15 Best Things to Do in Lewiston, ME

Lewiston, ME
Jennifer Yakey-Ault / shutterstock.com

The second-largest city in Maine is Lewiston, sitting beside the Androscoggin River.

Its prosperity hinges on a diverse economy, with thriving industries in healthcare, medical transport, finance, telecommunications, and manufacturing.

Likewise, its arts and culture scene continues to keep pace with its economic development.

As the leader in arts and culture, Lewiston offers several public venues for residents and guests alike.

A few examples are The Public Theatre, Schaeffer Theater, Olin Arts Center, and The Gendron Franco Center of Heritage & Performing Arts.

The Androscoggin peoples were among the first Native American tribes in the Maine area to make contact with European colonists.

However, the Europeans soon took over their land, driving them out of the state by 1680.

In 1768, the city of Lewiston began as a land parcel granted to Moses Little and Jonathan Bagley, members of the Pejepscot Proprietors.

They received the land on the condition that 50 families must have settled there before June 1, 1774.

Both Little and Bagley named the settlement Lewistown.

It became an official town in 1795.

Do you want to know more about Lewiston, ME?

Here’s a list of the best things to do in the city:

Remember the Heroes at the Veterans Memorial Park

Daylight view of the Veterans Memorial Park.
Jennifer Yakey-Ault / Shutterstock.com

This monument in Lewiston seeks to honor the sacrifice of all the men and women who have protected the American way of life.

Likewise, this memorial honors the service of everyone who served in all branches of the US military.

In 2002, the Lewiston & Auburn Veterans Council established the memorial park, transforming the old Heritage Park into its current form.

You’ll find towering monuments inside, like the “Price of Freedom” and the “USS Maine.”

A star shaped rock with flowers and flags at Veterans Memorial Park.
Jennifer Yakey-Ault / Shutterstock.com

Go deeper into the park and you’ll find a used military Jeep that saw wartime action, a five-inch Navy anchor and gun, and the “Gold Star Mothers Emblem.”

Then, you can rest on the 12 granite benches.

The six flag poles in the park represent the five branches of the US military and those who went MIA or became prisoners of war.

As of 2020, the park contains 20 memorial benches and 32 “Name Stones.”

A signpost at Veterans Memorial Park.
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn Local History at Museum L-A

No, this museum is not in Los Angeles.

Its name stands for the Lewiston-Maine Metropolitan Area, where the museum resides.

Likewise, it operates out of the old Bates Mill Complex, which Benjamin Bates built in 1850.

Bates had hitched his fortunes on his first mill, which became one of New England’s biggest textile manufacturers and spurred Lewiston’s economic boom.

After a slow decline, the mill officially shut down in 2001.

In 1996, the museum opened.

They salvaged the remaining machines and other artifacts that remained inside the mill when it shut down.

See the Birds at the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary

Climb up to the highest point of Lewiston to find the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary, where 450 acres of forest await you and your family.

Nicknamed “The Crag,” the sanctuary has become a popular landmark in the city.

Its first owners were the Thorne family, who bought the land in the 1800s.

Over the years, the property has become a tuberculosis sanitarium to a scientific research facility of Bates College.

However, the environment has stayed protected, leading to a thriving ecosystem.

During your visit, you can explore the sanctuary through the well-marked trail system.

You can’t bring your dog or your bike, so prepare accordingly.

Likewise, you can observe the birds here, including ruby-throated hummingbirds and the osprey.

Explore the Twin Cities along the Auburn Riverwalk

The great Androscoggin River divides the twin cities of Lewiston and Auburn.

Explore the river’s majesty by following the Auburn Riverwalk, located near the Great Falls where the river ends.

During your walk, you can stop from time to time to admire the dazzling views of the Twin Cities from the riverside.

The path closely follows the river, and it opens out to let you check out gardens, benches, and outdoor art.

When the trail splits, you can cross to Lewiston through the old railroad, leading to the Railroad Park.

