The town that’s now called Rumford was originally founded in the 1770s and called New Pennacook.
With its vast tracts of forest, New England has always been a large paper-making region, and for much of its existence, Rumford’s largest employer has been ND Paper.
The town is located in west-central Maine’s Oxford County and is surrounded by forests, mountains, rivers, and lakes that draw visitors from all over the state.
The Anasagunticook River is a prime recreational area for boaters, swimmers, and fishermen, and it’s also home to the largest waterfall east of Niagara.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Rumford, Maine.
1. Grafton Notch State Park
Located just off Route 26 between the towns of Upton and Newry, Grafton Notch State Park is just off the state’s Scenic Byway and is a magnet for nature lovers, bird-watchers, and outdoorsmen of all stripes.
The state park is comprised of nearly 3,000 acres of rugged and beautiful terrain and includes waterfalls, caves, and dozens of miles of easily accessible trails.
Screw Auger and Mother Walker Falls are a few of the park’s most popular sites. Along the trails, you’ll find scattered picnic tables and BBQ grills that are the perfect places for an afternoon rest or idyllic picnic.
2. Mystic Theater
With its glitzy venues, bright lights, and high dollar tickets, New York City’s famous theaters have always drawn big crowds, but for those lovers of drama, comedy, and music who find themselves in rural Rumford, there’s a wonderful and inexpensive alternative.
Located inside a refurbished church on Franklin Street in Rumford, the Mystic Theater is now a premier recreation destination for locals and visitors alike.
In addition to their productions of famous plays and musicals, the facility is also available for special events like birthdays and weddings.
The theater features two floors, both of which are accessible to those using wheelchairs.
3. Mount Blue State Park
With sandy beaches, clean water, and plentiful campsites, Mount Blue State Park is a popular outdoor recreation destination. It’s centrally located, so those visiting Rumford won’t need to spend half the day in the car getting there and back.
The park is full of multi-use trails that are open to horses, all-terrain vehicles, and mountain bikes. A few lead to fantastic vantage points that offer those willing to put in the effort amazing views that won’t be found elsewhere.
The park’s entrance is located on Center Hill Road near the town of Weld. Though it can get crowded during peak times, it’s big enough that you shouldn’t have trouble finding a spot away from the masses.
4. Rumford Falls
Located on the scenic Androscoggin River, Rumford Falls wasn’t officially discovered until the late 1800s. Just a century later, it was the site of a hydroelectric power plant which provided power to the town’s homes and businesses.
Though the falls once tumbled nearly 180 feet straight down, they’re now split into several smaller sections, but when the water is flowing steadily, they’re still a sight to behold.
Unlike many falls, Rumford Falls doesn’t require hours in the car and a hike through the woods to see. It’s conveniently located in town and can even be seen from the car.
5. Belgrade Lakes Region
Central Maine’s Belgrade Lake Region is one of the state’s most scenic areas and is a particularly popular destination in the summer months when the weather is perfect.
The area consists of seven lakes set amid some stunning natural scenery and quaint towns that are worth a look as well.
The Belgrade Lakes Region extends from the central coast inland and is a convenient day trip option for those staying in Rumford.
If you’ll be visiting during the winter, the area around the lakes is perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing; ice fishing and hunting are popular as well.
6. Good Karma Cafe and Health Foods
Located on Congress Street in Rumford, Good Karma Café and Health Foods is the perfect stop for a bit of hearty and healthy sustenance before heading out to see the sights.
From wraps to sandwiches and soups to salads, they’ve got a menu full of options, nearly all of which are made fresh on site using fresh, local ingredients.
The restaurant is family-owned and operated and has a comfy atmosphere that keeps customers coming back again and again.
They also offer fresh baked goods and coffee by the cup or in bags; items that make perfect gifts for those back home who weren’t able to make the trip.
7. Black Mountain of Maine
Though it’s not as large as other regional ski resorts like Killington and Stowe, Black Mountain of Maine has its share of alpine trails. It is particularly known for its cross-country skiing trails that stretch nearly 15 miles through the surrounding forests and mountains.
