Blake Walsh

22 Best Things to Do in Boothbay, ME

  • Published 2023/04/04

See also: Best Things to Do in Bootbay Harbour

Boothbay, Maine, is a great place to eat and shop, and it has a fascinating history, too.

This peaceful village, situated on the Gulf of Maine and surrounded by water, is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts.

It’s located on the Cape Newagen peninsula and extends into the Gulf of Maine, surrounded by water on three sides.

The town includes Damariscove Island and borders Edgecomb to the north and Boothbay Harbor to the south.

The climate here is mild, but it can get freezing during winter.

The town gets its name from Thomas B. Boothby, who was born in England and arrived at Boothbay Harbor in 1819.

The town was incorporated in 1856.

Here are the best things to do in Boothbay, ME:

Fall in Love with Colors at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

A lily pond at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Erin Deleon /

You can’t just go to one place in Boothbay, Maine.

After 16 years of planning, planting, and construction, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens officially opened in 2007.

A group of Mainers formed a non-profit organization in 1991 to get things moving in this direction.

Steel roots installation in front of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens' visitor center

Erin Deleon /

In 1996, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens purchased 128 acres of land with 3,600 feet of tidal coast frontage in Boothbay.

On average, 200,000 tourists from the United States and 63 international nations visit the gardens each year.

Beautiful flowers at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

davidmarxphoto /

Check Haney Hillside Garden’s Top Flowering Plants

Visiting the Haney Hillside Garden in Boothbay, Maine, is a delightful experience.

Landscape architect Bruce John Riddell designed the garden, which consists of three terraces connected by 1,000 feet of switchback paths.

In 2007, a destructive storm damaged the garden, bringing down hundreds of mature evergreens.

Between 2010 and 2011, the garden underwent a thorough makeover.

In the upper areas, they planted 6,000 native plants.

In the lower sections at the water’s edge, natural flora was selectively pruned as the primary vegetation management technique.

Marvel at the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses

You can find gardening at its finest at the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses.

Herb Schaal, a landscape architect, designed the garden, which opened to the public in 2009.

The park contains winding paths and a range of heights with a total area of less than an acre.

The trails go around and through five different locations to showcase each sensation.

The garden features various components to accommodate physically challenged guests, including a smooth, firm surface and a gentle slope for wheeled mobility assistance.

Try Boating at Damariscove Island

In the middle of Damariscove Island, you’ll find a tiny beach waiting to be explored.

The only way to get to the beach is by boat, and there are many options in Boothbay Harbor for renting one.

Those who are more adventurous can kayak or stand-up paddleboard their way to the island or swim there from another port area.

Bring a picnic to the beach or hiking boots to explore this tiny piece of paradise once you’ve arrived.

On the island, numerous paths lead to former fishing settlements and Coast Guard bases.

It is one of the few attractions along Maine’s coast where ospreys nest, so if you’re lucky, you might see one.

In 1978, the National Register of Historic Places inducted most of the area into the record because of its long history and archaeological value.

Learn New Things at the Damariscove Lifesaving Station

The Damariscove Lifesaving Station is a historic maritime rescue facility on the southernmost island of Boothbay Harbor in Maine.

Constructed in 1897, it is one of the most architecturally notable stations left standing today.

It is a 1.5-story, asymmetrically massed wood frame building with hip roofs.

At its southeast corner is an octagonal observation tower, connected to a boathouse with bay doors facing north toward the river.

The United States government formed the United States Life-Saving Service in 1874 to offer marine rescue services along the nation’s coasts and waterways.

Look at the Pretty Ram Island Light

The waters below Ram Island Light

Rabbitti /

One can easily see why this lighthouse is one of Boothbay’s most impressive landmarks.

The brick tower’s rise is supported by a granite base, iron stairways, and a railing.

Built in 1883, this lighthouse marked the eastern entrance to Boothbay Harbor.

A wooden pier leading to the Ram Island Light

Tabor Chichakly /

It was automated in 1965 and then transformed into a marine radio beacon.

Ocean Point is situated on the eastern side of Boothbay Harbor.

It’s one of a chain of islands that run southward from Linekin Neck Peninsula.

A short canal divides this tiny island from Fisherman’s Island, an island that is both long and narrow from north to south.

Daytime view of the Ram Island Light

Brian Logan Photography /

Discover Federal Architecture at the Knight-Corey House

The Knight-Corey House is an excellent place to visit if you’re searching for something different to do in Boothbay.

Established in 1787, it is a superb example of Federal-style architecture.

The interior has been restored to its Federal period beauty and features five operable fireplaces, gunstock supports, and a spectacular circular staircase.

Nicholas Knight built the house, home to a sizable collection of theater-related artifacts gathered by Franklyn Lenthall.

These artifacts included several artifacts connected to Edwin Booth and Sarah Bernhardt.