Sample Craft Beer at the Baxter Brewing Company

Since 2011, the Baxter Brewing Company has provided great-quality craft beer that pairs well with every special moment in your life.

The brewery crafts beers with inspiration from West Coast IPAs, blending the west coast hop profile with the unique essence of Maine.

Their signature brew, called the Stowaway India Pale Ale, has defined the beer standard in the area by catering to craft enthusiasts and newcomers.

Today, the Stowaway IPA has become the best-selling IPA in New England.

Baxter Brewing also crafts their beer at the historic Lewiston Bates Mill, so there’s a taste of history in every drop.

You can also visit The Pub at Baxter, which opened in 2018, where you can try their new and classic brews.

Check Out the Masterpieces at the Bates College Museum of Art

You can find this art museum on the Bates College campus in Lewiston.

It contains a permanent collection comprising more than 8,000 works of art.

For example, the museum features contemporary Chinese art, pre-modern prints, African art, and Pre-Columbian art.

You can also find works from Maine artists or internationally renowned artists working in the state.

Likewise, the Marsden Hartley Memorial Collection features the paintings of one of America’s greatest modernist painters.

Hartley was born in Lewiston, and his life in Maine influenced his work.

In 1951, the heirs of the Hartley estate bestowed his work and personal effects, following his wishes.

Revisit History at the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul

Exterior of the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul.
Carol Boldt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This imposing basilica in the heart of Lewiston was the religious sanctuary of the French-speaking population of Catholics belonging to the diocese of Portland.

In 1870, the diocese established the parish, making it the oldest Catholic church in Lewiston.

This church served the spiritual needs of the French Canadians who migrated south to work in the Lewiston mills.

Likewise, the church gave them a space to socialize and integrate into the community.

Exterior of the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul.
Captain Morgan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

During your visit, you may find the impressive Casavant Organ, a pipe organ that shares the church's rich history.

The French Canadians commissioned the great organ builder, Casavant Freres, to build the instrument, and he ended up building two instruments combined into one console.

Since its 1938 dedication, the organ has accompanied various community performances and became the recital instrument for a few of the world’s greatest organists.

This list includes Marcel Dupre, Dr. Charles-Marie Courboin, and Bernard Piché.

See a Play at The Public Theatre

For 30 years, The Public Theatre has staged entertaining productions of contemporary plays.

Their mission to entertain, engage, and inspire decades of theatergoers has helped broaden their horizons and encounter the vastness of human experience.

Likewise, a rich sense of history also permeates the theater building.

In 1930, the social club Le Montagnard bought an automotive garage in Lewiston.

The club turned the garage into a fashionable cinema called the Ritz Theater, where Maine’s favorite son, Stephen King, often watched sci-fi movies as a kid.

Over the years, the Ritz Theater deteriorated and got vacated.

The Public Theatre took over the old movie house with the help of Lewiston locals who wanted to honor their heritage.

After four months, these citizens helped renovate the theater and transformed the decaying cinema into a professional theater.

In 1998, the Public Theatre bought the Ritz and moved into its permanent home.

Catch a Concert at the Gendron Franco Center

This performing arts venue’s full name is a mouthful, but you’ll never forget it after watching a show there.

Buy a ticket and see a show at the Dolard and Priscilla Gendron Franco Center, Central Main’s top performance venue.

The center seeks to celebrate the history and heritage of the Franco-American community in Lewiston, whose ancestors migrated south from Quebec, Canada.

Today, the center hosts various recitals and performances.

Depending on your mood, you can see a Broadway show, a folk music concert, a symphonic music performance, chorales and choirs, and terrific soloists.

The center even hosts comedy shows and nightclub performances from time to time.

If you want to spend a night at the theater, you won’t go wrong with the Gendron Franco Center.

Watch Hockey at The Colisée

This 67,000-square-foot multipurpose facility is Lewiston’s crown jewel for sports and concert events.

During hockey games, the complex can accommodate 2,634 people, while it can seat over 4,500 guests during concerts.

