Bridgton is a town in Maine’s Cumberland County which is particularly well-known for its ski slopes. These unique slopes were created by the townspeople in the ‘30s, and spell the word ‘LOVE.’ It can still be seen clearly nearly a century later, and is the town’s hallmark.
The town is nestled among many of the state’s most scenic lakes and offers a variety of year-round outdoor recreation activities, as well as easy access to some of the area’s most significant historical and cultural sites – and the Atlantic coast beaches too.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Bridgton, Maine that you won’t want to miss.
1. White Mountain National Forest
Growing from just a few thousand acres in 1914 to nearly 800,000 today, White Mountain National Forest is one of New England’s most visited attractions. It is comprised of a vast tract of land that straddles Maine and neighboring New Hampshire.
The land inside the park is some of the most pristine to be found anywhere in the country. It is especially important considering that many of the state’s forests have been cleared to feed the paper industry’s insatiable appetite for pulp which comes from trees.
The park offers a variety of campgrounds and year-round outdoor recreation activities, like hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, and mountain biking.
2. Nurture through Nature Retreat Center
Located on Warren Road in Denmark, Nurture through Nature Retreat Center is the first business of its kind that’s been officially certified as ‘Green.’
The facilities were designed with sustainability and minimal environmental impact in mind. Whether you’re visiting for a workshop, conference, or just to escape from life’s chaos for a while, you’ll appreciate its simple and efficient layout and serenity.
Guests have a variety of wellness options available at their disposal, like yoga and other educational and instructional courses aimed at physical and mental health.
The facilities fill up quickly, so make reservations in advance if possible.
3. Pleasant Mountain
Conveniently located within an easy drive of Bridgton and Portland, Pleasant Mountain is one of the most popular attractions in southern Maine. It offers an extensive network of trails of varying degrees of difficulty, many of which are suitable for children and those not in tip-top shape.
Pleasant Mountain is the tallest mountain in southern Maine; though it’s beautiful year-round, it’s particularly scenic in the late fall, when the tree’s leaves have turned their vibrant autumn colors.
The park’s trails total nearly 10 miles and wind their way around some of the area’s most spectacular peaks, which are often snow covered.
4. Sebago Lake State Park
Located at the north end of the lake of the same name, Sebago Lake State Park is a popular public recreational area between the towns of Casco and Naples.
It’s one of a group of five parks that were the state’s first. In addition to the lake, two nearby rivers offer excellent fishing as well as canoeing and kayaking.
Featuring sandy beaches reminiscent of those on the coast, the park is a favorite of swimmers and sunbathers. It also features a variety of forest trails, campsites, and a river lock that’s an interesting leftover from a past era when lakes and rivers were important transportation corridors.
5. Depot Street Tap House
Established in 2013 and located on Depot Street in Bridgton, Depot Street Tap House is one of the town’s most popular watering holes and serves up a unique mix of cocktails and craft brewed beers.
The tap house sports an eclectic mix of regulars, and for those visiting the area, there’s no better place to rub elbows with a few locals, have a tasty drink or two, and learn about the town’s history and attractions.
Their hours of operation vary slightly depending on the season and day of the week, so check online or give them a call before making a special trip.
6. Salmon Point Campground
Sporting more than 50 campsites, Salmon Point Campground in Bridgton is a municipal facility that previous visitors have described as comfy, relaxing, quaint and scenic.
Located in the state’s natural and renowned Maine Lakes Region, their amenities include internet and cable, and electricity, water, and sewer hookups for those traveling in an RV.
The sites include forested and waterfront options. During peak times, they get reserved quickly, so book in advance if possible.
A myriad of outdoor recreation options are available to visitors, so don’t forget your bathing suit and beach towel, fishing rod, camera, and hiking shoes.
7. Drive-In Movie Theater
Each year, there are fewer and fewer drive-ins in existence. For those who grew up during the ‘50s and ‘60s, a visit to Bridgton’s drive-in will be like a walk down Memory Lane.
Just a few miles outside town, it was originally built in the late ‘50s, and just a few decades ago a second screen was added.
Their season is usually from May to September, and features two movie options each night they’re open.
