20 Best Things to Do in Brunswick, ME

Brunswick, ME
Sean Murphy Studios / shutterstock.com

The village of Brunswick, Maine, has the classical New England charm that makes it a worthwhile destination.

It’s a college town with several academic institutions, so the population is young, diverse, and eager to welcome visitors.

There’s also bustling art and entertainment scene showcased in music festivals, renowned galleries, and museums.

And because of its location, many natural wonders surround it, including state forests, the Atlantic, rivers, and lakes of all sizes.

So there are many things going on here, all coming together to create a thriving tourism industry.

For your next trip, make this village your top choice!

Here are the 15 best things to do in Brunswick, ME:

Take Stunning Photos of the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge

Daytime view of Androscoggin Swinging Bridge
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

To connect the towns of Brunswick and Topsham, the historic Androscoggin Swinging Bridge traverses the rushing waters of the eponymous river.

It has been around since 1892 and has undergone many renovations and repairs before it was finally added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In addition, it’s designated as a Maine Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

The bridge is still used today as a pedestrian path, allowing residents and visitors to easily cross the distance between the towns.

View within the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

On either side, there are parks lying near the bridge's towers.

These green spaces serve as lookouts where you can view the majesty of the old bridge.

They are also excellent spots for landscape photography, especially when the river is calm and almost has a mirror-like surface.

Marvel at the Exhibits in Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Bowdoin College is one of the premier academic institutions in the region, and it also houses a sophisticated gallery.

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art serves as the cornerstone of visual arts in the college, doubling as a teaching facility and tourist attraction.

Many people come here to marvel at the collection composed of artworks by masters from various continents.

Among the 2,000 pieces collected over the years, you will find paintings from various movements, intriguing sculptures, ancient artifacts, and decorative art.

Even the exteriors and walls of the building have something to offer.

At the entrance, you’d see a pair of Medici lion sculptures sitting like silent sentinels.

The sides of the domed interior are painted with a classical motif, serving as a preview to the wonders inside.

So make sure that this attraction is on your itinerary!

Go Hiking at Woodward Point Preserve

Covering 87.5 acres, the Woodward Point Preserve is the largest underdeveloped land next to Casco Bay.

It was previously owned by a Brunswick farming couple before selling it to the Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) at a bargain price in 2019.

So this place has only been open to the public for a few years.

MCHT sought this place after discovering the critical habitats in the estuaries and forests, including two economically important shellfish beds.

From upland forests to fringing salt marshes, the preserve has varied landscapes home to many waterfowl, migratory birds, and marine species.

You’re welcome to explore these areas, but there are only a few established trails since it’s still a new attraction.

So you will have to do some walking over tall grasses and muddy spots—a fun experience for the most daring adventurers.

Visit the Peary–MacMillan Arctic Museum

While Brunswick is still thousands of miles away from the North Pole, the town has a tiny bit of the frozen land at the Peary–MacMillan Arctic Museum.

This attraction is another facility under the Bowdoin College system, tucked in one of its buildings.

It was named after two alumni who dedicated themselves to Arctic Studies, and it stands today as the only facility of its kind in the lower 48 states.

Here, you will find a host of artifacts sourced from the Arctic Circle.

There are anthropological items from the various Inuit tribes living in the region, animal skin and fur fashioned into garments, as well as preserved specimens of Arctic wildlife.

In one section, you will find art by indigenous peoples that reflect the harsh landscape and climate they learned to endure.

Visiting here offers a fascinating glimpse into the wild and cold Arctic—the closest experience you’d get to actually reaching this remote part of the world.

Cruise the Waters of Androscoggin River

Scenic view of Androscoggin River
E.J.Johnson Photography / Shutterstock.com

The segment of the Androscoggin River passing through Brunswick is the last section before it spills into the Merrymeeting Bay.

But it starts all the way from New Hampshire, covering more than 178 miles and crossing the highlands of Maine.

The river has a few steep drops turned into dams, providing power and irrigation to Brunswick.

These structures are already attractions by themselves, as many people visit the banks to marvel at the loud and torrential water spilling from the dams.

The waters of Androscoggin River
ARK NEYMAN / Shutterstock.com

However, there’s still plenty to see upriver.

Many outfitters in town offer tours to the more secluded river sections.

You can join them for a kayaking or boating trip that will bring you to quiet forested sections.

Fishing is also a popular activity, as northern pike and yellow perch abound in the lower areas of the river.

Birds on a rock at Androscoggin River
Paul VanDerWerf from Brunswick, Maine, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Listen to Masters During the Bowdoin International Music Festival

The Bowdoin International Music Festival is on its own level compared to other music-related events on this side of the US coast.

It’s where world-renowned instrumentalists, composers, vocalists, and other professionals in the industry come together.

In a season that lasts a few months, these experienced and talented experts hold masterclasses, concertos, collaborations, and other activities that showcase their talents.

You can listen to piano soloists, chamber music, violin concerts, and other shows that will give you goosebumps.

There is nothing quite like listening to masters at work, so be sure to check out their calendar and schedule your trip around the next season.

And make sure to check often, as tickets are often sold out quickly due to the demand.

