Brunswick Maine is a Mid Coast Maine treasure, not just for all the things to do. The infusion of literary history and the impact of a prestigious higher-learning institution create a unique aura.
Brunswick brings out the best in Maine and each visitor who walks through. Don’t be surprised if you feel inspired to write poetry during your visit.
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
You’ll see the word “Pejepscot” used a lot in Brunswick and Topsham across the river because it was the region’s name when it was settled in 1628. The name means “long, rocky rapids part of the river.”
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
Today, Brunswick is reaping the benefits of increased tourism in Maine, along with the ongoing accolades that Bowdoin College receives from educational organizations.
Downtown Maine Street boasts an element of history mixed with a vibrant culture, with everything from authentic German restaurants to pagan coffee shops.
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.
Outdoor Things to Do in Brunswick Maine
Maine is made for being outside, and Brunswick offers some of the best opportunities to explore, learn, and grow while spending time in 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 the heart of the town is a green space that’s a more intimate version of Central Park. The Brunswick Town Mall isn’t a mall in the traditional sense but a gathering spot for festivals, concerts, and farmers’ markets, with plenty of benches to simply stop and soak in the tree-lined historic streets.
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
They say that eating organic blueberries from this part of Maine will change your blueberry palate forever, and there’s no better place to find out than Crystal Spring Farm.
A popular farmer’s market in warm weather gives way to winter wonderland snow trails. Spiritual practitioners will be drawn to the Labyrinth in the Woods, and meditation is encouraged on this tranquil piece of land.
SAFETY TIP: Check the hunting season schedule and wear Hunter Orange to help everyone stay safe on the trails.
Indoor Things to Do in Brunswick Maine
Exciting things happen indoors around town, whether it’s the rainy day things to do in Brunswick or a chance to cool off or warm up seasonally.
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
Starting a visit at the Pejepscot Museum provides a great overview of the town’s history and helps you appreciate the things you’ll see that much more. The Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum honors the legendary Civil War Brigadier General who went on to become the governor of Maine.
At the Skolfield-Whitter House, three generations of a Brunswick family made their own mark on the town’s economy — from a ship captain to the first female pediatrician in the state to a forensic pathologist in the infancy of the field.
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 famed author known for “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” lived in Brunswick for a couple of years while her husband taught at Bowdoin. The writing room at Harriett Beech Stowe House is still preserved, but you’ll also learn that poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow roomed here several decades before.
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!”
For more Beecher Stowe, visit First Parish Church to view Pew 23 where she was sitting when the vision that inspired “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” happened in the early 1850s.
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.
Additional Nearby Attractions to Brunswick Maine
Brunswick has an ideal location for anywhere you want to get in Maine. So while you’re here, consider visiting these other nearby attractions.
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
You must go through Brunswick to get to Harpswell and its 200+ islands that fan out from the mainland. The rocky edges of the shore get more dramatic in this section, with intimidating trail names like Devil’s Back and Giant’s Stairs.
Also, you can scout the shoreline at Skolfield Shores Preserve, or take one of two loops in the preserve for a bird-watching paradise.
The trails guide you from the shore to slat marshes and then deep into the forest. What looks like a natural wonder now was once a busy port for shipbuilding, and some historical buildings will be spotted along the way.
Freeport Maine is a 15-minute drive southwest of Brunswick with some of the best shopping in the region, including the L.L. Bean flagship store open 24 hours a day and the popular Freeport Village Station outlet mall.
Rockport & Camden Maine
The coastal havens of Rockport and Camden are just a one-hour drive northeast of Brunswick in Mid Coast Maine, with stunning views from Mt. Battie at Camden Hills State Park.
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 Mid Coast Maine getaway.
Casual & Family Eateries
One of the newest hot restaurants in Brunswick Maine is Fat Puppy Fusion, which makes over-the-top hot dogs and freshly made flatbread wraps. It’s about as fancy as a food truck can get. Bolos Brunswick offers food and fun, from corn dip to cornhole and crab dip to darts.
If creative restaurant names are your thing, you’ll love Taco the Town and The Great Impasta. The Brunswick Diner, Cameron’s Lobster House, and Flip Brunch Bar are some other family dining options to consider.
