Newport, Maine Vacation Guide
When planning your next vacation in the Sebasticook Valley, be sure to set aside time to explore Newport, Maine, and its neighbors, the towns of Detroit, Dexter, Etna, Exeter, Hartland, Palmyra, Pittsfield, Plymouth, St. Albans and Stetson. This historic region has a long, rich past; local indigenous peoples long recognized the area for its excellent fishing, trapping and hunting, as well as its transportation-friendly waterways. Native Americans used the Newport region’s extensive network of rivers and lakes as a portage route, passing along the Penobscot River to Kenduskeag Stream, from Stetson Pond to the Stetson Stream, from the Great East Pond — now known as Lake Sebasticook — to the East Branch of the Sebasticook River, before reaching the Kennebec River.
Settlement in Newport stretches back to 1792, when 23,000 acres in the area – then called East Pond Plantation – was surveyed for the first time. Within five years, the region had been bought and sold twice and the first settlers began to arrive. Schools, churches and businesses soon followed and by the turn of the 19th century, Newport was home to wool, saw, grist, card and veneer mills, as well as a thriving dairy industry. Tourists also began flocking to the region to enjoy recreational activities on Lake Sebasticook.
Today, the Sebasticook Valley is still a popular vacation destination. Known for its scenic beauty, myriad lakes, outdoor recreation and varied historical and cultural attractions, the region draws visitors from across New England and the country year-round.
Newport surrounds scenic Sebasticook Lake, a 4,288-acre body of water that offers year-round recreation, from boating and swimming, to sled dog racing and snowmobiling. The lake’s wetlands provide habitat for hundreds of migratory and native bird species, making the area a birding destination.
Visitors can stroll along the River Walk — a scenic pathway along the Sebasticook — on their way to Newport’s bustling downtown, which is lined with eateries, galleries and shopping. History buffs can learn about the town’s rich past at the Newport Cultural Center, which houses a museum, library and local history resource room.
August visitors won’t want to miss Newport’s annual Frog Jumping Competition. Since 1979, hundreds of participants bring their amphibious friends and enter this unique contest, which is followed by a barbecue and general merrymaking.
Palmyra sits on the shores of Whites Pond, which attracts anglers with its excellent smelt, brook and brown trout fishing. The town is also home to the Madawaska Bog, a 295-acre wetland reserve that offers canoeing, hunting, fishing and trapping. The reserve provides habitat for a range of wildlife, from deer and eagles to osprey and waterfowl.
Perched on the edge of Great Moose Lake and Morrill Pond, Hartland attracts recreation seekers year-round. Hartland’s proximity to the Great Moose Lake’s public boat launch makes the town the perfect jumping off point for lazy afternoons spent boating and fishing.
Dexter’s population swells in summer, when tourists descend on this scenic town to enjoy the activities on and around 1,170-acre Lake Wassookeag, from canoeing and swimming to fishing for trout, salmon and togue. Dexter isn’t just a summer destination, though; the town sits on the Moosehead Trail, a 160-mile loop of groomed snowmobile trails that circumnavigate Moosehead Lake, drawing sledding enthusiasts each winter. Dexter also offers a nine-hole, public golf course.
At the end of July, the Wild West Weekend transports Dexter back to the frontier era. This annual event features a business decorating contest, wheelbarrow races, horse riding shows and musical performances.
Nestled in a valley near Big Indian and Great Moose Lakes, St. Albans offers both water and mountain views; the town sits between Devil’s Head Mountain and St. Albans Mountain. Both lakes offer fishing and boating, and the region around town is crisscrossed by snowmobile trails. The whole town celebrates at the annual July Summerfest, a community event featuring parades, food, games and musical performances.
The first settlers arrived in Pittsfield in 1795, drawn by the hunting, fishing and trapping along the Sebasticook River. Today, Pittsfield offers year-round recreational opportunities — from hiking to boating — but it’s also home to a range of cultural and historical attractions, such as the Central Maine Egg Festival. Since 1972, this annual celebration honors the local brown egg industry with five days of parades, carnivals, barbecues, pageants, dancing, fireworks and, of course, egg-related cuisine and cook-offs, including one that features one of the world’s largest frying pans. Other local attractions include a nine-hole golf course and the Maine Central Institute, a college prep school that’s home to the Bossov School of Ballet.
The town of Plymouth sits on Plymouth Pond and Gray Pond, both known for their great fishing and scenic views. Plymouth sits on the Moosehead Trail and also contains miles of out-of-service farming roads that form the perfect venue for horseback riding, biking and hiking. Popular routes include the 15-mile Tour de Rutland, a challenging trail that rewards intrepid adventurers with a multitude of spots in which to picnic, fish, wade and look for wildlife along the way.
At the edge of the Sebasticook Valley, tiny Stetson sits on the shore of 798-acre Pleasant Lake. Known for its great fishing – a fishway provides large – and small-mouth bass, pickerel and perch — the lake is situated near Goodwin Stream Marsh. These wetlands are popular with bird-watchers, as they provide habitat for waterfowl from loons to green-winged teals, great blue herons to ring-necked ducks.
The town of Etna was first incorporated in 1820. This tiny town sits on Etna Pond – popular for its fishing, canoeing and swimming — but it’s perhaps best known as the home of Camp Etna. Since 1876, spiritualists and healers have held meetings each August at the 27-acre camp. Other Etna attractions include autumn apple picking at local orchards and picnicking at the Town Landing on the shores of Etna Pond.
Lodging and Dining
Newport and its surrounding area offers a range of lodging options, from lakeside campgrounds to private cottages, locally owned motels to quaint bed and breakfasts. The region is also home to several eateries, from casual drive-ins to restaurants that specialize in that famous, fresh Maine seafood.
Newport – Sebasticook Valley Area Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Newport, Maine area.
- Corinna Maine
- Detroit Maine
- Dexter Maine
- Etna Maine
- Exeter Maine
- Hartland Maine
- Newport Maine
- Palmyra Maine
- Pittsfield Maine
- Plymouth Maine
- St Albans Maine
- Stetson Maine