Catch a Show at Pickard Theater

The striking Pickard Theater is one of the hotspots of performance art in Brunswick, located within the campus of Bowdoin College.

It’s a Gothic-style granite and stained glass building that can seat up to 600 people, equipped with state-of-the-art acoustics and lighting for an immersive experience.

While it serves as the venue for many campus events and community shows, the theater is mainly used by the Maine State Music Theatre company.

This group has been around since the 1950s, touring the world and producing talented alumni that have graced major films and Broadway shows in the past decades.

When summer comes, the company stays at Pickard Theater to operate a full season’s worth of productions.

You can come and watch engaging musicals, children’s theater, and other events that showcase the superb talent of the company’s members.

Check out their website and schedule your trip to Brunswick during their next season.

Go Skiing at Town Commons

Town Commons is considered the oldest “park” in the town, but it’s very different from the more urbanized community parks next to more populated areas.

It’s wilder and more expansive, covering a total area of 71 acres.

So it’s more similar to a preserve than a conventional community park.

As such, the Town Commons doesn’t have any modern amenities save for a gravel parking lot.

The rest of the attraction is just trails, thick woodlands, and a few interpretative signs pointing to key features of the area.

This includes a rare plant community in Maine: pitch pine heath barren.

It’s a unique area of low pines and shrubbery home to a few small mammal species, insects, and birds.

The trails are open for hiking, biking, and dog walking.

If you come here during winter, cross-country skiing is also an ideal sport to try, whether you’re a beginner or a professional.

Explore the Trails of Maquoit Bay Conservation Land

Daytime view of Maquoit Bay Conservation Land
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

The 124-acre Maquoit Bay Conservation Land is another natural attraction owned by the town of Brunswick.

Much like Woodward Point Preserve on the opposite end, this attraction sits next to the water and was once privately owned.

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust took over in 2007 and created a conservation easement that permanently protects the area from modern development.

So the forests, salt marshes, and clam beds have remained undisturbed for decades.

Forest trail at Maquoit Bay Conservation Land
Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com

You’re free to explore the trails that loop around the borders of the attraction.

Along the way, you’ll end up at Rocky Point, a mass of land that juts into Maquoit Bay.

The warm waters surrounding it are ideal for swimming, especially during high tide when the water level is deeper.

Aside from swimming and hiking, hunting is permitted to control the waterfowl population that can decimate vulnerable species if left unchecked.

Learn History at Brunswick Naval Aviation Museum

The Naval Air Station Brunswick was an important airport that took command of the icy North Atlantic during major conflicts, like the Second World War and the Cold War.

When these crises were over, the station was decommissioned and is currently undergoing plans to become a civilian airport.

However, the achievements made in this maritime and air patrol station were too impactful to just fade away in the annals of history.

And so, the Brunswick Naval Aviation Museum was created to preserve the eventful past of the outpost.

The facility sits next to the airport and houses war-era artifacts and aircraft that can no longer conquer the skies.

While touring, you’ll get up close and personal with these majestic airplanes as well as collections of photographs, maps, equipment, and other items.

There are even two flight simulators that allow you to try your hand at being a pilot—a unique experience that you shouldn’t miss.

Let Your Canine Friend Play at Merrymeeting Dog Park

If you’re bringing your pooch to your Brunswick trip, then make sure to visit Merrymeeting Dog Park.

This 1.5-acre attraction is located next to the Androscoggin River and is surrounded by trees, offering a peaceful ambiance for all visitors.

So bring your pet and let them run around the verdant grounds without any leash.

There are designated areas for big and small dogs, so you won’t have to worry about your furry friend encountering dogs that might be too large or fierce.

While waiting for them to have their fill of running, you can sit on the many benches within the park.

It’s the perfect perch to keep an eye out in case your pet gets itself in trouble.

Head Out to the Waters of Maquoit Bay

Canoes docked at Maquoit Bay
M.Bailey / Shutterstock.com

Maquoit Bay is another body of water surrounding Brunswick, and it’s the chief source of seafood enjoyed by the residents.

As an important resource and ecological hotspot, the bay has a few regulations that help control access to the region's riches.

But you can still join a charter and try fishing in the deeper waters.

Since it’s already part of the Atlantic, the bay contains sailfish, swordfish, and other species that can tolerate more frigid waters.

Rainbow over Maquoit Bay
Paul VanDerWerf from Brunswick, Maine, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re not up for fishing, you can try digging for shellfish on the clam beds.

This is a much trickier activity, as weather and tides need to be considered before you go.

But there’s an immense level of satisfaction whenever you locate a soft-shell clam and dig it out of the mud yourself.

Sample Local Cuisine Downtown

View of Downtown in Brunswick, Maine
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Given Brunswick’s proximity to the ocean, it’s no surprise that they have a wide selection of seafood dishes.

And it’s Maine—the state known for its premium-quality lobsters.

So if you want to sample the village’s cuisine, then head downtown.

Joshua’s has all the classic seafood fare in a family-friendly setting, with their menu consisting of chowders, various lobster dishes, and a selection of drinks.

