The town of Camden sits on the scenic Maine coast and is known as a peaceful seaport. Its beautiful harbor that’s often filled with an array of pleasure and sailboats makes it one of the most picturesque locales in the area.
With just less than 5,000 residents, Camden is overrun with tourists during the warm spring and summer months, many of who come to partake in the festivals that are held in town and nearby Union and Rockport.
With so many natural and historic areas within an easy drive, finding things to do won’t be a problem.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Camden, Maine.
1. Christmas by the Sea
For visitors to Maine interested in a unique holiday experience, Camden’s Christmas by the Sea celebration takes place every year during the first week of December.
The festivities spill over into the nearby towns of Rockport and Lincolnville as well, and many local neighborhoods, communities, and businesses get into the Christmas spirit by decorating and organizing a wide variety of fun and free activities.
Maine winters can be especially harsh, but in many respects, December is a great time to visit. That’s especially so because the throngs of tourists that flock to New England during the summer months will be long gone.
2. U.S. National Toboggan Championships
With its rugged mountains, vast forests, and harsh winters, Maine is more like Alaska than it is most other U.S. states. The U.S. National Toboggan Champions is the perfect way for visitors to experience a truly unique slice of local culture.
The event is held over the first weekend of February annually and includes hundreds of teams, over 1,000 individual racers, and nearly 5,000 spectators from all over the country.
The Ragged Mountain Recreation Area just outside of town is the venue. In addition to the races, the event includes a variety of family-friendly activities that make it truly one of a kind.
3. North Atlantic Blues Festival
Maine has more than its fair share of events and festivals, and unlike many other parts of the country that hold the majority of their events during the warm spring and summer months, several of Maine’s take place during the winter.
One of New England’s most popular annual events is the North Atlantic Blues Festival; you’ll be pleased to discover that it takes place in July when the Maine weather is perfect for being outside.
The festival is held at Harbor Park in Rockland, which overlooks scenic Penobscot Bay, and is considered by many blues aficionados to be one of the country’s premier festivals of its kind.
4. Project Puffin Visitor Center
For those who aren’t familiar with puffins, they’re exotic looking seabirds sporting large, colorful beaks that live along the coast of New England.
For decades, their numbers dwindled, and in the early ’70s, a program was started by the Audubon Society to bolster their population to more natural levels.
The Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland is dedicated to educating visitors on the importance of local ecosystems, and animals like puffins that play crucial roles.
The center’s highlights include a variety of displays and exhibits, documentary films, and even a boat tour of the bird’s habitat along the rugged Maine coast.
5. Camden Harbor Arts & Crafts Show
Due largely to its rich history and stunning natural beauty, New England has been an inspiration to artists since it was founded more than two centuries ago.
Camden’s beautiful harbor area is the site of one of New England’s most popular arts and crafts shows; as luck would have it, it takes places two times per year.
The Camden Harbor Arts and Crafts Show happens in July and October, both of which are great times to visit.
The two-day event is free, sponsored by local chambers of commerce, and includes a variety of artists and artisans displaying their work in a scenic, open-air setting.
6. Barrett’s Cove Park
Conveniently located on Route 52 just outside of Camden town limits, Barrett’s Cove Park is known for its vertical granite rock formation called Maiden’s Cliff.
The park sits on the scenic shores of Megunticook Lake and sports a pristine beach that’s the perfect place to soak up a few rays, especially for those who need to get away from the brisk wind and salty air of the nearby ocean beaches.
Just a few miles from downtown Camden, the park features barbecue grills, a playground, restrooms, and even a boat ramp for those interested in doing some fishing. Plenty of free parking is available.
7. Maine Antiques Festival
For more than three decades, the Maine Antiques Festival has been a popular event for locals, tourists, and all-around antique enthusiasts.
Billed as Maine’s largest antique show, it takes place in August at the Union Fairgrounds, an easy drive from Camden.
Featuring more than 300 dealers, collectors, and vendors who come from far and wide, the items for sale include art, coins, furniture, housewares, glassware, and a variety of collectibles.
The event takes place on Saturday and Sunday, but for those ambitious shoppers who want to get the first crack at the treasures before the hordes arrive, it’s possible to get in Friday afternoon – but you’ll pay handsomely to do it.
