town in Cumberland County, Maine, US

Pay a visit to picturesque Brunswick Maine, and you'll discover something special, something greater than the sum of its parts. It's a classic New England charmer to be sure. Surrounded by pine forests and nestled into a crook of the Androscoggin River, natural beauty is in no short supply. History buffs will appreciate Bowdoin College and her several museums of note; while literature mavens will recognize Brunswick as the setting where Harriet Beecher Stowe penned Uncle Tom's Cabin, a 19th century clarion call for America's abolitionist movement.

Today, several talented chefs have chosen to call Brunswick home. They've taken the areas already burgeoning food scene and iterated on it, serving up some truly extraordinary cuisine. When you combine the gastronomic offerings, retail options, and a proximity to nature—well, it just adds up to package that's hard to beat. Even if you can't extend your stay, the transit options and relative closeness to larger cities make it almost too easy to return.

UnderstandEdit

 
The Androscoggin Swinging Bridge is closely tied to the French Canadian heritage of Brunswick

HistoryEdit

Originally settled by the Abenaki people, it was first occupied by English colonists in 1628 as Pejepscot, meaning "the long, rocky rapids part [of the river]". Relations between the peoples were not good; the fledgling town would be burned during King Philip's War and remained generally abandoned until around 1717. Around this time settlers from Boston and Portsmouth purchased the land and decided to give it another go. Colonist-Native relations remained hostile, and after a decade of warring the Abenaki were no more. Thus, the town of Brunswick was established by 1739.

The towns judicious location by the Androscoggin River allowed for growth and prosperity by way of the sea. This newfound wealth afforded the creation of Bowdoin College in 1794. The river provided power for mills, and nearby forests were harvested for raw materials. Brunswick pumped out an increasing array of goods such as textiles, furniture, and foodstuffs throughout the 19th century.

Today many old mills and sea captains' mansions remain, the ornate structures have been repurposed and transformed into art galleries, restaurants, museums, inns, and boutiques. A modern visitor to Brunswick will find the memories of the past tastefully blended with the imagination of today.

Visitor informationEdit

  • 1 Brunswick Visitors Center (Brunswick Station), 16 Station Ave, +1 207 721-0999. 9:30AM-6PM daily. Staffed by volunteers, this little space packs a big punch of information for new arrivals. They've got an array of pamphlets and local knowledge to help you find what you're looking for throughout the Southern Mid Coast region. The space is also the waiting area for Amtrak's Downeaster service, Brunswick is the end of the line. Free.    

Get inEdit

 
Map of Brunswick (Maine)

By carEdit

The only interstate running close-by to Brunswick is I-295. Well paved and graded, this two-lane highway branches off of I-95 just north of Portland. If you're approaching from the south, exit at US Route 1 or if you're coming from the north, watch for the US Route 201 exit instead. Both routes will run you straight into the city's center. It's about a 30 minute ride from Portland, 35 minutes from Lewiston, and 40 minutes from Augusta.

To the east, Route 1 also provides access to the dozens of quaint Mid-Coast communities scattered along the shoreline. Two minor roads; ME-123 and ME-24, provide connections to Harpswell and the Harpswell Islands respectively.

By busEdit

  • Concord Coach Lines, 16 Station Ave, toll-free: +1 (800) 639-3317. 10AM-6:30PM daily. The Bowdoin stop has been consolidated with the Brunswick Visitor Center and Amtrak station. Handicap accessible. $15 one way to Portland (35 min), $30 to Boston (3 hr). Also connects with Bangor ($24 one way, 3 hr 25 min) and offers connections with all points between. One bus daily.

By trainEdit

  • Amtrak Downeaster, toll-free: +1 (800) 872-7245. 9:30AM-6PM daily. Brunswick is the northern terminus of Amtrak's Downeaster service, connecting to Boston ($30 one way, 3 hr 20 min) via Portland ($3 one way, 45 min) and several points between. Runs about five trains a day. The Visitors Center is here as well.

By planeEdit

Get aroundEdit

 
The Harriet Beecher Stowe House, just behind Park Row

Once in town, you'll find many of Brunswick's amenities concentrated along Maine Street, which basically runs you from the Androscoggin River in the north to Bowdoin College in the south. As such, the majority of all shops, restaurants, and museums can be accessed on foot.

If you want to get away from Maine Street and hit up nearby trails, having a car will really help out. You'll find a few options along Bath Road, which connects the modern and traditional city centers. On the off chance you didn't bring your own vehicle, rent one at the airport or use ride-hailing apps. Waiting times for pick-ups are a few minutes longer here than in the big city, but generally not a problem. Be wary of going too far into the sticks in a ride-hail; you could wind up without enough signal to request the return ride!

