Bangor is the third-largest settlement in the state of Maine. The city has a rich history with its establishment in the middle of the 19th century based on the lumber industry and that of building ships. Besides, Bangor was an important stopover on the great air route between the U.S. East Coast and Europe.
Nowadays, Bangor’s economy is based on multiple sources – including retail, education, and healthcare. Interestingly, one of the country’s oldest fairs, the Bangor State Fair, has occurred annually for more than 150 years.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Bangor (ME)
1. Acadia National Park
The 47,000-acre Acadia National Park is one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the US. It covers woodland, granite peaks, and rocky shores, as well as offering camping, hiking, and much more. There, you get to experience Maine’s gorgeous coast and rugged mountain terrain with an abundant variety of habitats and a rich cultural heritage.
The park offers so much to do and see in its 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads. So, enjoy the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain, go hiking the Great Head Trail, and listen to the waves crash at Little Hunter’s Beach.
2. Bangor Waterfront
Bangor Waterfront is a greenway on the Penobscot River featuring walking trails, benches, picnic areas, and a concert space. The restored waterfront has been transformed into a major regional event center, especially with the addition of the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.
With lots of open space, the walk along the waterfront is very peaceful and the buildings that line the river provide a vintage look. While you are there, make sure to grab a snack at one of the food trucks and enjoy the art installations.
3. Stephen King House
The popular horror novels author Stephen King lives right there in Bangor and fans of his work can stop by and admire his lovely home. The house itself is a beautiful Victorian mansion with wrought-iron bats and spiders on the gate. However, given that it is a private residence, entering is not allowed. But you can still walk around the neighborhood, take photos, and possibly chat with Stephen King if he happens to be around.
Fans should sign up for a specialized tour of area locations featured in King’s books, films, and inspirations. For example, Bangor’s water tower served as inspiration for the haunted water tower in It.
4. Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor
For an afternoon or evening out, check out the Bangor casino and harness racing track at Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway Bangor. The casino has nearly 1,000 style slot machines, table games including roulette and blackjack, as well as live poker. However, do not expect a Vegas casino even though they have plenty of tables and slot machines where you can try your luck and maybe win big.
Besides the live entertainment, there is a hotel on-site and an endless buffet at Hops House. Be aware that live harness horse racing only happens from May to November.
5. Bangor City Forest
Also referred to as Tolland F. Perry City Forest, Bangor City Forest covers more than 680 acres of wildlife habitat and recreational areas. The forest features a boardwalk, as well as hiking and biking trails.
If you happen to be in Bangor during the summer, it is definitely worth taking a walk or a bike ride through the more than 9 miles of trails. It is a beautiful and quiet place located in the middle of the city. On the other hand, during winter explore the snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails.
6. Maine Discovery Museum
Maine Discovery Museum located in Bangor is actually the largest children’s museum in the state with hands-on activities that are fun for the whole family. The museum covers several topics such as science, nature, geography, children’s literature, music, art, and anatomy.
It has plenty of exhibits spread over three floors, including areas where kids can interact with various items. There is even an ever-running river where kids can splash with the boats and a multi-story tree fort where they can climb. The museum also hosts science camps, parties, and the famous Maine Science Festival.
7. Paul Bunyan Statue
The Paul Bunyan statue represents an important time in Bangor’s history when the city was the lumber capital of the US. This huge, 31-ft statue pays tribute to all the lumberjacks that worked and are still working there. Sitting on a stone pedestal, the statue can be found in front of the Bangor Civic Center in Bass Park.
Although he is fictional, Paul Bunyan is the main character of many folklore stories where he has all sorts of superhuman powers. Stephen King might be Bangor’s most famous living resident, but the lumberjack Paul Bunyan is the most legendary!
8. Penobscot Theatre Company
Located in downtown Bangor, the historic Bangor Opera House hosts the Penobscot Theatre Company which can pride itself on being the most professional non-profit theatre company in the Northeast US. Producing 7 mainstage performances and 5 youth productions each year, this performing arts center offers a wide variety of high-quality plays and musicals.
The actors are very passionate and professional and deliver some amazing performances. Also, the plays are presented with some amazing sets and costumes, to better set the era and the mood of each scene.
