Located amidst the lake-dotted landscape of Maine’s east-central region, Lincoln is a town full of quaint charm that’s close to many of the state’s most popular natural, cultural, and historical attractions.
Year-round activities abound, but the tourist season generally lasts from mid-spring until the end of summer, which generally comes early due to the town’s northern location.
The downtown area has experienced a renaissance in the last few years and is now full of eateries, galleries, and shops that are well worth a visit.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Lincoln that you won’t want to miss.
1. Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is an easy drive from Lincoln and home to the state’s tallest mountain – Mount Katahdin.
Known for its rugged beauty and the extensive network of trails winding their way through its mountains and forests, it’s a favorite destination for those looking to experience some of Maine’s most serene and untouched country while avoiding the crowds.
The hike to Mount Katahdin’s peak is best left to those who are fit, but anyone who does manage to make it to the top will be rewarded with some of the most amazingly unobstructed views of the state to be found anywhere.
2. Do Some Fishing
With hundreds of bodies of water spread from border to border, fishing is one of the state’s most popular outdoor recreation activities; a variety of freshwater game fish live in the ponds, lakes, and rivers in the Lincoln area.
Mattanawcook and Upper Lakes and the Penobscot River are a few of the most popular fishing waters near town, and are home to a variety of native species like trout, bass, pike, and walleye.
Much of the area’s water is open to shore as well as boat fisherman. For those who’d like to hire a local guide, there are a variety of tour providers that have decades of experience connecting fisherman and fish.
3. Lincoln Memorial Library
Located on West Broadway in Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial Library is a free community resource that’s often overlooked by those visiting the area.
As a visitor, you may not be able to check-out books, but you will be able to take advantage of their public computers and comfy chairs. Since they offer a variety of educational and instructional courses, you may be surprised to find there’s something interesting on their calendar for when you’ll be in the area.
The best way to keep abreast of what’s on the horizon is to check their website periodically or give them a call before your trip.
4. Lincoln Historical Society Museum
Since the ‘30s, the Lincoln Historical Society has been preserving the town’s unique history and heritage. Though it’s still a work in progress (according to their website), it’s worth a visit.
The museum is located on West Broadway Street next to the library and doesn’t have set hours.
It is possible to schedule a time to visit or even a guided tour, but you’ll need to call in advance to let them know when you’re coming and how many will be in your group.
The historical society and museum are staffed by enthusiastic local volunteers who can point you in the direction of other area attractions.
5. Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park on the state’s rugged Atlantic coast is one of New England’s premier destinations and is the largest national park in the eastern part of the country.
It’s also one of the oldest. Within its boundaries and the nearby town of Bar Harbor, visitors will find a variety of cultural, historical, and natural recreation options that’ll keep them engaged for days.
From hiking, camping, and fishing to museums, galleries, and historic sites, there’s a little something for everyone. Few places capture Maine’s essence as does Acadia National Park.
If you are visiting during peak tourism months, book your accommodation in advance.
6. Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge
Located near Baileyville, the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is a large tract of protected land managed by the federal government, many parts of which are accessible to visitors.
The refuge is an important area for migrating waterfowl, wading birds, and birds of prey that thrive in its water and forest-filled environment.
There’s a network of trails within the park that lead to various viewpoints, and it’s not uncommon to see a variety of animals, especially in the morning and afternoon hours.
For those who’ll be in the area for more than a few days and would like to do their part in maintaining the park, volunteer opportunities are available.
7. West Grand Lake
Covering nearly 15,000 acres, West Grand Lake is not only big, but it’s also one of the state’s favorite destinations for anglers – especially those in search of landlocked salmon.
The lake is one of just a few in the state that were originally home to native populations of the revered game fish. In addition, there are thriving populations of lake trout, bass, and whitefish.
If you plan to wet a line, remember that Maine residents and out of state visitors need current year fishing licenses; penalties can be stiff if you’re caught fishing without one.
Fishing is often best in the fall when the fish go on a feeding frenzy in preparation for the long winter.
8. New England Outdoor Center
Voted one of New England’s top resorts in recent years, the New England Outdoor Center is the perfect place for a truly unique and memorable Maine vacation.