8. Maine Lobster Festival
The humble lobster is one of the most iconic symbols of Maine. The clawed crustaceans call the cool Atlantic waters off New England’s coast home, and are a much sought after delicacy the world over.
The Maine Lobster Festival is one of the region’s premier events and takes place in August when the weather is perfect.
The event takes place over five days and includes lobster prepared in more delicious ways than you’d think possible.
The festival’s activities include cruises, pageants, live entertainment, and even arts and crafts.
Don’t worry if you’re not a seafood fan; there will be a variety of culinary choices.
9. Camden Windjammer Festival
Camden’s maritime culture dates back to the very beginning, when the area was first explored by those of European descent.
The Camden Windjammer Festival takes place over Labor Day weekend, when thousands of visitors swarm to the small town by the sea to take in the majestic sailing ships – dramatic throwbacks to an era when the wind and sea were the primary means of propulsion.
If possible, plan on attending the event’s kick-off – the arrival of the windjammers – which is a truly impressive spectacle.
The activities include a maritime fair, live music, dance, fireworks, lobster race, and cooking competitions.
10. Aldemere Farm
Aldemere Farm just down the road in nearby Rockport is one of the world’s most renowned breeders of Belted Galloway cattle.
Often referred to as Oreos due to their distinct black and white markings, they are primarily raised for beef.
The farm is comprised of more than 100 acres and is owned by a land conservation trust that’s dedicated to protecting and promoting the region’s culture, history, and rich farming tradition.
Aldemere is a working farm but it’s also an education center, so it’s a great place to spend a few morning or afternoon hours learning about cattle, conservation, and sustainable agriculture.
11. Center for Maine Contemporary Art
Comprised of works in a variety of mediums from hundreds of artists, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland is run by a not-for-profit organization that’s focused on preserving and promoting Maine’s contemporary art scene.
The center was founded in 1952, and since, then has grown into one of New England’s most popular and well-respected facilities of its kind.
In addition to their exhibits, the center offers a wide variety of educational and instructional programs, many of which are aimed at promoting artistic expression for professionals and amateurs alike.
The best way to keep abreast of their programs and exhibits is to check their website periodically.
12. Coastal Children’s Museum
The Coastal Children’s Museum in Rockland is the perfect place to spend a few hours, especially for those traveling with young children.
The museum is a ten-minute drive from Camden and is full of interactive exhibits that engage, entertain, and educate children all at the same time.
Exhibits touch on history, science, animals, art, and the natural world. Many parents who’ve visited claimed that the museum far exceeded their expectations, and that even after a few hours their kids weren’t ready to leave.
During peak times in the summer months, the museum can be busy, so if you’d like to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during a weekday or when they first open in the morning.
13. Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage
Located in Union, the Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage is just a few miles from Camden and is comprised of thousands of artifacts relating to the cultural and economic history of Maine.
Its exhibits include an interesting and unique array of items that range from historic books and photos to weapons, clothes, and housewares used by early settlers in the area.
Adjacent to the main museum building is an old, one-room schoolhouse that surprisingly remained in use until the early ’50s.
There’s also an exhibit on one of the country’s first mass-marketed soft drinks called Moxie that was produced in the area.
14. Farnsworth Art Museum
The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland is most well-known for its extensive collection of paintings by various members of the world-famous Wyeth family.
It’s comprised of thousands of square feet of exhibits, most of which center on American artists from the last two centuries.
The museum grounds also include the Farnsworth House Homestead, a Victorian-era home that’s full of period art, furniture and housewares that give visitors a glimpse into rural life in centuries past.
The museum and Wyeth Center’s hours change seasonally, so check online before making a special trip.
15. Maine Lighthouse Museum
The rugged New England coastline is home to some of the country’s most iconic lighthouses. For lighthouse enthusiasts without sufficient time to visit them all, the Maine Lighthouse Museum deserves a top spot on your itinerary.
The museum contains the state’s most unique and complete collection of artifacts related to lighthouses, including lenses, beacons, buoys, and some impressive miniature ship models as well.
Much of the museum is dedicated to the history of the men and women of Maine’s search and rescue services, who’ve played such an important role in aiding the area’s citizens over the years.