Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor, ME

  • Published 2022/08/30

Sitting within Lincoln County, Maine, United States, Boothbay Harbor is a quintessential tourist delight.

Hotels, inns, and restaurants pepper the landscape, offering a multitude of eating establishments.

It’s an ideal location for residents looking to bypass all stressful daily routines.

English farmers and fishers settled in Boothbay as early as 1622 when the Plymouth settlers began arriving.

Boothbay Harbor has some of the most enchanting stories and legends ever told, but it’s time for you to discover or rediscover what this place looks like now.

If you’re thinking of visiting Boothbay Harbor and unsure what to see and do here, here’s a list of the best things to do in Boothbay Harbor, Maine:

Don’t Miss Harbor Lights Festival

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Aglow

Dylan br /

Boothbay, Maine, is the annual host to the award-winning Festival of Lights that attracts thousands of visitors.

Over 100 luminaries grace the streets creating a winter-wonderland atmosphere.

The festival also features various nightlife entertainments, including a new outdoor ice bar showcasing a high-energy light show synchronized across multiple LED screens.

Both small mom-and-pop shops and big corporate names are ready to show off their sales.

The A Silver Lining jewelry store, founded in 1887, is just one example.

The home of the famous hand-wrought Maine Bracelet has been selling electrum jewelry for decades, each handcrafted by skilled artisans!

If you want something unique, check out Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Aglow, a fascinating display of plants adorned with sparkling lights.

This ocean view garden isn’t technically part of the festival, but it’s become a part of it because this pinnacle botanic treasure rivals even the most creative displays during this magical time.

Find Your Perfect Gift at Abacus Gallery

Sun-touched pottery, sea-worn paintings, and picturesque landscapes are bound to bring back fond memories of your Maine Coast vacation.

The unique gift shop, located in downtown Boothbay Harbor, has gifts for everyone on your list.

From precious keepsakes to creative handmade items, Abacus Gallery is proud to showcase many pieces created by their very own local artisans.

Whether you’re looking for something fun for the kids (like handmade bracelets or paintings), beautiful artwork for your home (like framed photography or original oil paintings), or a unique piece of handcrafted jewelry, Abacus has what you’re looking for.

You can add some serious style to your everyday wardrobe with some jewelry from Abacus Gallery!

Ed Levin, Ian Gibson, Todd Pownell, and Philippa Roberts are some of the artists behind some of the beautiful pieces.

Plus, there’s a wide selection of home goods, too, including some wonderful spiritiles, a cribbage board set, some fantastic clocks, some gorgeous lamps, and so much more!

Enjoy Live Music and Delicious Food at the Fall Foliage Festival

Boothbay Railway Village, a charming historical tourist destination in Boothbay Harbor, hosts its Fall Foliage Festival every Columbus Day weekend.

The Boothbay Harbor Fall Foliage Festival is a traditional event that draws residents and visitors from all over New England.

For those unfamiliar with it, the Fall Foliage Festival is a grand celebration of everything vintage.

That’s right, 52 years running, and this festival is still going strong.

The setting is a four-acre green surrounded by a charming collection of vintage buildings that you can freely explore.

There are also village goats, an antique car museum, and a model railroad, creating an authentic vintage experience.

Colorful leaves cover every inch of downtown as people stroll from exhibit to exhibit, enjoying live music and delicious food.

In addition to all these fun events, there are also many fabulous stores where you can pick up authentic crafts from all over New England.

Sail Your Way to Fun With Tidal Transit

If you’re looking for something to do in Boothbay Harbor, there’s nothing like sailing.

The area is full of great possibilities when it comes to exploring on water, which is why you should visit Tidal Transit.

You can find them conveniently inside the Boothbay Harbor business that offers kayak rentals.

For the most passionate of paddlers, the calm inner harbor of Tidal Transit’s dock is a great place to relax.

But for those who thrive on adventure, the peaceful area is only the beginning.

So whether you’re an experienced kayaker or someone who has taken their guided tour around the bay, there are plenty of options at your disposal.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

It’s always a good time to get out on the water, but if you’re planning on paddling to work yourself, why not pick up any of our custom T-Shirts or hats while you’re at it?