Their amenities include cabins, full-service restaurants, and a variety of guided tours – from whitewater rafting and wildlife viewing to fishing.
Many of their cabins are located on the shores of Millinocket Lake and offer stunning sunrises and sunsets, and unobstructed views of Mount Katahdin as well.
One of the state’s most all-inclusive and family-friendly resorts, it books up quickly, so if you’ll be visiting during spring or summer, make your reservations well in advance.
9. Bangor Escape Rooms
Located on Hammond Street in Bangor, Bangor Escape Rooms was the city’s first business of its kind and has a variety of uniquely themed rooms to keep you and your travel companions entertained.
If you’ve never experienced an escape room, your trip to Maine may be the perfect time to take the plunge.
They’re inexpensive, suspenseful, and don’t require good weather, making them the perfect activity for a cold winter day.
Participants usually have an hour to complete their mission by using their problem-solving skills, and if they’re not up to the task, they may be devoured by hordes of ravenous zombies.
10. Penobscot Theatre Company
In the mid-19th century, Bangor’s theatre companies were so popular that the city had the reputation of being a close second to the Big Apple when it came to live theatre productions.
Back in those days, there were dozens of flourishing theatre companies, but now, there’s only one– The Penobscot Theatre Company.
Still offering a variety of old classics as well as contemporary productions, it’s located inside the historic Bangor Opera House building that’s been an architecturally unique city icon for generations.
Tickets go quickly, especially for popular shows, and most visitor’s experiences far exceed their expectations.
11. Hannibal Hamlin’s Death Sofa
A man named Hannibal Hamlin was Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president. Though his name isn’t well known, he had an interesting life that began and ended in Maine.
He started his political career as a senator and congressman representing Maine, and he even did a spell as a diplomat in Europe.
Located inside the Bangor Public Library on Harlow Street, the couch where Hamlin died is on display. It’s said that in the middle of a game of cards on the 4th of July 1891, Hamlin lay down and died.
The library is free to visit and is full of other interesting historical items.
12. Hudson Museum
Though most tourists don’t visit Maine specifically for its collection of Mexican antiquities, the Hudson Museum is a unique gem and is home to the country’s most complete collection of tomb figures.
The museum is located on the University of Maine campus in Orono and contains thousands of artifacts of the pre-Columbian era from South and Central America, and especially Mexico.
In addition to the museum, the university campus is usually bustling with activity, like sports, live music, and theatre performances. There is also a variety of educational and instructional programs that are open to all.
Check out the calendar of events on their website before heading out.
13. Collins Center for the Arts
Also located on the University of Maine’s campus in Orono, the Collins Center for the Arts is one of the region’s go-to venues for live music and theater.
They’re particularly well known for their symphony and concert bands, and their annual spring concert is a popular area attraction too.
Unlike similar productions at larger, private venues, it won’t cost an arm and a leg. Throughout the year, they host a variety of productions, many of which are put on by students.
The center was founded in the ‘80s, and often hosts nationally known performers. Tickets are free for University of Maine students.
14. Chamberlain Freedom Park
For many slaves who escaped from the southern states, Maine was the end of the road. Though life was far from rosy for many of them, northern states like Maine did offer a better life.
Located in Bangor, Chamberlain Freedom Park is the state’s only memorial to the Underground Railroad – a covert network of people, tunnels, and safe-houses that led many slaves to freedom.
The park’s centerpiece is a bronze sculpture depicting a slave emerging from a tunnel. It’s a poignant piece that captures the suspense, fear, and emotion that must have been ever-present on the journey that often took months to complete.
The park is free to visit and is a serene little oasis in the middle of the bustling city.
15. Mount Hope Cemetery
Some first-time visitors to Mount Hope Cemetery may find it a bit odd that a cemetery is a local hangout place for families.
The cemetery was founded in the 1830s. From the outset, it was designed to be not only an eternal resting place for city residents, but a natural and aesthetic site that could double as a park.
It was an idea that was centuries ahead of the curve, and now it’s a favorite place for a stroll, a picnic, or a quiet afternoon with a good book.
It’s free to visit and open from dawn until dusk.