Located in Maine’s Androscoggin County, Turner is a small country town that’s close to the Lewiston-Auburn metropolitan area.
The town was incorporated in 1786 and named after a local reverend. For much of its existence, it relied on agriculture and water-powered mills to turn timber into lumber and corn and grain into meal and flour.
Turner is near enough to the coast to makes day trips to the beach an option. It’s also an easy drive to some of New England’s most visited state and national parks, making it a great place to stay when visiting the area.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Turner, Maine.
1. Turner Historical Museum
For those visiting a new area who aren’t sure what there is to see and do, there’s no better place to start than a local historical museum.
The Turner Historical Museum was established to promote and preserve the area’s history and is located inside the Leavitt Building near the town’s center.
It’s full of interesting items that give visitors a unique insight into the region’s past, but it’s not open every day, so check out their website or give them a call before making a special trip. Though the museum isn’t typically open on Saturdays, it’s possible to visit then if you call ahead and let them know you’re coming.
2. Turner Highlands Golf Course
Sporting an 18-hole course and a popular restaurant overlooking the grounds, the Turner Highlands Golf Course is a place that could easily occupy a half day.
Previous players have noted that the course is challenging, but the treed areas, sand and water hazards make things interesting without overdoing it.
For those who need to brush up on their game before hitting the links, there’s a practice range, putting green, and sand trip, so if you’re a bit rusty, considering arriving an hour early.
Like most courses, tee times fill up quickly during the peak summer season, so if that’s when you’ll be in town, reserve your space a week or so in advance.
3. Androscoggin River
Central Maine’s Androscoggin River winds its way through nearly 200 miles of countryside before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s the state’s largest river.
It’s also one of Maine’s most popular destinations for anglers, who come after its wide variety of game fish, like trout, smallmouth bass, and salmon.
Much of the river lies just a few kilometers east of Turner, and there are shore access points and multiple boat launches in the area as well.
Fishing is often the best in the morning and evening; remember, you’ll need a fishing license whether you’re a Maine resident or an out of state visitor.
4. Music at the Gazebo
After long months of forced solitude and inactivity, many of New England’s towns come to life in the early spring, and some have outdoor concert venues that really draw the crowds.
Located on Matthew’s Way in Turner, the town’s gazebo features live entertainment nearly every week during the late spring and summer.
Remember to bring a folding chair or blanket as there’s no permanent seating; things usually kick off between 5:30 and 6:00.
The events are free, but it’s suggested that each visitor kicks in $5.00 to help support the performers and volunteers who make it all possible.
5. Bear Pond
Turner’s Bear Pond is located just off Route 19 and is most well-known for its clean beaches and excellent year-round fishing.
The beach and lake are managed by the town; visitors will need a beach pass that is available for purchase at the town’s municipal building.
Open from Memorial through Labor Day from sunrise to sunset, you won’t want to lay out or swim in the winter, but it’s a favorite spot for ice fishing.
Extended full-season passes are available for those who will be around for more than a day or two.
6. The Nezinscot River
The Nezinscot River played an important role in Turner’s development, mainly because its water powered many of the town’s mills that turned raw materials into finished products like lumber and flour.
Though the mills no longer play a part in the town’s economy, the river is still a focal point, especially for those looking for a variety of outdoor recreation options.
Like the Androscoggin, the Nezinscot is a popular fishing destination, but it’s also a favorite of canoers, kayakers, swimmers, and bird-watchers.
There are plenty of shore access points, boat launches, and riverside parks with trails and covered seating areas.
7. Nezinscot Farm Cafe & Gourmet Food Shop
Maine is home to more than its fair share of organic farms, and Nezinscot Farm Cafe and Gourmet Food Shop is one of Turner’s most popular.
Open from Thursday to Sunday, there is a market and bakery onsite as well.
The farm is comprised of more than 150 acres and is predominately a dairy farm.
Surrounded by scenic farmlands and river views, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful area. It’s possible to take a guided tour or explore the farm’s hiking trails on your own.
They’re particularly known for their fresh baked goods, prepared meals, meats, and cheeses, all of which are made onsite.
8. Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary
Central Maine is home to an incredibly diverse variety of native bird species, and the Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary is one of the best places in the area to see and learn about them.
The sanctuary is part of the Stanton Bird Club, which has been involved in wildlife conservation work for nearly eight decades.
The sanctuary’s grounds include a variety of walking trails, each of which tours a distinct area of the facility. Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary is located near Lewiston, which is just a short drive from Turner. The outdoor area is open to hikers and walkers year-round.
9. Mount Apatite Park
Located near the central Maine town of Auburn, Mount Apatite Park is large by municipal park standards and is a convenient escape for those looking to get out of the city without wasting a lot of time in the car.
The park’s trails are open year round. In the winter, they are popular for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
At more than 300 acres, it’s possible to get confused and even lost, so be sure you’re aware of how far you’ve gone and in what direction.
The park’s Blue Loop Trail is one of the most used and is just short of four miles long.
10. Hurricane’s Café and Deli
Founded in 2005, Hurricane’s Café and Deli on Route 202 in Greene is the perfect place for weary travelers to take a load off and have a great meal without spending an arm and a leg.
Their menu includes homemade soups, sandwiches, and wraps, and their popular breakfasts are served all day long.
They also offer daily specials and everything from light fare to traditional, stick-to-your-ribs meals.
Their generous portion sizes, comfy atmosphere, and reasonable prices keep many customers coming back again and again. The restaurant is an easy drive from nearby Turner, so swing by and grab a bite.
11. Gendron Franco Center
Considered by many to be the state’s premier live performance venue, the Gendron Franco Center on Cedar Street in Lewiston is a great community resource that should be taken advantage of when you’re visiting the area.
With a wide variety of performances – ranging from stand-up comedy, symphony, opera and bluegrass – there’s likely something on their calendar of events to appeal to everyone you’re traveling with. In the past, they’ve hosted internationally known entertainers like Bob Marley.
As the name implies, it’s an organization that celebrates the American and French cultures, the latter of which is prevalent in Canadian cities like Quebec.
12. Maine State Museum
Featuring multiple floors and dozens of engaging exhibits, the Maine State Museum in the capital city of Augusta is the perfect place for families to spend a few hours, especially when the weather isn’t particularly conducive to outdoor activities.
The cost of admission is dirt-cheap, and the items on display touch on the state’s history, economy, culture, and the natural world.
The museum’s aquarium, full-size water mill mockup, and Native American exhibits are among the most popular. Many of the displays were made specifically with children in mind and encourage them to interact as opposed to just watching passively.
13. Hallowell Powder House
So named because it was a military storage depot as far back as the early 19th century, the Hallowell Powder House is a fascinating historic site that gives visitors a unique insight into the region’s past, which dates back nearly two centuries.
The elevated ground on which the powder house sits gives terrific scenic views of the town of Hallowell and the Kennebec River below.
It’s located on Winthrop Street and is managed by the local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution.
Check out their website for hours of operation and ideas for other things to see and do nearby.
14. Children’s Discovery Museum
Though many of the state’s historical sites are fun for children, they’ll pale in comparison after they’ve been to the Children’s Discovery Museum in Augusta.
Previous guests have claimed that even after two or more hours, their little ones weren’t bored.
The museum is a unique hodge-podge of history, culture, science, and the arts. Most of the exhibits promote activity, which tends to engage children much more than boring ‘look but don’t touch’ ones.
Admission is inexpensive, and though the museum is open year-round, it’s a particularly popular place when central Maine’s weather is cold and icy in the winter months.
15. Old Fort Western Museum
Located just off the scenic shores of the Kennebec River in Maine’s capital, the Old Fort Western Museum was originally constructed in the mid-1700s and is one of the most well preserved all-wooden forts of its kind in the country.
Many of the museum’s staff are dressed in period clothing and go about their days much the way the fort’s original inhabitants did; they use the language of the day as well.
It’s a big hit with kids and a unique way to learn about the area’s history. Many of the items on display are original artifacts and include weapons, clothes, and housewares.