When you think of Maine, you’re likely to conjure images of the coastline and lighthouses. However, there’s so much more to discover farther inland too, including tons of things to do in Augusta Maine.
In the Kennebec & Moose River Valley region, Augusta is a beautiful, historical city with gorgeous architecture, top-notch restaurants, museums, and plenty of culture to take in. Let’s see what this small city has to offer.
About Augusta Maine
The city of Augusta is Maine’s state capital. Located about 55 miles north of Portland, Augusta is considered the United States’ easternmost capital. Also, the city is ranked as the third least populated capital in the country.
Augusta sits on the Kennebec River, which provides scenic views of the water and sailboats. Visitors enjoy natural beauty combined with a city-like atmosphere.
Before it was Augusta, the land where the city is established was home to the Algonquian-Wabanaki Native Americans. In the early 1600s, pilgrims from the Massachusetts Plymouth Colony explored the area and traded with the Natives. A trading post was built but only lasted until the late 1600s.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, many explorers from France and England arrived in the area. A town called Hallowell was established by the English in 1771. Then in 1797, another town called Harrington was established, and the name was later changed to Augusta.
Augusta was made the capital of Maine in 1827, and it has had roles in many important industries over the years, including shipping, manufacturing, and publishing.
Outdoor Things to Do in Augusta Maine
Since Augusta is on the Kennebec River, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to do. From swimming to fishing to hiking or biking, there’s plenty to do year-round outdoors.
When you think of a city, you may not think of beautiful nature trails with streams and bridges. Bond Brook Mountain Biking Trails bring you back to nature while visiting the state’s capital. The over 10 miles of trails range from easy to advanced.
While the trails can be experienced on foot, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers are also welcome to bring their gear and tackle the pathways. The ski trails are groomed during the winter for one-way enjoyment.
There is one golf club in Augusta Maine — Western View Golf and Pub. This course has 9 holes and is open to the public. The club includes a full-service restaurant, a golf simulator, darts, cribbage, and cornhole.
With a relaxing vibe, the Western View has a large deck that overlooks the course. Play for fun and enjoy the laid-back vibes with gorgeous views.
Try out disc golf at Quarry Run at Augusta Disc Golf, and then take some swings in the batting cages. Augusta Disc Golf offers a full 18-hole, par-64 disc golf course, as well as a disc golf pro shop for all of your disc golf needs.
The batting cages have baseball and softball pitching at varying speeds from slow to fast. All of the activities are very reasonably priced, so you won’t break the bank by stopping here with the family.
Open daily from sunrise to sunset, Viles Arboretum is a free botanical garden with 6 miles of trails in the state capital. The arboretum is perfect for bird-watching, catching a glimpse of butterflies, and spotting Maine’s native wildlife. The terrain includes gardens, wetlands, meadows, and forest land.
The trails can be explored by hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing. Also, Viles Arboretum has geocaches hidden throughout, making for a fun scavenger hunt. Photographers love the arboretum for its natural landscapes and perfect picture-taking backdrops.
Sitting between the Kennebec River and the State House is the Maine State Capitol Grounds. Otherwise known as Capitol Park, it is a little under 35 acres and is about 1 mile if walked around completely.
The park has plenty of space to walk your dog, have a picnic, or let the kids run wild and burn off some energy. Many visitors enjoy sitting in the shade of beautiful elm trees and viewing the capitol dome or Kennebec River.
While wandering through the park, you will find tennis courts, flower gardens, war memorials, and a 9/11 memorial.
Indoor Things to Do in Augusta Maine
Maine’s weather can be cold and snowy in the winter and hot and humid in the summer, so it’s good to have indoor activities to do in case of tough weather conditions. Augusta Maine has some wonderful history museums and architectural wonders to see and quaint shops to peruse.
A trip to Augusta is not complete without catching a glimpse of Fort Western. It has a rich history dating back to the mid-1700s when it was a military fort during the French & Indian War.
The fort has been well-preserved and has served as a trading post, a military fort, a store, a political meeting place, a tenement, and a private home. Guided tours are available from late May through early October. Check the website for tour hours and dates.
