A unique mix of geography and economy has given Rockland, Maine, several wonderful benefits, and one of them is the stunning landscape that contributes to its effectiveness as a vacation destination. Before you plan a holiday to this wonderful city, you must know about the top things to do in Rockland, Maine, to have the most fun.
Join us to explore this coastal town in Maine. It is located in the midcoast of Maine, a well-known tourist destination for its rugged shoreline and high mountains. People in Rockland know that the town is very important to the state’s lobster-fishing economy and the shoreline that is home to many functioning piers.
When you visit Rockland, Maine, you will be charmed by natural beauty. The forests, state parks, and waterfronts on the shoreline make it a must-visit destination for those who like hiking and being active on vacation.
How to get to Rockland, Maine?
The city of Rockland is located conveniently along Route 1. Passing through Portland, Maine, it’s very easy to find Route 1 and join in. It will take you directly to the town of Rockland. If you are coming from Bangor, you first have to drive on Route 1A to join into Route 1. From there continue onwards, until you reach Rockland.
There is a possibility to travel all the way into Rockland via plane. However, the local airport is a regional one, only serving nearby cities. The closest big city is Boston with a direct connection. From there a short one-hour flight will take you to the Knox County Regional Airport, which is practically next to Rockland.
Another option is to fly into Portland, Maine, or Bangor, Maine. Both cities offer quick and easy connections in the Midcoast Maine region. As an added benefit, you will find it easier to rent a car at these airports.
Best Things to do in Rockland, Maine
It’s time to dive into the top things to do in Rockland, Maine, and Penobscot Bay. You can explore this wonderful place in the state of Maine through museums, hikes, and great tours.
1. Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse
Probably one of the most photographed places in Rockland is the Breakwater and Lighthouse. As the name suggests this lighthouse also functions as a stop to the waves to keep the harbor calm. It extends way into the water and you can reach it through a small walkway.
When it’s especially windy the water splashes easily onto the walkway, therefore we recommend shoes with great grip. Once you reach the lighthouse you will have great views of Rockland and wonderful sights on the water. You can stop and take in the scene for a moment of calmness. Needless to say, your friends will love all the photos you can make at this unique lighthouse.
This is such a prominent sight in the town, that it has to be the first things to do in Rockland, Maine, that you complete from the list.
2. Visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum
A visit to this museum takes you back in time and to learn about the many local lighthouses. During your exploration of Rockland and the Maine Lobster Festival, you will find an abundance of fascinating things relevant to the city’s history and the annual festival.
Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. All personnel of the U.S. Coast Guard, active and retired, are welcomed in Rockland as a city of the United States Coast Guard.
3. Visit the Farnsworth Art Museum
The Farnsworth Art Museum showcases works by renowned American painters from many different time periods. It is one of the most prominent public art museums with a substantial collection of works by artist Louise Nevelson. In both the collection and selected exhibitions, the museum showcases local Maine artists’ work.
The tickets cost $15 for adults and $13 for seniors. Children under 16 are free to attend this museum.
4. Project Puffin Visitor Center
The Project Puffin Visitor Center was established in 2006 with the purpose to showcase this successful local program. It is now well-known as a location that attracts tourists from far away and local people. This Center commemorates the recovery of many endangered and threatened seabirds who returned to historic breeding islands thanks to Project Puffin.
There are plenty of entertaining, informative, and interactive exhibits, events, and activities that are sure to entertain and educate everyone, especially children. Due to the global virus situation, make sure to check the official website for opening times.
5. Catch the Maine Lobster Festival
It occurs each year during the first week of August and is widely celebrated. Thousands of people come to see it over the span of five days, and they have delicious fresh lobster and other seafood to choose from. Many fun things will keep guests from becoming bored throughout the carnival. These may include fun rides, performing artists, and more. Tons of entertainment for your things to do in Rockland, Maine itinerary!
In the beginning, this was intended to help revitalize the economically depressed towns in Maine’s Midcoast region, but now it has expanded to the point where it is now known worldwide. Maine Lobster Festival guests come from all across Europe and Asia, but especially from Owls Head, Maine.
6. Chocolate at Bixby & Co.
Regardless of whether you’re buying for yourself or others, Bixby & Co. is a must-visit for anybody looking for presents. A certain kind of chocolate is ideal because it provides just the right amount of indulgence while also alleviating guilt.
For this facility, the ability to produce non-GMO, gluten-free, and organic chocolate is an established practice.
7. Sail Power and Steam Museum
This rare collection of maritime and industrial photos, displays, demonstrations, and relics may be found at the Sail, Power, and Steam Museum.
The museum is a prominent Rockland landmark since it was founded by Captain Jim Sharp and his wife, Meg. This museum is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of historic boats, the transmission of the passion for being on the water, and a facility where local musicians may rehearse and play.
8. Lobster Boat Fishing
Try your hand at lobster fishing! As a lobster boat tour participant, you get to witness first-hand how lobsters are pulled out of the water, as well as get to view seals and/or whales from time to time. You may buy these just captured lobsters here.
Guests may see and learn about lobster traps, how fishermen determine if lobsters are suitable for dinner or need to be left in the water longer. Kids also have a lot of fun hunting for starfish and crabs that were captured in traps.
9. Go on a Flightseeing Tour
Sightseeing from the air? Does it sound fun? We bet it does! Lucky for you the Knox County Regional Airport is the home of Penobscot Island Air. It’s a small local company that offers on-demand flight services. These include airmail, air-taxi, and transfer to bigger airports. As a tourist, you will be most interested in their Flightseeing services.
