If you’re looking into visiting Maine, you’ll hear the term Downeast used a lot. Downeast Maine is the northeastern coastal region that encompasses many small fishing communities. One of the most charming villages in Downeast Maine is Machias.
Machias Maine is gorgeous year-round and a true hidden gem of a community. Plus, it’s located in a, typically, less touristy region than the Southern Maine Coast or Mid Coast Maine. With plenty of things to do and see, a Machias getaway is a unique experience.
Outdoor Things to Do in Machias Maine
Machias is situated along the Bold Coast of Maine, which is a 147-mile stretch of scenic coastline, villages, and experiences. While it is a small town, there’s plenty of outdoor recreation to keep visitors busy year-round.
Bad Little Falls Park is a small picturesque park that’s perfect for picnicking, photography, or simply enjoying the views.
The river falls are little waterfalls that flow down the river and are surrounded by rugged, rocky terrain. The natural beauty of the rushing water turning into falls makes for a scenic, calming spot for visitors to enjoy.
Located in downtown Machias, Middle River Park is a community gathering place for summer entertainment — like festivals and musical performances. The land was once a spot where cattle were raised. Now, there are a few miles of trails to hike and sledding opportunities in the winter.
In nice weather, there is a public dock for kayaking and canoeing. And early in the morning and at dusk, you may have the chance to see deer crossing through the park.
Ready to get out on the Machias River to explore? Check out Sunrise Canoe and Kayak for some great experiences.
If you’re looking for a self-guided tour and rental, Sunrise offers canoe rentals in May and June, as well as shuttles to the Machias River or East Machias River. Paddleboards and single and double kayaks are also available for rent without a tour.
Or, book a multi-day guided canoe trip that gives you four full days of adventure on the Machias River. Or, book a half-day kayaking trip in Machias Bay.
The Orange River Water Trail is an almost 6-mile flat-water trail that’s perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Along the way, you may encounter beavers, deer, trout, and many bird species.
The waters are calm, making this a great spot for beginner paddlers to learn. Experienced paddlers will also enjoy the natural beauty and serenity of this trail.
The 1898 Machias Railroad Station is the original railroad station for the town, located on Route 1. The station was used by the Washington County Railroad for many years — from 1898 to 1957 when it was converted to a freight depot.
Now, visitors can view the external structure and feel a sense of what it was like in the early 20th century to use the local railroad for transportation.
The Machias Wild Blueberry Festival has been celebrated annually for nearly 50 years. For three days in August, the community gathers to honor Maine’s wild blueberries with lots of food, entertainment, and everything blueberry.
Participate in a blueberry pie-eating contest, a road race, or a blueberry farm tour. Or, enjoy a fresh Maine lobster roll and barbequed meats. There are over 200 artisans and craft merchants set up for visitors to peruse their offerings.
The Margaretta Days Festival and Craft Fair is an annual event held in June by the Machias Historical Society to celebrate Machias’ history during the American Revolution. The festival typically runs for three days and is one of the biggest events in Machias, drawing visitors from all over.
The festival’s activities can vary each year, but typically, there is a 1775 reenactment with period actors, musical entertainment, history presentations, and lots of games, food, and crafts.
Indoor Things to Do in Machias Maine
It’s always good to have indoor recreation options for bad weather days or when you need a break from outdoor activities. Machias has wonderful shops to explore along with historic sites. Check out these options on your next visit.
The Burnham Tavern Museum is the site of the first naval battle during the American Revolution in 1775. It was built in 1770 and is one of the oldest structures in Machias. Despite that, the building is very well-preserved and the only building in the area with a connection to the Revolutionary War.
The tavern was used as a meeting place for locals to discuss and plan during the Battle of Machias. Inside, visitors can see artifacts that date back to the American Revolution and view furnishings from the late 1700s.
It’s always fun to check out local shops when exploring a small town. The French Cellar is a great spot to get some locally made fresh cheeses sold by the pound.
But, what the French Cellar is really known for is its amazing selection of wine. With hundreds of wines to choose from, the owners of the shop can guide you in the right direction to a wine that’s just right for your tastes.
Grab a loaf of fresh bread and check out the other locally sourced goods in the shop too.
A stop in Machias Maine is incomplete without checking out Crows Nest Shops. This isn’t just one specialty shop but a bit of everything.
Crows Nest has a bakery, a floral department, gifts and souvenirs, pre-owned video games and electronics, a coin-purchasing counter, and local arts and crafts. There’s so much to see, so give yourself time to browse.
Also, there’s said to be a friendly ghost named Mrs. Meader who frequents the shop, so if you sense any strange happenings, it could be her!
If you enjoy visiting historical churches, put the Center Street Congregational Church on your list of sites to visit. The church has been a community worshiping place since 1836. The congregation itself pre-dates the building and was established in 1782.
The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and although it has been added to and renovated over time, it maintains its original charm and structure.
Historical libraries have so much charm and uniqueness to them. Porter Memorial Library is a whole vibe in itself with its granite structure and a fireplace in the Reading Room.
The library opened to the public in 1893 and has been serving the community ever since. Stop in to see the beautiful architecture, enjoy the peace and quiet, or check out the collection.
The Art Gallery located at the University of Maine’s Machias campus is a nice place to view rotating art exhibits by guest artists. The gallery’s temporary exhibits change every few months and may range from photography to painting, drawing, clay form, and other artistic expressions.
Also, there is a permanent collection on display called the Maine History and Petroglyph Exhibit. This exhibit includes petroglyph surface prints and casts and a collection of Passamaquoddy baskets.
Popular Restaurants in Machias Maine
Small towns often have the best home-cooked meals at diners and family-run restaurants. Machias is that type of town, offering dine-in and takeout meals ranging from hearty breakfasts to pizza to fresh Maine-sourced seafood. Here are a few local favorites to try.
