What to See and Do in Western Maine
If you see SUVs with skis, mountain bikes, kayaks, or canoes strapped to the top as you drive along the Maine Turnpike, they're likely bound for this region. No matter what the season, outdoor recreation is western Maine's chief draw. There are also, however, a number of singular historic attractions and even some unique shops that you may want to explore.
Maine's largest agricultural fair is held in Fryeburg each fall. The Fryeburg Fair, a tradition since 1851, features livestock exhibitions, sheepdog trials, harness racing, a midway with rides and games, musical entertainment, Woodsmen's Day events, and more. On-site camping is available. For a schedule and information, visit
Museums and Historic Sites
Western Maine's museums and historic sites are one-of-a-kind places to learn about the state's history and its people.
Maine State Museum
230 State Street, Augusta
Learn about Maine's evolution; four floors of exhibits showcase the state's land, history, products, and people.
Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
Open to visitors daily except for Sunday from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, this working farm is home to the last practicing community of Shakers in America. Visit the museum, learn about the Shaker faith on a guided tour, purchase handcrafted items in the Shaker Store, or just appreciate the bucolic scene of apple orchards and grazing farm animals.
40 School Street, Kingfield
See the collection of antique Stanley Steamer automobiles at the Stanley Museum, open daily except for Mondays from June through October and Tuesday through Friday in May and November. The Stanley brothers were born in Kingfield.
RAINY DAY FUN
Embark on a ride aboard the only steam train in Maine at the Belfast &; Moosehead Lake Railroad Company (1 Depot Square, Unity, 207-948-5500 or 800-392-5500,
Washburn-Norlands Living History Center &; Museum
290 Norlands Road, Livermore
Step out of the twenty-first century at the former home of a prominent Maine family. As you participate in hands-on farm activities, you'll get a taste for rural life in the nineteenth century. If you're game for a totally immersive experience, make reservations for Washburn-Norlands' two-day live-in program, and your family can wake up in 1870. How authentic is this weekend in the past? There are no bathrooms: only chamber pots and privies.
Wilhelm Reich Museum
Dodge Pond Road, Rangeley
Visit the Wilhelm Reich Museum and the Orgone Energy Observatory at Orgonon, open Wednesday through Sunday in July and August and Sundays only in September. A student of Sigmund Freud, Reich claimed to have discovered a previously unknown form of energy, orgone. He even developed the Orgone Energy Accumulator, later labeled a fraud by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to make the energy accessible to people who needed a boost.
Don't automatically rule out western Maine if you're not a family of rugged, outdoorsy types. There are natural wonders of incomparable beauty here that you can appreciate without ever leaving your car. And outfitters and guides are happy to help novices wet their feet, so don't be shy about trying a new outdoor pursuit.
Route 201, the Forks
Book a whitewater rafting adventure with Northern Outdoors; Kennebec River outings are appropriate for children ages eight and up. Northern Outdoors also offers lake kayaking, rock climbing, fishing, and snowmobiling excursions.
Saco River Canoe &; Kayak
1009 Main Street, Fryeburg
Rent a kayak or canoe, and explore one of New England's most perfect-for-paddling rivers.
Songo River Queen II
Route 302, Naples
Cruise Long Lake or the Songo River aboard the 92-foot
Sun Valley Sports
129 Sunday River Road, Bethel
In the winter, Sun Valley Sports is your headquarters for snowmobile rentals and guided tours; ask about their ride, dine, and fireworks packages. In the spring, summer, and fall, they'll rent you a canoe, kayak, or ATV, or teach you how to fly-fish in the Sunday, Androscoggin, or Magalloway Rivers.
5092 Access Road, Carrabassett Valley
This American Skiing Company — owned resort on Maine's second tallest mountain offers skiing lessons for Mooseketeers as young as three and 133 trails and glades for more experienced skiers. From the 4,237-foot summit, accessible via the Timberline Quad, skiers can enjoy views of Vermont, New Hampshire, Canada, and Maine's Mount Katahdin on a clear day.
RAINY DAY FUN
Who says being stuck indoors has to be boring? At the Carra-bassett Valley Antigravity Recreation Complex (1001 Carriage Road, Carrabassett Valley, 207-237-5566,
Sunday River Road, Bethel
With eight peaks, 131 trails, and eighteen lifts, Sunday River is one of Maine's largest ski areas, with terrain for all levels, including beginners. Families will also love the tubing park, the lighted ice-skating rink, and the arcade.
While western Maine can't hold a candle to the shopping splendors of Kittery and Freeport, there are some notable retail outposts.
Beech Hill Bison Ranch
630 Valley Road, North Waterford
Buy bison meat and gifts at the Beech Hill Trading Post at this working ranch. Call ahead for a schedule of hayrides among the herd in the summer and early fall.
Cry of the Loon
Route 302, South Casco
This gift shop can keep shopaholics occupied for hours with its multiple buildings filled to overflowing with Maine-made gifts and goodies in every nook and cranny.
Mount Mica Rarities
191 Main Street, Greenwood
This colorful shop specializes in jewelry featuring tourmaline mined at Mt. Mica.
Pooh Corner Farm
436 Bog Road, Mason Township
Winnie the Pooh fans will adore this greenhouse and garden shop complex where the kids can chat with a live pig, donkey, rabbit, and wallaby named Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, and Roo, while you shop for garden gifts and Pooh collectibles.