Located about 20 miles northwest of Lewiston, the small town of Paris lies in Maine’s west-central area and has a population of slightly more than 5,000 residents.
Locals often refer to the town of Paris as South Paris, because that’s where the post office is.
First-time visitors to rural Maine may be blown away by its rugged and natural beauty that’s characterized by an array of lakes, rivers, forests, and mountains for which New England is known.
It’s conveniently located within an easy drive of some of the state’s most popular natural, historical and cultural attractions, 15 of which are listed below.
1. Paris Hill Country Club
Maine’s beautiful scenery and perfect spring and summer weather were made for golf.
Paris Hill Country Club was originally opened in 1899, making it one of the state’s oldest; it’s also one of the area’s most popular.
The course is only nine holes but is surprisingly challenging. Its small greens and abundant hazards keep things interesting, especially for first-time visitors who aren’t familiar with its layout.
Unlike most courses, tee times aren’t required, so just show up when you’re ready to play. But keep in mind that during peak times their schedule can fill up quickly, so consider arriving early.
2. Redneck Blank
Redneck Blank is one of Maine’s most unique events and includes a variety of action-packed activities, great live entertainment, plenty of food and drink options and onsite camping.
It all takes place in Hebron, Maine and always goes full speed ahead regardless of the weather.
Due to copious amounts of alcohol consumption, this may not be the best event for families with children, but for those looking to cut loose and throw caution to the wind, it’s a perfect match.
Check out their website for specifics and to get an idea of some of the crazy activities they’ve had in years past.
3. Frost Farm Gallery
Located on Pikes Hill Road in nearby Norway, Frost Farm Gallery is a particularly intimate gallery housed in a historic farmhouse that dates back to the late 18th century.
The gallery specializes in original, antique, and vintage prints, and they have a few contemporary ones as well.
For those who already have a print but need framing, matting, or digital enhancement and restoration, they offer those services too.
The gallery is open from Monday to Saturday and is family owned and operated. They offer a variety of collectible gift items as well, including Christmas decorations that are displayed year-round.
4. Ultimate Dog Sledding Experience
Much like Alaska and the Canadian Yukon, Maine is big dog sled country. The Ultimate Dog Sledding Experience in Oxford is one of the few places where visitors can experience this exhilarating form of recreation and transportation first-hand.
If you’re worried that it’s cruel to the animals, don’t be; sled dogs are bred for running, and though it’s strenuous, it’s what they live for. You’ll see the unbounded eagerness on their faces when it’s finally time to push off.
The company offers a variety of packages, all of which include the amazing scenery found around Paris, Bethel, and Oxford.
5. X Vault Pub and Provisions
Located on Market Square in South Paris, X Vault Pub and Provisions is one of the area’s most popular and trendy eateries and includes a complete menu of made-to-order favorites prepared with fresh, local ingredients.
They’re also known for their tasty cocktails, which include old favorites, contemporary creations, and many that are a combination of both.
They serve sushi on Thursdays and Fridays, and a variety of burgers, seafood, soups and salads every day of the week.
Check out their website for hours of operation and to see their full menu of food and cocktail options.
6. Fare Share Co-op Store
Located on Main Street in Norway, the Fare Share Co-op Store is the place to go for those socially and environmentally conscious folks looking to support the local economy and pick up a variety of organic, locally grown and produced items that aren’t found anywhere else.
Unlike other traditional grocery stores, the co-op is consumer-owned, which means when you join, you’re actually taking a small ownership stake – which is pretty cool when you think about it.
In addition to food, they offer a variety of health and body products, gifts, and other uniquely Maine products.
Shopping is open to everyone, so swing by.
7. Celebration Barn Theater
For nearly five decades, the Celebration Barn has been a world-renowned training facility for aspiring actors and performers, and it’s been a popular venue for fantastic entertainment from the beginning as well.
The barn was founded in the early ‘70s with a mission to inspire and foster the development of its students in the areas of mime, acting, storytelling, and improvisation.
In that respect, it can be thought of as a school as much as it is a theater. With the help of its experienced teachers, it has been turning out major talent who go on to make their mark in their chosen field.