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 lives up to its name with a regal selection of appetizers and main courses while offering dry-aged steaks sustainably farmed in Boothbay Harbor. It’s worth saving room for dessert with items like riesling poached pears and French sipping chocolate.
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.
The Federal is one of Brunswick’s most upscale hotel options, and it’s also where 555 North redefines upscale eating. The menus are created based on seasonal products harvested locally.
Small plates, big plates, shareables, and creative desserts share the menu with an extensive list of cocktails, wine, and beer.
Coffee & Ice Cream Shops
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
For coffee without spell-casting options, Dog Bar Jim is just what you need. Its traditional coffee perks up the morning with a rare menu of exotic ingredients.
Other Coffee Shops
To enjoy your drink with local artwork adorning the walls, head to Little Dog Coffee Shop. Bohemian Coffee House & Deli has all the morning brew options with a great menu of carbs and creative pastry treats.
Ice Cream Shops
New England is known for its ice cream, and Maine takes that experience to a whole new level. And, some of the best options are in Brunswick Maine — Gelato Fiasco, Fielder’s Choice Ice Cream, and Dairy Frost.
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
Channeling the unique big personality in a small dog, Black Pug Beer brings small-batch brewing to big crowds in Brunswick Maine.
If you’re looking for something with more history behind it, Moderation Brewing mixes a historic space with a throwback to bar life before prohibition.
Flight Deck Brewing
Have your flight near the Brunswick Executive Airport at one of the local favorites Flight Deck Brewing. Heated huts are available to reserve, with dogs and children welcome at any time.
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.
Head to West Bath for a German-inspired brewery at Trinken Brewing Co., where the brewers stick to what works, “The oldest food law in the world is directly responsible for our amazing craft beer!”
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.
The Brunswick Hotel
The namesake hotel should be on the list of options because it offers standard rooms and suites with a handful of pet-friendly options. The Brunswick Hotel includes historical artifacts and photos along the walls and offers special packages for sweethearts, explorers, and foodies.
OneSixtyFive: The Inn on Park Row
Facing the town mall and just a short walk to Bowdoin College, the charming OneSixtyFive beckons with its wrap-around porch and elevated options from main house rooms to the carriage house to a secluded cottage.
The newly remodeled inn was a true labor of love, and now the doors are open and welcoming the next generation of Brunswick Maine travelers.
Contemporary and classic collide in this historic building that feels more cosmopolitan than charming. The Federal leaves no detail overlooked with enough 19th-century spirit that you’ll expect the sea captain to return home once again.
Choose your room from the Federal House or the East Wing with full access to the fitness room, yoga studio, and morning coffee bar.
Thomas Point Beach Campground
Claiming to be the best-kept secret in Mid Coast Maine, the Thomas Point Beach Campground offers 100 camping sites across 84 acres. It’s a rare treat to find waterfront, overnight accommodations in Brunswick Maine, and that’s what you get at this space known for its vibrant festivals in the summer.
Brunswick Home With Fenced Backyard
This three-bedroom, 1.5-bath home offers plenty of legroom with a big backyard hosting a fire pit and a sandbox for the kids. Dogs are welcome, and there’s an office if you need to get some work done. Also, you can relax by the stunning fireplace when that first nip of fall comes.
Historic Downtown Home
Find peace and tranquility in the center of Brunswick Maine at this 1879 home split into four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Spring brings blooms to the generous garden.
You’ll have your own personal tour guides, too, because the owners “…want to help those not from here to experience Maine as if you had a family member or friend living here.”
FAQs About Brunswick Maine
Does Brunswick Maine have beaches?
Brunswick Maine doesn’t really have beaches, but it does have a shoreline. 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 Mid Coast 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
Mid Coast Maine towns can easily become blurred, with lighthouses, lobster, and long rocky shorelines being standard. Brunswick Maine stands out for its literary history and liberal arts influence, which infuse culture, quirks, and college vibes into the typical Maine charm.
Whether you are driving through or staying a while, you’ll find the characters of Brunswick make the charm more endearing. Plus, it’s a true four-season town, with the university being in session during the off-season. This town doesn’t shut down — it just adapts to seasonal characteristics.