Think of the state of Maine. Picture it. What do you see? Forests for miles? Crabs and rocks? Storms and old men who live in lighthouses? You might be correct, but there's so much more to the Pine Tree State. They don't call Maine "Vacationland" for nothing, folks. Just ask the capital of Maine, the city of Augusta.
Sandwiched between Portland in the South and Bangor (real Bangor of a city name, if you ask me) in the north, Augusta is often overlooked when thinking about Maine. But you shouldn't count this Kennebec County haven out!
There are loads of things to see and do in and around downtown Augusta. We grouped them into three handy categories for easy consumption.
Things To Do in the Capital of Maine
Soak Up Some Maine Culture
Built in 1754 and a National Historic Landmark, Old Fort Western is America's oldest surviving wooden fort.
Well, now it's America's. Built on the head of the Kennebec River in Gardiner in 1754, Fort Western began its life as a New England British colonial outpost during the French and Indian War. That's right; the capital of Maine isn't just the heart of the state's government. It's the literal heart.
When you tour Old Fort Western, you're walking the same grounds as Benedict Arnold before he turned coats. Tell me that's not cool!
If historic political architecture is more your thing, we have some good news. You're in the state capital! Wow. What a coincidence.
Speaking of providence, the neatest couple of buildings in Augusta sit next to each other. We'd love to tell you a lot about the Maine State House, but it's undergone so many remodels (eight, by our count) since 1832 that we don't know where to begin. You'll have to check out the statehouse and its awesome statue of Minerva yourself!
Home to Maine's governors, you can tour the Blaine House next door. Walk around the gardens, or get a tour of the state dining room, state reception room, etc.
This historic site in Maine's capital city is sure to awe and inspire. Maybe you'll even get a glimpse of the sitting governor!
Ah, but you're visiting for some arts and craft beers. I see. Even more good news: Walk along the Kennebec River Rail Trail to nearby Hallowell (or drive if you don't feel up to the walk). This quaint historic village has much to offer: an art gallery, The Gaslight Theatre (Maine's oldest continuously operating theater), and loads of shopping.
Back in Augusta proper, enjoy some good beer and food downtown at Cushnoc Brewing Co. With high-quality craft beer made right in Augusta and some delicious wood-fired pizza, you'll be looking forward to dinner at a riverfront brewery after a long day of sightseeing.
With fun beers like "Gigantic Dad Pants" and "Shimmy Shimmy Yay," you may just find yourself buying a four-pack to go.
Enjoy Maine's Better Nature
Hey, maybe you're not ready for beers and burgers after touring the capital grounds. That's perfectly fine! We highly suggest you stay outdoors, though. There's just too much to do out there in Augusta.
Like the park, you're looking at right now. Located outside of the State Capitol, Capitol Park was created in 1827. Made up of 34 acres overlooking the Kennebec River, you can wander around and take in the beauty of native trees and shrubs. It's a peaceful place to wind down.
We mentioned the Kennebec River Rail Trail earlier, so don't worry if you're still wondering what it is. You'll definitely enjoy some outdoor time on this rail trail. A 6.5-mile public path, the Kennebec River Rail Trail connects the communities of Augusta, Hallowell, Farmingdale, and Gardiner.
You'll enjoy biking, walking, rollerblading, and taking a break with a picnic while you take in the views of the river.
Open sunrise to sunset, this botanical garden is well worth a visit. The Viles Arboretum sits on 224 acres with five miles of trails, has over 5,000 varieties of trees and shrubs, and over 20 collections of trees, flowers, and other plants.
A visitor center and gift shop are open Wednesday through Saturday.
Museum Hopping In Maine
Museums? Maine's got 'em.
The Children's Discovery Museum "has a mission to ignite curiosity and celebrate learning through play." Okay, this museum is technically not in Augusta (it's in Waterville). Still, it will be worth the short ride once the museum reopens.
In the meantime, history buffs will love the First Amendment Museum in Augusta. Located in the Gannett House, you can learn about the famous newspaper publishing family and their commitment to the First Amendment when you take a free tour of this museum.
Any favorites in the capital of Maine we missed? Share them on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!