Located in Maine’s Androscoggin County, the town of Poland has a population of slightly less than 5,000 and is the home to Poland Springs, a nationally distributed brand of bottled water that’s processed at the company’s plant in Poland.
The area surrounding the town is home to a variety of lakes that have been popular outdoor recreation destinations for more than a century.
With a wide choice of year-round recreation options, filling your itinerary with fun, educational, and unique activities won’t be a problem. It’s possible to visit the Atlantic coast and larger urban areas on day trips as well.
Below are 15 things to do in Poland, Maine.
1. Poland Spring Preservation Park
For much of its existence, the Poland Springs Resort attracted high-rollers, movie stars, and politicians, who came to enjoy its natural scenery, posh amenities, and relaxed atmosphere.
Now, there are three museums on the grounds of the resort; they’re great places to visit first, as you’ll get a unique and thorough insight into the town and its history.
A few of the park’s most memorable exhibits include those on famous visitors like Babe Ruth and Joe Kennedy. It’s also home to the Maine State House building, which was transplanted to Poland Springs after being constructed at the World’s Fair in Chicago in the 1890s.
2. Sebago Lake State Park
Lake Sebago is one of Maine’s original state parks and has been open for nearly 80 years.
It’s an easy drive from nearby Poland and has a few sandy beaches, plenty of campsites, and shore access points which are perfect for those looking to get away from the crowds, do some fishing, or launch a canoe or kayak.
The park lies on the lake’s northern shore and is near the towns of Casco and Naples in Cumberland County.
There are a variety of trails within the park, most of which are appropriate for all kinds of visitors. It’s not uncommon to see the animals that live in the forest, especially in the morning and evening.
3. Summit Spring Golf Course
Though the likelihood of running into Phil Mickelson or Ernie Els is pretty slim, for those with a love of golf who’ve only got a few hours to spare, the Summit Spring Golf Course in Poland would be a great place to get in a quick nine.
Opened in 1899, the course measures just shy of 4,000 yards and shouldn’t take more than 90 minutes to complete.
Previous guests have noted that for a small course, it was fun and pleasantly challenging.
There’s an 18-hole disc golf course on site as well if you’d like to try something new.
4. Maine Wildlife Park
Located on Game Farm Road in the town of Gray, The Maine Wildlife Park is home to a variety of animal species that have been injured or abandoned and cannot be released back into their native habitat.
The park’s stars include a bear, moose, mountain lions, and eagles, to name a few. It’s an especially fun place to visit for those traveling with kids.
In addition to the animals, the park has a small café, a gift shop, and visitor center that’s a great place to stop at before exploring on your own.
The park is open seasonally, so check their website before making a special trip.
5. Poland Spring Resort
Featuring a variety of lodging options like The Maine and Presidential Inns, the Poland Springs resort is among the state’s most popular destinations and is open seasonally from May to October.
The resort’s entrance is on Main Street in Poland, and it’s relatively inexpensive considering its amenities, history, and ideal natural setting.
From restaurants, museums, and hiking trails to golf, fishing, and biking, there’s really nothing you can’t do at the resort. Though keeping busy won’t be a problem, many of the resort’s guests come to do the opposite – relax, unwind, and take a much-needed break from their hectic lives.
6. Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
Located on Shaker Road in New Gloucester, the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village is the last of its kind in the world.
It’s been in existence for more than 200 years, and now there’s a museum on site that was originally founded in the early-30s to preserve the Shaker heritage and educate the population on their history and beliefs.
Of the nearly 20 structures in the village, six are open to the public; the visitor’s center is the place you’ll want to visit first.
Inexpensive guided tours lasting about an hour are offered, starting at multiple times throughout the day.
7. Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
Built in the late 19th century by immigrants of French-Canadian descent, the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Ash Street in Lewiston is one of the most impressive buildings you’ll see on your trip to Maine.
After a cathedral in Boston, it’s the largest in New England. Regardless of your faith, its grandeur, amazing architecture, and brilliant, stained-glass windows and organ are sights to behold.
Although it has been renovated over the years, it retains its original majesty, and still holds regular masses which are available in different languages at various times.
