that downshift to basic amenities.
Join thousands of people who have used part of the East Coast Greenway that spans from the tip of Key West Florida to the Canadian border city of Calais Maine.
The Eastern Trail portion runs southwest from South Portland through Old Orchard Beach and Kennebunk, then through The Berwicks before running south to Kittery. Along the way, the trail provides easy access to amenities and attractions.
Outdoor Activities in Berwick Maine
We’ve done some hunting and pecking for you to find the right outdoor adventures here. Finding the right fishing, hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, and skiing locations highly depend on your preferences.
DON’T FORGET: Many outdoor activities, like fishing, backcountry camping, and hunting, require permits or licenses. You also need to know which trail activities are allowed in each park, refuge, or conservation area that you visit.
Berwick offers potential fishing holes for the Salmon Falls River, Little River, and Beaver Dam Pond. You can review each option through lake survey maps provided by the state.
Berwick offers long stretches of rivers, but much is residential or inaccessible land. However, there’s a really nice kayak launch site on Rochester Street. It even has an accessible transfer system, including directions about how to use it, for kayakers with disabilities.
Hiking & Wilderness Trails
Berwick Maine is home to several hiking spots, but always check the GPS location since the city boundaries cover nearly 40 miles. Some of the best trails include:
Berwick’s Hackmatack Playhouse nearly closed for good after the 2022 season, but new life has been given to this 50-year tradition that brings musicals, plays, and concerts to summer guests. You can also visit Hackmatack Farm to see bison, pigs, and the farm store.
South Berwick Outdoors
South Berwick Maine is ideal for those who want a central location to explore The Berwicks, as well as be close to the coast and New Hampshire.
This mountain barely stands 600 feet above sea level, but it certainly has views of epic proportions. Mount Agamenticus (ahg-uh-MEN-ti-cus) is the highlight of a 30,000-acre preserve that covers four towns, including South Berwick.
On the 30-minute drive to the entrance, you’ll pass the Center for Wildlife in Cape Neddick. Check the center for tours and events during your visit to learn more about this region’s unique geology, wildlife, and plants.
South Berwick has several trails that start or connect through the area.
- The Orris Falls Conservation Area connects to the Mount Agamenticus trail system. Don’t miss the Balancing Rock.
- The Kenyon Hill Preserve features boulders, rock ledges, and seasonal blueberry patches that make this trail unique.
- Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park is 250 acres with great views nestled against the Salmon Falls River.
- The Raymond & Simone Savage Wildlife Preserve is a short 1-mile trail between the river and wetlands.
- The Desrochers Memorial Forest trails span from North Berwick to South Berwick and join the South Berwick Town Forest trails.
This ski adventure in South Berwick isn’t the fanciest ski resort, but it’s affordable and close to town while still offering skiing and sledding. The hours of operation depend highly on snowfall, so check the schedule each day on its Facebook page.
Outdoors in North Berwick
North Berwick Maine offers outdoor options along and near the Great Works River. And, the town has trail systems through neighborhoods that connect to larger parks and conservation areas.
As a reminder, trails for Mount Agamenticus do go through North Berwick, so you have several more options to consider.
- The Madeline Blaisdell Walking Trails offer easy paths close to town, but be advised of gun noise from a nearby range.
- The Grover-Herrick Preserve has a trail for less-experienced hikers that spans 1 mile with pond views.
- The Bauneg Beg Mountain Conservation Area is the place to go for scenic views, but choose your route wisely if you can’t handle the scrambling required at Devil’s Den to reach the peak.
- The Negutaquet Conservation Area features a river, rock formations, and a really cool double oak tree along a 2.5-mile trail.
No central location is available for kayak launches on the waterways in North Berwick, but Bruce Abbott Memorial Park is one option, and Elroy Day Canoe Launch is another.
INSIDER TIP: Stop by Reel Legends Bait & Tackle for sporting goods and expert advice for finding the best fishing and kayak launches.
Indoor Things to Do in Berwick Maine
Stepping inside a place in The Berwicks usually means stepping back in time. History fills the halls of Gilded Age homes and Victorian Houses, including Berwick Academy, one of the nation’s oldest private schools.
Each town on its own isn’t going to blow you away at first glance (ok, MAYBE South Berwick will if you love literature). When you stop looking for major roadside attractions and look a little closer, though, you’ll find plenty of indoor options.
