Waterville is a city of around 16,000 people, located in the Kennebec County of the Maine state. Initially part of the town of Fort Halifax which was founded in 1757, it became Winslow in 1771.
Because the people living here had to cross the river each time there was a town meeting, they eventually decided to create their own city.
Waterville was officially incorporated in 1802 and was based on multiple industries such as fishing, and agriculture. Other industries appeared over the years and Waterville became an important economic center for the area.
Now let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in Waterville.
1. Visit the Colby College Museum of Art
Many colleges have a museum, but very few of them have a collection of art items as large as the Colby College Museum. Founded in 1959, it now boasts more than 38,000 square feet and 8,000 works of art.
There are various collections, including some with American contemporary art, Chinese antiques, European paintings, and thought-provoking modern art exhibits.
You can easily spend an entire day here if you want to properly admire all of the works of art. When school is out, admission is free; even when it’s not, the price is definitely worth it.
2. Hike the Quarry Road Trails
Do you like outdoor activities? Go for a walk, a bike ride, a jog or take your dogs to the Quarry Road Trails. There are many trails to explore and the scenery is beautiful.
You can have fun in this area in any season. If you happen to love winter sports, there are plenty of opportunities here, like skiing and snowboarding. There are often events and contests too.
Overall, this is a great destination for outdoor fun for people of all ages.
3. See the Two Cent Bridge
You can admire this nice bridge and walk through the nearby area regardless of the season. It connects Waterville to Winslow and gives you a glimpse back in time to the days of busy mills and hard-working employees.
There is no need to plan a special trip just to see this bridge, but if you happen to be nearby, feel free to stop and take some photos.
4. Appreciate the art at the Common Street Arts
This venue holds various galleries and exhibitions, bringing beautiful art to the locals and visitors. They also host art classes for the kids, making sure that future generations will maintain the same passion for creative arts.
Some exhibitions are from local artists, while others travel the entire country. They frequently collaborate with the Colby College Museum of Art and have even hosted flamenco dance shows and music concerts.
The best part of all is that the admission is absolutely free.
5. Have a Beer at the Waterville Brewing Company
This nice brewery is located right on the river and offers a wide variety of beers made right there on the spot.
Among them, you will find WBC Blonde Ale, Autopilot Session, South End IPA, Infinity Mulligans Amber Ale, Steely Eye Oatmeal Stout and Maybe Later Summer Wheat. They can be served in glasses of various sizes, so try them all, if you’re up for it!
The founders are friendly and will gladly join you for a chat and a brew. Overall, this is an awesome place with a friendly atmosphere and some great assortments of beer.
6. Have a cup of tea at Enchanted Herbs & Botanicals
This is a cute herbal apothecary that offers a wide variety of herbs, supplements, teas, essential oils, natural bath and body products, and books.
They also offer hypnotherapy and Reiki, various classes and workshops, and even some New Age and metaphysical products for spiritual practices. Whether you want to try a classic tea or something more exotic, they have the right kind of organic tea for you, from some of the top brands.
If you are looking for herbs or botanical products, for books on magical and mystical topics, or just for a nice place to have a cuppa, then Enchanted Herbs & Botanicals is the place to go.
7. Watch a movie at the Railroad Square Cinema
If you’re tired of all the classic Hollywood movies and want to view something different, stop by the Railroad Square Cinema. They display some interesting and unique movies that are not shown in most theatres.
Some of them include foreign films and movies from independent filmmakers, and during July there is also the Waterville Film Festival here.
While the set and chairs are not that new or modern, the organic popcorn and other snacks are always great.
8. Pick up some gifts from Sign of the Sun
This is a small gift shop that has a bohemian feel to it and offers a wide variety of jewelry, decorations, clothes and other items from all over the world.
People of all ages shop here, so there is something for everyone, regardless of your tastes. They also have some wonderful hand-carved decorative wooden boxes that come at great prices.
The staff are friendly and attentive; if you don’t have any idea what gift you are looking for, they will help you find the right one.
9. Solve a puzzle at Mainely Escapes
We’re not talking here about the kind of puzzle where you fit small pieces together, but rather a mind puzzle – an “escape the room game”. This is a really fun activity, whether you play it alone, with family, friends or co-workers.
The game puts you in all sorts of imaginary scenarios where you have to solve a problem and find out the solution in order to finally escape the room. It is a fun group bonding activity; something that uses your mind and will have you in fits of laughter.
10. Shop at Maine Made
This is yet another cute gift shop that has plenty of interesting items to choose from; some of which can’t be found anywhere else. There are plenty of items with a lobster or moose-theme, plus various candies, jams, honey, and other edible goodies.
This is a fun gift shop filled with great gifts and souvenirs.
11. Chill out at Flagship Cinemas
If you’re not really into independent movies and just want to relax and enjoy a fun Hollywood movie, head to Flagship Cinemas.
This chain operates in multiple states and shows the latest movies on high-quality display screens with digital surround sound. They are known as “the neighborhood theatre”, offering great experiences for small communities all over the country.
12. Admire Winslow Homer’s Studio
By taking a tour of this house, you will get a glimpse into the mysterious life of this artist. You will explore inside the studio, wander the grounds outside and take a stroll along the seashore, while the guide tells you all about Homer and his work.
The shoreline in front of the studio is very important as it was the source of inspiration for many of his masterpieces. The guides are very knowledgeable about his life and will tell you all the important facts.
The studio and home are well restored and displayed very nicely, along with many of his paintings. If you are passionate about art and history, you will love Winslow Homer’s Studio.
13. Enjoy a wine at Tree Spirits
After all the shopping and sightseeing, relax at Tree Spirits together with loved ones and a good glass of wine. You can sample multiple assortments before purchasing the ones you like the most.
The owner is very friendly and will tell you about each type of wine. For those who don’t like wine, they have other tipples on offer, including Absinthe.
This business supports other local companies by selling some of their snacks and goodies, and they also use local ingredients in all their products.
14. Embark on a Snow Pond Cruises
Enjoy an awesome cruise along the Messalonskee Lake with the tours offered by this company. Along the way, you will admire some beautiful scenery, spot the flora and fauna, and even visit some eagle nests.
You can take a cruise during the day or opt for a romantic moonlight cruise. You can even order dinner and have it delivered to the boat. Captain Gary, the owner, is very friendly and will make the trip fun and entertaining for the entire family.
15. Visit the Fort Halifax State Historic Site
This is actually the first blockhouse built in the United States. You can see it from inside and even go upstairs. There is a plaque that explains the history and they also have a nice passbook stamp program.
The entire property of the site is now a touristic attraction; there is even a small outdoor stage for performing arts. Overall, it is a great place to admire the old blockhouse, enjoy a picnic and relax in the lovely natural surroundings.