As you head north along the coast of Maine, you will eventually come to the beautiful city of Belfast. Situated in Waldo County, there are plenty of things to do in Belfast Maine for people who enjoy the outdoors.
If you are planning to visit, you can get the most out of your adventure by learning more about some of the top attractions that make Belfast a popular destination for all ages.
About Belfast Maine
Conveniently located on Route 1, Belfast Maine is a gorgeous place that rests at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River estuary in Belfast Bay.
Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the land on which Belfast is located was inhabited by Native Americans. Specifically, the area was home to the Penobscot Tribe, but numerous other tribes also came to the area during the summer to fish and hunt.
In 1630, European settlers began to arrive — most of them from England. Eventually, settlers from Scotland and Ireland started arriving. Then, the town was incorporated as Belfast — named after the same city in Northern Ireland.
During the Revolutionary War, the city was mostly abandoned, and the British military burned what was left of it to the ground in 1779.
The area was quickly resettled at the end of the Revolutionary War, but the city was occupied by the British briefly in 1814 during the War of 1812. Fortunately, it wasn’t completely destroyed during the second occupation.
Success as a Seaport Town
When the War of 1812 concluded, Belfast Maine rebuilt itself and expanded significantly. Because of its strategic location on the coast, it was designated as a Port of Entry and quickly became the seat of Waldo County.
Belfast became a thriving seaport town, and marine industries became the backbone of the local economy, attracting people from all over the region. For most of the past few hundred years, lumber and fishing have been the biggest industries.
Today, the area is a popular tourist destination for people throughout the New England area, particularly during the summer as people look to escape the heat. Many people also like to visit the area during the fall, when the leaves start to change color.
While tourism has become a significant part of the local economy, though, the main industries that support the local economy are fishing and poultry farming.
Outdoor Things to Do in Belfast Maine
Because of how beautiful the area is, there are always plenty of things to do outside. Here are some of the most popular outdoor attractions in Belfast Maine.
Explore the Belfast Harborwalk
As alluded to above, marine activity remains one of the biggest industries in Belfast, so the city has an expansive harbor. Visitors can take a beautiful stroll along the harbor via a walkway that crosses over the water. Also, this is a great place to watch the boats come in and out of the harbor.
If you follow the Belfast Harborwalk, you will eventually reach the downtown area, or you can grab a bite to eat and do some shopping. Alternatively, you can take lunch, pull up a chair, and relax as you watch people go about their day. This part of the city is particularly beautiful during the summer.
Shop at the United Farmers Market of Maine
If you are looking for locally made products, check out the United Farmers Market of Maine. Everything here is affordable, and you can purchase fresh produce for preparing your own meals. You will find plenty of fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses, and coffees — including organic products.
Additionally, there are plenty of things to explore. You may find some homemade oils, lotions, and beautiful arts and crafts. Of course, you can take your pick of local lobster because the lobstermen are always well-represented at the United Farmers Market of Maine.
Stop By Belfast City Park
If you are in the mood for a small adventure, swing by Belfast City Park. It is always kept in beautiful condition and is gorgeous during the fall when all the leaves begin to change color. If you visit during the summer, you will probably see a lot of families with children enjoying some fresh air.
If you want to relax, consider taking a blanket with a picnic lunch and a nice drink. Consider packing a frisbee or planning a recreational activity to do while you’re here too. Since the park is located on the water, you will have a gorgeous view of the estuary leading to the ocean.
Walk the Belfast Rail Trail
There are numerous beautiful walking paths in Belfast Maine, and one that you should check out is the Belfast Rail Trail — also called the Passy Rail Trail.
This is a gorgeous place to get some exercise because it is just over 2 miles long. You can certainly walk the entire length of the trail, and you will probably see plenty of people biking and jogging as well.
The path follows an old railroad bed along the Passagassawakeag River, so you will have gorgeous views. It is the perfect place to take a picture. If you take your dog with you, he or she can get some nice exercise as well.
