The town of Cumberland, in the county of the same name in Maine, lies close to the border with Canada and is one of the wealthiest towns in the state. It has a population of around 8,000 and is not far from the largest city in Maine, Portland.
A prime location for settlement many years ago, its river flowing out into a natural harbor appealed to settlers, although it was already fine hunting territory for the Native Indians who resisted white settlers. Initially called Wescustogo and then North Yarmouth, settlers fought hard to establish themselves in the face of Indian hostility.
Cumberland was named and incorporated in 1822. The local Historical Society is active in preserving its valuable history. Here are the 15 Best Things to do in Cumberland, which include elements of that history.
1. Cumberland Historical Society
The Cumberland Historical Society’s headquarters is based in the old Cumberland Schoolhouse that was built in 1853 but not acquired by the society until 30 years ago. It contains many old documents and black and white photographs of buildings, often constructed from wood, that have not survived until the modern day.
The society was founded 80 years ago and its valuable work enables today’s visitors – as well as locals – to learn more about the history of the region. It is a great starting point for anyone visiting Cumberland.
2. Greely Institute
The Maine Central Institute dates back to 1866. Over the years, it has had many notable graduates. Some have subsequently bestowed ‘’gifts’’ on their seat of learning. The campus grounds are lovely and it is possible to get a tour to see some of the results of those gifts.
The institute gets its name from Eliphalet and Elizabeth Greely, whose donation allowed a private school to be built. In 1953, the town opened it up to all.
During the tour, you will see the Weymouth Hall, the William H Powell Memorial Library, the Chuck and Helen Cianchette Math & Science Center, Founders Hall and the Joseph R. Cianchette Hall.
3. Prince Memorial Library
Head to Main Street to visit the Prince Memorial Library, which was the first home of the local Historical Society. It first opened in 1921 as a granite building, with a slate roof in the Georgian style. Subsequently, there have been additions to expand the capacity of the library.
Its name remembers Carroll D Prince and his wife Annie Lincoln Prince, who left £35,000 in 1920 for its construction. The chosen site was formerly the home of Benjamin Sweetser that had been destroyed by fire in 1906.
4. Twin Brook Recreation Area
Those who enjoy a stroll will find a pleasant two-mile loop in this recreation area, which is open all year round. In winter, you will probably need snowshoes rather than hiking boots. Formerly hay fields, there are now a few trails covered in wood chip, though at times some are closed due to erosion.
The area is rarely too busy even in the height of summer; one trail follows the river in places. Dogs are permitted as long as they are kept under control. The area has restrooms and picnic tables.
5. Royal River Park
Walkers will love the trail that runs along the river in this park. It is a paved path with regular signs that indicate important features and locations on the river from Cumberland’s past. You can even take a refreshing dip on a hot day; as long as you keep an eye on your dogs, they can too.
Your walk will take you through forest and fields, with pleasant picnic areas as well. You may like to canoe down the river to check out the historic mill site, waterfalls, and dams.
6. Beth Condon Pathway
This nearby pathway is part of a much larger system; 3,000 miles of trails which start in Calais in Maine and go right down USA’s Eastern Seaboard until they reach Key West in Florida.
You can walk this small pathway or take a bicycle. It is named after a high school student who was killed when hit by a car while walking on the shoulder of Route One.
There are benches where you can rest near the Butterfly Garden, where a range of butterfly species can be seen in the summer.
7. William Merrill Monument
The memorial to a former Civil War veteran, William Merrill, was erected a year after his death 90 years ago, but it honors more than just this notable veteran.
The panel at the front mentions everyone from Cumberland who fought at that time – either on land or sea. On the right, there is a call to everyone to serve their country as patriots, while on the left, there is praise for those who helped to preserve the Union back in the 1860s.
8. Cumberland Town Forest Trail
This pleasant trail goes around the boundaries and cuts through the heart of the 75-acre forest. You will find parking at the trailhead behind the Town Hall, and a kiosk with maps of the trail.
The terrain is gravel based, and it is largely flat, though it can be wet in the spring after the snow melts. One section is not well-marked about a mile in; head left of the reeds and you will reach a garage; go past the old school and the parking area will be on your right. En route, you will find information on the habitat, local flora, and also some of the history of land use.
9. Lucinda’s Day Spa
After a busy day, there are few better ways to relax than to head for a spa and have a massage. The top choice in Cumberland is Lucinda’s, where there is also an extended treatment which takes a few hours. You will come away feeling like a completely new person!
Experienced staff will ensure you enjoy a range of treatments over a few hours, including a body polish, an hour-long Swedish massage, a facial, and a Moroccan Oil manicure and pedicure. It might well be worth a day away from the family to pamper yourself!
10. Broad Cove Reserve
This reserve is jointly owned by the town and the local residents and is available for tourists and locals alike during daylight hours. You can walk the short Stonewall Trail, or ski in winter, as well as enjoy fishing, boating or swimming.
Broad Cove Reserve is a multi-activity educational area that aims to preserve the natural environment for everyone’s enjoyment. It includes a coastal section on Casco Bay that at one time seemed destined for development. Happily, that development has been severely restricted for the benefit of all.
You may enjoy fly fishing for trout or fishing freshwater lakes and streams for a variety of species. Or maybe you would prefer heading out to sea in search of cod and haddock – or even something bigger. Whatever your preference, you will be able to indulge your hobby in Cumberland.
Even if you are visiting Cumberland without any of your own equipment, you can hire it along with the expertise of a local to ensure you have a great day out, though catches can never be guaranteed.
12. Peak’s Island
It makes sense while you are in Cumberland to go out into Casco Bay. Arguably the best option is to go to Peak’s Island which has been a popular place for tourists since the 19th century.
It has a significant population as well as a developed infrastructure to ‘’entertain’’ locals and visitors alike. You will find amusement parks, theaters, and vibrant nightlife if you decide to stay overnight. It is just a short trip away and regular ferries can get you there and back during daylight hours.
The world’s largest revolving and rotating globe is found in Cumberland; it looks especially impressive after dark when it is lit up.
You’ll enjoy a few hours of fun when you take the family to see this globe encased within a huge glass box. It is not a museum as such, so there is limited information available, but the kids will love it. Afterward, as a treat, take them to Maple’s nearby, where they are certain to enjoy the gelato.
14. Cumberland Food Company
This restaurant in Tuttle Road is a great place to head if you want a nice hearty breakfast, lunch or even coffee and cake. While it does not serve dinner on a daily basis, it hosts ‘’supper events’’ from time to time. You may be lucky to get a space if the timing is right.
Opened early in 2017, it has been a welcome addition to the town of Cumberland, using local produce to ensure everything is truly fresh and appetizing. Try the Bagel and Smoked Salmon for breakfast and the ‘’Kitchen Sink’’ Salad for lunch.
15. Louie’s Grille
This Main Street Restaurant is well-supported by the locals, who inevitably talk about the cozy atmosphere every time they go.
There is a touch of Italian, several dishes using the fresh fish out of the sea that day, and generous steaks as well as plenty of burgers. It is a family business owned by Jim Guidi; Louie was his much-loved golden retriever who died in 2013.
Dinner is served from late afternoon, which often suits families with young children.