Despite being a small coastal village, Rockport Maine is known for its art galleries and thriving local art community. Visitors to this Mid Coast Maine town will also find an opera house and the Maine Media College. You’ll find plenty more things to do in Rockport Maine too.
About Rockport Maine
The town is ideally located in the Mid Coast region, making it popular with tourists for its scenic ocean views and easy access to Penobscot Bay and water activities.
The peak tourist season is from late spring through summer when travelers flock to the town for gorgeous ocean views, clean parks, delicious dining options, and a thriving art scene.
Rockport Maine has been consistently voted one of the prettiest towns in the United States throughout the years. No matter the time of year, Rockport is beautiful during all four seasons and has plenty to do and see.
History of Rockport
Rockport Maine was established in 1769 by Robert Thorndike. The area was originally part of the town of Camden and dubbed Goose River Village. It separated from Camden in 1893 after a dispute over the building of a bridge. The town’s name was changed to Rockport because of its rocky terrain.
In the 1800s, Rockport was known for its shipbuilding, lime production, and ice harvesting. Manufacturing lime was an important industry, particularly after the War of 1812 when structures were damaged by the British. The lime from Rockport was sent along the East Coast to rebuild structures in Washington D.C.
Over the years, the shipbuilding, ice-harvesting, and lime industries subsided. But, Rockport Maine has remained a vibrant community with lobstering and fishing playing a big role in the economy and artists flocking to the beautiful seaside.
Outdoor Things to Do in Rockport Maine
Rockport has pristine beaches and a scenic waterfront for visitors to explore. There are so many places with natural beauty to visit and take in, check out these options for your next visit.
If you’re looking to experience the quintessential Rockport location, a stop at Marine Park is a must-do activity. For those looking to take in the views or picnic, there are picnic tables and benches.
If you want to swim, check out Goodie’s Beach next to the park. This small beach is perfect for families with small children. You can wade into the water and build sandcastles.
Many people visit Marine Park as a launch point for Rockport Harbor activities like fishing, kayaking, and sailing. And, you can spot the lobster boats that come and go throughout the day, unloading the day’s catch.
Be sure to get a picture of the famous Andre the Seal statue before you leave. The granite statue was erected to honor the sweet story of a harbor seal that frequently visited Marine Park.
Families love to stop at Aldemere Farm — a Belted Galloway cattle farm. Go right up to the fences to visit the cattle and take pictures. This is a working farm, but it offers programs throughout the year. Check the calendar prior to visiting to see which programs are scheduled.
When the weather is warm, farm tours are very popular. In late March, the farm has maple syrup-making sessions where you can learn all about the different maple trees and the sugaring process.
Walker Park is another picturesque park in Rockport Maine that is great for families. The park has a playground and picnic tables so that visitors can spend the day enjoying the grounds. There are rocks for older children to climb on and a small beach.
Rockport is home to a few amazing golf courses, each with its own vibe. The Goose River Golf Club has been around since 1965 and is family-owned and operated.
It features a casual, relaxing experience for all golfing abilities. The course is perfect for those looking for a shorter game because it only has nine holes.
Also, Rockland Golf Club is an 18-hole golf course — the front nine holes are woodsy, and the back nine holes overlook Lake Chickawaukie.
The views at this golf course can’t be beaten, with the first hole featuring ocean and lighthouse views. This award-winning golf club features well-maintained greens throughout the open season.
Maybe you are looking for something a bit more low-key and family-friendly than a full-sized golf course. Playing a round at Golfer’s Crossing Miniature Golf is a wonderful family-friendly activity.
It is unlike any other mini-golf course in the area. The course has 11 holes with water features and 13 holes with rough, making it a challenging but fun and casual game. Players of all abilities will have a blast trying to navigate the water hazards and contoured greens.
Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel is a whimsical outdoor chapel and garden that was built in 1960. It is used today for ceremonies, special occasions, and memorials. However, it has also become a place of reflection and peace. Grab some snacks and enjoy a picnic on the beautiful grounds.
Many people enjoy visiting the chapel for artistic inspiration. Don’t be surprised to see visitors sitting around the gardens drawing, meditating, or praying. The gardens have both annuals and perennials, herbs, and many types of trees.