Explore Heritage Park
Another beautiful park you may want to check out in Belfast is called Heritage Park. This park is located on the water, so you will have plenty of opportunities to gaze out over the harbor.
During the summer, a lot of live events happen, so you may want to take a look at the calendar to see if a concert or sporting event is going on.
Plus, Heritage Park is a great place to get together with family members and friends. There are plenty of picnic tables where you can relax and enjoy a meal, and there is a lot of beautifully maintained green space where you can get some exercise.
Indoor Things to Do in Belfast Maine
While there is always something fun to do outdoors, there are plenty of opportunities for fun inside as well. Here are some of the top indoor attractions in Belfast Maine.
Check Out Local Art at The Lupine Cottage
Even though The Lupine Cottage is absolutely beautiful, the cottage is not what truly makes this place special. It is what is inside that truly matters. This co-op is run by local artists, and people from all over the region display their work here.
You will find just about every possible piece of artwork that you can imagine. You will see housewares, jewelry, hats, paintings, sculptures, and numerous other items that have been made by hand. This is the perfect place to grab souvenirs.
Explore the Belfast Historical Society & Museum
If you want to learn more about the local area, you should stop by the Belfast Historical Society & Museum. This building has been standing for more than 200 years, and there are several rooms inside with different exhibits from various parts of Beflast’s history.
For example, you will see a restored flag from the Civil War, an old barn that has been renovated, and even an old jail cell from the 19th century.
The people who work at the Belfast Historical Society & Museum are incredibly knowledgeable about the local area, so if you have questions, they are the perfect people to ask.
Learn an Olympic Sport at the Belfast Curling Club
You have probably seen curling on TV during the Winter Olympics, but have you ever actually tried it yourself? Now is the perfect opportunity to do so. Swing by the Belfast Curling Club to sign up for a lesson!
The staff is very passionate about the sport, so even if you have never played it before, they will be happy to help you out. There is also a bar inside, so you have an opportunity to grab a drink while you watch others on the ice. It might take a few tries, but you will eventually get the hang of it.
Go Antiquing at Ambiance
If you are looking for antiques, one of the best places to find them is at Ambiance. This store has items that you cannot find anywhere else. Whether or not you feel like the shop suits your style, you may still walk out with an item or two.
For instance, you might be able to find an item that is hundreds of years old, such as a beautiful dining room table that reminds you of an era long since passed. Even if you aren’t shopping for yourself, you could find a beautiful gift for someone else.
The staff is incredibly friendly and might be able to ship your items to you or to whomever you purchased them for if you can’t take them home with you.
Explore Local Wares at the Belfast Farmers’ Market
Yes, there are multiple farmer’s markets to explore in Belfast Maine, so if you love to support local vendors, you should go to the Belfast Farmers’ Market as well.
This is the city’s official farmer’s market, and plenty of food is available from local vendors — cheeses, eggs, meats, vegetables, fruits, and baked goods.
Also, visiting gives you a great opportunity to get to know some of the locals and learn more about the area. The Belfast Farmers’ Market is open throughout the year, so don’t miss your chance to stop by.
Top Restaurants in Belfast Maine
When you are ready to get something to eat, there are plenty of delicious options throughout Belfast Maine. Let’s take a look at some of the top Belfast restaurants.
The city of Belfast has a rich heritage filled with delicious coffee, and this is one of the best places to get a cup. At Downshift Coffee, you can try local coffee beans that have been roasted to perfection.
The shop has plenty of menu options, and you can customize your drink to suit your preferences. If you are truly looking for something special, talk to the barista about the specials.
Bell the Cat
If you are looking for a place where you can get a cup of coffee and a delicious bite to eat, you will want to check out Bell the Cat. This is a local favorite, so you may find yourself waiting a while, but it will definitely be worth it.
The delicatessen and coffee shop serves plenty of amazing drinks and rotating food specials. If you aren’t sure exactly what to get, talk to your waiter or waitress about recommendations. The salads are particularly popular.