The museum was closed in 1990, and they sold its objects at auction.

Go Island Hopping at Fisherman Island

A hidden gem on Maine’s central coast is Fisherman Island.

It is close to Boothbay Harbor and has a long history as a retreat spot for religious groups.

It also has some incredibly intriguing prehistoric archaeological artifacts.

From Ocean Point, Boothbay’s southernmost mainland, to the tip of the Linekin Neck peninsula, the islands’ archipelago lies off the town’s eastern shore.

The island’s northern part has a tiny cluster of buildings that might one day serve as an inn or family getaway.

A small collection of renovated structures on the island’s northern half were former religious retreats.

Visit the Old Gray House

The Old Gray House, or the Hodgden-Merrow House, is a historic house and tavern in Boothbay, Maine.

It has stood there since at least 1828.

There are also records of a tavern run by Joseph Patten in the 1750s.

Thomas Hodgden Jr. purchased the site in 1828 and operated a store and tavern there.

As postmasters and justices of the peace, the Hodgdens played a vital role in Boothbay’s history.

William Merrow bought the home in 1941, and his family lived there until 1974 when they sold it to new owners.

Today, the house is open for visitors; it’s lovely to see the original flooring still in place.

Go Green at Bosarge Family Education Center

The Bosarge Family Education Center in Boothbay is considered Maine’s greenest building.

Constructed in 2011, the 8,200-square-foot building received a LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

In other words, it’s an environmentally friendly building.

The building is solar-powered; a 45 kW photovoltaic panel array generates the required energy to operate the facility.

You will surely love to see their green projects!

Commune with Nature at Penny Lake Preserve

Are you looking for a dose of nature while at Boothbay Harbor?

Visit the Penny Lake Preserve.

The Boothbay Region Land Trust owns this freshwater marsh, which features an accessible half-mile route that crosses a wooden bridge.

In particular, this trail is well-suited to wheelchair users and families with young children.

Runners, hikers, and dog walkers will enjoy an additional half-mile trail.

The preserve is open from sunrise to sunset throughout the year, so you can visit whenever you choose.

See Marine Life at the Maine State Aquarium

If you’re searching for an aquarium that’s a little different from the others, the Maine State Aquarium in Boothbay Harbor is a terrific location.

This unusual aquarium features a collection of local fish and invertebrates.

It is situated on the shores of West Boothbay Harbor and flanked by granite-like cliffs.

You can witness lobsters of various sizes and shapes in their rocky habitat.

If you’re lucky, you might even see Neptune, the giant male, in his lobster den.

Skates and sharks are two other rare species only found at the Maine State Aquarium.

Therefore, this aquarium is worth visiting if you’re seeking a fun day trip with the family or want to see some intriguing sea life.

Dine and Cruise with Cabbage Island Clambakes

Seafood lunch or dinner is great.

A cruise is great.

But what about a cruise and delicious seafood meals?

In the summer season from June to September, Cabbage Island Clambakes opens to the public for boat trips right on the Maine Coast.

You’ll see amazing lighthouses, waterfowl, and seals while boarding the boat called Bennie Alice and taking in the delightful views the coastline offers.

As soon as you arrive on the island, you’ll be greeted with sumptuous seafood meals with its traditional Downeast clambake.

After the delicious meal, you can tour this beautiful island, and don’t forget to take photos!

Cabbage Island Clambakes was established in 1956.

Enjoy a Kayak Adventure with Tidal Transit Kayak Company

Maximize the great outdoors of Boothbay and go on a kayak adventure with Tidal Transit Kayak Company.

The shop offers a fleet of kayaks for rent, including life jackets, paddles, and basic instructions on how to use your kayak.

You can also choose either a single or tandem kayak, which is available in different sizes with rudders for ease and stability.

Spend a few hours in the water close to herons and seals, and enjoy the terrific views of the Maine coast!

Tidal Transit Kayak Company is located off Granary Way.

Hike the Ovens Mouth Preserves

A total of 5 miles of trails on both East and West of the Ovens Mouth Preserves await you to explore its serenity and natural beauty.

The East section of the preserve offers a 1.1-mile loop trail on 60 acres of hilly and woody property with gorgeous views of the Back River.

In the west, about 3.6 miles of trail on 86 acres offer a more challenging hike through the woods and beautiful views along the shore.

It’s another adventure to soak in nature and some exercise too!

Ovens Mouth Preserves are a part of the nature preserve efforts of the Boothbay Region Land Trust.

Get Your Cup of Coffee at Farm 23

For your daily coffee fix whether in the morning or on a fine afternoon in Boothbay, Farm 23 is the answer!

This quaint coffee shop serves fair-trade organic coffee and espresso paired with handcrafted baked goodies.

Try its delicious selection of cookies, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, muffins, bagels, scones, and breakfast sandwiches.