Happily, they don’t just deal with kayaks; they provide all kinds of outdoor-related goods.

Experience the Local Heritage at Windjammer Days

A boat during Windjammer Days

Jeff Schultes /

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing event that captures what it’s like to be a Mainer, then head out to Windjammer Days.

Windjammer Days is a time to enjoy the summer with friends and family, especially those who live in the Boothbay region.

It’s an opportunity for all generations of families to reunite and embrace the beauty of this special time of year.

This week-long celebration of everything Boothbay has run from June through July and features boat parades and pirate-themed activities.

Enjoy the Best Clambake in Cabbage Island

Once you set foot on Cabbage Island, you’ll get warm greetings and hospitality from Bob and Wayne Moore, who will be your hosts.

You can choose to dine inside with a lovely view of the sea or outdoors by the fire pit.

Every option comes with beautiful scenery accompanying your meal, including an unobstructed view of the waves crashing against the rocks and Maine’s picturesque coastline panoramas.

The Moore family will treat you to a delicious and appetizing clambake with everything from lobster rolls to steaming clam chowder.

After the best clambake experience, it’s up to you whether to venture to Hawk Point as you explore the wooded trails or snuggle up at the base of the great oak tree.

Cross paths with other visitors on island activities like volleyball or horseshoes, or take a peaceful stroll along the shore.

Cabbage Island’s beauty has been luring peaceful rest seekers and artists for years.

You’re bound to feel satisfied with the Cabbage Island experience no matter what.

Visit Maine State Aquarium

The Maine State Aquarium can be one of your favorite places to go in Boothbay Harbor.

Not only is it great for kids but also adults.

If you’re looking for things to do in Boothbay Harbor with children, then I highly recommend taking them here.

Regional fish and invertebrates make up the Maine State Aquarium under the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR)’s care.

You can enjoy sitting inside the granite-like cliffs of the main gallery.

Here, you’ll also meet Neptune, the jumbo male lobster who constantly brags about his gigantic claws.

The different stages of young lobsters are on display next door.

Colorful marine life makes the “Downeast” tank a hit to visitors, but it’s not just the stunning hues of the local species that will draw you in.

The Maine State Aquarium also displays northern shrimp, odd-looking bottom-dwellers, and squid exhibiting intriguing behaviors.

Yet that’s not all!

Also, you can spot Maine sport fish, like skates and sharks, that are always ready to make friends with those brave enough to pat them.

A beautiful piece is the 20-x-12-foot touch tank stocked with a wide variety of sea creatures.

You can even interact with them, pet urchins or starfish to your heart’s content, and pick up various invert species for a closer inspection.

If you have pointy fingernails, gently poke the moon snail underwater when it retracts its shell.

And don’t forget to see how a starfish or echinoderm appears to eat!

Eat Your Way to Heaven at the Boathouse Bistro

Stop by Boathouse Bistro, and you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a quiet European hideaway.

You’ll not only enjoy the food that is wonderfully crafted, but you’ll also have fun in their three different dining rooms or bars with your friends.

If it’s been a while since you had a great time with quality food, get ready for an I-can-wait-to-come-back experience.

The Boathouse Bistro is where foodies find themselves being impressed by its Napa Valley-inspired hand-cut steaks handcrafted in their own artisan-style, accompanied with Maine’s freshest seafood, local produce, and decadent sides.

They have an excellent wine list to pair up with the dishes you must try here.

The Boathouse Bistro has something for everyone!

Enjoy Soft Serve Ice Cream on the Go at Sarah’s Scoops

Who doesn’t love ice cream?

While you’re on your trip up north, be sure to stop by Sarah’s Scoops.

They have all sorts of delicious, fresh homemade ice cream served every day.

Here, flavors are “Made in Maine” at the seasonal walk-up take-out stand that features traditional favorites like their old-fashioned premium floats.

They also offer new flavors, such as hot fudge chip cookie sandwiches, banana splits with crushed peppermint sticks, brownie sundaes with mini chocolate chips, and so much more!

The suggested toppings of rainbow sprinkles, toffee crunch, and oreo crumbs make for an excellent addition to whichever flavor you choose!

