15 Best Things to Do in Brunswick (ME)

Written by Trishia Bourgoin
Updated on
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It was back in 1628 when this settlement first took shape in the fascinating town of Pejepscot, strategically designed with open ground on either side to ensure safety from potential ambushes. Over a century later, the town was officially incorporated as Brunswick, a name that still echoes through its streets today.

Brunswick’s past was closely intertwined with its thriving seaport, attracting merchants and adventurers alike. The mighty Androscoggin River Falls, with its powerful current, fueled the growth of various industries, including lumber, shipbuilding, and textiles. The town buzzed with activity, as trade flourished and the community prospered.

One remarkable chapter in Brunswick’s history is its connection to the renowned author Harriet Beecher Stowe. It was within the confines of this charming town that she penned the groundbreaking novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in 1851. As I strolled through the streets, I could easily envision the inspiration she drew from the town’s vibrant atmosphere and diverse community. Brunswick holds a special place in literary history, serving as a backdrop to Stowe’s powerful words.

Today, Brunswick continues to thrive, its population now reaching around 20,000 residents. The town’s commitment to preserving its heritage is evident in the numerous buildings that have earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places. These architectural treasures offer a glimpse into the town’s past, inviting visitors to step back in time and appreciate its rich cultural tapestry.

For those seeking to experience the best of Brunswick, Cumberland County, Maine, I’ve compiled a list of the 15 most captivating activities to explore.

1. Harriet Beecher Stowe House

Harriet Beecher Stowe House, BrunswickSource: denisbin / Flickr
Harriet Beecher Stowe House

As I delved into the history of Brunswick, I stumbled upon a remarkable connection to one of America’s most influential authors, Harriet Beecher Stowe. A staunch abolitionist, she found solace and inspiration in this town, which eventually led to the creation of her iconic novel.

One of the standout landmarks associated with Harriet Beecher Stowe is her former residence, a home that holds immense historical significance. Constructed in the early 1800s, this house is not only a cherished part of Brunswick’s heritage but also holds the distinction of being listed as a National Historic Landmark. What makes it even more remarkable is its designation as an Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site, a testament to Stowe’s dedication to the abolitionist cause.

While Stowe’s name is often associated with her renowned house in Hartford, Connecticut, where she ultimately passed away, the Brunswick community takes immense pride in their connection to this extraordinary writer. Though she resided in Brunswick for only a brief period, it was during her time in this rented house that she penned her groundbreaking novel that would reshape the nation’s perception of slavery.

Visitors have the unique opportunity to step into the very room where Stowe brought her powerful words to life. The writing room, open to the public, serves as a poignant reminder of the impact she made and the struggles she fought against. It is a place where history and literature intertwine, inviting visitors to witness firsthand the space that nurtured Stowe’s creativity and fueled her passion for justice.

2. Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College ChapelSource: Paul and Jill / Flickr
Bowdoin College Chapel

I have also stumbled upon Stowe’s House, a captivating residence that is now under the ownership of Bowdoin College. This prestigious institution takes its name from James Bowdoin II, a respected former Governor of Massachusetts and a descendant of French Huguenots. It’s fascinating to think that this connection to the college dates back to a time when Stowe’s powerful words were taking shape within its walls.

While Stowe’s house holds its own allure, my curiosity led me to another prominent landmark within Bowdoin College: the Bowdoin College Chapel. Established in 1794, this architectural marvel has witnessed the growth and education of countless individuals who have graced its hallowed halls. Nestled within 200 acres of breathtaking scenery, the college and its chapel have become synonymous with excellence in education.

Walking through the college’s well-manicured grounds, I couldn’t help but appreciate the institution’s dedication to offering a diverse range of courses. Bowdoin College boasts an impressive array of academic offerings, particularly in the realms of language and literature. As an avid language enthusiast, I found myself drawn to the prospect of immersing myself in their enriching language and literature programs.

Its grandeur and elegance are testaments to the college’s commitment to creating an environment that inspires and nurtures intellectual growth. The chapel stands as a physical representation of the institution’s devotion to knowledge and enlightenment.

3. Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Bowdoin College Museum of ArtSource: Sangre-La.com / Flickr
Bowdoin College Museum Of Art

A visit to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is an absolute must. The Museum of Art promised a captivating collection that extended beyond paintings. From the moment I stepped foot into the museum, I was greeted by a world of artistic wonders.

One artist in particular, Winslow Homer, commanded a significant presence within the museum’s walls. Homer’s profound impact on 19th-century American art was evident through his diverse body of work. Originally starting his artistic journey as a commercial illustrator, Homer’s true passion emerged in capturing the essence of the sea on canvas.