Berwick Maine Indoors
Downtown Berwick is in a state of revitalization — an effort that started in the early 2010s. While there aren’t any museums to lure people indoors, there are shops along the main streets of the small downtown area.
One popular indoor spot is a rare Berwick Winter Farmers’ Market, with locally farmed and made products for sale once a month. The Berwick Public Library is in a historic building and offers regular events from book readings to exhibits.
After a quick walk across the river to Somersworth New Hampshire, check out the Summersworth Historical Museum to learn why we just had to write similarly sounding city names two different ways.
Indoors in South Berwick
Grab a copy of the 1877 book “Deephaven” by Sarah Jewett to prepare for a visit to the Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum. This fabulous home was the setting of the acclaimed book, and tours are open through two floors, the gardens, and the surrounding grounds.
“When one really knows a village like this and its surroundings, it is like becoming acquainted with a single person.”Sarah Orne Jewett as written in “The Country of the Pointed Firs,” 1896
On the drive to Hamilton House in South Berwick, you’ll think that you took a wrong turn. It’s well worth the worn road drive to the estate poised on a bluff overlooking the river.
Author Sarah Orne Jewett might have summed up the property best when she wrote about it in her book “River Driftwood”:
“…like a glimpse of sunshiny, idle Italy: the sparkling river and the blue sky, the wide green shores and the great gray house, with its two hall doors standing wide open, the lilacs in bloom and no noise or hurry, – a quiet place, that the destroying left hand of progress had failed to touch.”
The Counting House Museum offers insight into the early industrial work that put The Berwicks on the map. Thousands of memoirs and exhibits fill the two floors that once made clothing during the Victoria Era in Maine.
Also, you can walk 15 minutes across the river to Rollinsford New Hampshire to the historic home of Colonel Paul Wentworth. Regular reenactments and live history events are held throughout the year.
North Berwick Indoors
This part of The Berwicks strongly leans toward outdoor activities, but there are a few places that you can see.
The North Berwick Woolen Mill is one of the most historic buildings dating back to the incorporation of the town, but it has been turned into senior housing, so it’s not open for tours. This was the scene-setter for the film “Jumanji.”
The North Berwick Historical Society maintains two historic locations in the town and hosts events and tours throughout the year:
- The Morrell-Sherburne House and Museum of Business are open to visitors from mid-May to mid-September by appointment.
- The Oak Woods Meeting House is the only untouched structure in its full 1852 glory.
Additional Attractions Near Berwick Maine
The Southern Maine Coast has even more incredible small towns within a short driving distance of The Berwicks:
HOT TIP: If you cross into New Hampshire, buy as many items as you need there. There’s no sales tax, so shopping for personal items, attire, and groceries won’t be taxed.
- Kittery Maine — Enjoy outlet shopping and rocky shorelines in the “Gateway to Maine” where the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is located.
- The Yorks — Four villages, one coastal stretch of land, the Wild Kingdom Zoo & Amusements, and several beaches add to the mystic magic of these communities.
- Sanford Maine — Sanford has the same vibe as The Berwicks but offers one great perk — a local airport where you can take an aerial tour of the Maine Mountains.
Great Restaurants in Berwick Maine
Between the three Berwicks, you can get three great meals a day and a few snacks, freshly farmed fruit, and ice cream. Upscale is still pretty casual in The Berwicks, but there is a range of options for everyone.
Casual & Family Eateries
Berwick Casual Dining
Berwick doesn’t have a lot of restaurants, but if you walk over to Somerset New Hampshire, you’ll find pizza, Mediterranean, and Chinese restaurants along Market and High Streets.
NoBo in North Berwick
The sandwich names are almost as interesting as the variety of ingredients to choose from at this shop-and-go or eat-in store in the center of town. Pre-packaged meals are available as an affordable option to stock up instead of eating out for every meal.
Fogarty’s Restaurant & Bakery in South Berwick
Ask about the history of this regional restaurant while parsing the menu. Comfort food dominates the appetizers and entrees. You will definitely want to save room for dessert because that’s the cherry on top of this local legend.
Upscale & Romantic Restaurants
The Outlook Tavern Restaurant & Patio in Berwick
Set on a rolling countryside in a charming barn, you’ll have views of the Links at Outlook for Sunday Brunch or lunch and dinner served seven days a week.