Tours are available at times when no regular service is being held.
8. Museum L-A
Museum L-A is one of the region’s most impressive art galleries and includes a variety of works in different mediums, many of which were done by local artists and craftsmen.
The Museum also hosts a variety of instructional and educational programs throughout the year that are geared toward those interesting in learning about the art world, or in need of some tips and pointers to take their creativity to the next level.
Many of the museum’s works focus on the people who live and work in the Lewiston-Auburn area, especially as it relates to the town’s industrial past – including the mills and shoe factories that were historically large employers.
9. Thompson’s Orchards
Though it’s just a guess, New England is probably home to more orchards per capita than just about anywhere else in the country.
Located on Gloucester Hill Road in New Gloucester, Thompson’s Orchards are also known for their gift shop, fresh baked goods, and delicious homemade apple cider.
When the apples are ready to harvest, the orchard draws families with children from near and far, who come to get some fresh air and pick their own fruit.
There are a variety of apples grown on the orchard, some of which are best eaten fresh and others that are perfect for homemade apple pie.
10. Baxter Brewing Company
The Baxter Brewing Company on Mill Street in Lewiston was opened in 2010 and has been a favorite haunt of beer enthusiasts ever since.
One of Baxter’s claims to fame is that they were the first brewery in Maine to can all their beer instead of bottle it.
Many beer lovers prefer bottles, but it’s not well-known that canning actually keeps beer fresher and significantly reduces transportation costs, which is better for the environment.
The brewery is located in a historic mill building that’s no longer in use. They brew a variety of seasonal beers throughout the year.
11. The Public Theatre
The Public Theatre on Maple Street in Lewiston is dedicated to bringing the people of Maine high-quality on and off-Broadway plays at a reasonable price. They’ve been named Maine’s best theater five times in the last decade.
Unlike many rural community theaters, many of the Public Theatre’s performers aren’t locals, but professional actors that have been on the big stages in New York and California.
Tickets are surprisingly cheap, and most guests have remarked that the production far exceeded their expectations, and that it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Any child under 18 gets into any show for just a few bucks.
12. Bates College Museum of Art
If you are visiting Maine during the winter, you’ll need to have a few indoor activities in your back pocket for when the weather becomes intolerably cold and icy.
The Bates College Museum of Art is the perfect place to spend a few hours out of the elements taking in some fantastic exhibits in a variety of mediums.
The museum is on Bates College’s campus and is free to visit. In addition to their permanent exhibits, they often host temporary ones as well.
The museum focuses mainly on contemporary art, and many of their pieces are done by local and regional artists.
13. Carousel Horse Farm
Located on Leach Hill Road in the town of Casco, the Carousel Horse Farm offers professionally-led trail rides year-round.
Don’t worry if you have little or no horseback riding experience, because everyone gets a crash course in the proper way to handle their animal, and the tours are tailored to the guest’s skill level.
At different times of year, they offer beach, sunset, and orchard rides, so there should be a great option or two available regardless of when you stop by.
Due to popularity, you’ll need to book your reservations in advance, so check online or give them a call.
14. Bradbury Mountain State Park
Another of the original five state parks in Maine, Bradbury Mountain State Park was established in 1939 and is open year-round from morning until evening.
The park is particularly well-known for the many trails that wind their way through its forests and mountains. Though some of them are long and difficult, there are a variety of short and relatively easy ones appropriate for most children as well.
The park’s entrance is on Hallowell Road in the town of Pownal, and is an easy day trip option whether you’re staying in Poland or Portland.
There’s a small park entrance fee that you’ll need to pay before parking.
15. Intervale Preserve
The Intervale Preserve in New Gloucester is a particularly popular destination for bird watchers.
Most of the preserve is flat and includes portions of the Royal River and marsh areas that attract wading birds, birds of prey, and migrating waterfowl at different times of the year.
The preserve includes an easy to follow loop trail that leads to a variety of vantage points – the perfect places to snap a few photos.
The preserve’s entrance is on Intervale Road. If you’d like to have the best chance of running into some local wildlife, visit during the low light morning and evening hours.