Farm 23 is nestled in a beautiful, rustic 1810 farmhouse.

So if you want to have your favorite cup of coffee while being surrounded by amazing views, Farm 23 is your place!

Shop for Gifts and Souvenirs at Enchantments

Not only that you get to take in the amazing views that Boothbay offers, but you also get to pick up some unique and gorgeous gifts and souvenirs for this trip!

To achieve this, visit Enchantments to browse its eclectic collection of crystals, tarot, jewelry, books, art, home decor, wind chimes, and many more.

You’ll be mesmerized by its unique items you may not be able to find elsewhere.

It’s a perfect spot to get yourself and your loved ones some beautiful stuff before heading back home.

Visit Enchantments at Boothbay House Hill Road.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit the Burnt Island Lighthouse

Scenic sunset over Burnt Island Lighthouse

davidmarxphoto /

There’s nothing better than getting away from the bustle of everyday life in Boothbay.

You’ll find this lighthouse in Southport, Maine, 11 minutes from Boothbay.

Constructed in 1821, the Burnt Island Lighthouse is the second-oldest lighthouse still standing in Maine.

It is situated on a five-acre island and provides a unique historical recreation and education facility.

Daytime view of Burnt Island Lighthouse

ShagVT, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Through the living history lighthouse tour, you can experience the 1950s and discover how the lighthouse keeper and his family lived.

The trip includes a guided stroll into the keeper’s residence, which features an exhibit of historical artifacts from the lighthouse.

There is a souvenir shop selling items used at the lighthouse or have links to its past.

Visitors to Penobscot Bay, Maine, can enjoy various activities, including bird-watching, kayaking, and climbing the tower for beautiful views.

Learn How to Boat at Cap’n Fish’s Boat Trips

Cap’n Fish’s Boat Trips is one of Boothbay Harbor’s many boat trip companies, but it offers a few unique experiences.

Additionally, it offers tours for lobster hauling and puffin watching.

Along the way, you’ll pass through several historical sites, including lighthouses.

Taking a boat trip down the coast is a relaxing experience, thanks to the cool sea air and salt spray in your hair.

In some instances, you may even spot wildlife.

After the tour, visit their gift shop for souvenirs or treats from their candy shop.

Watch Seasonal Events at Boothbay Railway Village

A locomotive at Boothbay Railway Village

EQRoy /

Boothbay Railway Village in Maine is no exception to the state’s rich history.

There are 60 antique cars and a narrow-gauge steam train ride through a historical reproduction of a village.

You can also check other family-friendly activities at this museum and organization that transport visitors back to the mid-19th century.

Exterior of Boothbay Railway Village's depot

EQRoy /

Special events, such as vehicle exhibitions, craft fairs, and vintage baseball games, also take place on the Village Green.

Some of the village’s old logging equipment and one-room schoolhouses are great places for kids to climb around.

There are numerous eateries in the city where you can stop for lunch.

Locomotives at Boothbay Railway Village

EQRoy /

See Exciting Shows at Carousel Music Theater

Boothbay’s Carousel Music Theater is the place to go if you want to see a show.

Traditional dining while watching a show is available at this community theater, located next door to Flagship Inn & Suites.

Talented performers and singers will take to the stage as you eat a three-course meal.

It was initially built as a carousel in 1940 but was later converted into a theater.

Several well-known actors performed there in their early days, including Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

It was once an opera house before it became a dinner theater that puts on musical performances.

The venue distributes local wine at each show to promote local farmers and businesses.

Reserve a Seat at the Pythian Opera House

Exterior of Pythian Opera House

Magicpiano, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 1894 Pythian Opera House is a significant historical building in downtown Boothbay Harbor.

Since its beginning, it has staged more than 100 events and performances annually.

The opera house hosts various events, including jazz concerts, holiday gatherings, and weddings.

However, the structure’s main and second floors, which formerly housed Pythian lodge rooms, are both barred.

The Pythian Opera House also acts as a location for private gatherings without public performances.

Have Lunch by the Harbor at Kaler’s Restaurant

Kaler’s Restaurant in Boothbay is the place to go if you’re searching for a casual restaurant with a harbor view and friendly service.

The menu includes fresh seafood, chowder, sandwiches, and the well-known Maine lobster roll.

If you use the gumball machine while you wait, you could win a free lobster dinner!

However, it’s only if your gumball contains a lobster.

The Restaurant has a large veranda with views of the ocean and an open kitchen.

The inside is furnished with nautical artifacts.

Final Thoughts

In Boothbay, you’ll find a colorful and historic landscape.

Many people come here to have a good time and learn something new.

The many options are historical landmarks and cultural institutions such as art galleries and museums.

Boating and kayaking on the water are just a few options besides the stunning scenery.

What are you waiting for

Book your Boothbay trip today!

Best Hotels in Boothbay

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