Boothbay Harbor, a beautiful town in Lincoln County in the United States, is a hotbed of natural magnificence. From whale-watching to unforgettable fireworks, Boothbay Harbor is a gem everyone should visit.
Whether it’s summer or winter, a bucket list of to-dos never run dry in this town. From natural beauty to welcoming community, these are the top activities to do in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
How to get to Boothbay Harbor, ME?
Boothbay Harbor is located between Brunswick and Rockland in Maine. It’s just off the US 1 making it very easy to access.
Getting to Boothbay Harbor by plane
Although Boothbay Harbor does not have its own airport, there is a small regional airport close. It’s called Knox County Regional Airport and it’s the official airport of Rockland, Maine. There is a scheduled service available from Boston. You can book flight tickets to Boothbay Harbor and fly a small turboprop aircraft. Car rental is available at Knox County Regional Airport.
If you don’t want to have a connecting flight, then you may fly directly to Portland, Maine, or Boston, MA. Due to the popularity of these two airports, you should have no problems finding cheap flights. These cities are located along the US 1, meaning that it will be easy to rent a car and reach Boothbay Harbor.
Getting to Boothbay Harbor by car
Many of Maine’s coastal towns have the advantage of being placed near US 1. This is true for Boothbay Harbor as well. US 1 as a major highway makes it super easy to reach Boothbay Harbor. We recommend driving to Portland, ME, and joining US 1 there.
You’ll be exiting US 1 just after Wiscasset. From the highway exit, a short drive will get you straight into Boothbay Harbor.
Getting to Boothbay Harbor by bus
You can opt for the bus when traveling to Boothbay Harbor. There are as many as three operators that have lines going towards the area. Just keep in mind the bus stops at Wiscasset. From there a taxi can take you to Boothbay Harbor.
Top Things to do in Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Boothbay Harbor is a truly marvelous place. Join us to discover the best things to do in this Maine coastal town.
1. Cruising in the Coast
A visit to Midcoast Maine is never complete until the sea winds hit your face while cruising. Any visitor should take advantage of the scenic waterfront area. Many opportunities exist if you step aboard a boat and ride to historical sites, lighthouses, and islands. Keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of seals and porpoises, too!
On the beautiful blue waters, you can enjoy activities such as:
Boothbay Harbor Boat Tours
A place doesn’t get to be called the boating capital of New England for no reason. This charming coastal town is a boater’s paradise with several inlets, harbors, and ocean passages that attract sea lovers from every corner of the globe. Boothbay Harbor boat tours have tens of options when it comes to water exploration. If you are spoiled for choices, you can explore nearby islands, take beautiful photos of the wildlife, or just enjoy the spectacular scenery that has made this region famous.
For those who have set foot in Boothbay Harbor, it shouldn’t be a hard task to explain how beautiful this place is. This great region is a fantastic spot for those who enjoy what outdoor nature gives. You can hike, and marvel at the blue waters in equal measure. If you happen to be a water person, then we recommend kayak tours. Some friendly experts will guide you to through an experience that is pretty much enjoyable.
A fishing trip is always an exciting exercise. A visit to Boothbay Harbor will let you enjoy the freedom the ocean provides, the movement of the waves, and the fulfillment of catching your first fish while vacationing. If you prefer a private fishing experience during your stay in Maine, believe me when I say there isn’t a better place than Boothbay Harbor.
Lobster soup is one delicacy that has become synonymous with Maine; of course, more or less the staple food here. Yumminess aside, this crustacean is an attraction in itself for both visitors and locals. You can either enjoy a buttery lobster roll for lunch or a fresh lobster dinner—that’s what locals will call a classic New England experience. Whether you are a fan or not, one thing is indisputable, lobster fishing in this town is a vital element of the local culture. Boothbay Harbor offers visitors golden opportunities to learn about the lobster industry and dive into the world of lobster fishers.
Damariscove Island Cruise
A quick google search will make you aware that there are several islands in and around Maine Harbor. Damariscove Island is one of them. An epic, humans-free isle that is visually stunning, to say the least. It’s the best spot to visit if you want some peace and tranquility. You and your squad hike. For those who prefer less dangerous affairs, there are plenty of bird species to watch.
Damariscove is in the history books as being the first to be taken over by explorers. A good number of them settled there and set up a fishing trade system in the 1600s. They cast their nets and caught fish before sun-drying them then finally sending them to Europe. Back in these days, the island was home to seasoned fishermen. At the time when Pilgrims faced the unforgiving arms of hunger, these men came to their rescue by providing food for them. Years later, more and more men and women came and settled on the island.
