With its beautiful mountain location, Bethel, Maine is often referred to as the “Jewel of Oxford County”. A place to enjoy outdoor adventures and a peaceful holiday.
Originally a farming and logging settlement, Bethel is now more of a tourist destination where the local area is made the most of for recreational activities.
With many different places to enjoy skiing, kayaking hiking and more, the area offers something for the whole family who want to enjoy the mountains.
Bethel give you the opportunity to do plenty of things but in a laid back and small-town environment, meaning you don’t have to visit the busiest destinations to have some fun.
Here are some of the best things to do in Bethel, Maine:
1. Grafton Notch State Park
A vast area of beautiful parkland that gives visitors plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities. The park is very visitor friendly and there are lots of facilities available to use.
Try stopping at the Route 26 parking area and taking one of the well signposted day hikes such as the Table Rock Trail and the summit of Old Speck.
There are also longer trails which take a few days or more like the Grafton Loop Trail. However, you decide to spend your time here, you will be pleased to see the many birds and mammals that call this place home. As well as the spectacular scenery.
2. Maine Mineral and Gem Museum
This museum holds an amazing collection of geological history. Exhibits include minerals and rocks from the local area and even extra-terrestrial rocks.
One of the most famous permanent exhibits is the Perham Collection. These group of rocks have been viewed by generations originally from a local mineral store which operated for ninety years.
The meteorites are interesting and the pieces in the museum vary in size and structure and they are well explained too. This is a nice place to visit for half a day, there is also a lovely gift shop for that local souvenir.
3. Sunday River Ski Resort
If you are looking for winter sports in Bethel, then this is the place to visit. There’s the opportunity for year-round skiing and snowboarding as well as other winter activities.
There’s a great kids ski school for the younger members of the family and you can take lessons or just go out and enjoy the slopes on your own.
They do have snow making facilities which enables to ski and any time but there are some great summer activities too. These include biking, hiking, ziplines, rock climbing and even pony rides.
4. Mount Will Walking Trail
A well-marked looped trail through ancient forest with excellent views. This is a relatively easy and quite a short hike along a logged track.
When you reach the peak of the trail you will enjoy stunning views overlooking the lovely Androscoggin Valley and the town of Bethel.
Whatever the season this trail is a nice place to walk. Just makes sure you bring enough supplies to keep you going.
5. River Rafting and Kayaking
The Androscoggin River in Bethel is the perfect place for kayaking and rafting. There is a camping site here as well as kayaks and rafts available to rent so you can take to the water on your own if you wish.
There are also guided tours available, which are great if you don’t know the area. Book as a group and you will get everything included such as life jackets and equipment.
The river itself is set amongst forest and small beaches which means wherever you go, you will get amazing views.
6. The Gem Theatre
This little movie theatre is a great place to kick back and watch a film. Unwind in the affordable family friendly theatre. Check the showtimes locally before you visit as the theatre is only open certain times throughout the week.
It is a real local find and run by friendly local people, you are sure to enjoy your time here.
7. Goose Eye Mountain
Goose Eye Mountain is the second-highest mountain in the Mahoosuc chain. The hike to the peak is definitely a challenging one but the views are worth it.
You will pass beautiful pools, river cascades and magnificent waterfalls. Not to mention scenic views over the valleys below. Make sure you bring your camera because the views are spectacular.
The hike can be completed in a day, but you must start early and keep a good pace to complete the whole loop in one day.
8. Elements Art Gallery
A renovated 1800s cattle barn houses this art gallery, come shopping store. The gallery was opened by the owner to showcase her own art and as an outlet for her own artistic development.
Over time this has grown and now the gallery is home to creations by over 50 local artists and crafts masters.
There are also additional sales items including Bethel Toys and Trendz, Community Sports, Slope side Rentals, and Little Bits Children’s Consignment. This is a local gallery and store all under one roof.
9. The Bethel Inn Resort Golf Course
A par 72 course which takes advantage of the mountain views and natural beauty of the surrounding area. There are tree lined fairways, natural hazards, well looked after greens and five tee positions.
This makes play challenging for golfers of every ability. The golf course at The Bethel Inn Resort is open from early May through late October. So if you are looking to enjoy some tee time here, this is should be your first port of call in Bethel.
10. Sunday River Brewing Company
Sunday River Brewing Company offers a great place for a local casual atmosphere on a night out in Bethel. There’s a great mix of locals, tourists and craft beer drinkers, which is an excellent crowd for a good night out.
As well as trying the locally brewed beers you can also enjoy a variety of sandwiches, salads and pastas, complimenting the drinks.
Expect large burgers and artisan-fired pizzas amongst the delicious items on the menu.
11. Bethel Hill Common
An historic walking area which gives visitors and locals a real taste of Americana, Bethel Hill Common is an easy walk near the town.
Start your walk at upper end of Main Street where you will see the historic Bethel Inn Resort next to the common, the historic gazebo and other interesting homes.
During holidays you may well find festivals or parties occurring on the common. Including Mollyockett Day, July 4th and Veterans days, where the town comes together to celebrate.
12. Deep wood Farm
Passionate for their horses, Deep Wood farm offer trail treks and trips for visitors through the wooded trails and over streams and rivers and into the foothills of the White Mountains.
A wonderful experience for those of all ages, even if you have never ridden before, the help and teaching you are given coupled with the calm gentle horses will mean you will still get to enjoy the ride.
For kids from the age of six, they also offer a summer riding camp if you are extending your stay. Book your trip in advance, from one-hour trail rides to longer treks for more experienced riders.
13. Carter’s X-C Ski Centre
For an outdoor adventure in the snow, this centre has everything you need to enjoy some winter activities.
The area is great for cross country skiing, snow shoeing and fat biking. Even if you haven’t bought any equipment along, you can rent snow shoes, boots, winter sportswear and of course skis and bikes too.
There are some well-marked trails to follow and they also offer ski packages for the more experienced or committed skiers. Find the ski centre on Intervale Road in Bethel.
14. Bethel Pathway
Although there are many mountain hiking trails surrounding the town, Bethel Pathway offers a gentler and closer stroll for visitors. This is especially great if you only have a short time to spend in the town.
Walk along the river and under the charming covered bridge just out of town Then make your way over the flat easy path admiring the surrounding scenery.
Along the route you will also find a skate park and a playground. So, if you have children with you, they will have some fun things to do whist enjoying the walk.
15. Funky Red Barn
Looking for some nightlife? The Funky Red Barn will give you a real flavour of local life. During early evening you will see families having dinner and can grab a bite to eat yourself.
Then later on you will find live music and entertainment for an enjoyable night. As Bethel is a small town, you’ll find many people know each other which gives the place a friendly and cosy, although rustic atmosphere.
Come for dinner, stay for drinks and maybe even get involved in a game or darts or try your hand on the pool tables. A fun night out in Bethel.