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Lewiston is the second largest city in Maine and a short drive from Portland. If you are exploring the Portland area, consider expanding your trip to see more of this beautiful region. Keep reading for a great guide of fun things to do in Lewiston, Maine.
Recently, my husband and I spent a few days in Portland. One afternoon, we hopped in the car for a quick ride to the historic city of Lewiston for lunch and to explore. We found an old industrial city amid a revitalization—old mills transforming into office space, restaurants, and breweries with plenty of outdoor activities.
Visiting Lewiston, Maine
Some guests may write off Lewiston because it is far from Portland, Acadia, or the quaint beach communities on the coast. This would be a mistake as the town is a hidden gem with a rich history in Central Maine.
Franco Center is a performing arts center in town. If you visit for a few days, check out their schedule for beautiful live music performances. They also offer fun activities, such as adult dance classes open to the public for a small fee or a comedy show.
Bates Mill Complex
For many decades, Bates Mill was the center of industrialization and a significant employer in Maine. The massive complex was built on Lewiston Falls for power. Eventually, as deindustrialization swept through the country in the second half of the 20th century, the textile mills closed.
In recent years, there have been significant efforts to revitalize the complex. Today, it serves the community with office space, restaurants, lofts, and a brewery. The buildings are beautiful and worth walking around in the heart of Lewistown.
Baxter Brewing Company
While exploring the mill complex, stroll into the Baxter Brewing Co. You’ll discover delicious beer with a fun atmosphere and outdoor games.
Within the beautiful Bates Mill Complex, you find the gem of an Italian eatery, Davinci’s Eatery. This is the perfect stop after your Brewery visit.
My husband and I enjoyed a leisurely lunch on their patio one summer. We found the food and service outstanding. I tried a sandwich while he ordered pizza and salad.
Although we ate outside, you need to check out the inside. The restaurant is spacious with cute decor.
There’s a rich history since Lewiston was the heart of Maine’s industrialization. The Maine Mill is a museum focused on the role of labor and learning in Gilded Age Maine. You can study a textile worker’s life while recognizing their contributions to the local economy through exhibits, artifacts, and collections.
Veterans Memorial Park
Sitting directly on Androscoggin River is a park dedicated to the town’s veterans.
Lewiston Public Library
During the Gilded Age, industrialization built expansive empires and made some Americans millionaires. Andrew Carnegie made a name for himself in the steel industry while also wanting to help others, especially with education. He helped to build 1689 public libraries throughout the country, including one in Lewiston.
Marsden Hartley Cultural Center is part of the library and serves as a community event gathering place.
Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
With the development of Bates Mill, French Canadians migrated in search of industrial jobs. Most immigrants practiced Catholicism, leading to the construction of the magnificent Basilica. Check their website for mass and confession times.
Bates College Museum of Art
On the campus of Bates College, you will find an impressive Museum of Art. You can explore their exhibits, collections, and community events.
If driving up from Portland, you can follow the Androscoggin River on a scenic drive. You can walk along the waterway on the Auburn Riverwalk, take a picnic, or go kayaking. It is one of the prettiest places in all of Androscoggin County. You can continue to enjoy the river in nearby Brunswick with their swinging bridge.
The Androscoggin Riverlands is a large park with 12 miles of riverfront access. If visiting in winter, you can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling in this park. The park is available for hiking, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking in the summer in warm weather. The park offers so many fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary
The Thorncrag Nature Sanctuary is a 450-acre wildlife preserve open for bird watching, hiking, picnics, cross-country skiing, and photography. Make sure to check out the Thorncrab Bird Sanctuary too.
Simard-Payne Memorial Park
Simard-Payne is a beautiful park on the Androscoggin River. Take a picnic lunch here or walk along the river. The city hosts festivals, films, concerts, and the annual Great Falls Balloon Festival in the summer.
Bates Dance Festival
The Bates Dance Festival is fun for those who appreciate the arts. They host a series of performances from late June through July every year.
One neat part of this event is that the organizers want it to be affordable. So guests choose their ticket price of either $5 or $25.
The Maine Nordiques is a junior league hockey team, and you can catch their hockey games at the Colisee. What a fun activity in the winter months.
Auburn is a neighboring town on the other city of the river. The two communities are known as the twin cities. Walking trails along the Auburn Riverwalk and public access points for kayaks and canoes exist.
While in Auburn, visit the Rollodome, the oldest skating rink in Central Maine. This would be the perfect activity if traveling with kids or during the colder months.
Make time for the Great Balloon Festival if you are in town or Portland in mid-August. The day starts with an early pancake breakfast, a morning launch followed by food booths selling local treats, and a parade. The day ends with a second balloon launch at 6 pm. This is a unique opportunity for August guests.
If you plan to visit during the winter season in January and February, think about a family excursion for snow tubing in Maine. It’s an ideal way to have fun in the snow with your children without the hassle of skiing equipment. Explore Lost Valley Ski in Auburn, which is conveniently located just a brief drive away from Lewiston.
Where to Stay in Lewiston, Maine
Lewiston offers a blend of chain hotels, small motels, and rentals. You can easily find affordable and nice lodging options without breaking the bank. Another option is staying in Portland or Freeport and driving to Lewiston for the day. Click Here for my favorite Portland Hotel.
Harraseeket Inn is a gorgeous hotel in Freeport, only 30 minutes away. Although it is a bit away, you could spend 1-2 days exploring Lewiston and add Brunswick and, of course Freeport. You don’t want to miss the massive LL Bean boot!
Ready to book the Harraseeket Inn? Click HERE!
Although technically in Auburn, the Hilton Garden Inn Riverwalk is one of my favorite options for lodging. The location is fabulous, perched above the Androscoggin River with magnificent views.
Ready to book the Hilton Garden Inn Riverwalk? Click HERE!
On a budget? Then this is the place for you! The SureStay Hotel has modern decor at a great price point for those looking to save money on a hotel. Some perks include a friendly staff, a pet-friendly policy, and a complimentary daily breakfast.
Ready to book the SureStay Hotel? Click HERE!
Another option is staying in Portland and driving to Lewiston for the day. The drive is out 45 minutes and this hotel is the heart of the city.
Click HERE for my favorite Portland Hotel.
FAQ: Visiting Lewiston, Maine
What’s a fun fact about Lewiston?
Actor Patrick Dempsey was born in Lewiston! His non-profit, the Dempsey Center, hosts a yearly fundraiser for cancer patients in the community called the Dempsey Challenge. The event is outdoors and a fun combo of a walk/run/ride event for all ages.
Is Lewiston, Maine, worth visiting?
Lewiston is a town undergoing a fun transition and working hard to update its downtown. It is worth checking out during your adventure to the great state of Maine.
What is Lewiston, Maine, known for?
It is the second-largest city in Maine and is known for its long history of industrialization. Also, in the late 19th century, French Canadians from Quebec migrated to the city to work in the textile mills. Over the years, Lewiston developed a rich Franco-American culture.
How do you get to Lewiston, Maine?
It is sandwiched between Portland and Augusta. It is just a quick drive from either location.
In conclusion: Things to do in Lewiston, Maine
Most guests to Maine hightail it to Acadia and miss out on some neat communities. As your plan next, make sure to include a stop in Lewiston, Maine. My guide to the best things to do in Lewiston, Maine, helps you plan your next great adventure.