In the modern-day, this Island is entirely uninhabited. It’s a treasure managed by the Nature Conservancy and is also listed as being part of the National Register of Historic Places. The island boasts a decent size and has hundreds of acres covered in indigenous coastal vegetation. Visitors will admire different kinds of wildlife, seabirds. There are also enough trails on the island makes it an ideal place for memorable hiking in the summer.
2. Touring the Historic Lighthouses
Maine is frequently referred to as “Lighthouse State.” History and scenery lovers have something to smile about when they visit Boothbay Harbor. Some of the lighthouses to visit include:
Burnt Island Lighthouse
As earlier mentioned, Maine’s history is inseparable from its countless traditional attractions that are the lighthouses. Generations after generations, lighthouses have served different purposes. In the first years of their existence, they were used to direct ships safely into the rocky harbors. With the world now a consumer of modern technology, lighthouses are now used for different purposes. Burnt Island Lighthouse is one of them, rich in history and cultural significance.
The first activity on the Island should be visiting the lighthouse. You may have visited a bunch of lighthouses in the past, but I guarantee nothing comes close to this one, especially for those of you who fancy fine historical architecture. While visiting different lighthouses, you will definitely set your sights on them, scale their walls and staircase, and get to know some of the histories behind them. But at the Burnt Island Lighthouse, you will enjoy more than that. You will see, touch, analyze and understand its existence as detailed in history.
Besides visiting the Lighthouse in itself, you can also choose to take a stroll around the island. It is not huge so the walk should be easy, calm and enjoyable. Grab your camera and capture the moments.
Hendricks Head Lighthouse
The Hendricks Head Lighthouse is just one of many unique attractions in Midcoast Maine. This site has been an iconic landmark of Maine’s shoreline for nearly 200 years. Hendricks Head Lighthouse was built in 1829. Since then, it has been the reference point for sensational stories, fierce storms, historical events, and countless restorations. Hendricks Head lighthouse and its grounds are not open to the public, but visitors can still see the structure from various strategic points. When you visit the beach, be sure to keep an eye out for the Hendricks Head Lighthouse. Also, don’t forget to take a tour of the harbor, or simply spend a day exploring the area.
Monhegan Lighthouse is a tiny, rock-dominated island sitting a few miles from the mainland and visitors can enjoy a boat ride to get there, meaning you will be hitting two birds with one stone, really. It’s s hotbed for artists, fitness experts, and anyone who enjoys moments away from the crowds, and those who want to relax at a peaceful but unhurried pace. Boasting wild terrain, and steep rocks, it is the pretty obvious visitors throng Monhegan Island is to enjoy a hike of their lifetime. Additionally, you can pick one of the many beautiful places to eat while visiting Monhegan. A simple lunch or a candle-lit dinner, one fact remains, the meal here is second to none!
Other lighthouses you can visit include
- Pemaquid Point Lighthouse
- Ram Island Lighthouse
- Cuckloads Lighthouse
3. Visiting Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a significant attraction on the peninsula, and Flagship Inn hotel has the closest accommodations. And it is expensive too. Covering a whopping 295 acres, its many colorful gardens offer a genuinely scenic view. Its sheer size makes it the biggest botanical garden in New England, and it is home to the Gardens Aglow festival that is held every November and December. Get to Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, and you will watch different species of butterflies, blooming plants, and other good things nature offers. It’s open daily from mid-April through October.
4. Visiting Marine State Aquarium
Maine State Aquarium, located calmly on the shores of West Boothbay Harbor, boasts a collection of regional invertebrates and fishes tucked in the granite-like cliffs of its main gallery. You will get to see lobsters of all colors and sizes. You will also get to enjoy the sea stars, red sea anemones, squid, shrimp, and bottom dwellers. The aquarium also harbors unique and rare species of sea animals such as skates and sharks. It also has a gigantic 20-foot-long touch tank enabling visitors to get up-close and personal with some Maine marine life they only see on tv.
5. Boothbay Railway Village
If you were wondering if there is a place for kids, Boothbay Railway Village is your answer. This historical organization and museum will transport you and your kids through time back to the mid-19th century, shortly after Maine became a state. This village is littered with old-fashioned structures and a rare collection of 60 antique automobiles. It remains the only place where you get to ride an authentic, narrow-gauge steam train through a historic replica village. The Village also plays host to a number of special events, including motor shows, craft fairs, and vintage ballgames.
6. Opera House at Boothbay Harbor
Since its construction in 1894, The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor still hosts live music, theatre plays, comedy shows, and loads of other on-stage events. The historic building is located in downtown Boothbay Harbor. It is a sight that will remain engraved in your photographic memory for years—whether you are there to take pictures or enjoy hundreds of performances held within its walls.
For those who love to down the bottle, there is a bar on the main floor. During most performances, the upstairs bar and lounge remain open to the public. Don’t forget to check your calendar to see what’s going on at the Opera House during your stay in the town!