His maritime-themed paintings showcased his exceptional talent and secured his place among America’s greatest artists. With every brushstroke, Homer managed to encapsulate the beauty and power of the ocean, drawing viewers into a world of mesmerizing seascapes. It was a privilege to witness his artistic evolution and immerse myself in the contemplation of his masterpieces.

In addition to his seascapes, Homer’s depictions of the Civil War were equally captivating. Whether rendered in sketch form, delicate watercolors, or striking oil paintings, his ability to convey the emotions and realities of the war was truly impressive. Each stroke of his brush seemed to breathe life into the scenes, transporting me back to a pivotal period in American history.

4. Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum

Peary-MacMillan Arctic MuseumSource: Tndou / Wikimedia
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum

Immersed in the captivating world of the Arctic, I ventured into the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, a testament to the indomitable spirit of exploration. The museum, aptly named after two esteemed alumni of Bowdoin College, Robert E. Peary and Donald B. MacMillan, promised a comprehensive journey into the realm of Arctic exploration.

The college’s enduring fascination with the Arctic dates back to the 1860s when the pioneers of exploration embarked on their daring expeditions. Robert E. Peary and Donald B. MacMillan, fueled by a deep curiosity and unwavering determination, ventured into the frozen unknown during the early 20th century.

Within the museum’s walls, I encountered a fascinating array of equipment, each piece bearing the weight of countless expeditions. From sturdy sleds to intricately crafted navigational instruments, these artifacts spoke volumes about the challenges faced by Arctic explorers and the resilience required to overcome them.

Photographs adorned the walls, capturing fleeting moments frozen in time. They offered glimpses into the Arctic’s breathtaking landscapes, as well as the unwavering camaraderie shared among the expedition teams. Each image evoked a sense of awe and wonder, transporting me to a world shaped by ice and silence.

The museum’s collection extended beyond material artifacts. Valuable papers, journals, and correspondence shed light on the personal narratives of the explorers themselves. These historical documents offered intimate insights into their triumphs, setbacks, and the sheer audacity of their pursuits. It was as if I was privy to their innermost thoughts and emotions, woven into the fabric of Arctic exploration.

5. Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum

Joshua L. Chamberlain MuseumSource: Ron Cogswell / Flickr
Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a revered figure in American history, had called this place home during his illustrious career as a college professor and Unionist Brigadier General in the American Civil War.

Originally constructed in the 1820s, the house had undergone expansions and renovations over the years, evolving alongside Chamberlain’s own journey. In 1983, the Pejepscot Historical Society acquired the property, recognizing its significance, and swiftly transformed it into a museum dedicated to honoring Chamberlain’s legacy. With each passing month, the museum’s collection expanded, acquiring captivating exhibits that painted a vivid portrait of Chamberlain’s life and contributions. The society remains dedicated to the ongoing growth and enrichment of this remarkable institution, promising even more remarkable additions in the future.

It was a surprising revelation to learn that Joshua Chamberlain, hailed as a hero of the Unionists in the legendary Battle of Gettysburg, was not memorialized on the very battlefield where his valor had shone brightly. However, this glaring omission has been rectified in a fitting manner. In the grounds of the college where Chamberlain once taught, opposite his former residence, a statue now stands proudly, paying homage to his indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication.

The statue serves as a poignant reminder of Chamberlain’s pivotal role in shaping the course of history. It captures his essence as a leader, scholar, and embodiment of bravery.

6. Thomas Point Beach

Thomas Point Beach, BrunswickSource: Baxter Academy / Flickr
Thomas Point Beach

If you’re looking for a delightful day out with your family, I highly recommend considering Thomas Point Beach. This picturesque sandy beach offers stunning views of a serene bay, and it’s equipped with fantastic play areas that will keep your children entertained for hours. But that’s not all—this beach has so much more to offer!

Venturing beyond the shoreline, you’ll discover several acres of beautiful land adorned with sprawling lawns, enchanting pine groves, and open spaces perfect for engaging in various ball games. It’s an ideal setting for some outdoor fun and quality family time.

For those seeking a longer getaway, Thomas Point Beach also features a designated camping area where you can pitch your tent and immerse yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds you. Imagine waking up to the sound of waves crashing and the gentle rustling of the nearby pine trees—truly a serene experience.

If you’re not in the mood for camping, Thomas Point Beach is still an excellent choice for a leisurely picnic. Pack a delicious spread of your favorite snacks and refreshments, and find a cozy spot to savor the sights and sounds of this tranquil oasis.

7. Androscoggin Swinging Bridge

Androscoggin Swinging BridgeSource: Felix Lipov / shutterstock
Androscoggin Swinging Bridge

Back in 1892, the brilliant idea arose to construct a pedestrian bridge that would connect Brunswick and Topsham, spanning across the majestic Androscoggin River. Today, even after all these years, I’m thrilled to share that there exists a dedicated and passionate voluntary organization, committed to the preservation and upkeep of this historic marvel. Their tireless efforts ensure that this bridge continues to stand strong and well-maintained, showcasing its timeless beauty.