Experience the Flavorful Atmosphere at Ports of Italy Restaurant

One of your first stops should be a delicious lunch at Ports of Italy Restaurant.

This is a premier restaurant that specializes in different seafood dishes.

The atmosphere here is stunning, and it’s one of those places where you can sit back and relax with your family or take a date out for dinner.

Located in Commercial Street, Boothbay Harbor, Ports of Italy presents only the finest quality seafood available.

The restaurant’s specialty includes Antipasto dishes, such as roasted eggplants, zucchini scapece, red beets, asparagus, roasted peppers, and white beans.

Ports of Italy is also famous for its dish called “The Porchetta,” a traditionally southern Italian way of preparing a whole pig before roasting it to perfection over a spit.

Port of Italy also has an amazing wine list that rivals many others in the area.

Now, if you’re not in the mood for any of these main entrées, you’ll love their finest cuisine from Italy, which is a roasted Branzino fish with rosemary and garlic.

Come to the Historic Pythian Opera House

Exterior of the Historic Pythian Opera House


The old Opera House in Boothbay has been putting on hundreds of performances for over a hundred years.

The Historic Pythian Opera House has been the venue for every music and entertainment imaginable.

It can’t get any more local than that!

People travel from all over Maine and the surrounding areas to catch the highlights on display here.

Oftentimes, when you walk into a place, you feel the energy of the atmosphere.

In this case, you won’t help but notice that there’s just something magical about The Opera House.

It has a warm and inviting ambiance with lively acoustics.

While visiting this venue for live entertainment, be sure to stop by the premier old bar room upstairs for a drink or two!

You’ll have no regrets as you meet new faces from all walks of life at this incredible space found in the heart of Boothbay Harbor’s downtown area.

Connect With Nature at Penny Lake Preserve

One of the first things you should do when coming to Boothbay is explore everything nature offers!

In particular, spend a morning at Penny Lake Preserve.

This forested preserve offers numerous places for you and your friends or family members to have fun together.

The freshwater wetland with an open field and adjoining woodlands is a great place to go for an inspiring array of wildlife viewing.

Located in downtown Boothbay Harbor, this 29-acre piece of property includes a 25-acre easement close to Boothbay schools, the St. Andrews Village Retirement Community, the YMCA, and much more!

So if you’re someone who loves being around water, then this pristine lake might be one of your favorite places to dine at.

And those who also happen to have pets will be thrilled to learn that there are some trails here on the property that are barrier-free and perfect for both strollers and wheelchairs.

People who live throughout the area and tourists frequently use the trails for exercise or leisurely walks with their dogs.

Take a Hike at One of BRLT’s Preserves

The Boothbay Region Land Trust is a nature and conservation non-profit based in Boothbay that aims to connect people with nature.

They encourage community members to be involved with their work, even if it means getting out on a trail or attending an event.

Everyone who lives in the area takes part in keeping this unique corner of Maine.

Their Visitors Center rests in Oak Point Farm and welcomes those who want to learn more about the organization while participating in many of the great activities the area has to offer.

You can enjoy the scenery and take a tour of the grounds to see the animals that reside here.

Not only that, but you can also purchase merchandise, get free educational programs that you can participate in, learn more about what BRLT is trying to do, or explore its preserves by sea or land!

Hop in Cap’n Fish’s Cruises

Cap’n Fish’s Cruises is the best option for a boat excursion around the coast of Maine, where you may spot puffins, whales, and other wildlife.

Seven days a week, from the middle of May through the middle of October, trips leave from Maine’s historic Boothbay Harbor.

Listen to our engaging Naturalists and Captains, who are well-versed in the region’s sights and animals, and have a good time learning about the maritime history of Maine.

Our boats are spacious, contemporary, and comfortable.

They come with a full bar and kitchen where you can help yourself to food, drinks, wine, beer, and cocktails while taking in the breathtaking views from the upper and lower decks.

Catch a Performance at Carousel Music Theater

Operation of this Boothbay Harbor, Maine landmark began in 1982, becoming an annual event.

You can see world-class performers at the Carousel Music Theater and enjoy a delicious three-course dinner that will bring you back for more.