The only public transit to speak of is a single bus called The Brunswick Explorer. It runs once an hour during daylight hours and costs $2 a ride. The route is erratic, and it doesn't go anywhere interesting or particularly far; so for most visitors it's not recommended bothering with. It could be worth investigating, however, if you have mobility issues and don't have private transport.

There's little cycling infrastructure here to speak of, but on the plus side Maine's harsh winters afford wide shoulders on most roadways, and the traffic isn't that bad. Anyone with a modicum of road-riding experience should find themselves capable of navigating the streets of Brunswick.

SeeEdit

 
The chapel at Bowdoin College
  • 1 Androscoggin Swinging Bridge, Mill St & Cushing St. 24 hours daily. This simple pedestrian suspension bridge spanning the Androscoggin River was built in 1892 for workers crossing from Topsham into Brunswick for their factory jobs. Crossing affords beautiful views of the placid river. First constructed by the firm that built the Brooklyn Bridge, this incarnation has been rebuilt a few times; however, the cables you see today remain original. Parks have since been created on either end, and In January 2004 the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Free.    
  • 2 Bowdoin College, 255 Maine St, +1 207 725-3000. The oldest institute of higher education in Maine, founded in 1794. Often referred to as a "hidden Ivy", in 2019, the college was ranked as the fifth-best liberal arts college in the country by U.S. News & World Report. There are dozens of interesting buildings and activities here supporting the 2,000 or so students and staff residing on campus.    
  • 3 First Parish Church, Maine St, +1 207 729-7331. This Gothic Revival church—dating from around 1845—bears a unique vertical board-and-batten panel exterior. Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose husband was a professor at Bowdoin College, was sitting here in pew 23 during a communion service when she had a vision of the death of a slave. This vision became the pivotal element in her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin. First Parish Church got an excellent and extensive restoration in 2004.    

MuseumsEdit

 
The Victorian era Skolfield-Whittier House is so well preserved it's often referred to as a "time machine"

The Arctic Museum and Pejepscot Historical Society are perhaps the two most worth your time. The Harriet Beecher Stowe House is also worth tacking on. It's rarely open, so most folks just breeze by to read a plaque or two while they take in the structure and its quaint neighborhood surroundings.

DoEdit

  • 1 Brunswick Golf Club, 165 River Rd, +1 207 725-8224. 7AM-7PM daily. Public course. $25-45.
  • 2 Eveningstar Cinema, 149 Maine St (Tontine Mall), +1 207 729-5486. Top first-run independent cinema operating here since 1979. Only one screen but you can bet something interesting is playing on it! $7-10.
  • 3 The Theater Project, 14 School St, +1 207 729-8584. Community theater, June through August.
  • 4 Thomas Point Beach, 29 Meadow Rd, +1 207 725-6009. 8AM-sunset daily. A clean, sandy beach that offers picnicking, a snack bar, playgrounds for the kids, volleyball, and softball areas. See "Sleep" for campsite rentals. $4.

OutdoorsEdit

 
One view of the Androscoggin from the Swinging Bridge

These trails often pull double duty as cross country skiing tracks during the colder months.

  • 5 Androscoggin River Bicycle Path, +1 207 725-6656. 24 hours daily. Between Grover Lane and Water Street, along the Androscoggin River. A 2.5 mile-long paved path along the River with trees, granite benches, restroom facilities, and designated lanes for cyclists and pedestrians. Great for walking, jogging, bicycling, roller-blading, or skateboarding. Managed by the Brunswick Parks and Recreation Department. Free.
  • 6 Bowdoin Pines Trail, 83 Federal St (Parking lot entrance is unmarked). 24 hours daily. Adjacent to Bowdoin College Campus. One of Maine's few remaining old-growth forests, 33-acre 'The Bowdoin Pines,' has a trail open year round for walking, jogging, bird-watching, picnicking and cross-country skiing. Dogs on leashes. No fires or camping. Free.
  • 7 Brunswick Town Commons, Harpswell Road. 24 hours daily. Starts at a parking lot in a pine grove about 2 miles south on Harpswell Road (Route 123) Comprises less than 100 acres of woodlands and bog with wide trails suitable for walking and cross-country skiing. Dogs are permitted on leash or under owners voice control. Comprises the far southwestern section of the original thousand acre "commonage" granted by the Pejepscot Proprietors in 1719. Managed by Brunswick Town Commons Planning Committee. Free.
  • 8 Cox Pinnacle (Near Hacker Road, off Durham Road), +1 207 725-6266. 24 hours daily. 103-acre parcel with trails for walking, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and horseback riding through wooded hills, rocky ledges, and wetlands. Includes the highest point of land in Brunswick, at 350 feet, with views of the White Mountains. The trail begins with a boardwalk across the wetlands and is marked in blue. Free.
  • 9 Crystal Spring Farm Reserve, 24 Maurice Dr, +1 207 729-1112. 24 hours daily. Trails are located on 160-acre farm owned and maintained by the 'Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.' Forests, fields and blueberry barrens. (Maps can be found in a mailbox at the trailhead.) Free.
  • 10 Mid Coast Hospital Nature Trails, 121 Medical Center Dr, +1 (207) 373-6000. 24 hours daily. Look for the trail entrance at the far end of the parking lot. More than 3300 feet of prepared walking paths through the forested wetlands areas between the Hospital and the protected estuary and salt water marshes of Thompson's Brook. More information at Hospital Information Desk. Free.