Indoor Things to Do in Rockport Maine
While there’s so much to explore outdoors, there’s plenty to keep everyone busy indoors in Rockport Maine too. The town is known for having many art galleries and shops to explore, so check out these places on your next visit.
The Ralston Gallery was established by Peter and Terri Ralston to display Peter’s photographic work. Ralston has been photographing the coast of Maine for decades and has been featured in independent films, books, and magazines.
In addition to Ralston’s photographs, Andrew and Jamie Wyeth limited-edition prints are on display and for sale. You can enjoy the artwork and meet the artist behind the gallery while you’re here.
The Michael Good Gallery features hand-crafted jewelry that Michael Good himself created. Good uses the anticlastic raising technique — metal forming — to create his unique jewelry pieces.
Good hosts workshops for all skill levels so that visitors may learn the anticlastic raising method. You can check his website for upcoming workshops.
If you’re looking for nostalgia on your next visit to Rockport Maine, check out Oakland Park Bowling Lanes. This bowling alley features candlepin bowling on vintage lanes.
You’ll feel like you stepped back into the 1950s with wraparound teal booth seating, linoleum flooring, and wooden lanes. The bowling alley has no frills but does serve beer, wine, soft drinks, and pizza.
The Rockport Opera House is a historical building that dates back to the late 1800s. It started in the 1970s by hosting chamber concerts. Today, the Opera House is home to concerts, shows, reunions, and wedding ceremonies.
Additionally, the opera house hosts a summer music concert series at Mary Lea Park next door. Shows and performances vary by season, so check the calendar before visiting to see what’s happening.
Camden and Rockport Maine share a historical society because the two towns’ histories are intertwined from when they were one community.
The historical society owns four structures — a 1770s homestead, a blacksmith shop, a sugar shack, and The Barn. Each structure has original artifacts, including household furnishings, farming artifacts, and blacksmithing tools.
A stop at one of these buildings is sure to give visitors an immersive look into life in the 1700s and 1800s in Rockport.
Popular Restaurants in Rockport Maine
Naturally, Rockport has amazing seafood restaurants but also has delicious diners, Italian restaurants, and American fare for visitors to enjoy. Check out these local favorite Rockport restaurants for a hearty meal on your next visit.
18 Central is a great place to bring friends, family, or a date to impress them with upscale entrees and delicious offerings. Everything featured on the menu is caught fresh daily and made with the freshest ingredients.
Appetizers include scallops, mussels, haddock, and crab with various delectable sauces, like brown butter, caramelized fennel, and truffle oil.
Entrees include hanger steak, wood-grilled scallops, grilled salmon, fried chicken, and a house burger. Every meal is specially prepared with unique sauces, spices, and garnishings.
The dessert menu features bread pudding and more. There’s a cocktail menu with dozens of interesting concoctions to try as well.
Reservations are strongly encouraged because of the popularity of this restaurant with locals and tourists alike.
If you’re craving Italian food, the Ports of Italy has you covered. Open seven days a week, this Italian restaurant uses the freshest ingredients to whip up delicious Italian dishes in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere.
Italian staples — gnocchi, spaghetti, fettuccine, and bolognese — are available on the daily dinner menu. Cornish hen, New York strip steak, veal, roasted suckling pig, salmon, and filet mignon round out the entrees.
On Sundays, Ports of Italy has a special brunch menu with eggs, French toast, paninis, salads, and pasta dishes.
Offshore Restaurant is a hole-in-the-wall seafood joint that locals flock to for fresh seafood. If you are looking for a family-friendly, no-frills, diner atmosphere, then Offshore is for you.
The menu features fried seafood dishes, sandwiches, burgers, steaks, and salads. Stop in for some fresh and tasty Maine-caught seafood, and stay for the friendly service and homey environment.
The Rockport Diner has been in business for over 30 years, so you know that it must be doing something right. The diner has padded booths and typical diner tables with chairs. A nostalgic white and black checkered floor gives it that diner ambiance.
The menu features popular Maine chowders — haddock, seafood, and corn. Typical appetizers, like mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and chicken tenders, are on the menu too.
For entrees, the hand-pressed burgers that come in eight flavors are very popular. And, the subs, sandwiches, and wraps are perfect for a light lunch.
