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The ULTIMATE Guide to Exploring Brunswick Maine

Nestled in the heart of the MidCoast, Brunswick Maine is a gem that offers more than just a variety of activities. It’s a place where the rich tapestry of literary history intertwines with the influence of an esteemed institution of higher education — Bowdoin College — to create an atmosphere that’s both intellectually stimulating and culturally rich.

This unique blend bestows a distinctive charm upon Brunswick that captures the essence of Maine’s spirit. As you stroll through this town, the combination of historical gravitas and academic vibrancy may very well stir a poetic sensibility within you, compelling you to capture the essence of your experience in verse.

Brunswick
Brunswick

About Brunswick Maine

Home of Bowdoin College (“bow-din”), you can walk in the footsteps of great writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. A church still stands where Harriett Beecher Stowe first imagined a story that would fuel a simmering Civil War on the horizon.

Even in a town among greats, there’s still a modest and alluring attraction to Brunswick Maine. The shores of the Androscoggin River still churn the energy once used to power the first mill in Maine. The coast of Casco Bay awaits outdoor lovers as many nearby islands ripple out into its cold waters.

The respectfully spread-out Maine Street blends the vibe of the private liberal arts college with the quintessential Maine spirit. Green spaces greet guests as they pivot between a wonderfully diverse series of attractions and restaurants.

Brunswick Maine History

The term “Pejepscot” is frequently encountered throughout Brunswick and the neighboring town of Topsham across the river. This is a nod to the area’s historical roots, as “Pejepscot” was the original name given to the region when it was first settled in 1628.

The name itself translates to “long, rocky rapids part of the river,” a descriptive label that reflects the natural features of the river that played a significant role in the area’s early history.

Brunswick Is Born

As with most Maine coastal towns, King Philip’s War got in the way, and Pejepscot was reduced to ashes. It was 1738 when Brunswick was born, named after the German-led House of Brunswick. That German essence still lives on today.

Bowdoin College was founded in 1794, and Brunswick would forever be recognized for this prestigious school. While the elite were educated, the first cotton mill in Maine opened in 1809, paving the way for a robust milling, lumber, and shipbuilding town.

Industries ebb and flow, but the educational focal point of Bowdoin fueled impressive growth in downtown Brunswick Maine. The town was summarized by Bowdoin graduate Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his noted poem “Morituri Salutamus.”

O ye familiar scenes, —ye groves of pine, That once were mine and are no longer mine,
Thou river, widening through the meadows green, To the vast sea, so near and yet unseen.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on the 50th anniversary of the Bowdoin College Class of 1825

Vibrant Tourism Destination

Currently, Brunswick enjoys a surge in tourism, buoyed by Maine’s growing popularity as a destination and the continuous recognition Bowdoin College garners from academic circles.

Downtown Maine Street offers a rich historical ambiance that’s complemented by a lively cultural scene. Here, visitors can experience a diverse culinary landscape, ranging from genuine German cuisine to eclectic pagan-themed coffee shops, showcasing the unique blend of tradition and contemporary life in Brunswick.

Seasonal Weather in Brunswick

Brunswick Maine offers a hardy number of activities throughout all four seasons, with long cold winters that will require all the accessories and snow boots to boot.

Spring brings the infamous “mud season,” and summers are notably warm without being too hot. Fall is idyllic — the crisp air with fat leaves floating off trees.

STAY INFORMED: Sign up for CodeRED emergency alerts during your trip to Cumberland County, as storms, nor’easters, and hurricanes can lead to road closures, business shutdowns, and travel restrictions.

Androscoggin Swinging Bridge-Brunswick
Androscoggin Swinging Bridge | photo via findinlisa

Outdoor Things to Do in Brunswick Maine

Maine’s natural beauty beckons outdoor enthusiasts, and Brunswick stands out as a prime location for immersing oneself in nature’s playground. The town provides an array of chances to venture out, acquire new knowledge, and flourish amidst the splendor of the great outdoors.