ToursEdit

EventsEdit

 
Featured entertainment at the Saturday morning Farmers' Market
  • Brunswick Fishway: May – June annually, 2 Maine St. W-Su 1-5PM. If you are planning on being in the Brunswick area between mid-May and late June, be sure to visit FPL Energy's Brunswick Hydro generating station on the Androscoggin River. Here you will find a glass wall viewing room to observe the annual spawning ritual of anadromous fish heading upriver. Species such as Herring, Salmon and Smallmouth Bass make their way up a 40 foot high, 570 foot long man-made fish ladder. The viewing room can accommodate up to 20 people. Free.
  • Bowdoin International Music Festival: July – August annually. Founded in 1964 by Robert K. Beckwith and Lewis Kaplan, the Bowdoin International Music Festival brings renowned classical musicians from around the world to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine each summer for six weeks of instruction and performance. More than 250 highly talented young performers of graduate, college, and high school levels further their artistic development through a concentrated program of instrumental study and composition with the Festival's outstanding artist faculty. The Bowdoin Festival produces seven concert series three artists' concert series, two student concert series, and two series in which students and faculty perform together, EuroFest and the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music. Through its concert presentations, the festival brings performers of international stature and a rich variety of musical programming to thousands of residents and summer visitors.  
  • Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival: 15 August 2020. 9AM-5PM. Along the sidewalks of Maine Street in Downtown Brunswick numerous children's activities will line the streets; roving jugglers, face painting,art projects, dance, and music. Street performances will include theater, dance and a variety of other artistic venues. This festival is designed to celebrate and foster an appreciation of the arts in downtown Brunswick that truly makes Brunswick a cultural destination. The Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival (BOAF) exemplifies the Brunswick Downtown Association's goals to promote cultural activities and other events that create, support, and maintain a healthy, friendly and vibrant downtown.
  • Maine Highland Games (Scottish Festival): 17 August 2019, Topsham Fairgrounds +1 207 504-1946. 8AM-5PM. Come to see the clans gather and compete in three areas: highland dancing, individual piping and drumming, and athletics. Tons of Scottish food, vendors, and live music. $20, children $5. (date needs updating)

BuyEdit

 
Visit a farmer's market to pick up Gracie's Garden pickles and jams

It's tough for brick and mortar stores to stay open in this day and age, but more than a few hold their own here in Brunswick. Foot traffic is their savior, so of course you'll find almost all the town's shops scattered along Maine Street. This is a college town don't forget, so you'll find a surprising number of bookstores as you wander and browse. If you just can't seem to find your genre, pay a visit to the Bowdoin Bookstore located on campus.

If you just need the basics, drive to the modern amalgamation of chain stores at the intersection of Bath and Gurnet Roads. Here you'll find a Walmart, McDonald's, car repair shops and the like.

  • 1 Bull Moose, 151 Maine St, +1 207 725-1289. 9AM-10PM daily. Record store selling music in every format, films, comics, posters, video games, and other novelties. Pretty much the Newbury Comics of Maine.
  • 2 Estilo, 10 Pleasant st, +1 207 725-4091. Th-Sa 10:30AM-5:30PM, Su noon-4PM. A unique consignment boutique for women featuring fashions by JJill, Flax, Eileen Fisher, Habitat, and many others.
  • 3 Fort Andross (The Mill Complex), 14 Maine St, +1 207 729-7970. Varies. Stop in at this massive renovated old mill building. During the colder months there's an indoor farmer's market every Saturday. There's also an antique store, restaurant, coffee shop, and theater space. It's hard to come here and not find at least something you like.
  • 4 Gulf of Maine Books, 134 Maine St, +1 207 729-5083. M-Sa 9:30AM-5:30PM. This alternative bookstore often runs community nights, author readings, and other events. If they don't have it in stock they can order it for you. Independent since 1979.
  • 5 Tess' Market, 54 Pleasant St, +1 207 729-9531. M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa 8AM-1PM. One of the few remaining New England style superettes. This spot sells a little bit of everything, including pizza and wine! Sure you could buy most of this stuff someplace else, but why would you want to?
  • 6 Twice-Told Tales Book Store, 200 Maine St, +1 207 725-8888. M-Sa 10AM-4PM. Well organized used bookstore, friendly staff and a wide selection of books to choose from.