The most popular spot in town is Helen’s Restaurant, which has been in business since 1950. Helen’s has gorgeous water views and delicious homemade food for guests to nosh on.
Specialty appetizers include fried clams and chili lime shrimp. For entrees, try a burger, meatloaf grilled cheese, or a fresh Maine lobster roll.
Of course, there are plenty of seafood entrees to pick from — like fish and chips, Cobscook scallops, and a seafood platter. Finish off with a slice of delicious homemade pie or a mincemeat turnover.
The Bluebird Ranch is a family-run restaurant that is known for its “Over-the-Top-Donuts.” The donuts are available on Sundays only and come piled with delicious toppings — like Reese’s peanut butter cups, Oreos, glazes, and more.
If you’re looking for something more than a donut, the menu is chock-full of options. Specialties include Downeast clams, haddock chowder or lobster stew, a generous Captain’s Platter, steak, and pork chops. Lighter fare includes sandwiches, hot dogs, and burgers.
Sometimes, there isn’t enough time to dine in, or maybe you want to picnic at one of Machias’ beautiful parks. Try Riverside Take-Out for a quick meal on the go. It is a cute, unassuming trailer on the side of Route 1 with a vast selection of to-go options.
The menu has weekly specials but also staples — like a lobster roll, crab roll, onion rings, haddock burgers, clams, chicken dishes, burgers, and subs. Bring your dog along to get a dog ice cream pup cup.
Every town has one pizza place that’s a favorite. In Machias Maine, that pizza place is Pat’s Pizza. It has delicious, cheesy pizza in flavors like barbecue chicken, chicken pesto, Hawaiian, Margherita, and, of course, traditional cheese, pepperoni, and mushroom.
Gluten-free dough is available for those with gluten sensitivities. Don’t feel like pizza? That’s no problem because Pat’s has appetizers, salads, subs, burgers, and a kid’s menu.
River’s Edge Drive In is the best place in Machias to grab an ice cream. Serving Gifford’s hard-serve ice cream in flavors like moose tracks and strawberry cheesecake, it can turn any hard-serve flavor into a milkshake or sundae. Or, try one of the numerous soft-serve ice cream options.
Need something a little more than just an ice cream? You can order a full meal — from seafood to burgers to subs — at this take-out stop.
Machias Maine Hotels & Lodging Options
In Machias, you will find smaller inns, motels, and cottages rather than large hotels and resorts. Since most accommodations in town are family-owned and operated, they’re typically budget-friendly and can range from no-frills to luxury. Here are a few options throughout Machias to consider.
Machias River Inn is a wonderful place to book budget-friendly accommodations that still offer great views and amenities. This inn is great for families because you can choose from a standard room with two queen beds, a room with a king bed, or a suite.
Amenities include a microwave, mini fridge, and air conditioning, and some rooms even have an electric fireplace. Bring your dog along too — you can have up to two dogs per room for an additional fee.
The Inn at Schoppee Farm is perfect for those looking to stay close to Machias’ restaurants and hiking trails. It has four farmhouse rooms, each with its own private entrance.
Some rooms have only a king bed, but there is also a room with two queens that would work for a family of four. Amenities include air conditioning, Wi-Fi, a microwave, a coffee maker, and water views. Enjoy the antique decor and historic charm at Schoppee Farm.
Looking for something no-frills because you plan to spend most of your time outside of your room? Check out the Bluebird Motel on Route 1. This motel has Wi-Fi, a TV, and in-room coffee. The rooms are basic, and you can bring up to two dogs with you for an additional fee.
The Margetta Inn is a quaint inn with clean, comfortable rooms. There are 12 guest rooms to choose from, each featuring a TV, Keurig, Wi-Fi, and a refrigerator.
The rates are reasonable and vary depending on whether you choose a room with two double beds or a queen. The location is close to Machias’ downtown area and local hiking trails.
If you love historic charm, The Talbot House Inn is perfect for you. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has historical touches and decor throughout.
The inn has five guest rooms, all with private bathrooms. Breakfast is included, and each room has its own designated breakfast table where it will be served.
More to Know About Machias Maine
Machias, not to be confused with Machiasport, is a small town with just over 2,000 residents. Located on the Machias River, the town encompasses about 14 square miles of land.
The town’s name comes from the Native American Passamaquoddy language and translates to “bad little falls,” which refers to the waterfalls of the Machias River.
Though a small town, Machias is home to a University of Maine campus and a public airport. The town attracts visitors from far and wide with annual festivals and outdoor adventurers. From hunting to hiking to river water activities, it has many activities no matter the season.
Machias Maine is known for its wild blueberries, and you’ll see them celebrated throughout the town. It has quaint lodging options, delicious home-cooked food, and a lot of friendly local charm.
History of Machias Maine
The town of Machias was established in 1784. However, its history dates back to the pre-Revolution days. Before and during the American Revolution, the town was a popular meeting spot for anti-British discussions and plots.
Famous and important battles — like Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Machias — were discussed, and plans were put into action from Machias, particularly from the Burnham Tavern.
Battle of Machias
The Battle of Machias in 1775 was the first American Revolution naval battle. During this battle, the townspeople set up a liberty pole and were known as the rebels. The rebels forced the British to surrender their ship called the Margaretta, giving them an important victory against the British.
In later years, Machias’s primary industries were logging, saw mills, iron foundries, canning, and wild blueberries.
Plan Your Visit to Machias Maine
Though Machias is a small town and doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of some other Maine villages, it’s the perfect place to either (1) relax and enjoy nature and a slower pace of life or (2) enjoy some outdoor adventures.
Machias is an affordable destination with accommodations for every budget, tasty food options, and plenty of indoor and outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.