9. Cole Land Transportation Museum
Showcasing Maine’s transportation history, from trains to snowplows to dairy wagons, Cole Land Transportation Museum is a quaint gallery that is consistently rated as one of the top things to do around Bangor. The museum will make you feel like traveling back in time. And as you can imagine, the museum is quite large, and you can easily spend a few hours there.
Besides, the museum’s collection also includes a display of U.S. Military memorabilia. Upon arrival, you will also receive scavenger hunt lists from the front desk, which is especially fun for the kids.
10. Cascade Park
Yet another wonderful place located in the city, the scenic Cascade Park features picnic areas, fountains, and a gazebo. Among a variety of pine trees, the park also has a man-made waterfall and easy to moderate trails. From the parking lot, there is one major trail that branches two ways heading uphill; the two sides come back together at the top of the hill.
Cascade Park is quite large and takes about one to two hours to explore it. This is a popular picnic spot in the summer, and there is plenty of parking available.
11. Collins Center for the Arts
Located in the University of Maine, Collins Center for the Arts is a sizable performing arts center featuring plays, concerts, and films. Each season brings a wide variety of events, including Broadway tours, nationally-known comedians, legendary concert performers, word-class dancers, live theatre, and everything in between. The center also counts with the Hudson Museum as well as a cafe.
Collins Center is also home of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, one of the oldest, continually-operating community orchestras in the nation. The Orchestra’s highlight is the Nutcracker which brings thousands of fans together every year.
12. Bangor Farmers Market
Functioning from April until Thanksgiving, Bangor Farmers Market is the place to go for fresh produce. By getting your fresh fruits and vegetables there, you will be supporting the local economy and businesses. There are plenty of local vendors with a wide variety of products to choose from, including some homemade cheese and organic meat.
At the Farmers Market, you can find homemade bread and cookies the size of your face. There are also some beautiful flower arrangements for sale. And to makes things easier for everyone, they have a tent where you can buy money chips with a credit card to use at the other vendors.
13. Brewer Riverwalk
The Penobscot River separates the cities of Bangor and Brewer and the Brewer Riverwalk offers an easy and quick walk, with an extension towards an old bridge and railroad track. This beautiful, paved walkway features an excellent landscape with little waterfalls as well as small parks. Also, no buildings are blocking the path or the view, making this an even more special place to walk.
If you are walking on a weekend night during the summer months, you may catch a band playing at the High Tide Restaurant and Bar or you can listen to a concert across the river.
14. Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion
Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion is an open-air amphitheater inside Waterfront Park, a 58-acre public park on the banks of the historic Penobscot River.
If there happens to be a big concert when you are in Bangor, it will probably be held at the Waterfront Pavilion. The pavilion hosts several events throughout the year including the annual American Folk Festival and live music concerts such as Keith Urban, Ed Sheeran, and Miranda Lambert. Even though there are 16,000 great seats, you might not even need them as many of the concerts you will end up standing and dancing.
15. Zillman Art Museum
Established in a renovated department store, Zillman Art Museum is part of the University of Maine and features prints and photography by local and national artists. The museum’s collection consists of more than 4,000 artworks, mainly focused on American mid-20th century works. However, the permanent collection celebrates the long heritage of Maine art and artists.
Even though the museum is small with only three galleries, what it lacks in size it makes up for in substance. Just by walking around and enjoying the local art you get impressed with all the educational and informative aspects of it.
16. Maine Forest and Logging Museum
Incorporated in 1960, Maine Forest and Logging Museum is an open-air museum with the mission to preserve, celebrate, and educate people about the sustainable forest culture of Maine. At the museum, you can see a 1790’s logging and milling community under construction as it existed. At the same time, you will learn about how the logging industry started in this region.
Some of its exhibits include Leonard’s Mill, Grady Machine Shop, 1920’s Mill Complex, and hiking trails. With school tours and public programs at Leonard’s Mills, the museum provides residents of the state and visitors an educational and enjoyable experience.
17. Mount Hope Cemetery Corp. & Crematory
While it might seem odd to go for a walk in a cemetery, Mount Hope Cemetery is a great spot to head on a nice day in Bangor, as it is one of the nation’s oldest garden cemeteries. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was established in 1834, concurrent with the incorporation of Bangor.
