Every thriving modern city has undergone major evolution throughout the years, and Belfast, Maine, is no exception.
From a sailing town that built hundreds of ships, the city developed into a manufacturer of shoes and processed chickens.
Today, the riverside city has become a lively center for industry, history, and the arts.
You can see the city’s houses' history, whose designs harken to the 19th century when it first blossomed.
Elegant sea captain's homes populate green neighborhoods some distance from the fancy brick buildings downtown.
Inside these buildings work artisans and artists who also populate Belfast’s rich art scene.
You can find their works in galleries and shops around the city.
For 30 years, the local community theater, called the Belfast Maskers, has sustained the magic of the performing arts in the city.
Do you want to know more about Belfast, ME?
Here’s a list of the best things to do in the city:
Go Hiking Along the Belfast Rail Trail
This hiking trail is unique because it doesn’t just show you nature, but it also shows you remnants of Belfast’s history.
You’ll find vintage trains and shipwrights making boats on either end of the trail.
While walking the 2.3-mile trail, you’ll pass through the thick woods along the Passagassawaukeag River (Passy for short), leading to clear riverside views.
Historically, this trail was the southern section of the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad.
From 1871 to 2007, this section ran for over 33 miles from Belfast to Burnham, and it became the Belfast Rail Trail in 2016.
This trail will impress you with the importance of the train in the United States’ progress in the 19th century.
The Belfast Rail Trail starts at 13 Oak Hill Rd, Belfast, ME 04915.
Make Your Souvenirs at Lupine Cottage
You can buy all the souvenir items you want in Belfast, but why don’t you try making them yourself?
Just visit Lupine Cottage, and they’ll teach you how to make crafts by hand and bring them home with you.
Lupine Cottage is an artists’ cooperative with more than 65 members.
As craftspeople, they create gorgeous, high-quality goods that are on sale.
They also hold classes on various crafts like crocheting, knitting, and creating essential oils.
With your newfound skills, you can wow your friends at home.
Visit Lupine Cottage at 7 Old Searsport Avenue, Belfast, ME 04915.
Grab More Souvenirs at the Purple Baboon
If you prefer to buy souvenirs, you can go to the Purple Baboon to grab some Maine-themed trinkets and traditional gift items.
For example, you can buy blueberry-printed mugs for your morning cup of joe.
You can grab a sweater or pajama pants that feature funny moose drawings.
The Purple Baboon also sells locally made goods such as syrups, tea, and maple-flavored candy.
If you’re walking around downtown Belfast, you can see this store right along the waterfront district.
Visit the Purple Baboon at 31 Front St., Belfast, ME 04915.
Support Local Artists with Waterfall Arts
In 2000, Maine artists banded together to found Waterfall Arts, a community arts center in Belfast.
Over the years, the center has fostered the creative energies rising in the city through workshops, classes, exhibitions, and events.
You’ll get to see these artists’ works up close during your visit, and you can learn the basics of their craft yourself.
For example, Waterfall Arts allows you to attend public art studios involving ceramics, darkroom photography, glass-blowing, and using the Kennedy press.
You might need to enroll in a class or orientation session before entering the studios.
Visit Waterfall Arts at 256 High Street, Belfast, Maine 04915.
Spend the Day at the Belfast City Park
Another piece of Maine history, the Belfast City Park, is the city’s oldest park.
The local women’s group called the Belfast Village Improvement Society founded the park in 1904, which also became their crowning achievement.
Today, the 17.5-acre park sees heavy traffic because of its various amenities.
You can go there simply to admire the pristine view of Penobscot Bay or participate in different activities.
For example, you can play tennis, basketball, or baseball.
You can also play pickleball or try horseshoe with your friends.
Then, you can also have a barbecue at the park’s grills.
Visit the Belfast City Park at Northport Avenue, Belfast, ME 04915.
Learn Local History with the Belfast Historical Society and Museum
If you want to learn Belfast history, your first visit should be to the Belfast Historical Society and Museum.
This museum contains various historical artifacts, ranging from photographs, old maps to postcards.
You can also drop by the archives and library if you’re a serious historian.
One significant part of Belfast’s history is its maritime heritage.
After all, the city’s roots lay in shipbuilding, which produced over 600 sailing ships in the 19th century.
At the time, most men worked in ships or maritime industries.
When you enter the museum, you’ll find paintings, photos, and a model of the ship Charlotte W. White.
Visit the Belfast Historical Society and Museum at 10 Market St., Apt. 3, Belfast, ME 04915.
Grab Nice Antiques at Ambiance
Antique collectors need to drop by Belfast for Ambiance, a unique antique shop that offers treasures like home décor, furniture, and lamps.
Their diverse selections will please not only the veteran collector but also the antique newcomer.
Why go to big-box stores when you can go to Ambiance and grab home furnishings with flavor?
Don’t waste your time with generic décor.
Pay a visit to Ambiance and look for the item that speaks to you.
Visit Ambiance at 125 Main St., Belfast, ME 04915.