Androscoggin Swinging Bridge

This bridge was a necessity for workers crossing the river in 1892 but was lost in the massive flooding of 1936. After much blood, sweat, and tears were poured into rebuilding it, now the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge is open for guests.

Brunswick Town Mall

In Brunswick’s center is a quaint green oasis akin to a mini Central Park. The Brunswick Town Mall — far from a typical shopping mall — is a beloved locale for community gatherings, including festivals, concerts, and farmers’ markets, complemented by benches perfect for enjoying the surrounding historic, arboreal streetscape.

The Lower Mall boasts a pavilion and a seasonal ice rink, while the Upper Mall is adorned with gardens and a pathway for strolling. Both sections feature memorials, picnic spots, and convenient parking facilities.

TIP: The Brunswick Parks & Rec Department issues seasonal activity guides for outdoor activities at all town-owned parks. It’s a great way to find biking trails, ice rinks, and waterfront parks.

Walk or Ride the Androscoggin River

The Androscoggin River Bicycle Path is 2.6 miles along the scenic waterway and connects downtown Brunswick to Cook’s Corner and crosses over to Topsham. It is open to non-motorized bicycles and pedestrians.

Crystal Spring Farm-Brunswick
Crystal Spring Farm | photo via lbizerphotography

Crystal Spring Farm

It’s often claimed that indulging in organic blueberries from this region of Maine can transform your taste for the fruit entirely, and Crystal Spring Farm is the ideal spot to experience this.

During the warmer months, a bustling farmer’s market transitions into scenic snow trails when winter arrives. And, those seeking spiritual connection are invited to explore the Labyrinth in the Woods, a serene sanctuary designed for reflection and meditation.

Brunswick-to-the-Ocean Trail

Take an adventure along the Brunswick to the Ocean Trail as it weaves through 100 acres that cover the college and Town Commons on the way to Middle Bay.

SAFETY TIP: Check the hunting season schedule and wear Hunter Orange to help everyone stay safe on the trails.

Rumpus Room-Brunswick
Rumpus Room | photo via ria_safford

Indoor Things to Do in Brunswick Maine

Indoor adventures abound in Brunswick, offering a variety of activities perfect for a rainy day or simply as a way to escape the heat or chill of the changing seasons. From cultural exhibits to cozy cafes, there’s always something to do indoors that caters to comfort and curiosity alike.

Bowdoin College Museums

The college is worth a walking tour on its own, but the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum takes you to the Arctic Circle in climate control. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art hosts artwork, artifacts, and authentic literary documents in a museum space free to the public.

Pejepscot Historical Society Museums

Beginning your exploration at the Pejepscot Museum is an excellent way to delve into Brunswick’s past, enriching your experience of the town’s sights. Then, the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum celebrates the esteemed Civil War hero and former Maine governor.

Meanwhile, the Skolfield-Whittier House tells the story of a local family’s diverse contributions to Brunswick’s development — from maritime endeavors to medical milestones, including the state’s first female pediatrician and a pioneering forensic pathologist.

Brunswick Naval Air Museum

Few people realize how critical Maine was in World War II and the Cold War, and a great education awaits at the Brunswick Naval Air Museum. Airplanes, artifacts, and autobiographies are included in this aviation treasure that protected the coastline from enemies.

Harriet Beecher Stowe House

The celebrated writer of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Harriet Beecher Stowe resided in Brunswick while her husband was on the faculty at Bowdoin College. Visitors to the Harriet Beecher Stowe House can see the preserved writing room where she penned her famous work. Interestingly, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also lived in this house years earlier.

TIP: A great talking point at the museum is if President Lincoln really greeted Harriett Beecher Stowe with the comment, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!”

To delve further into Stowe’s legacy, visit the First Parish Church to see Pew 23 where she experienced the epiphany that led to the creation of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in the early 1850s.

The Rumpus Room

Parents who need to let their kids burn some energy can check out The Rumpus Room. This indoor playground allows guests to bring their own food and drinks.

Kids can explore a pirate ship, ride a small rollercoaster, or play on a CedarWorks playground. Babies and toddlers have their own space to play away from the bigger kids.