If you are looking for an affordable option that will fill you up, you should check out the Harborwalk Restaurant. This classic American restaurant features burgers, fried food, beer, and local seafood on its menu.
Everything is served to you with a beautiful view of the harbor, so you can fill up while watching the boats go by. You may be able to find some great deals if you arrive during happy hour.
Rollie’s Bar and Grill
One of the top and most affordable spots to eat in Belfast Maine is Rollie’s Bar and Grill. It serves simple American pub food, so you won’t worry about going hungry.
The restaurant has plenty of beer specials throughout the week, and there are a lot of TVs for watching sports games. Also, you can talk to the locals about what the area is like.
Nautilus Seafood & Grill
If you are interested in fine dining in Belfast Maine, one of the most popular places is Nautilus Seafood & Grill. This local restaurant is known for serving delicious seafood, and much of it is caught in the local harbor.
The staff is very knowledgeable about seafood and drink pairings, so you may want to talk about beer and wine recommendations when you order your food. Also, you will get a beautiful view of the harbor as you eat, so this could be a great option if you are planning a date night.
Marshall Wharf Brewing Co.
If you are interested in a local brewery, you may want to check out Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. It is one of the few breweries in the area and is open almost the entire week.
This is a great place to relax outside, enjoy a local pint, and watch some sports on TV. You may get to know some of the locals, and they could share some of the hidden gems of the area with you too.
Hotels in Belfast Maine & Other Lodging
There are some local spots where you can stay during your trip to Belfast Maine. Below are a few of the top options to consider.
Belfast Harbor Inn
Belfast Harbor Inn is one of the most affordable lodging options in the area. It is a traditional, relaxed hotel situated on the bay, so you should have a beautiful view.
The hotel also features an outdoor pool where you can relax, and a free continental breakfast is available. It is very close to downtown, so you will have easy access to all of the most popular attractions during your visit.
Fireside Inn & Suites
If you are looking for another hotel in the area, think about booking a room at Fireside Inn & Suites. The rooms are a bit larger, but the hotel itself doesn’t have a lot of other amenities.
It is located on the bay, and it has all of the basics, so if you are just looking for a place to relax at the end of the day, this could be perfect. An indoor pool and a hot tub are available, and you aren’t very far from the city center.
Colonial Gables Oceanfront Village
Located a bit further down Route 1, Colonial Gables at Oceanfront Village provides a much larger space to spread out and relax. You might even be interested in renting your own cottage, which comes with a beautiful waterfront view.
This is a popular location for families with children because the property has a variety of outdoor activities that are perfect for entertaining the entire family. Not many rooms are available, so book your stay ahead of time if you want to guarantee your accommodations.
FAQs About Belfast Maine
How far away is Belfast Maine from Portland Maine?
It depends on the exact path that you take, but Belfast Maine is about two hours from Portland Maine by car. The drive is about 100 miles, mostly on Interstate 295 and Highway 3.
What is the weather like in Belfast Maine during the summer?
The summer in Belfast Maine is warm and relaxing. You will have plenty of opportunities to spend time outside, and the sun shines most of the day.
While the temperature can get hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit from time to time, it doesn’t get nearly as hot as the rest of the Atlantic Coast.
Can you swim in the water off the coast of Belfast Maine?
You are certainly allowed to swim in the water in Belfast Maine, but it is relatively cool even during the summer.
The water temperature usually hangs around the 60s, which may feel refreshing for a few minutes but it might feel cold rather quickly. Plenty of other beach activities are available instead.
Start Planning Your Itinerary of Things to Do in Belfast Maine
If you are looking for a gorgeous place to explore during the spring and summer, consider taking a trip to Belfast Maine. This city has a lot of history, and everyone who lives in the area is very friendly. There are lots of enjoyable outdoor activities, and delicious restaurants always serve local seafood.
If you want to explore all of the best things to do in Belfast Maine, make sure that you book accommodations ahead of time, especially in the summer when the city is busiest.