The Androscoggin Swinging Bridge holds a significant place in the hearts of the local community, as it has been an integral part of the area’s history and economic prosperity. Generations of residents and visitors have traversed its sturdy structure, appreciating the seamless connection it provides between Brunswick and Topsham.

In order to safeguard the bridge’s structural integrity and preserve its historical significance, a comprehensive renovation and repair project was undertaken in 2006. This temporary closure allowed for meticulous restoration work to be carried out, ensuring that the bridge could continue to serve as a vital link for pedestrians for many more years to come.

As astonishing as it may seem, this remarkable bridge, now in its 13th decade, remains fully functional and accessible. Its enduring presence serves as a testament to the craftsmanship and engineering expertise of the past, captivating the imaginations of all who stroll across its expanse.

8. Brunswick Town Commons

Brunswick Town CommonsSource: Sam T (samm4mrox) / Flickr
Brunswick Town Commons

One of my favorite ways to embrace the outdoors is by taking a stroll along the Town Commons trail. This picturesque trail, spanning approximately 6 miles, begins its journey near Bowdoin College, making it easily accessible for locals and visitors alike.

What I love about the Town Commons trail is that it offers flexibility for all walkers. If you’re not up for a lengthy trek, fear not! The trail features smaller loops that allow you to savor the enchanting surroundings without committing to the entire six miles. Whether you’re seeking a quick rejuvenating walk or a leisurely exploration, this trail has something for everyone.

From stretches of pine forests to open heathlands and charming small ponds, every step brings a new sight to behold. For those new to Brunswick or unfamiliar with the trail, there are clear markings along the way to guide you, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience.

To further enhance your journey, make sure to grab a trail map at the trailhead, conveniently located in the kiosk. This map serves as a valuable resource, providing you with a visual guide to the trail’s path and helping you navigate through the captivating landscapes of the Town Commons.

9. Skolfield-Whittier House

Skolfield-Whittier HouseSource: Me in ME / Flickr
Skolfield-Whittier House

Stepping foot inside the Skolfield-Whittier House is like entering a time capsule that has preserved the legacy of a Brunswick family spanning three generations for nearly a century. It becomes immediately apparent that little has changed since the house was last inhabited, with the absence of heating adding to the authentic atmosphere.

This historic dwelling served as the cherished home of a remarkable Brunswick family, boasting a sea captain, Alfred Skolfield, as well as two esteemed medical professionals, pediatrician Alice Whittier and forensic pathologist Frank Whittier. Each room within the house holds the stories of their lives and contributions.

Constructed in the 1850s, the Skolfield-Whittier House is steeped in history, offering a fascinating journey through time. I came across an array of documents and paperwork that harken back to the days of its construction, providing a tangible connection to the past.

The elegant furnishings, intricate details, and period-specific decor transport me back to an era when the upper middle class experienced a certain way of life. It’s a chance to envision the gatherings, conversations, and joys that unfolded within these walls, as the Skolfield-Whittier family shaped their destinies and left an indelible mark on Brunswick’s history.

10. First Parish Church

First Parish Church, BrunswickSource: ShastaMe / Wikimedia
First Parish Church, Brunswick

The remarkable First Parish Church, standing proud for over three centuries since its construction in 1717, holds a special place in the hearts of the people here.

During the early settlement years in Maine, churches served as the beating heart of each community. It was believed that without a church and a minister, a settlement could not be officially incorporated. The First Parish Church in Brunswick played a pivotal role in the town’s development, not only as a place of worship but also as a guiding force for its thriving economy.

One of the most powerful and enduring legacies of the First Parish Church is its firm stance against slavery. It was within the hallowed walls of this very church that Harriet Beecher Stowe, seated in Pew 23, found inspiration for her groundbreaking novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The powerful message of abolition that reverberated from this church resonated far beyond our community, leaving an indelible impact on the fight for justice and equality.

Throughout its long history, the First Parish Church has welcomed numerous distinguished speakers, further cementing its significance as a gathering place for thought-provoking discourse. From President Taft to Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King Jr., these iconic figures have graced the pulpit of this historic church, delivering speeches that have echoed through the ages.

11. Pejepscot Museum & Research Center

Pejepscot Historical SocietySource: Rebecca Roche / Wikimedia
Pejepscot Historical Society

When you visit Brunswick, one place you absolutely must explore is the Pejepscot Museum and Research Center, where lies extensive collection of artifacts, valuable writings, and captivating exhibits awaits.

The society has a long and esteemed history, tracing back to 1888. In fact, Pejepscot proudly hold the distinction of being the fourth oldest Historical Society in the state of Maine. Today, the museum stands proudly beside the Skolfield-Whittier House, serving as the society’s bustling headquarters.