Sorry adults — you aren’t allowed in the ball pit, but you do have to stay near your child at all times.

Head of Tide Park-Brunswick-
Head of Tide Park | photo via a_maine_adventure

Additional Nearby Attractions to Brunswick Maine

Brunswick’s prime location serves as a perfect starting point for exploring the rest of Maine. While in the area, take the opportunity to check out the various attractions nearby, enhancing your Maine experience. There’s no shortage of memorable destinations among the scenic coastal towns, outdoor adventures, and cultural sites.

Head of Tide Park

In Topsham, Head of Tide Park is home to one of the many waterfalls in Maine and is also where the first sawmill is located. The name comes from this being the farthest upstream point on the Cathance River that is impacted by the tide.

“The Bay is one of only four places in the world where large rivers with entirely separate watersheds come together to form an inland, freshwater, tidal delta.”

Brunswick Topsham Land Trust
Skolfield Shores Preserve-Brunswick
Skolfield Shores Preserve | photo via northern_vernacular

Harpswell Maine

Passing through Brunswick is a necessary journey en route to the maritime splendor of Harpswell and its sprawling archipelago of over 200 islands branching from the coast. The shoreline here intensifies in drama — framed by rugged trails with evocative names, such as Devil’s Back and Giant’s Stairs.

At Skolfield Shores Preserve, you can survey the coast or embark on one of the two loop trails that offer a haven for bird enthusiasts. These paths wind from the rocky shore through salt marshes and into the dense forest.

Amidst this natural beauty, remnants of a once-thriving shipbuilding industry peek through, including some historic structures that hint at the area’s industrious past.

Bath Maine

Bath Maine is just a 10-minute drive east of Brunswick, and the Maine Maritime Museum is worth the trip on top of everything else offered in this waterfront community. And, you’ll find restaurants for every appetite as you explore.

Mt. Battie at Camden Hills State Park-Brunswick
Mt. Battie at Camden Hills State Park | photo via xcellentadventures

Freeport Maine

Located just a 15-minute drive southwest from Brunswick, Freeport Maine is renowned for its exceptional shopping scene. Highlights include the iconic L.L. Bean flagship store, famously open 24/7, and the bustling Freeport Village Station outlet mall, which draws shoppers from near and far.

Rockport & Camden Maine

The coastal havens of Rockport and Camden are just a one-hour drive northeast of Brunswick in MidCoast Maine. Both towns provide a mix of outdoor activities, cultural events, and vibrant community atmospheres.

Offering stunning views from Mt. Battie at Camden Hills State Park, Camden is often referred to as the “Jewel of the Maine Coast.” It offers a charming harbor with local restaurants and is a popular sailing destination.

With the tranquil Rockport Marine Park and the notable Andre the Seal statue, Rockport also boasts a rich maritime heritage and a great culinary scene.

The Great Impasta-Brunswick
The Great Impasta | photo via jeffwaldron1

Restaurants in Brunswick Maine

Brunswick’s food scene ranges from bountiful brunches to delightful dinners with authenticity across a spectrum of cultures and cuisines. Here are several Brunswick Maine restaurants to consider for your MidCoast Maine getaway.

Casual & Family Eateries

Most recently, the town welcomed Fat Puppy Fusion to its culinary scene, serving inventive hot dogs and house-made flatbread wraps, elevating the food truck experience. Bolos Brunswick combines gastronomic delights with entertainment, offering everything from savory corn dip and luscious crab dip to games of cornhole and lively dart competitions.

For those with an appreciation for whimsical eatery names, Taco the Town and The Great Impasta are sure to delight. For more traditional family dining, The Brunswick Diner and Cameron’s Lobster House are excellent choices to enjoy a meal.

Noble Kitchen & Bar-Brunswick
Noble Kitchen & Bar | photo via jillievphotography

Upscale & Romantic Restaurants

Fancy doesn’t get too fancy in this part of Maine, but here are some unique experiences for a special date night.