At Portland Pie Company, you can enjoy premium pizzas with an array of toppings, including—you guessed it—lobsters!

For a change of flavors, you can stop by Enoteca Athena for traditional Greek and Italian dishes like pasta, risotto, and imported cheeses.

Play a Few Rounds at Brunswick Golf Club

Whether you’re an accomplished professional or a budding amateur, the Brunswick Golf Club is a great location to test your golfing skills.

This sporting facility has been around since 1898, making it one of the oldest continually operating courses in Maine and the whole country.

The 18-hole course has a peaceful New England atmosphere thanks to the tree-lined fairways, verdant greens, and still-water ponds that serve as water hazards.

In fact, certain holes are famous for their beautiful, sweeping vistas that will enamor any player.

These are the 6th and 9th holes, which are also noted for the challenging shots.

But overall, the course has an excellent layout that’s ideal for all skill levels.

And since it’s open to the public, any golfing enthusiast is welcome to book a tee time and play a few rounds.

Test Your Riding Skills at Neptune Woods

The scenic Neptune Woods is another natural attraction under the care of Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.

It’s located next to the old Naval Air Station Brunswick and covers 64 acres.

When the station was still occupied, this parcel of land was used as a part of the Navy Fit trail.

Then the US Navy deeded it to the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) after operations in the area ceased.

Around this time, biking enthusiasts saw the potential of the trails for mountain biking.

And so, the MRRA donated the area to the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust so they could begin developing it.

The result was four miles of biking trails that loop within the confines of the conservation.

Bikers of any skill level are welcome here, and beginners most of all.

So if you’re just starting your journey into the sport, this is the perfect place for you to try out your skills.

Discover the Life of an American Heroine at Harriet Beecher Stowe House

History marker of Harriet Beecher Stowe House
John M. Chase / Shutterstock.com

On Federal Street, you'll find the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. From 1850 until 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe and her family lived there as tenants.

The house, constructed in the early 1800s, is now recognized as a crucial stop on the Underground Railroad.

Stowe penned Uncle Tom's Cabin during her stay in Brunswick.

During this time, she hid a runaway slave from South Carolina named John Andrew Jackson.

Front view of Harriet Beecher Stowe House's exterior
Dylan Thomas Cookson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bowdoin College now owns the building and utilizes it for classrooms, faculty offices, and a public area called "Harriet's Writing Room."

Said section honors Stowe's legacy in American history and literature.

The structure received recognition for its significance to the history of the Underground Railroad.

Facade of Harriet Beecher Stowe House
Dylan Thomas Cookson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tour the Parker Cleaveland House

Exterior of the Parker Cleaveland House
Magicpiano, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Parker Cleaveland House, built in 1806, first served as a private residence.

Samuel Melcher III, Brunswick's foremost builder, constructed this beautiful home for young physicist and mathematician Parker Cleaveland.

He had come to Bowdoin from Harvard to teach.

In 1992, the President of Bowdoin College served as the mansion's new owner.

The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2000 because it is one of the outstanding surviving examples of a nineteenth-century home in Brunswick.

Currently, Cleaveland House serves as the College's official guesthouse and is the site of many formal events.

Have a Family Retreat at Thomas Point Beach and Campground

Thomas Point Beach & Campground opened in 1956 and is well situated to explore the Mid-Coast region.

Despite its proximity to Brunswick, Maine's Route 1, and downtown, the area has a secluded air.

The beach is perfect for day trippers and campers thanks to its 85 acres of woods, groomed grass (great for picnics and ball sports), volleyball and softball facilities, and a sizable playground.

There are over a hundred tent and recreational vehicle sites, and the campground hosts fun activities for kids and adults alike.

You can always find the most recent event information on the beach's website, which lists the regular events held at Thomas Point.

Cool Down at Gelato Fiasco

Gelato Fiasco has two locations to serve its customers: the Brunswick Flagship Store and the Portland Old Port location.

The store uses more than 1,500 in-house recipes daily to create the wide variety of flavors offered.

This gelato shop began welcoming customers in 2007.

Bruno and Josh, the business's proprietors, made the moniker "to protect themselves from trend-followers, treasure-hunters, and impostors."

They thought that only a real foodie would venture into a place with a name like that.

Gelato Fiasco's goal is to provide tasty and high-quality ice cream to provide unique, adventurous tastes.

Chill at Flight Deck Brewing

Since 2017, locals in the Brunswick area have enjoyed the brews of Flight Deck Brewing.

The tap roster at this brewery is constantly changing.

The Flight Deck is a family- and dog-friendly restaurant with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

The patio has a fire pit in the center with picnic tables and Adirondack chairs arranged around it.

It has enclosed heat during the winter and heated tables and shelters.

A vast outdoor patio is available during the warmer months, with picnic tables, a fire pit, cornhole, and more.

Wine, local soda, cider, and more are available in addition to beer for patrons of varying ages and preferences.

Final Thoughts

With the varied attractions of Brunwish, you and your whole family will need more than a few hours to plan your trip.

And who can blame you?

The theaters, museums, forests, and riverside attractions all sound appealing.

So check out this list to narrow down your choices and make the most of your time in this charming town.