For those with kids who grew up never experiencing a night at the drive-in, it’s a great way to give them a taste of the past.
8. Lewiston/ Auburn Liberty Festival
For nearly a quarter of a century, the twin cities of Lewiston and Auburn have been hosting an Independence Day Liberty Festival that draws crowds from near and far.
The event takes place along the shores of the Androscoggin River. In addition to celebrating the nation’s independence, it also highlights the town’s unique history and culture.
Of course, there’s a heck of a firework show, great food, and a variety of family-friendly activities that should keep every member of the family interested and occupied for hours.
The festival also includes guest speakers and an interesting flag retiring ceremony that’s quite poignant and unique.
9. Summit Spring Golf Course
Located in nearby Poland, Summit Spring Golf Course is a popular nine-hole attraction that’s been around since 1899, making it one of the oldest of its kind in the area.
Don’t expect to bump into any PGA stars, but like many previous visitors, you may be impressed by the quality of its greens, fairways, and beautiful natural setting.
The course is just shy of 4,000 yards and contains a number of hazards that make things challenging and enjoyable, especially for first-time guests.
Book your tee time in advance if possible, especially if you plan on playing during peak times on the weekend during summer.
10. Gallery 302
Bridgton’s Gallery 302 is located on Main Street in town. In addition to displaying a unique blend of contemporary art, it’s also an artist’s co-op and offers a variety of instructional and educational classes during the spring and summer months.
It’s an excellent place for aspiring artists to hone their skills and get some inspiration. Since it’s full of one of a kind items, it’s also a worthwhile stop for those looking to buy a piece to remind them of their trip to Maine.
Items on display include painting, jewelry, and pottery, to name a few, and most of them are reasonably priced.
11. Five Fields Farm – Gyger Orchards
The land that’s now part of Five Fields Farm was originally settled in 1776. For much of its life, the farm grew and raised a variety of crops and animals that supported the family and provided food for the surrounding community.
About a century ago, the farm became an apple orchard, and its name comes from the five distinct sections of the orchard as it was initially planned.
Located on South Bridgton Road, at nearly 1,000 feet above sea level, it gets a lot of snow, which is perfect for a variety of activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
12. Great Falls Balloon Festival
For nearly three decades, the town of Lewiston, Maine has been hosting a balloon festival that’s a big draw for locals and out of state visitors alike.
It’s held over three days in the middle of August and includes a huge variety of family-friendly activities.
From puppet shows to duck races and a bunch of games and activities especially for children, it’s the perfect place to spend a few hours breathing the fresh Maine air, meeting some locals, and letting the kids burn off that pent-up energy.
The festival also features arts and crafts and is known for its tasty food.
13. Dempsey Challenge
Named after famous actor and Hollywood heartthrob Patrick Dempsey, the Dempsey Challenge is a fun-filled charity event that’s the crown jewel of the Dempsey Center.
The challenge takes place over two days in September and includes a variety of races, games, contests, and activities. So nobody is left out, many of them are suitable for those who aren’t spring chickens or in the best physical shape.
All proceeds go to helping those less fortunate; there are even opportunities for additional fundraising if that’s something you’d like to do.
Check out their website for more detailed activity and volunteering information.
14. Museum L-A
Located in the twin cities of Lewiston and Auburn, Museum L-A is housed inside a refurbished historic building that was once part of the Bates Mill Complex on Canal Street.
Many of the museum’s pieces were inspired by the area’s economy, people, and natural beauty, and a good number are the works of local and regional artists.
Most of the items on display are contemporary pieces that have been done in a wide range of mediums.
There’s also a unique gift shop onsite that’s the perfect place to pick up a keepsake or two to remind you of your trip to Maine.
15. Midcoast Symphony Orchestra
Comprised of Nearly 90 musicians, the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra is known for its world-class performances, the likes of which are usually only found in large metropolitan areas like Boston and New York.
Many of the symphony orchestra’s musicians are volunteers, but there are a few professional soloists as well. It all takes place in a venue that’s more intimate than many larger ones.
They typically offer four concert series throughout the year, and the venue is in the town of Topsham at the Orion Performing Arts Center.
Check their website to see what’s on their calendar of events for when you’ll be in the area.