Explore Nature Along the Little River Trail
The Little River Trail becomes a terrific place for snowshoe hiking in the winter.
You can also try cross-country sledding there.
However, that doesn’t mean the trail isn’t good in other seasons.
Hiking the trail gives you pleasant views of the Little River, two reservoirs, and local wildlife.
Bring your camera in case a rare critter pops into view.
Overall, you’ll pass through thick woods, follow the shoreline of a lake, and go along the Little River.
You’ll also cross gullies and two roads.
The five-mile hike should help you break a sweat during your Belfast trip.
Take a Stroll Along the Belfast Harbor Walk
Downtown Belfast also provides travelers with plenty of leisure activities.
One of these is a pleasant stroll down the Harbor Walk.
What can you do on this stretch?
While the Harbor Walk may be short, it doesn’t suffer from a shortage of activity.
You can bike, jog, or walk down this path while taking in the sights of downtown Belfast.
You can also stop by the Armistice Bridge for some birding.
Bring your camera out for the loons, gulls, ducks, eagles, and even ospreys that might fly by.
While walking down the path, you can also get as close as possible to a working shipyard.
Explore the Waterfront at Heritage Park
Along the Belfast waterfront, you’ll find several interesting buildings and places.
One of them is Heritage Park, where you can spend an entire day admiring the pristine green lawn and the view of the harbor.
You’d also guess that Heritage Park was an industrial site turned into a green space.
Today, you can just lay out your picnic basket or have a feast on any of the tables.
You can even roll out a blanket and lay down on the grass.
From time to time, Heritage Park also holds concerts or arts events.
Visit Heritage Park at 25 Front St., Belfast, ME 04915.
Get a New Hobby at the Belfast Curling Club
You might have heard of the sport curling on TV, but you have no idea where to play.
Lucky for you, Belfast’s curling club is here to teach you how to enjoy the lovely Olympic sport.
The club opened officially in 1959, thanks to the efforts of its founder, Dr. Norman E. Cobb, and a group of friends.
The Belfast Curling Club hosts a curling league and holds an affordable introductory session for amateurs every Saturday.
So, you can visit the club whenever to watch the teams practice, and then learn how to play on the weekend.
Visit the Belfast Curling Club at 211 Belmont Avenue, Belfast, ME 04915.
See a Movie at the Historic Colonial Theatre
The Colonial Theater catches the eye of every tourist going to Belfast, and for a good reason.
It’s the only place in the city that reminds you starkly of Hollywood’s old glamor.
Thanks to its high Art Deco design and its giant neon marquee, this theater transports you to a time when movie stars were truly stars.
Look up at the roof, and you’ll even see an elephant sculpture.
While the theater’s design dates back to 1947, it has operated since 1912.
It is an essential part of Belfast’s history.
The Colonial Theater screens Hollywood blockbusters, indies, and foreign films today.
So, treat yourself to a fancy movie night in downtown Belfast!
Visit the Colonial Theatre at 163 High St., Belfast, ME 04915.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Enjoy a Quiet Afternoon at Moose Point State Park
Twelve minutes away from Belfast lies the town of Searsport, where you can find the Moose Point State Park.
If you want a place with a perfect view of Penobscot Bay, this park is the place for you.
Otherwise, if you’re still on your way to Belfast, you might also want to stop by this wonderful coastal park.
The park has walking trails to keep you active, and it also has an evergreen grove to keep you cool and relaxed.
Likewise, you can approach the coast and get your feet wet on the tidal pools.
Although, of course, you can simply gaze at the serene view of the bay and slough off your worries.
You can find Moose Point State Park at 310 West Main Street, Searsport, ME 04974.
Ride a Train at the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad
Almost half an hour away from Belfast, the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad lies in the town of Unity.
This historical railroad once operated from 1871 to 2007 before opening as a tourist site in 2016.
Today, you can go on weekend excursions through the train running from the Unity station.
Feel the wind whooshing through your window as you watch the scenic views pass you.
You can even charter a train for your group if you want a private affair.
The Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad operates out of 212 Depot Street, Unity, ME 04988.
Go Swimming at Swan Lake State Park
Now, eleven minutes away from Belfast lies the town of Swanville, where you can also find Swan Lake State Park.
As the name suggests, this park sits beside a lake, and you can swim in it.
A lifeguard is supervising the swimming area, so take the plunge.
If you’re stopping over on your way to Belfast, you can also enjoy a picnic or grill some burgers.
Then, you can walk along a few trails to get your heart pumping.
Large groups can go to the private group shelter with a volleyball court, some horseshoe pits, and inclusive restrooms.
Visit Swan Lake State Park at 100 W Park Lane, Swanville, ME 04915.
With a perfect mix of nature and history, Belfast is a precious getaway for travelers wishing to escape the pressures of city life.
There are many places to relax and bond with family or friends.
Likewise, there are also spots where you can try new hobbies or even learn a new craft.
Let your worries go, and book a trip to Belfast today!