Located in Maine’s York County, North Berwick is in the state’s southwest area near neighboring New Hampshire and lies along the beautiful Salmon Falls River between Portsmouth and Rochester.
Though they’re close together and indistinguishable to most visitors, the towns of Berwick and South Berwick are distinct municipalities and together had about 7,000 residents at the time of the last census.
North Berwick is near a variety of urban and rural attractions, making it the perfect place to experience the quaintness of small-town America while checking out the region’s historical, natural and cultural sites.
Below are 15 things to do in and around North Berwick.
1. Hamilton House
Located in South Berwick, Hamilton House was built at the end of the 18th century and was formerly the residence of a well to do businessman named Jonathan Hamilton.
The home is located near scenic Salmon Falls River, which was an important transportation corridor for much of the area’s history.
Built using elements of the colonial and revival styles which were popular during the era, especially with the wealthy, the home is full of a variety of authentic period furniture, art, clothes, and housewares that give visitors an interesting insight into lifestyles more than a century ago.
2. Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum and Visitor Center
Though she’s not too well known outside of New England, Sarah Orne Jewett was an author and poet that lived in the area around North Berwick for a large part of her life.
Many of her most significant and popular works were set along the rugged and rural Maine coast and featured ordinary people and the usual trials and tribulations that they experienced in their everyday lives.
The museum is inexpensive to visit, and the visitor’s center next door features works by local artists and a variety of travel maps, visitor’s guides and brochures that are free for the taking.
3. Sanford Country Club
Located on Country Club Road in nearby Sanford, Sanford Country Club has recently undergone a number of significant changes that should make the already-popular course a true standout.
The 18-hole course has hosted important tournaments in the past and has been graced by some of golf’s greatest legends, including Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, and Gene Sarazen.
Depending on which tees you decide to play from, the course can range from 5,000 to more than 6,500 yards, making it a challenge for even the most seasoned players.
Tee times vanish quickly during peak spring and summer months, so book in advance to reserve yours.
4. Marginal Way
For those looking to fill their lungs with fresh sea air and engage in some calorie burning exercise, there’s no better way to do it than by taking a long stroll along the Atlantic coast.
Marginal Way trail runs just more than a mile and a half along a bluff overlooking the sea and town of Ogunquit, and it’s free to use and open year-round.
Though it offers majestic views any time, it’s particularly beautiful in winter, when the beach and cliffs are frosted with a light layer of snow.
The weather on the coast can be harsher than it is inland, so wear an extra layer or two just in case.
5. Springvale Art Gallery
Conveniently located in downtown Sanford adjacent to City Hall, the Springvale Art Gallery houses a unique collection of fine arts and crafts, most of which are contemporary and were created by local artists and gallery members.
The gallery’s works are one of a kind and done in a variety of mediums; compared with similar galleries in larger cities, their prices are very reasonable.
Becoming a member entitles you to special offers not available to the general public. Throughout the year, they host a variety of guest speakers, artist’s workshops, and field trips to other museums and art-related locales.
6. Governor John Langdon House
John Langdon lived to the ripe old age of 76, which was decades past the typical life expectancy in the mid-18th century.
Located on Pleasant Street in Portsmouth New Hampshire, the house where he lived for much of his life has been turned into a museum, and it’s just a hop, skip and jump across the border from North Berwick.
In addition to being governor, Langdon was an entrepreneur, patriot, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. There’s no better place to get a unique insight into New England History than the Governor John Langdon House, which was built in the late 1700s.
7. Southern Maine Aviation
Though much of Southern Maine Aviation’s business comes from flight training, you don’t need to be an aspiring pilot to take advantage of their services.
They also offer a variety of scenic flight tours over southern Maine; for those who’ve never been in a relatively small plane, it’s an exhilarating experience.
If you have nerves of steel, they offer Discovery Flights, where guests are given a bit of time behind the stick. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and is relatively inexpensive, all things considered.
Air tours are seasonal, so check online or give them a call for specific information.
8. Wiggly Bridge and Steedman Woods
Especially for those weary travelers who’ve been lugging children around for days on end, Wiggly Bridge and Steedman Woods are the perfect destinations for a few morning or afternoon hours spent out of the car in Maine’s natural beauty.