Other entrees include pasta dishes, open-faced sandwiches, fried seafood platters, and home-style dinners — pot roast and meatloaf. You can finish your meal with Gifford’s ice cream before leaving full and satisfied.
Hotels in Rockport Maine & Other Lodging
Rockport has several highly rated, quaint inns and motels to choose from, which makes it hard to decide where to stay.
Whether you’re looking for something family-friendly or something for a romantic weekend away, there’s a place to relax and unwind after a busy day on the Maine coast. Check out these popular options for clean and affordable accommodations on your next trip.
The Country Inn is a cute inn centrally located on the coast. The inn has 36 rooms and suites (open year-round) and 11 cottages (open May through October). The inn is ideal for couples, families, and business travelers — even those with pets.
All rooms have private patios or balconies, Wi-Fi, refrigerators, microwaves, and TVs. A complimentary breakfast buffet is included with a stay and use of the pool, hot tub, and fitness center are included at no extra cost.
Situated on 23 hillside acres, the Strawberry Hill Seaside Inn has amazing views of Penobscot Bay. The rooms feature private balconies where visitors can sit back and enjoy the natural beauty of the inn’s grounds.
The inn has an outdoor, heated, in-ground pool for visitors to enjoy. Each room has air conditioning, Wi-Fi, a TV, a refrigerator, and binoculars to use around the grounds. Rooms are available with one king-sized bed or two full-sized beds. This inn is great for families, solo travelers, and couples.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly accommodation, check out the Claddagh Motel & Suites. This motel is Irish-themed, giving it a homey cottage feel. The location is ideally located close to downtown and all the attractions.
The motel has rooms for solo travelers, couples, and families. Each room has Wi-Fi, parking, an air conditioner, and a kitchenette. There is a seasonal outdoor pool for guests to enjoy as well.
Starlight Lodge is a picturesque inn that has 15 renovated rooms and two retro RVs available to book. There’s a heated pool open seasonally for guests to enjoy. A fire pit, garden area, and breakfast patio are all amazing features that you don’t typically find at small inns.
The rooms have double, queen, and king beds, and some have fireplaces. All rooms have Wi-Fi, TVs, mini fridges, private bathrooms, and microwaves. Some rooms are pet-friendly, so specify if you will have a dog with you when you book.
If you’re looking for a unique lodging experience, book one of the retro campers, which have all of the modern amenities you’ll need. The campers have kitchenettes, bathrooms, Wi-Fi, cable TVs, and air conditioning.
The Island View Inn offers oceanfront accommodations on impeccably maintained grounds. The inn caters to couples, so it may not be the best option for families. The inn has picturesque balcony views, spacious and clean rooms, a heated outdoor pool, and a beautiful lobby with a fireplace.
Each room has a king-size bed, free Wi-Fi, and binoculars for exploring the grounds and water views. The inn is open seasonally from May to October.
FAQs About Rockport Maine
When is peak tourist season in Rockport Maine?
Peak tourist season in Rockport Maine is from May through August. However, any time of year is a great time to visit!
Can I swim in Rockport Maine?
Yes! Rockport Maine is right on the water and features small beaches. The water can be chilly, so the best times to swim are in July, August, and early September when water temperatures creep up to around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Is Rockport Maine walkable?
You will want to have a car to get around Rockport Maine. If you are staying downtown, you can walk to some restaurants and galleries. But to venture out toward the waterfront, parks, and other attractions, a car would be necessary.
What is Rockport Maine known for?
Rockport Maine is known for its fishing and lobstering industry and its vibrant art community.
Is Rockport Maine family-friendly? How about pet-friendly?
Yes! Rockport Maine is very family-friendly. There are many family activities — children will love the parks, waterfront, playgrounds, and restaurants.
Pets are welcome at some hotels, and you will see dogs walking around town and in the parks.
Plan Your Visit to Rockport Maine
Rockport may be a small town, but it has plenty to do, see and enjoy for visitors of all ages. It’s the perfect seaside community to either relax and enjoy ocean views or set out on an adventure. Delicious dining options, top-notch accommodations, and amazing art galleries are all waiting to be explored.