The First Amendment Museum at the 1911 Gannett House explains and celebrates United States citizens’ right to freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly, and petition to the government.
Visitors are treated to a free guided tour and can check out all of the displays and exhibits more closely. The museum has artwork by veterans, photographs, political cartoons, and more.
Sonny’s Museum & Rock Shop is the perfect place to stop for a unique souvenir. The shop has hundreds of types of rocks and gems to purchase.
From crystals to jewelry and spiritual gifts, there’s so much to see. The shop carries handmade rock and gem decor and jewelry that you won’t find anywhere else too. Plus, it holds Reiki sessions and spiritual classes in a family-friendly atmosphere.
You can’t visit Augusta Maine without catching a glimpse of the magnificent State House capitol dome, which adorns the beautiful building.
Walk-in visitors are welcome to tour the inside of the State House year-round. Those preferring a guided tour can schedule one.
While at the State House, stop by the cafeteria for breakfast or lunch, and dine like a Maine politician.
The Blaine House is not only home to the Maine Governor but is also a public building. This means that the house can be toured. Guided tours take you through the first floor and detail the history of James G. Blaine, the namesake of the mansion. The tours are free but require a reservation.
The exhibition collection includes antique furniture, vintage jewelry, sculptures, dining sets, artwork, and mirrors. Outside, the mansion has several amazing gardens with native Maine flowers and plants and even an apple orchard.
If you’re in Augusta during the holiday season, visit The Blaine House to see the beautiful holiday decor and lights.
Popular Augusta Maine Restaurants
Maine is known for its fresh seafood, so you’re sure to find many seafood shanties and fine restaurants near the coast. Inland in Augusta, many menus feature Maine seafood as entree options too.
In addition to these scrumptious offerings, you can find options for any craving — from tacos to steak to barbeque or breakfast. Try some famous Maine foods at one of these top-rated restaurants when you’re in Augusta.
The Oak Table & Bar is a wonderful place to take someone special or even a group. The menu changes daily, so every time you visit, you’ll get to experience something new from the chef’s inspiration.
The menu is a Four Course Tasting where guests can choose from a specialty salad, cheese platter, Maine oysters, locally caught seafood, and typically, a meat and vegetarian option.
If dining with a group, try the Family Style Menu, which usually features a salad and vegetarian appetizer or cheese, a steak offering, or a seafood offering. There is a full bar menu to accompany meals as well.
Additionally, the restaurant features local musical artists on certain nights, so check the website to see who is performing before you dine.
The Red Barn is a no-frills, delicious, fried food stop. Kids will love the fried chicken basket or hot dog with a side of french fries or onion rings.
Seafood lovers will enjoy the fried Icelandic haddock, shrimp, scallops, clams, or fresh Maine lobster roll. Finish the meal with homemade strawberry shortcake or a Maine whoopie pie.
If you’re looking for a hearty breakfast or lunch, check out Downtown Diner. It is located in the former Hersey’s Shoe Store location, and the vintage sign is still above the diner’s entrance.
The menu features greasy spoon breakfasts of eggs, omelets, hash browns, pancakes, and French toast. If you’re undecided, try the specialty cinnamon bun pancakes. Then, lunches include clam chowder, sandwiches, fish and chips, and more.
Cloud 9 Restaurant is located at the Senator Inn & Spa. It is open daily for breakfast and alcoholic breakfast drinks. The menu features typical breakfast fare, such as eggs, home fries, buttermilk pancakes, Benedicts, omelets, and French toast.
Try a Cloud 9 bloody mary or an Irish coffee (hot coffee with Irish whiskey) if you’re in the mood for a morning alcoholic beverage. For non-alcoholic offerings, there is an assortment of juices, milk, sodas, and iced teas to choose from.
When you think about Maine, you may not immediately think of barbecue, but Riverfront Barbeque & Grille is about to change that. This haunt is family-friendly and serves delicious, slow-cooked barbecue at affordable prices.
Start with a bowl of homemade chili or a half slab of St. Louis ribs. Then, pick pulled pork, pulled chicken, or shredded beef brisket with a side of coleslaw, BBQ beans, fries, or veggies. For something a bit heavier, Riverfront has an assortment of ribs and a barbecue sampler to nosh on.