Both are free to visit and feature plenty of wide open spaces and trails that lead around York River.
The wiggly bridge is fun and tricky to traverse, but it’s also safe. It’s not uncommon to see wildlife around the river’s edge, especially during the low light morning and afternoon hours.
The river is also a thoroughfare for working boats heading in from and out to sea, making for some fantastic views.
9. Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
Located just a short drive from North Berwick, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is on Washington Street in Dover; as the name implies, it was built with children in mind.
Not just another look-but-don’t-touch museum, it is full of interactive exhibits that encourage children to think, move and explore.
The museum’s exhibits touch on science, history, culture and the natural world, and most parents find it surprisingly fun and educational too.
The museum is open year-round and hosts a variety of special events, but they do have different hours for different seasons, so do a little planning before heading out.
10. Ogunquit Playhouse
Particularly well known for its magnificent beaches, quaint eateries, and all-around coastal charm, Ogunquit has been a magnet to Maine visitors for more than a century.
It also happens to be the home of one of the state’s most respected community playhouses, which has been going strong for more than 90 years.
Of course, you could spend hours in the car and pay a king’s ransom to see a show in Boston or New York, but taking in a show at the Ogunquit Playhouse instead is the perfect way to support the community, save a few bucks, and see an amazing performance.
11. First Cast Fly Fishing
From top to bottom and end to end, Maine is home to more than its fair share of lakes, rivers, and streams, many of which are among New England’s most productive and unexplored fishing waters.
Whether you’re after the aggressive and scrappy smallmouth bass, or finicky brown or rainbow trout, you’ll find the perfect stretch of water within easy reach of North Berwick.
For those unfamiliar with the area who don’t have time to waste fishing unproductive water, hiring a guide service is the way to go.
First Cast Fly Fishing has the experience to connect you with fish, and they offer a variety of tour options to suit most interests.
12. Wells Reserve at Laudholm
Located on Laudholm Farm Road in Wells, Wells Reserve at Laudholm is a mecca for outdoorsmen, nature photographers, and outdoor lovers of all stripes.
The reserve’s grounds are crisscrossed by miles of trails leading through a variety of landscapes, including forests, marshlands, and mostly undeveloped swaths of rugged coastline.
The reserve is especially popular with bird-watchers, as it draws a variety of native bird species, many of which are quite rare.
Guided hikes, arts and crafts festivals, and children’s summer camps are offered seasonally too, so spend a little time checking out their website to see all that’s offered before heading out.
13. Parsons Beach
During the peak months on Maine’s Atlantic coast, many of the more popular beaches can get overrun with tourists, making them unattractive options for those looking to escape the hordes.
If that’s a scene that you and your travel companions are keen to avoid, a trip to Parsons Beach would be a wise way to spend a day.
Parsons Beach is chock full of natural beauty, and it’s a gem that most locals would rather keep secret.
It’s located in Kennebunk Maine and is privately owned, but the owners graciously allow visitors, so be careful to leave it in the same condition you found it.
14. Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Rachel Carson’s name is synonymous with the environmental revolution that swept the country in the ’70s. The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge is an apt tribute to the woman who played a prominent role in awakening the public to the environmental destruction going on all around them.
The refuge was established to protect the fragile coastal environment and ecosystems that are so vital to healthy oceans and estuaries.
Open year-round, the refuge is home to a variety of wading, predatory, and waterfowl bird species, many of which migrate here at different times of the year.
It’s located on Port Road in Wells and is one of the best places in the state to immerse yourself in nature without spending hours in the car.
15. Spillers’ Farm Store
Featuring a variety of products ranging from fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables to organic meat, baked goods, and deli items, Spillers’ Farm Store is a favorite shopping spot for those looking to stock up on high-quality products and support the local economy.
Because of the seasonal nature of their products, you may find different items each time you visit. They also offer beer, wine, and an array of prepared food items that you won’t find elsewhere.
Consider stopping by before heading out for a picnic along the coast. The farm store is located on Branch Road in Wells.