In total, the mountain features nearly 50 downhill trails which are serviced by two chairlifts. Black Mountain also has amenities like storage lockers and a comfortable lodge that’s the perfect place to kick back with a hot chocolate or cold beer and a hot bowl of chili after a few hours on the slopes.
Check their website for conditions and opening date.
8. J. Eugene Boivin Park
Located in quaint, traditional Rumford Falls, J. Eugene Boivin Park is a great community resource that’s free to use year-round and is open from dawn until dusk.
From the park, it’s easy to reach scenic Pennacook Falls. You’ll find a town welcome center that’s full of magazines, pamphlets, and coupons that are free for the taking, giving you a variety of activity options that you may not have been aware of.
If you’d like to get a full-service tour provided by a local guide, the staff at the welcome center can set that up; however, the town is set up perfectly for those who’d rather explore on their own.
9. McLaughlin Garden and Homestead
Created in 1936 by a man with a dream, McLaughlin Garden and Homestead on Main Street in South Paris is much as it was nearly a century ago.
The man’s name was Bernard McLaughlin, and though he didn’t have any training in botany, he went on to become one of the most recognized experts in the state.
His garden still lives on after his death. Along with the homestead, they’re managed by a not-for-profit organization that’s dedicated to preserving them and making them available to the public.
From trees to shrubs and flowers, the garden is brimming with beauty and history that shouldn’t be missed.
10. Celebration Barn Theater
Also located in South Paris, the Celebration Barn Theater is where many aspiring actors, musicians, and performers get their starts before moving on to the national stage.
Rumor has it that the theater is one of international repute and that it draws an eclectic crowd of folks interested in getting the experience and training necessary to take their career to the next level.
The theater is located on Stock Farm Road and is the perfect place to catch a great show without maxing out your credit card.
To see what’s on their calendar of events, check their website before making a trip.
11. Deca Holiday Craft Fair
The Deca Holiday Craft fair takes place on South Paris’ Main Street and is always the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Deca is an international organization with local chapters that’s comprised largely of marketing and business students interested in getting some real-world experience as part of their education.
The management of the craft fair is largely done by students, and the majority of the proceeds from sales go to their organization.
The craft fair includes more than 100 vendors and offers door prizes donated by local businesses, so mark your calendar for November and plan on swinging by.
12. Norway Music and Arts Festival
Taking place on Main Street in Norway, the Norway Music and Arts Festival is a family-friendly activity that’s convenient and affordable. In addition to music, dance, and theater performances, there are a variety of activities for children.
It all happens on the second Saturday in July, and with all there is to see and do, it’s the kind of place a family could spend the entire day.
The event is part arts and crafts show, part circus, and part concert. With so many vendors and performers, there’s bound to be a little something for everyone.
13. Bethel HarvestFest
Celebrating the traditional harvest time at the end of summer and before fall, the Bethel Harvest Fest is held in September in the Town Common area on Broad Street.
Featuring arts and crafts, live entertainment, and a farmer’s market, it’s got more than enough going on to make a day of it.
A few of the ever-favorite events are the chowder – pronounced chow-duh in New England – and apple pie cook-offs, which draw a variety of competitors – from professional chefs to stay-at-home moms.
Admission is inexpensive, and for those traveling with kids, there are plenty of activities designed with them in mind.
14. Maine State Museum
Comprised of four floors featuring top-notch displays and exhibits, the Maine State Museum in Augusta is the perfect place to explore the state’s past and present as they relate to history, culture, the arts, and the natural world.
A few of the museum’s favorites exhibits are the ones on the Ice Age and the Native American cultures that occupied the region for generations before it was discovered and explored by Europeans.
The museum is located on State Street downtown and has different hours on different days of the week, so check out their website before making a special trip into town.
15. Viles Arboretum
Augusta’s Viles Arboretum features more than 200 species of plants, trees, and flowers, many of which are native and others that come from far-flung corners of the globe.
The grounds are open every day from sun up to sun down and include more than 200 acres of cultivated gardens that are crisscrossed with easy trails.
For first time visitors, it’s a good idea to check in at the reception area first to get a map and overview of the grounds.
Dogs are allowed as well, but they’ll need to be kept on a leash, and you must pick up after them.
The arboretum’s entrance is on Hospital Street.