They can take you around the area and give you a new perspective to see all the beauty Midcoast Maine has to offer. From lighthouse tours to checking out the small islands, you can arrange a wide variety of sightseeing with them. You may contact the company through their official website to get a quote. We love this unique things to do in Rockland, Maine.
10. Owls Head Transportation Museum
You will find Owls Head very close to Rockland. It is home to the wonderful Transportation Museum. At this museum, there are approximately 200 historical vehicles, such as aircraft, motorbikes, and bicycles, among vintage cars. An aviation hangar-inspired architecture creates an environment in which adults and children can comfortably work through the museum, and enables them to appreciate the exhibits.
You can find all kinds of transportation relics here. It’s a must-see in Rockland for anyone who loves history and vintage items. The museum also proves quite effective at keeping children entertained, making it a nice family attraction to visit in Rockland.
11. Owls Head State Park
Maine’s smallest state park is Owls Head. The picnic grove is perfect for families to picnic, only a short walk to the tiny rocky beach, which offers stunning views of the Rockland lighthouse on a cliff above. Besides being situated on the state park property, an ancient, tiny cemetery is also there.
The lighthouse in the Owls Head State Park is the primary attraction. While other lighthouses may be larger in scale, this lighthouse rises 100 feet above sea level, making it easy to see for ships at sea.
12. Center for Maine Contemporary Art
The Center for Maine Contemporary Art, or CMCA, is a place where contemporary artists may explore their creative endeavors. This building, which houses both emerging and established artists, highlights rotating exhibits throughout the year.
Surprises will await you when you see some of the pieces of art on exhibit here. This unique show is in a beautiful contemporary building, with a great and unusual sculpture in front of it.
13. Explore with a Ferry
Rockland as a coastal town has great ferry connections. Whether you are trying to explore some nearby towns or the small islands, the ferry is a cheap and great way to do so. On the way to your destination, you will get some time to enjoy the views on the water.
One of the best towns you can visit with the ferry service is Vinalhaven. It’s a great place to do some hiking and nature exploration. It is a small island that’s mostly untouched by humans.
14. Rockland Harbor Trail
This path, which connects the city’s historic core with the recently restored shoreline, shows the city’s urban fabric as well as how the community surrounding it sustains and feeds it. This tour will give you the opportunity to learn about Rockland’s maritime history while taking a lovely walk with spectacular views of the harbor and seeing some of the city’s thriving arts and culture.
15. Day Trip to Camden
Camden is the next major city to Rockland. To reach it you just have to continue along Route 1. It offers some great things to see, like the lovely harbor, the Mt. Battie Tower, and perfect hiking opportunities. While there you may enjoy some sightseeing tour from the water. The port of Camden is the home of Appledore II. Check out this sunset sightseeing boat tour with the Appledore II, a vintage sailboat. Great fun!
Where to eat in Rockland?
Now we are aware of all the fun things to do in Rockland, Maine. Let’s explore some of the best restaurants that you can grab a bite at. This is in no way a comprehensive list, just some recommendations you may try.
North Beacon Oyster
The North Beacon Oyster is an amazing seafood restaurant along the coast of Rockland. Of course, the main attraction is the oyster. It’s made very well and we recommend everyone to try it. Other seafood items are also available, all very tasty and good. If you are looking for great seafood the North Beacon Oyster got you covered.
Address: 421 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841, United States
Up In Smoke BBQ
The Up In Smoke BBQ is an outdoor restaurant in Rockland. They prepare the BBQ right in front of you, in the open space. Whatever you order will be very fresh and done right in front of you. This place is highly recommended for meat lovers. The place is only open until they run out of meat and keep in mind: ribs are preorder the previous day. If you want some perfect BBQ ribs, you better call them a day in advance.
Address: 65 Tillson Ave, Rockland, ME 04841, United States
The third and last restaurant on our list is the Primo. It’s an elegant Italian restaurant in Maine. Come here when you are feeling upscale and want to have a beautiful meal. It’s a farm-to-table experience which means everything will be fresh and tasty. A great restaurant, especially for date nights.
Address: 2 Main St, Rockland, ME 04841, United States
How many days to spend in Rockland?
Looking at the things to do in Rockland, Maine, we are sure that you would not run out of activities in a week-long vacation. Spending 5 to 7 days in Rockland offers an opportunity to slow down, learn about the history and enjoy nature hikes. You can explore the nearby islands and entail in a great family vacation. We recommend at least 4 days in Rockland.
Rockland, Maine Hotel Recommendations
This Rockland vacation guide would not be complete without some hotel recommendations as well. We highlight some great places to stay, whether you are looking at budget travel options or family lodgings.
250 Main Hotel
The 250 Main Hotel in Rockland is an extremely cute boutique hotel. Situated overlooking Rockland Harbor and offering unrivaled access to all of your requirements, 250 Main Hotel has state-of-the-art amenities that enhance every element of your stay. We recommend this hotel for couples and romantic stays.
Berry Manor Inn
Berry Manor Inn has been selected as one of the best B&B in the US. The inn is regarded as one of the most luxurious Maine seaside inns in the Rockland/Camden region. You will have your lodging inside a Victorian Manor, designed to give you that old-school feel and look. Another great hotel for a romantic getaway in Rockland.
Trade Winds Inn
Trade Winds Inn is conveniently located in the heart of Rockland. You’ll have easy access to all the best things to do in Rockland, Maine, for the duration of your stay. This is a more budget option that’s perfect for a family vacation. The location is great and the rooms are well equipped.
Equipped with our things to do in Rockland, Maine guide, you will have no issues on your holiday. Maine is an amazing state in the US that you should consider visiting. Nature is very honest in this region and you can find a lot of history. Generally speaking, Maine is a great destination for family holidays, especially if you want the kids to appreciate hiking and natural beauty.