Bridge over Penny Lake leads to Carousel Music Theater.

You may partake in the time-honored ritual of dinner and a performance at this local theater.

While you dine on a three-course dinner, a talented cast of singers and actors will perform for you.

Stroll through Boothbay Harbor Footbridge

View of the sunset from Boothbay Harbor Footbridge

davidmarxphoto /

To go over the inner harbor at Boothbay, you may take the footbridge that spans 1,000 feet.

A visit to the mid-wharf Bridge House, erected in 1902 at the cost of only $1,500, will reveal the intriguing history of this historic wooden footbridge, constructed in 1901 for $2,500.

There is nothing quite like the view over the port and all the boats parked and anchored from Footbridge.

Wooden house along Boothbay Harbor Footbridge

Catherine Robotis /

Boothbay Harbor Footbridge is an ideal setting for a passionate evening stroll, whether it’s at sunrise or dusk.

In addition to breathtaking scenery, the region is dotted with restaurants and bars, making for a lively evening.

Cap off Your Night at Footbridge Brewery

Local Boothbay Harbor, Maine brewery making beer in small batches.

Its goal is to produce artisan beer using as many locally derived components from Maine as possible without negatively impacting the state’s precious natural resources.

Thanks to the variety of offerings, you’ll be able to select a beer that suits your tastes and those that you might not have even realized you wanted.

The tasting room is kid- and dog-friendly, making it great for gatherings of all kinds.

In addition, there’s a little terrace out front where you can sit and watch the brewmaster at work via the massive windows.

Bring Home a Piece of Boothbay Harbor from Sweet Bay

You may find a wonderful assortment of Maine-made products at Sweet Bay.

It’s a boutique that opened in Boothbay Harbor in 2010.

It sells unusual items you won’t be able to get anywhere else.

The store is ultra-chic and contemporary, with a friendly, beachy vibe.

There are jewelry pieces, prints by Valarie Paul, Jan Kilburn, and Susan Boucher, and tote bags and sea bags made from marine plastic.

Cast-iron mice and framed porcelain teapots are also somewhat in demand.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take a Day Trip to Monhegan Island

Scenic view of Monhegan Island

Corey T Burns /

If you want to see a little bit of what life is like outside of Boothbay Harmor but don’t have a ton of time, then take a day trip on a boat ride to Monhegan Island.

There aren’t that many people on this small island.

Pathway of Monhegan Island's main street

E.J.Johnson Photography /

As soon as you step foot on Monhegan, you will notice that there are no cars or roads, and all transportation needs are taken care of by bikes or boats.

Because of its isolationist nature, many visit the island only during the summer months.

Although its remote location offers peace and seclusion, it also provides an array of natural sights worth seeing during the day and night.

View of the Monhegan Island lighthouse

Kate Sfeir /

With only about 100 year-round residents in residence, the mainstays for this small corner of Maine are lobstermen who come in to dock with their season’s catch.

Monhegan also welcomes artists who seek inspiration from the ocean views, fishers who work offshore during much of the year, and visitors who come in to experience what life was like here in centuries past.

Wooden chairs overlooking the ocean at Monhegan Island

Karen Gazzard /

Discover the Natural Beauty of Damariscove Island

If you’re looking for a bit of natural beauty and want to learn more about some incredible wildlife, then look no further than Damariscove Island.

Here, you’ll discover many different species of birds and wildlife that you wouldn’t have if you stayed on land.

Boothbay Harbor is part of the “Pemaquid Region” in Maine, including other little coastal towns like Damariscove Island.

Boaters can access Damariscove Island 6 miles out to sea from Boothbay Harbor via an excellent, tiny protected harbor.

Visitors can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, picnicking, and exploring the island’s unique ecological habitat of coastal tundra.

At the head of a charming little harbor, a small museum tells you all about the area’s flora and fauna as well as its fascinating history.

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of beautiful things to see and do in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

If you’re thinking about visiting Boothbay Harbor any time soon and wondering what there is to do, use this article as your reference.

Whether it’s spotting wildlife or indulging in the local cuisine, you won’t want to miss seeing this magnificent ocean-side destination.

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