Even though Presque Isle has a population of just 9,000 people, it is the largest city in Aroostook County, in the state of Maine, and it is also an important commercial center for the area.
This cute little city is the home of the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Husson University, thus hosting lots of students. It also has an international airport, allowing tourists and residents to easily travel and arrive from anywhere in the world.
The first people to live here were British settlers, back in 1819. The founder of the first official settlement was Dennis Fairbanks in 1828. It was incorporated as Presque Isle in 1859.
Here are the 15 best things to do in Presque Isle.
1. Camp at Aroostook State Park
This is a gem of Maine, and it allows for plenty of outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, kayaking, skiing or snowshoeing. It’s a great destination for anyone that loves outdoor fun.
The campsites are clean and well maintained, with all the facilities you might need for a good time. There are also plenty of hiking trails to take in order to admire the beauties of the nature in this area.
2. Admire the Maine Solar System Model
Whether you are passionate about astronomy or just want to learn some new things, feel free to visit this park that has scale replicas of the planets of our solar system.
Besides the large models that are displayed outside, on the inside there are also pictures and informative plaques about each of the planets. The park that hosts the displays is beautiful too, and has plenty of benches for some outdoor relaxation.
As mentioned before, the planets are scale replicas, so you can get a better understanding of the size of each planet compared to Earth. Test yourself and see if you can identify all of them.
3. Stop by the Double Eagle Balloon Site II
While doing the solar system route, also stop by and admire the monument dedicated to the first people who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a balloon.
They were Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman and Maxie Anderson, and they launched from Presque Isle on 11 August 1978. They completed the journey 6 days later when they landed somewhere near Paris.
While not an impressive sight, it’s a cute little monument to admire for a few minutes and take some photos.
4. Read a Good Book at Mark and Emily Turnet Memorial Public Library
This is not just a typical small town library, but has a large collection of books from the classical and renaissance period. The library’s goal is to provide learning and personal growth for anyone interested.
They also have comfortable seating, good lighting and a cafe, so you can easily spend a few hours here, lost in a good book. They also hold various art galleries and events, so if you like culture and arts, make sure to stop by.
5. Have a Good Meal at the Mai Tai Lounge
This is a popular location for both locals and tourists, offering a wide variety of food and drinks. As the name suggests, here you will also find some great Asian dishes and plenty of tropical cocktails that you have never tried before.
The staff is friendly and polite, and most customers were very happy with this place. A proof of that is the fact that Mai Tai Lounge has been operating for more than 30 years now. Check it out and you won’t regret it.
6. Rent a Kayak from Perception of Aroostook
The Aroostook River offers plenty of opportunities for those who love to ride a kayak or a canoe, and Perception of Aroostook is here to help you with that.
They sell and rent kayaks and canoes, as well as all the needed equipment and accessories. The staff has plenty of knowledge and experience in this field and can help you with everything that you might need to know.
You will then be able to enjoy a wonderful experience, with plenty of beautiful landscape to admire while riding the kayak or canoe.
7. Shop at Aroostook Centre Mall
This mall has been open since 1993 and thanks to its large surface of 525,000 square feet, is the third largest shopping mall in the state of Maine. It was updated and modernized multiple times throughout its history and is now a popular attraction for both tourists and locals.
Inside you will find plenty of clothing and shoe stores, boutiques, a JC Penney store, a Kmart, an amusement center and lots of other shops. And of course, there is also a food court area, with lots of good food to choose from.
8. Play Tennis at Mantle Lake Park
Used for hundreds of years as a place for picnics, it officially became a park in 1952. It’s located in the east end of Pine Street and has plenty of picnic tables, picnic shelters, benches, walking trails, playground areas and restrooms.
On top of all this, there are also 3 tennis courts for those who like this sport. This beautiful park is a popular location for class reunions, birthday parties and other events…and of course for relaxation, fishing and outdoor fun.
9. Have a Coffee at Café Sorpreso
This small and cute European style café is located in downtown Presque Isle and offers a wide variety of coffee, drinks and food. Stop by for a quick coffee or stay for longer and enjoy lunch or dinner.
There are plenty of courses to choose from, with some being European recipes while others are purely American. The food is really good, being highly rated by locals and tourists, and the service is great.
If you need a special meal that is not on the menu (for example gluten free or dairy free), contact them by phone or Facebook Messenger, and they will gladly help you.
10. Take a Guided Tour with Presque Isle Historical Society
This society strives to promote the local history through a wide variety of guided tours, as well as exhibits, lectures, publications and more.
Among their many tours you will find one with Molly the Trolley that takes you through the city and some of the nearby areas, a tour of the Vera Estey House Museum, walking tours of the city center, walking tours of the Historic Fairmount Cemetery, a Mystery History Tour, a Haunted Tour, a Historic Geo-Caching Tour and also a Narrated City-Wide Historic Tour.
The tours are really fun and informative, and they are available at very affordable prices.
11. Watch a Baseball Game at Bishop’s Island Ballfield
Redeveloped in 2016, this field hosts games of both baseball and softball. The baseball games are for the youth team of the city, while the softball ones are for the adult league.
The place has all the needed facilities, included two beautiful player dugouts and good seating for spectators to watch the games. Parking is available across the road, while drinks and snacks are available during games.
So if you happen to be nearby, go to this stadium and support the local team.
12. Or a Basketball Game at Sargent Family Community Center
Besides 3 basketball courts, this facility offers plenty of other activities. First of all, they have the William Bill Haskell Memorial Gymnasium, which hosts basketball games as mentioned above, plus volleyball games and pickleball games and offers a three lanes track for walking or running.
There is also the Senior Center, which offers billiards tables, board games, TVs and a fully equipped kitchen for the elderly to hang out and relax. The Teen Center offers plenty of fun games for the young ones, while the Multi-Purpose Room hosts various dance classes and activities for both kids and adults. The place can also be rented for birthday parties.
13. Ride a Bike or Run on the Bike Path
This paved path is 4 miles long and offers a great place for locals and tourists to ride a bike, run or simply go for a walk. It was created in 1981 from an old plan of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and as time went by it was lengthened on both ends.
With support from city hall and locals, it now connects the University of Maine at Presque Island with the Riverside Bicentennial Park, and all the nearby areas.
14. Take the Kids to Riverside Bicentennial Park
This area is about 4 acres in size and it includes plenty of swings and playgrounds, perfect for spending a relaxing day with the kids.
There are also 20 water spray elements, and of course, plenty of benches, walking trails and picnic areas.
15. Skate or Watch an Event at The Forum
The Forum has plenty of uses and there is always something going on here, no matter the season. There are all sorts of shows, expos and events held here (such as the Anah Temple Shrine Circus, the McCluskey’s RV & Trailer Show or the Trash & Treasures Sale) and during the winter it becomes an ice rink.
There are hockey games and skating demonstrations held here, but the local clubs also offer classes for people of all ages and levels of experience.