EatEdit

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under $15
Mid-range $15 - $25
Splurge Over $25

Brunswick could be the perfect environment for experienced restaurateurs to branch out, try new things and follow their passions. Boston? Too expensive to take risks. Portland? Too much competition to expand. But here in Brunswick, chefs are finding a place to make all their own. You'll find a much wider variety of cuisines here than your average small town; French and Italian, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, and so on. The food scene here is really elevating here, and yes, that does mean prices are creeping up; but it doesn't mean the old standbys are going anywhere. The classic drive-in spots still get crowded, and their filling fare is still enjoyed by newcomer and stalwart alike.

BudgetEdit

 
The Big Top Deli is open for business on Maine Street
  • 1 The Gelato Fiasco, 74 Maine St, +1 207 607-4002. Open 11AM-11PM. Of all the things you can eat in Brunswick, this is easily the most delicious. Artisan-style gelato made daily from traditional Italian recipes. All natural and made from scratch. Espresso and coffee also served.
  • 2 Fat Boy Drive-In, Route 24, +1 207 729-9431. The classic old drive-in lives here, and you can eat in your car. Lights on for service. Roll up your window a bit so the waitress can hang your tray on it. Good, inexpensive classic food like burgers and onion rings.
  • 3 Wild Oats Bakery and Cafe, 149 Maine St, +1 207 725-6287. Fantastic baked goods, specialty sandwiches, freshly baked bread, healthy snacks, take home dinners, cookies & cakes & pies, coffee & espresso, homemade soups. The works, really. Delivers to Bowdoin College. Prices are low and quality is high so expect some crowding around meal times.
  • 4 Brunswick Diner, 101 Pleasant St, +1 207 721-1134. 6AM-8PM daily. This classic New England diner has been cooking up all the standard fare for years now. With stools and a formica countertop along one wall and short booth tables along the other, the narrow path separating them provides that vintage dining-car ambiance that keeps customers coming back.

Mid-rangeEdit

 
Shere Punjab, purveyor of fine Indian cuisines
  • 5 Shere Punjab, 46 Maine St, +1 207 373-0422. W-M 11AM-3PM; 5PM-9PM. Indian food.
  • 6 The Great Impasta, 42 Maine St, +1 207 729-5858. Italian food. Lunch and dinner six days. Closed Sundays.
  • 7 Cameron's Lobster House, 18 Bath Rd, +1 207 725-2886. 8AM-7PM daily. Family owned institution with old school feel, serving breakfast lunch and dinner for dine in or drive-thru. Quality lobster rolls at fair prices.
  • 8 Richard's Restaurant, 115 Maine St, +1 207 729-9673. German and American cuisine. German dishes include wienerschnitzel and sauerbraten. German beer on tap. Children's menu. Live piano Saturday nights.
  • 9 Little Tokyo Restaurant, 72 Maine St, +1 207 798-6888. Su-Th 11AM-9:30PM F Sa 11AM-10:30PM. Nice selection of true Japanese staples alongside other dishes Americans are sure to recognize. Flavors are good and staff is friendly and accommodating. Decor is cheery and thoughtful, although starting to feel a bit dated.
  • 10 Gurnet Trading Co., 602 Gurnet Rd, +1 207 729-7300. 10AM-6PM daily. Fantastic seafood is always on the menu in this rustic family restaurant. The folks behind the counter are friendly, and you might even save a buck compared to the offerings in town. Setting can't be beat.