7. Go Puffin Cruising
Maine remains the only state in the US where you will find wild puffins nesting. So, this is for bird lovers; find your way here and get to enjoy this adorable fuzzy bird. On top of that, you might also get lucky to spot some other Maine marine wildlife during such scenic sea cruises. Watch out for sea animals like seals, whales, blue herons, among others.
8. Go Shopping
When visiting Boothbay Harbor, you won’t just enjoy the nature walks and the historic sites; there is something cosmopolitan too. You can also wear light shoes, pick your shopping bag, and head to the center, slowly take a walk around and feel the vibe of the town. You will bump into some shopping spots and bookshops, that is if you love reading. If you prefer souvenir shops, then you are in luck too. You will have the chance to shop at various stores lined along the streets.
Boothbay is also home to hundreds of artisans, and you will find a number of galleries. Here you can settle for some glass or go traditional with fine arts.
9. Walking Across the Pedestrian Footbridge
Boothbay Harbor is a small town with many surprises. It is a harbor paradise. Its two sections are connected by a beautiful pedestrian footbridge. Visitors will get to enjoy unrivaled views by taking victory laps over this bridge. Sunset hours are recommended since, at this time, the bridge twinkles with dazzling lights, and the images of the nearby buildings are sensationally cast in the cool and still waters.
10. Visit Penny Lake Preserve
Penny Lake Preserve is a freshwater wetland right next to a hotel in Boothbay Harbor. An architecturally astute bridge connects the two properties, making it easy to access. The 54-acre preserve is managed by Boothbay Region Land Trust and boasts an accessible half-mile trail that crosses a wooden bridge. This trail is ideal for wheelchairs users and children riding in strollers. It is also suitable for dog walkers, hikers, and runners.
Where to stay in Boothbay Harbor, ME?
Boothbay Harbor has some great places to stay for your vacation. We’ll give you our three favorite hotel options. If you wish to find more Boothbay Harbor Hotels head over to our hotel search.
The Tugboat Inn
What can be more Boothbay Harbor than a Tugboat? Tugboat Inn is located right at the marina, whit its own Tugboat made into a restaurant. This charming inn offers 64 rooms in different buildings. Yes, the rooms are not in the tugboat, but that might be for the better due to limited space in the boat.
You can visit the boat that’s now a restaurant/bar in the evenings. Most rooms have charming ocean views. This Inn offers simple, but comfortable accommodation at a reasonable price.
Spruce Point Inn Resort & Spa
Those who like to indulge themselves in wellness activities will love Spruce Point Inn Resort & Spa. It’s located south of Boothbay Harbor, on the shore. With a beautiful pool at the sea, cozy romantic cabins, and wellness amenities, Spruce Point Inn Resort & Spa is a great choice, even if a little bit expensive.
Boothbay Harbor Inn
Finally, we have Boothbay Harbor Inn. Located in the city center, this budget hotel is a perfect choice for anyone who wants to save money. Simple rooms, with a true small-town inn atmosphere. This might not be the most flashy or best-equipped hotel, but you will have everything you need for a great vacation. Instead, you get an amazing location and great pricing.
Where to eat in Boothbay Harbor, Maine?
There are tons of great options for eating out in Boothbay Harbor. Even if your lodging comes with dinner included, you might be tempted to test out the local restaurants. Let’s explore some great options you can choose.
Mama D’s Cafe Mercantile
Address: 50 Union St, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538, United States
Let’s start with a classic. Mama D’s Cafe offers true local, classic American breakfast and lunch options. Guests absolutely love this charming cafe and the food here. Everything is delicious and has a ‘homemade’ feeling. Keep in mind it can and will get busy, but we recommend a trip to Mama D’s at least once in Boothbay Harbor.
Address: 40 Sea St, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538, United States
Looking for some fast food? Look no further than Dunton’s Doghouse. From hod-dogs, through hamburgers, to finger foods you can get everything you wish for. Come here for a quick bite during the day and enjoy some affordable local fast food.
Address: 23 Granary Way, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538, United States
Seafood by the ocean? How does that sound? Lovely picnic tables and a small shack is all it takes for Shannon’s Unshelled to be open. Although this is a seasonal restaurant, we highly recommend you drop in when it’s open.
Ports of Italy, Boothbay Harbor
Address: 47 Commercial St, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538, United States
The last restaurant on our list is a classy, more upscale place serving mostly Italian food. It’s a great visit when you want a more ‘restaurant’ like feel and when you crave Italian. Great wine selection and fully homemade pasta await.
All of these incredible attractions and activities are waiting for you in Boothbay Harbor, so check your calendar and make a date with this fantastic destination. Unforgettable moments are awaiting you in Boothbay Harbor.