Hockey is also not the only sport played at The Colisée; you can watch boxing fights, rodeos, ice shows, and basketball games.

You can even attend trade shows and see theatrical shows here.

Construction on The Colisée began from 1958 to 1959.

Its name back then was the Androscoggin Bank Colisee and The Central Maine Youth Center.

Since its opening, the coliseum has become part of sports history.

For example, Muhammad Ali (then-Cassius Clay) defeated Sonny Liston at The Colisée in under three minutes to win the Heavyweight Boxing Championship in 1965.

Spend the Day at the David Rancourt River Preserve

The David Rancourt River Preserve is a 14-acre property and part of the Androscoggin Greenway.

During your visit, you’ll find a loop walking trail, gorgeous sand beaches, and a photo-worthy overlook.

You can even launch a boat from there and go on the river.

In 2008, the property got its name in memory of Deputy David Rancourt, who helped care for the river.

What can you do here?

This preserve is only for day-trippers, so camping is not allowed.

You can hike, take your leashed dog on walks, or go fishing.

If you want to go hunting, you’ll need to ask permission, and you can only use bows and arrows.

During the winter, you can ski or go snowshoeing.

Enrich Your Life at the Marsden Hartley Cultural Center

In 2005, the Lewiston Public Library established the Marsden Hartley Cultural Center, which soon became a place for residents and guests to appreciate arts and culture.

The center has also become a lively spot for the community to gather.

The center gets its name from one of America’s greatest modernist painters and Lewiston’s favorite son, Marsden Hartley.

You can find his masterpieces in museums worldwide, but one of Hartley’s early landscapes hangs inside the library’s lobby.

Hartley had donated the painting as a gift and a fond remembrance of his birthplace.

During your visit, go to Callahan Hall, the main hub of activity in the Cultural Center.

The third-floor hall was a ballroom, but today it has become a multi-purpose hall used for lectures, concerts, film screenings, and more.

Get Your Drinks on at The Vault

Located in downtown Lewiston, The Vault is an unmissable spot for tourists who want to try the Lewiston nightlife.

The Vault is a unique one-stop shop for all kinds of craft beer and wine. Bring your friends here to get your party started.

Don’t worry if you’re a wine beginner because The Vault serves everyone equally, from newbies to connoisseurs.

Every week, new batches of beer arrive, so you can always try new craft beer from their well-stocked bar.

Visit The Vault if you want to try something new or find a drink that’s impossible to find elsewhere.

Listen to Great Music with the Maine Music Society

If you want to hear great musicians perform classical pieces, catch a show from the Maine Music Society.

The society is a non-profit organization supporting the activities of the Maine Music Society Chorale, its Orchestra, and its Chamber Singers.

Each club’s membership comprises professional and auditioned performers, so you’ll hear top-notch quality performances every time.

The Maine Music Society brings classical music closer to the public.

They also hold educational activities for the youth to encourage them to appreciate music more deeply.

Likewise, the society connects regional and resident artists with citizens within the wider world of music, art, and culture.

Try Asian Street Food at Boba

Get a taste of the rich flavors of Asian food by trying their street food, which you can grab at Lewiston’s Boba Asian restaurant.

Restaurants like Boba have helped propel Asian street food to mainstream popularity, and rightly so, because of its variety and richness.

Likewise, Boba plans to share the delights of authentic Asian food with residents and tourists in the Lewiston-Auburn metropolitan area.

The family-owned Boba also carries the distinct influence of family traditions that began in northern Thailand during the early 1980s.

When the owners’ grandparents went to America, they craved the food they grew up with.

So, they began cooking them again, from dumplings with spicy noodles and charcoal-fired skewers.

Since 2015, Boba has expanded on family traditions and introduced many people to the uniqueness of Southeast Asian cuisine.

Final Thoughts

Lewiston is a terrific choice if you want to visit a bustling downtown for a weekend.

Like many cities, it gives you a solid list of options of things to visit, see, and do.

You don’t even need to go out of town to complete your adventure.

Why wait?

Book your Lewiston trip today!