Noble Kitchen & Bar

Noble Kitchen & Bar truly embodies its name, presenting a royal array of starters and entrees, including dry-aged steaks sourced from sustainable farms in Boothbay Harbor. The desserts are not to be missed and merit a reserved spot in your dining experience.

Joshua’s Restaurant & Tavern

Touting itself as an “unapologetically quirky restaurant and tavern,” Joshua’s Restaurant & Tavern serves everything from burgers to stone-baked pizza to big cuts of steak, among eccentric interior accents that will keep you talking well into the evening.

555 North

The Federal stands out as one of the premier luxury accommodations in Brunswick, and it’s home to 555 North, which elevates fine dining with seasonal and locally sourced menus.

The dining experience is diverse, featuring an array of small plates, generous entrees, dishes to share, and imaginative desserts — all complemented by a comprehensive selection of cocktails, wines, and beers.

Gelato Fiasco-Brunswick
Gelato Fiasco | photo via foodiesontherhode

Coffee & Ice Cream Shops

Whether you’re looking for a place to relax with a book, meet with friends, or grab a quick caffeine fix, Brunswick’s coffee shops offer a warm welcome and delicious beverages to residents and visitors alike. Plus, it’s home to a sweet array of ice cream shops that serve a variety of flavors, including classic soft serve, sundaes, and more.

Raven & Crow Co.

Visit Raven & Crow Co. with an open mind, and you’ll drink coffee in a space surrounded by magic in a metaphysical shop. The espresso bar is second-to-none, and you can explore crystals, spelled powders, and pendulums while you’re there.

Don’t let the word pagan scare you off. This is one of the most diverse and inclusive spaces around with creative coffee drinks like cinnamon maple latte.

Dog Bar Jim

If you’re in the mood for a straightforward coffee experience, Dog Bar Jim offers just that with a twist. Its classic coffee selection is enhanced by an uncommon menu featuring exotic ingredients to invigorate your morning. Plus, the cozy atmosphere provides the perfect backdrop to enjoy your unique brew.

Other Coffee Shops

For those seeking an eclectic vibe, Bohemian Coffee House & Deli has been a local favorite for over 30 years, boasting an award-winning experience. The Abbey is a notable spot that replaced The Little Dog Coffee Shop, providing a cozy ambiance in the heart of downtown Brunswick. And, Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe is another popular choice known for its freshly baked goods and comfortable setting.

Ice Cream Shops

For something on the sweeter side, Brunswick is home to an array of ice cream shops, including the longstanding Dairy Frost — renowned for its classic soft serve and sundaes. The locally beloved Gelato Fiasco is another favorite that offers a variety of bold, handcrafted gelato flavors. On top of that, Fielder’s Choice Ice Cream is celebrated for its homemade ice cream.

Flight Deck Brewing-Brunswick
Flight Deck Brewing | photo via marsh810

Brunswick Breweries

Maine makes some of the best craft beers in the country, and there are several located in the Brunswick Maine area that are certainly worth visiting.

Black Pug Beer

Embodying the spirited character of its namesake, Black Pug Beer captivates Brunswick with its small-batch brews that draw in large gatherings of beer enthusiasts. With a flair for crafting distinctive flavors, this local brewery has quickly become a cherished staple in the community.

Moderation Brewing

For a taste of the past, Moderation Brewing combines a historic setting with a nod to the convivial pub atmosphere that existed before Prohibition. This brewery not only serves quality drinks but also offers a rich narrative steeped in tradition.

Flight Deck Brewing

Enjoy a tasting flight at Flight Deck Brewing, a beloved brewery situated close to Brunswick Executive Airport. Here, you can cozy up in reservable heated huts that are always welcoming to dogs and children. This family-friendly spot combines the excitement of aviation with the pleasure of craft beer in a unique, inclusive setting.

Seadog Brewing Company

At the pinnacle of craft brewing in Maine is Seadog Brewing Company. Its Topsham location has great views of the river and Brunswick across the way. Try a flight if you’ve never experienced this extensive menu before.

Trinken Brewing Co.