Dufour in South Berwick
As the restaurant of the elegant Stage House Inn, this is one of the nicer restaurants in The Berwicks with unique items, such as Oxtail Ragout and Chicken Liver Mousse, mixed with traditional items like chicken, steak, and charcuterie boards with locally harvested items.
Johnson’s Seafood & Steak in North Berwick
This New Hampshire franchise has only three locations, one of which is in North Berwick. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can splurge on fresh seafood, or order a simple salad and sandwich.
Coffee & Ice Cream Shops
Johnson’s Dairy Delite in Berwick
For more than three decades, this roadside restaurant has served some of the best ice cream, burgers, and lobster rolls through its service window. Outdoor seating is available, and the restaurant is only open during the high season.
Mainely Local Yolks in Berwick
This breakfast favorite is on the way to South Berwick from Berwick. It serves huge portions of your breakfast favorites and a few New England classics, like Crab Cake Benedict. This new restaurant has quickly become a local favorite.
Early Bird Cafe in South Berwick
An extensive breakfast menu with local coffee and chai tea can be ordered ahead of time for those in a rush. The cafe also serves daily specials.
Aroma Joe’s in North Berwick
Star-what? Who needs big-name brands when this New England franchise can be found in many Maine and New Hampshire towns? It was founded by four Maine cousins who built an industry while others in rural Maine were fading. There’s also a location just outside of Berwick.
Berwick Area Wineries & Breweries
Corner Point Brewing in Berwick
Inside, outside, and riverside — the seating options here offer two-state views and an extensive list of brews, with a food menu ranging from pretzels to paninis.
The Vineyards at Hickory Hill in Dover New Hampshire
U-pick grapes reigns supreme at this out-of-the-box winery. While there’s no traditional tasting room or wine bottles for sale, you can pick your own grapes or just learn how the home winemaking business works while walking through the vineyards.
Hotels in Berwick Maine & Other Lodging
Chain hotels are non-existent in this hamlet of Maine known as The Berwicks. In fact, finding a hotel is a trick in itself because the few options and seasonal bookings fill up months in advance.
Berwick Main Camping
Beaver Dam Campground is a camper’s delight at nearby Beaver Dam, set perfectly between Berwick and North Berwick. Two dozen campsites keep the crowds small and the outdoor adventures plentiful.
If you need a little more than a campsite, check out the Boho Minimalist Camper surrounded by wilderness while offering indoor rustic charm. Book early because it is regularly sold out.
TIP: Most campsites require reservations, and the sites can fill up quickly in the summer and on holiday weekends.
Lodging in South Berwick
The canary yellow exterior of Stage House Inn & Bar leads to an indoor mix of classic charm and sophistication among 20 guest rooms and two suites. There’s also a restaurant on-premise.
At Riverhouse, Salmon Falls River views dominate the landscape of this rustic main house and reimagined barn. Preserved lands surround it, so there are no neighbors. Despite that, close access to the town makes this a great getaway.
North Berwick Lodging
The Lady Mary Inn at Hurd Manor is a Gilded Age hotel that offers elegance, ornate details, and the affluence of a simpler time. It’s close to Orchard Hill Farm, and only six rooms are available, so book early.
Even more unique — the home was designed by a charitable female industrialist in North Berwick, a rarity in the late 1800s.
NOTE: This location also appears as Angel of the Berwicks in searches, but The Lady Mary Inn is the current name.
FAQs About The Berwicks in Maine
Are there really bears and moose near Berwick Maine?
You are more likely to see a black bear than a moose in The Berwicks. Several bear sightings have been reported even in individual towns.
Maine’s Department of Inland Fishers and Wildlife provides great bear and human safety resources. Moose can be a risk on the road or in the wilderness, and they are faster and more powerful than you might realize.
Are The Berwicks Down East?
No. Down East refers to the far northeast section of Maine. The Berwicks are on the opposite side of Maine in the Southern Coast region.
Will I get mobile device service in The Berwicks?
You should never assume that you’ll get mobile phone service outside of the cities or towns in Maine. We recommend that you check the coverage map from your provider to see possible weak or dead zones.
Discover Things to Do in Berwick Maine & Beyond
The Berwicks offer an enchantment that you can only find in Maine. It’s rural enough to be away from the annually growing crowds but close enough to explore some of the best tourist destinations. Plus, you get a bonus for the bordering New Hampshire cities that partner with these Maine sister cities.