If you’re looking for a great place to meet up with colleagues and friends or a casual date night, check out The Liberal Cup. This Public House & Brewery has been serving Augusta Maine since 2000 and has delicious beers and food.
You can’t go wrong with the classic poutine, which has hand-cut fries covered in Maine squeaky cheese and gravy. Or, try the Mill’s mussels, beer-battered chicken tenders, beer cheese soup, or fried calamari.
For a hearty entree, the menu has a wide array of choices, from tacos to wraps to burgers. Fresh Maine-caught seafood dishes include haddock Napolean, a fishwich, grilled salmon focaccia, and fish and chips.
Many visitors to Cushnoc Brewing Co. come for the brewery tasting room, but the brewery also has a full-service restaurant with a delicious menu.
Start with something from the snack menu, which includes popcorn, fire-roasted nuts, warm marinated olives, herbed Canelli spread with flatbread, and baked nachos. It also has several loaded salads to choose from.
However, wood-fired pies are the specialty. You can choose from one of the special concoctions — like the Mill Park Pie, which has butternut squash, bacon, Brussels sprouts, and mozzarella — or try the Crab Rangoon, which has crab claw meat, cream cheese sauce, wontons, and sweet chili garlic.
These pizzas are unlike any you’ve had at other pizza shops. Also, you can build your own pie if desired.
Augusta Maine Hotels & Other Lodging
Many of the lodging options in Augusta are larger motels and hotel chains. While you can certainly book one of those, the best way to experience the city is at a locally-owned inn, campground, or bed and breakfast.
Looking to stay in luxury while visiting Augusta? Book one of the 125 rooms and suites at the Senator Inn & Spa. The luxury suites have a fireplace and a Jacuzzi that makes you feel right at home.
The regular rooms have luxurious linens, nice decor, a TV, and spa privileges. There are pet-friendly rooms available if you’re bringing your four-legged friend along.
Also on-site are an indoor heated saltwater pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, deluxe gym, and seasonal outdoor pool. Fitness classes, a full spa, and the delicious Cloud 9 Restaurant will make you never want to leave this resort.
While availability varies, you can choose from many vacation rentals in Augusta throughout the year. If you’re traveling with a large group or family, a rental may be the most affordable option. Rent a multi-bedroom house, a lakeside getaway, or a downtown condo.
More Lodging Near Augusta Maine
While Augusta Maine has a few local lodging options to consider, some of the best accommodations can be found a town or two over. Here are some of our recommendations.
Maple Hill Farm Inn is located in Hallowell Maine just a short distance from downtown Augusta. The inn offers a peaceful farm setting and individual attention from the innkeepers. The rooms all have a country theme with antique decor. Some rooms feature a fireplace, private deck, or jetted tub.
All guests can enjoy a country breakfast, complimentary Maine coffee, and baked goods. Common areas give this inn a homey feel, with a dining room to share, an art gallery, porches, and a full bar. Guests love wandering through the wildflower fields and walking the trails on the inn’s grounds too.
If you’re looking to stay in a classic, historical Maine colonial, check out Second Street Bed & Breakfast in Hallowell. This B&B has five rooms to choose from, each with cheerful decor, private bathrooms, and air conditioning. This lodging option is best for solo travelers and couples.
Birches Lakeside Campground in Litchfield may be a great option for you if you’re looking to connect with nature and stay in an RV, tent, or rental cottage.
It is woodsy and located on Cobbosseecontee Lake, so there are plenty of water activities to partake in during your stay — like kayaking, fishing, and swimming. Build a campfire, toast some marshmallows, and relax after a busy day in Augusta.
Plan Your Augusta Maine Getaway
Augusta is a city with a small town that feels like no other. From the beautiful historical buildings, well-preserved history at the numerous museums, delectable dining options, and natural beauty, Augusta is a tourist’s dream destination.
With so many indoor and outdoor things to do in Augusta Maine, you’ll need at least a couple of days to experience everything this capital city has to offer.