Rockland is a city of around 7,000 people located in the Knox County of Maine. It is the county seat, the departure point of the Maine State Ferry Service, and a popular tourist destination.
The first settlers arrived here in 1767 and over the years it has had multiple names. It received the official name of Rockland in 1850 and was incorporated as a city in 1854.
Mainly because of the industries of shipbuilding and lime, the city developed quickly, but there were other successful businesses here over the years. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular things to do in Rockland:
1. Stroll along the Rockland Breakwater and Lighthouse
Take a walk along the ocean and admire the beauty of this place. The road is a bit bumpy so make sure to wear proper shoes and watch where you step. Besides that, just enjoy the view and take lots of photos!
The waves come right up onto the rocks, the lighthouse looks lovely, and there is a plaque with its story. Overall, it’s a wonderful place for a peaceful walk.
2. Visit the Farnsworth Art Museum
This large museum boasts more than 15,000 works of art from some of the best artists in the country (including sculptor Louise Nevelson, Andrew, N.C. and Jamie Wyeth).
It is spread over 20,000 square feet and there are always new items added, so you can easily spend a few hours here. Art lovers will definitely enjoy this place.
The museum also has a wonderful library where kids can play while the adults are browsing for good books.
3. Visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum
Step back in time and visit this wonderful museum located in an impressive lighthouse. Inside, you will discover plenty of interesting items related to the history of Rockland and the Maine Lobster Festival.
There is a large map and many photos displaying all the lighthouses of Maine. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and there is a small gift shop attached.
4. Visit and support the Project Puffin Visitor Center
This visitor center was opened back in 2006 with the aim of informing visitors and residents about Project Puffin. The successful initiative managed to bring these amazing birds that were almost extinct back to their historic nesting places.
Here, the visitors can learn more about these birds and also view them in real time, through an advanced video system. You will learn more about Project Puffin and all the challenges they had to overcome.
The staff are very passionate about this topic. There is also a small gift shop for some puffin-inspired gifts.
5. Tour Olson House
This beautiful old home was initially inhabited by Alvaro H. Olson and his family, and then by the famous painter Andrew Wyeth. The home still preserves some of the original items, but what really makes the experience amazing is the guide.
He is very knowledgeable of the entire history of the building and the life of the painter and will make the experience so much more than just visiting an old home.
This is also where Wyeth painted his most popular work, Christina’s World.
6. Attend the Maine Lobster Festival
This is a historic event that takes place each year during the first week of August, over the course of five days. It attracts thousands of visitors, offering them fresh local lobster, as well as other types of seafood, carnival rides, artists, entertainers and much more.
The organization that runs this festival is non-profit and all the earnings go back to the Midcoast Maine communities each year. People from all over the world come here; it is a unique experience that you should definitely not miss.
7. Take a ride with the Maine State Ferry Service
As mentioned earlier, Rockland is the departure point of the Maine State Ferry Service, which heads to multiple destinations. This is a great, cheap way to admire the ocean and nearby islands.
On the ferry, you can have a chat with locals that are doing their daily commute and find out more about how they live here in Rockland. Most of them are in the lobster business, so you can also learn more about how they catch and cook it.
8. Visit the Sail Power and Steam Museum
As you may notice, Rockland has plenty of beautiful museums – most of them being related to marine life. This museum aims to enrich the lives of visitors by offering them interactive and educational experiences about power and steam driven vessels, ships and small boats.
You can learn more about their origins, their construction, and purpose – whether they are recreational or commercial. If you are passionate about boats and engines, you will definitely love this place.
9. Admire the Center for Maine Contemporary Art
If you have had your fill of history and want to experience a bit of modern art, head to this place, simply known as CMCA. It was created in 1952 and has developed a lot since then, displaying the work of many great artists.
You will be amazed by some of the works of art displayed here. Even the building itself is modern, with a one-of-a-kind sculpture in front of it, welcoming you to this unusual exhibition.
10. Shop at Jess’s Market
If you’re passionate about cooking and seafood and want to make your own delicious meals, stop by this market to get your ingredients. They have a wide selection of fish and shellfish, as well as a good range of beer and wine.
The service is top notch and the staff will give you all the needed information about how to cook each type of fish. When it comes to lobster and seafood, Jess’s Market is definitely the place to go when in Rockland.
11. Get a tan on Sandy Beach
If the weather allows it, this is a great place to lay in the sun, get a tan, and go for a swim. Even if the weather is not good enough, you can still come here to admire the “Ridin’ the Rails to Rockland” sculpture.
This work of art was created in 2013 using material from abandoned railroads in Rockland and the nearby areas. Come by for a quick walk, swim, or a picnic with a great ocean view.
It’s usually quiet and not too crowded, so you can spend a relaxing afternoon here.
12. Wander along the Rockland Harbor Trail
This trail is a five-mile-long walking path along the waterfront of Rockland. Along the way, you can admire the harbor, as well as some of the most important buildings and main attractions of the city.
It is a scenic place for a walk or a run and you can also stop by at one of the nearby restaurants. Relax and enjoy the views, the boats and maybe a splendid sunrise or sunset.
13. Stop by Craft
This is a charming gallery that displays some exquisite work by some of the best craft artists in the state of Maine. It includes a wide variety of items such as ceramics, jewelry, books, fiber arts and many more.
The galleries are often changing, allowing different artists to display their work. So even if you have visited before, it’s worth coming by again to admire the work of a different artist.
All these items are made by hand, with a lot of patience and perseverance.
14. Sail with the Bufflehead Sailing Charters
Go on an awesome ocean adventure on board Bufflehead, a classic boat made in the ’60s. You will be hosted by an experienced captain who sailed across the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean on his own small boat.
The captain is very knowledgeable on all things related to sailing and provides a great presentation on the history and geology of the Rockland area.
On board, there is an experienced photographer that will take some beautiful photos so you can remember this trip forever.
15. Take one of the Maine Foodie Tours
We haven’t mentioned a place to eat so far because this food tour includes all the best spots to eat in Rockland. It partners not just with restaurants, but also with pubs, beverage artisans and culinary based shops.
You will meet with the owners and staff, find out the stories behind each of the products, and, of course, be able to taste them. While most food tours give you just small samples of each product, this one offers full-size meals.
Those who took the Maine Foodie Tours were very pleased and said that it was the best culinary experience they ever had.