Brunswick Maine Vacation Guide
When it comes to Maine trivia, Brunswick holds two esteemed and notable titles. First, with roughly 22,000 residents, it is the state’s largest town. Second, Brunswick has the second widest avenue in New England (the widest commercial corridor is in Keene, New Hampshire). If you find yourself venturing to the Brunswick area this summer for a vacation, then these are the types of Jeopardy style facts you want to be able to pull out of your hat, especially if you are stuck in a traffic jam on Route 1.
History and Geography
Thomas Purchase settled Brunswick in 1628. At that time the town was known by its Indian name: Pejepscot. Today, Brunswick sits at the point where Route 1 and I-295 diverge, and it is considered the beginning of Midcoast Maine. However, the Brunswick area is expansive. Its geography is like casting a giant fishing net and pulling in a cache of clapboard towns and brick-lined villages. Arrowsic, Bath, West Bath, Topsham, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Dresden, Edgecomb, Georgetown, Phippsburg, Richmond and Woolwich are all considered part of the greater Brunswick area.
Brunswick is also known as the gateway to the Harpswells. The Harpswells are eight villages linked by bridges on a forty-five-island archipelago. Orrs and Bailey’s Island are the most popular of the Harpswells. Wreathed in fog, rain-swept, wind-skirted and saturated in summer sun, there are not enough postcard style adjectives to describe the beauty and authenticity of the Harpswells. Once you see Cundy’s Harbor, a quaint, old-world fishing village on the New Meadows River, it will be the stock image you always return to when you envision the quintessential New England fishing village.
Attractions and Places of Interest
Two institutions have defined Brunswick: Bowdoin College and the Brunswick Naval Air Station. Unfortunately, the Naval Air Station closed in 2011. There are tentative plans to reopen the airfield as a civilian airport and green energy park. Bowdoin College, however, remains the cultural focal point of Brunswick. The college was founded in 1794 and was the first institute of higher learning in Maine (another fun fact for the Route 1, traffic jam Jeopardy challenge). From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne to Olympian Joan Benoit and U.S. President Franklin Pierce, the 110-acre liberal arts school has a host of prominent alumni. If you are an art enthusiast, then the Bowdoin College of Art is a must-see. The Bowdoin campus is also where you will find the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and the General Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum.
Bowdoin’s student population and the Midcoast tourists have helped Brunswick remain an energized and vital community. While many New England main streets have shuttered their businesses and faded into obscurity, Brunswick’s lovely brick and white clapboard buildings gleam with turn of the century charm. The Federal Street Historic District has over 130 buildings on the National Register. Brunswick’s Maine Street is lined with independent bookstores, jewelers, gift shops, restaurants and boutiques. In the summer, the town green, which is known as the Mall, is filled with pushcart vendors selling steamed hot dogs, clam rolls and ice cream. It other words, it is about as old time America as mom’s apple pie.
Outdoor Recreation and Events
Maine is L.L. Bean country, so no trip to Brunswick is complete without some exercise, fresh air and outdoor recreation. From nine hole golf courses to sport fishing charters, Brunswick has something for everyone. Thomas Point Beach, off of Route 24, not only hosts major events throughout the summer like the Maine Highland Games, Outdoor Arts Festival and the annual bluegrass concert, but it also has 85-acres of lawns and picnic groves to enjoy. It is the ideal place to hike, bike, run or lazily toss a Frisbee. There are areas designated for volleyball and softball as well as a clean, sandy tidewater beach to swim and sunbathe.
The Androscoggin River Bike Path is considered the best in the state. It is located between U.S. 1 and the Androscoggin River. Part bike path, part nature reserve, when you pedal through this tranquil area you are bound to see blue herons, hawks and perhaps even a bald eagle.
Forget using that restaurant app on your iPhone to find a culinary hotspot in Brunswick, you can stand in the center of town, walk in any direction and find a memorable place to dine. In Maine, seafood is king, so a battered clam roll or a lobster roll should be your top priority. Highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between, there are enough chowder houses in town to make everyone happy. However, if you are not an avid fan of seafood (or sadly allergic) do not worry, there are plenty of other sit-down, stand-up or al fresco options. From Chinese buffets and German cuisine to organic veggie wraps and pub grub, there is no way that you will go home with an empty stomach. Brunswick is a college town after all, so there is no shortage of burgers and pizza either.
Where you choose to hang your hat can make or break a holiday experience. Do you remember that broken ice machine on your last vacation? How about the lackluster complimentary breakfast? And the coffee? Brunswick is the commercial and cultural center of Midcoast Maine, so there are countless accommodations to choose from. There are historic and distinctive B&Bs and charming inns where fresh blueberry scones are elegantly spread out for you each morning. At the same time, there are three-star hotels, motor inns, motor courts, lodges and campgrounds. Whether you are in the mood for coastal luxury or on a shoestring budget, there are numerous places in Brunswick that would love to host your holiday in Maine.
Brunswick – Southern MidCoast Directories
Visit the following directories to find lodging, dining, attractions, shops, services and recreational activities in the Brunswick, Maine area.
- Arrowsic Maine
- Bailey Island Maine
- Bath Maine
- Bowdoin Maine
- Bowdoinham Maine
- Brunswick Maine
- Dresden Maine
- Edgecomb Maine
- Georgetown Maine
- Harpswell Maine
- Orrs Island Maine
- Phippsburg Maine
- Richmond Maine
- Sebasco Estates Maine
- Topsham Maine
- West Bath Maine
- Westport Maine
- Wiscasset Maine
- Woolwich Maine