8. King’s Hill Inn and Barn
New England has more than its fair share of quaint bed and breakfasts, and though the King’s Hill Inn isn’t the oldest, it’s already attracted quite a following.
Founded in 1998, it is on a site that was a dairy farm dating back to the late 1800s.
The grounds include nearly 25 acres of meadows, forests, stone walls, and picturesque gardens.
They’ve got their very own chapel onsite as well; it’s a popular venue for wedding parties and other special occasions.
Due to their popularity, their rooms fill up fast, so book yours in advance if possible.
9. Auburn River Walk
The towns of Auburn and Lewiston sit on the shore of the scenic Androscoggin River, and the Auburn River Walk is a great way to experience the area’s natural beauty without spending half the day in the car.
The River Walk is paved and clearly marked and open to runners, walkers, and bikers.
It’s the perfect place to spend a few morning or afternoon hours and is particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset.
Along the path, visitors will see waterfalls, bridges, and amazing views of the river.
It’s usually not too crowded and is easily reachable on foot from downtown Auburn.
10. Community Little Theatre
Featuring live entertainment ranging from drama and comedy to music, Community Little Theatre is a quaint, intimate venue with a reputation for quality performances at a fraction of what you’d pay in the city.
The theatre’s performers and staff are mostly locals, and most guests who’ve taken in a show or two have claimed their experience far outweighed their expectations.
The theatre is small and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Many of the shows they produce are old classics, with a few contemporary ones thrown in as well.
It’s an inexpensive way to spend an evening while supporting the local community.
11. Ski Lost Valley
Due to its abundant annual snowfall and mountainous terrain, skiing is a popular winter recreation activity for many Maine residents and out of state visitors.
Lost Valley ski resort is in the Lewiston – Auburn area. Though it’s not as big as some other area resorts, it’s full of trails that are open to skiers and snowboarders from beginner to expert.
It’s a great resort for families with children especially, and there are plenty of lodging options nearby if you plan on spending a night or two.
Ski and snowboard lessons are available. There is a lodge, restaurant, and bar that are the perfect places to relax after a long day on the slopes.
12. Museum L-A
Maine’s twin cities of Lewiston and Auburn are home to one of the area’s most unique museums, and most of its exhibits are centered on the two towns’ history and culture.
In past generations, the area was mainly known for its lumber mills, shoe factories, and brickyards, and many of those industries are represented.
The museum is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon hour, especially for amateur historians or those with roots in the past who’ve moved away.
Guided tours are available; to see all there is on display shouldn’t take more than an hour.
13. Basilica Saints Peter and Paul
Located in downtown Lewiston and part of the Diocese of Portland, the Basilica Saints Peter and Paul is one of New England’s most impressive structures and is very similar to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
Its majestic spires tower over the surrounding city. Inside, its arched ceilings and walls are ornately decorated with large paintings and stained glass that are truly one of a kind and awe-inspiring regardless of your faith.
The Basilica still holds regular services, so you’ll need to plan your visit accordingly. Check out their website for contact information, directions, and hours of operation.
14. Taber’s on the Lake
Founded in 1941, Taber’s on the lake is a Maine icon and has been since the beginning.
Its amenities and recreation activities include a restaurant, mini-golf course, driving range, and an ice cream stand that’s reported to be the best in the area.
Located in Auburn, the grounds include picnic tables and grassy areas with magnificent views of the lake.
During the summer months, they feature live entertainment and quirky throw-back dances for those who grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Their menu includes burgers, dogs, and a variety of Maine lobster dishes.
It’s a family-friendly facility that shouldn’t be missed.
15. Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary
For more than eight decades The Stanton Bird Club and Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary have been dedicated to preserving the area’s natural habitat, including the variety of native bird species that call it home.
The sanctuary is located in Lewiston in Androscoggin County and consists of nearly 500 acres of preserved land.
A two-mile loop trail winds its way through the preserve that includes a variety of plant, tree, and vibrant wildflower species; it’s suitable for those traveling with children. It’s particularly beautiful in fall when the leaves have changed into their vibrant autumn colors.