12. Pine Grove Cemetery

Pine Grove Cemetery, BrunswickSource: Me in ME / Flickr
Pine Grove Cemetery

In 1820, Bowdoin College generously donated two acres of land to establish the Pine Grove Cemetery, and with one strict condition: it was to be solely used for this purpose. Prior to its establishment, there existed a small cemetery area adjacent to the original parish church.

In the year 1825, the Pine Grove Cemetery officially opened its gates, becoming the final resting place for two former presidents of Bowdoin College, whose bodies were reinterred there with great honor.

The cemetery boasts a rich history, with its oldest graves dating back to the year 1794. Over time, the cemetery expanded beyond its original two-acre boundary and now encompasses nearly 2,500 gravestones. Within the peaceful grounds of Pine Grove, one can find the resting places of several remarkable individuals. Notable among them are a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient from the Civil War, a pioneer in the field of forensic medicine, as well as the parents of a First Lady and two former governors of Maine.

13. Brunswick Golf Club

Brunswick Golf ClubSource: www.brunswickgolfclub.com
Brunswick Golf Club

If you’re ever in Brunswick and looking for an exceptional golfing experience, I highly recommend paying a visit to the Brunswick Golf Club, a hidden gem that has been welcoming visitors since its establishment in 1898. The club graciously offers day passes, allowing golf enthusiasts like myself to indulge in a memorable round on its stunning course.

Though not particularly long by modern standards, stretching just over 6,600 yards, the Brunswick Golf Club presents a delightful blend of challenge and picturesque beauty. Its well-designed layout never fails to put my skills to the test while captivating me with its scenic vistas. As a founding member of the esteemed Maine Golf Association, this club holds a special place in the hearts of golfers across the state. It has also proudly played host to numerous prestigious competitions, including the highly anticipated Maine Amateur Championships, the thrilling Maine Senior Amateur tournament, and the fiercely contested Maine Women’s Amateur event.

While carts are readily available for those who prefer to ride, I must note that the Brunswick Golf Club has gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the most walker-friendly courses around. Embarking on a leisurely stroll through the well-manicured fairways and perfectly manicured greens is a truly enjoyable experience. The soothing rhythm of my footsteps and the uninterrupted connection with nature enhance my appreciation for the game, allowing me to fully immerse myself in the joy of golf.

14. Maine Bass Fishing Guide Service

FishingSource: Sergii Sobolevskyi / shutterstock

The Maine Bass Fishing Guide Service is dedicated to providing guided trips that explore the abundant rivers and lakes of our beautiful state in search of Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass. With their expertise and knowledge of the area, the experienced guides ensure that every angler has a remarkable opportunity to reel in some impressive catches.

For those who may not have their own fishing equipment, fret not! The Maine Bass Fishing Guide Service offers equipment rentals as part of their comprehensive service. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a complete novice, you’ll have everything you need to enjoy a memorable day on the water.

I must emphasize that even if you’ve never held a fishing rod before, the friendly guides and the accessible nature of the trips make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. Don’t let your lack of experience deter you from embarking on this adventure – the guides are there to support and assist you every step of the way.

15. Wyler Gallery

Wylers Gallery, BrunswickSource: facebook.com
Wylers Gallery, Brunswick

If you happen to be in Brunswick, there’s a charming destination that has consistently captured the hearts of holidaymakers: the Wyler Gallery.

As you step into the gallery, you’ll discover three inviting rooms filled with a diverse array of items. From unique pieces for your home and personal use to an assortment of housewares, toys, clothing, jewelry, and distinctive gifts, the Wyler Gallery truly has something for everyone.

What I appreciate most about the gallery is the relaxed and pressure-free shopping environment. You can leisurely browse through the captivating displays, allowing your curiosity to guide you as you explore the offerings. The friendly staff understands that decisions can take time, so there’s no rush or expectation. Feel free to return for a second visit if you find yourself needing more time to ponder over your choices.

The Wyler Gallery has earned its popularity among holidaymakers, and it’s easy to see why. Its carefully curated selection of items, ranging from the ordinary to the extraordinary, ensures that there’s always a unique treasure waiting to be discovered.

15 Best Things to Do in Brunswick (ME):

  • Harriet Beecher Stowe House
  • Bowdoin College
  • Bowdoin College Museum of Art
  • Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum
  • Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum
  • Thomas Point Beach
  • Androscoggin Swinging Bridge
  • Brunswick Town Commons
  • Skolfield-Whittier House
  • First Parish Church
  • Pejepscot Museum & Research Center
  • Pine Grove Cemetery
  • Brunswick Golf Club
  • Maine Bass Fishing Guide Service
  • Wyler Gallery