SplurgeEdit

 
Lobster traps as parking cues at Cameron's Lobster House
  • 11 Frontier (The Mill Complex), 14 Maine St, +1 207 725-5222. Tu-Su 9AM-9PM. Outstanding cuisine from across the globe, set in a refurbished old mill overlooking the river. Go during the day for the best views, or go during the night to check out the art gallery, filmhouse, and performance space. A Brunswick original.
  • 12 Tao Yuan, 22 Pleasant St, +1 207 725-9002. Tu-Th 5-9PM, F Sa 5-10PM. Unexpectedly decadent asian fusion restaurant. The creativity on display throughout the tasting menu will be remembered long after the plates are cleared away. The cocktails are also excellent, try the beet yuzu martini.
  • 13 Taverna Khione, 25 Mill Rd, +1 207 406-2847. 5-8PM W-Su. Authentic Greek fare featuring one of the largest all Greek wine lists in the United States. Casually elegant, they go above and beyond to try and replicate a traditional Grecian tavern. Opened for business during April 2015.
  • 14 Enoteca Athena, 97 Maine St, +1 207 721-0100. Tu-Th 3:30-9PM F Sa 3:30-9:30PM. Quality rustic Italian and Italian-American cuisine from chef Tim O’Brien. Mainly locally sourced ingredients means a variety of menu changes throughout the seasons. Opened May 2013, this is a great spot to find anything from an aperitif to creative small plates to a filling dinner. Service is very friendly and flexible. You may want to make reservations during the warmer months.

DrinkEdit

Maine is known for its craft brews, and Brunswick certainly does its part to uphold that tradition. Sea Dog has by far the biggest name and widest distribution of the "varietals" in the area. However, 1 Black Pug along Bath Road and 2 Flight Deck out by the executive airport are generally considered to brew for more elevated palates. If you don't want to drive to your watering hole, you'll find 3 Moderation Brewery nuzzled right in with the rest of the shops along Maine Street.

  • 4 Sea Dog Brewing Company, 1 Bowdoin Mill Island (Topsham), +1 207 725-0162. 11AM-1AM daily. Pub food and Maine microbrews.
  • 5 Vessel & Vine, 4 Pleasant St, +1 207 721-3000. W Th 2-10PM, F Sa 2PM-1AM. Wine bar with a vintage aesthetic. Also serves beer and small plates.

SleepEdit

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under $75
Mid-range $75 - $125
Splurge Over $125
 
The Brunswick Inn (left) reflected by a skating rink on the Town Mall

BudgetEdit

Mid-rangeEdit

SplurgeEdit

  • 7 The Brunswick Hotel, 4 Noble St, +1 207 837-6565. Full Service Tavern opened seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 52 spacious rooms offering complimentary wireless internet and in-room coffee. Function space for up to 120 people. Pet friendly rooms available. $140.
  • 8 Brunswick Inn, 165 Park Row, +1 207 729-4914. Bed and breakfast with 15 rooms, most in the charming 19th century house. There is some additional space in cottages on the property. Tons of period detail, antique furniture, and working fireplaces. Staff is quite friendly and helpful, and the included breakfast is chef prepared. Close to Bowdoin College, train station, and the downtown area. $150.

ConnectEdit

 
Rolling farm fields lay dappled with explosions of summer color

Yes it's Maine, but you're still in civilization. All major cell phone carriers should provide good reception in Brunswick. Providers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint should all have you in good hands. If for whatever reason you need free wi-fi, your hotel and most coffee shops should be able to cover you. If not, the libraries listed here will help you out.

  • 3 Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant St, +1 207 725-5242. M-Th 9:30AM-8PM, F Sa 9:30AM-5PM, Su noon-4PM. Your friendly neighborhood local public library. Free.    
  • 4 Bowdoin College Library, 5 College St, +1 207 725-3280. M-F 8AM-midnight, Sa Su 10AM-11PM. Offers computers and in-house use of their collections. Of course there are many more services available to registered Bowdoin students. Free.
  • 5 Topsham Public Library, 25 Foreside Rd (Topsham), +1 207 725-1727. Tu-Th 9PM-8PM M F Sa 9AM-4PM. A community center for all ages. Free.

Go nextEdit

  • Don't miss the Maine Maritime Museum, premier maritime museum with working exhibits just off Route 1 in Bath.
  • Phippsburg's salt-water beach at Popham Beach State Park is renowned for its wide, sandy beach, beautiful views and excellent swimming.
  • If L.L. Bean and their associated retailers in Freeport don't do it for you, turn instead to the woodsy trails bounded by ocean at Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park.
  • Way out on rural Georgetown island; visit Reid State Park’s 800 acre expanse, or Josephine Newman Sanctuary’s miles of winding trails.
  • Visit the unparalleled Eagle Island State Historic Site in scenic Casco Bay. If you can make it here, you'll never forget your trip.
Routes through Brunswick
END  N   S  FreeportPortland
AugustaRichmond  N   S  FreeportPortland
EllsworthBath  N   S  FreeportPortland
AugustaRichmond  N   S  END
Lewiston–AuburnLisbon  W   E  END



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