The cemetery includes some beautiful scenery, a nice river, old war cannons, ducks, and various monuments and plaques dedicated to those who passed away. Occasionally, there are organized tours. A guide will present you with a brief history of the place and some of the important personalities that rest there.
18. Bangor Historical Society
At Bangor Historical Society and Thomas A. Hill House Museum you can learn more about the history of Bangor and the surrounding areas. The house where the museum is located is actually a private residence and inside you will find a wide range of artifacts. From antique clothes, shoes, books, decorations, old furniture, paintings to photos.
The guides are very knowledgeable and will gladly tell you all the details and secrets of these items. Everything is well maintained, and they often hold wine events in there as well.
19. Thomas Hill Standpipe
While the city’s water tower might not seem that interesting, the Thomas Hill Standpipe is one of Bangor’s most historic locations. The tower is on both the National Register of Historic Places and the American Civil Engineering Landmarks lists.
The tower is filled with history, not to mention it is very interesting architecturally. It is also surprisingly large and from a distance with its windows may be mistaken for something other than what it is. Speaking of it, it also holds a spot in one of Stephen King’s novels.
20. Baxter State Park
With over 200,000 acres of wilderness, 215 miles of trails, and 337 campsites, Baxter State Park offers a scenic setting with mountainous terrain and forests. Located over an hour north of Bangor, the park features many beautiful ponds, nice pavement roads, and very friendly park rangers.
Some of the highlights of Baxter State Park include climbing Baxter Peak and Katahdin, which takes between 8 and 12 hours to complete. However, the park also counts with many easier and shorter trails. Just check out their website where you will find a list of trails classified according to difficulty and length.
21. The Rock & Art Shop
With three locations in Maine, the Rock & Art Shop is a family-owned business dedicated to celebrating Natural History, Art, Science, Aesthetics, and more. Their products are numerous, ranging from jewelry, curious plants, natural history objects, unique gifts, accents for your home, cards, educational toys to fine bath products. Plus, they display the work of a local artist every month.
So, this cute little shop is the perfect stop to get a nice souvenir to remind you of Bangor or a gift for someone special at home.
22. Treworgy Family Orchards
From ice cream and a petting zoo in the summer to apple picking in the fall, Treworgy Family Orchards is a great spot for families. This family farm’s purpose is to connect people with each other and with the land. It is very kid-friendly, and fun for teens and adults, too.
Some of their most popular attractions include the national award-winning corn maze and the cut-your-own Christmas tree events. You can also cuddle with a baby goat and pick your own pumpkins, raspberries, and flowers. And do not forget to try their delicious donuts!
23. Bangor Drive-In
Bangor Drive-In is a seasonal drive-in theater offering new releases and movie classics. While it is technically in the town of Hermon, it is only a 10-minute drive from downtown Bangor. It is not fancy, but the concession stand has everything you would ever want. Plus, the picture quality is great, the screen is big and bright, and the sound is good as long as you stay in your car or have a really good radio. Yes, the audio comes through the radio.
Besides the movie streaming and playground for the kids, the area also hosts a flea market every Sunday with a wide variety of vendors.
24. Bangor Mall
The tranquil Bangor Mall houses a department store, familiar retail chains, and several quick-service eateries. This is the go-to destination when it comes to shopping in Bangor. The mall’s stores include plenty of popular brands like Victoria’s Secret, Hollister, Bridal Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JC Penny’s, and Sephora.
Besides, there are plenty of places to sit down and take a load off in case you get tired of all the shopping, as well as some good places to eat and have a drink.
25. Las Palapas Mexican Restaurant
With friendly and fast service, Las Palapas Mexican Restaurant has a familiar menu offering Mexican beers and margaritas in a casual dining room. They always serve warm, fresh tortilla chips with delicious homemade salsa when you are first seated and given menus. Just be careful not to fill up so that you have room for your actual meal!
Also, their prices are very reasonable, and the portion sizes are huge, which means that you will most likely have leftovers to take home. Their main dishes are chimichangas and fried ice cream.