Venture to West Bath to experience the German-inspired Trinken Brewing Co., where the brewers adhere to time-honored traditions, proclaiming, “The oldest food law in the world is directly responsible for our amazing craft beer!” This commitment to quality and heritage ensures a truly authentic and delightful beer-tasting experience.

The Federal-Brunswick
The Federal | photo via anniekdesigns

Hotels in Brunswick Maine & Other Accommodations

Brunswick has a bunch of national brand hotels because it’s a major stopping point along I-295 and Route 1. However, the historic, classic, and creative lodging options give you a better feel for the town’s culture.

Featured Brunswick Maine Lodging

Kennebec Inn | Bath Bed and Breakfast 207-443-5324 | 696 High Street, Bath, Maine
Experience warm hospitality at the Kennebec Inn Bed and Breakfast, located in historic Bath, Maine. Resting on large park-like grounds with an in-ground pool, the Inn is a short walk from a wonderful downtown. Providing many premier amenities of a luxury hotel, while balanced with the personalized treatment and service that only intimate lodging accommodations can provide, the Kennebec Inn has been the B&B of choice by guests of Bath, Maine for over eight years. Learn More
OneSixtyFive | Brunswick 120-772-9491 | 165 Park Row, Brunswick, ME
Where historic ambiance meets modern comfort. Sixteen rooms in three buildings: Main House, Carriage House, and Cottage, all within a short walk to Bowdoin College and downtown. Enjoy a delicious breakfast made to order and fabulous evening fare at Pub165. The best seat in the summer is on the front porch and in the winter by the crackling, oversized fireplace. Warm, welcoming staff make it extra special. Voted best College Town Inn in New England by Yankee Magazine. Learn More
Brunswick
Brunswick

FAQs About Brunswick Maine

Does Brunswick Maine have beaches?

Yes, Brunswick Maine does have access to beaches, although they may not be as numerous or as famous as those in some other coastal Maine towns.

One notable beach in the area is Thomas Point Beach, which offers a sandy shore on tidal water with a view of Thomas Bay — as well as amenities like a playground and picnic areas. Additionally, Woodward Point Preserve takes guests to the rocky shoreline for forest views that outshine traditional sandy beaches.

What is the “Dead Poets Society” connection to Brunswick Maine?

Walter Skold was so inspired by the 1989 Robin Williams movie “Dead Poets Society” that he visited more than 600 grave sites of published poets before he passed in 2018 from a heart attack.

His eccentricities of honoring dead poets bordered on the macabre, but his death was just as poetic. He took his favorite grave ideas to his own headstone, which was designed in December 2017.

At the time, he said, “At 57, I have outlived lots of poets, so now is a good time to have my tombstone carved,” Skold said. Fifty-one days later, he passed away. The grave was too elaborate for burial at the York Maine family plot, so now he rests in Pine Grove Cemetery in Brunswick Maine.

Skold was published a year after his death, making him one of the dead poets he so desperately sought out in his life.

Is Brunswick Maine on the Downeaster Train Route?

Yes! Brunswick Maine is the last (or first) stop on the popular route between MidCoast Maine and Boston Massachusetts.

Is Bowdoin College in Bowdoin Maine?

No. Bowdoin College is actually located within Brunswick town limits. Bowdoin (the town) is 10 miles north of Brunswick Maine. About halfway between the two towns is Bowdoinham. All of the towns are named after the same prestigious family from the early days of this region.

Brunswick Maine Is Worth Visiting Any Time of Year

Amidst the quintessential features of MidCoast Maine — lighthouses, lobster, and rugged coastlines — Brunswick distinguishes itself with a rich literary past and the presence of a liberal arts college that injects a blend of culture, eccentricity, and academic spirit into the classic Maine allure.

As you pass through or settle in for a visit, Brunswick’s unique personalities add depth to its enchanting appeal. Moreover, Brunswick thrives year-round thanks to the bustling university life that continues even when tourists depart, ensuring the town remains vibrant, simply shifting its rhythm with the seasons.

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