The town of Yarmouth in Cumberland, Maine was not incorporated until the mid 19th century, but the region was settled two centuries earlier. In those days, the region was known as North Yarmouth and was inhabited by Native Indians attracted to both the coast and the natural resources.
North Yarmouth was incorporated in 1679, by which time the first mill had been built on the Royal River, and development continued with shipbuilding through the 19th century. It was the coastal region which became Yarmouth, so part of the attraction of visiting the town is the access to the Atlantic and the offshore islands. TheRoyal River also flows through the town to the sea, and the town has much to offer.
If you are planning a visit, here are the 15 Best Things to do in Yarmouth.
1. Yarmouth Historic Center
The Historic Center is a good place to start in Yarmouth. One of its definite highlights is the Flaming Arrow Weathervane. It was donated to the center by the Haskell family after being removed from the West Trail, where it had stood among the pine trees after its removal from the 1730s Old Ledge Meeting House. Originally, the weathervane had been on the steeple of this historic building, which is long gone; if you wish, you can climb to the spot where its old supports still stand, on Route 88/Garrison Lane.
2. Cousins Island
This island in Casco Bay is located within the boundaries of Yarmouth. It has just a small permanent population living on its 260 hectares. One of the main reasons for a trip over to this island is to enjoy its beach.
The beach is not huge, but it rarely gets too crowded. You can wander around the island, and an increasing number of people launch their kayaks there to enjoy time on the water. Cyclists enjoy exploring here as well.
3. Sandy Point Beach
Sandy Point is another quiet beach, as many tourists head for the larger beaches elsewhere on this coastline. There is plenty of space to enjoy the sand at low tide, and kids will love swimming here.
It is a popular place for family picnics at the height of summer. You may see the lobster boats coming down the channel, or watch kayakers or sailboats throughout the day. It is worth having some rubber shoes because there are some sharp rocks if you go paddling in the shallow water. Facilities are limited but that should not spoil the fun.
4. Royal River Park
If you’re looking for a pleasant stroll before dinner, then the trail that follows the river bank here is certainly worth considering. It is fully paved and flat, with signposts along the way indicating the sites of historical importance you pass by.
Dogs are allowed and both of you are welcome to take a swim on a hot day, although you are responsible for your pet at all times. You will find picnic areas here, and part of the trail winds through picturesque fields and woods. The river has a waterfall and historic mill site.
5. Grist Mill Park
This park is on the site of the first saw and grist mill built on the Royal River back in 1674. It once used the power of the water in First Falls; if you are around in a period of wet weather, you will be impressed, even today, by the force of the cascade.
You can park on the eastern shore fairly close by to enjoy a picnic.
Access down to the river is available, but care needs to be taken in wet weather as it can be slippery.
6. Littlejohn Island Preserve
While this small preserve covers just 23 acres, it affords some lovely views over Casco Bay, with its balance of rocky coast, sandy beach, and lovely red oaks. The trees are a popular place for bald eagles and great horned owls to perch as they search for prey.
The trail is just short of 1.5 miles and fairly easy to walk. You need to head to Cousins Island, cross the causeway to Little John, and park in an authorized place. The trail is well maintained and hugs the coastline. There are plenty of scenic spots but it is not really a place for the very young or pushchairs.
7. Beth Condon Pathway
A 3000 mile trail exists on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA that stretches all the way from Maine down to Key West, at the extreme end of Florida. A small part of that trail within Maine is known as the Beth Condon Pathway, named after a local schoolgirl killed in a road accident. It is a nice walk and equally suitable for bikers.
In the summer, the Butterfly Garden is a splash of color; you can take a seat on a bench along the way to enjoy the brief butterfly season as they flutter in the breeze.
8. Spear Farm Estuary Preserve
Owned by the town, this 55-acre preserve offers a range of habitat, from salt marsh to oak and pine. A small freshwater pond is fascinating for the kids, who can search for signs of wildlife in the water.
Wander along a short trail and you may see some interesting bird life. You can stop for a picnic at several places. The attractions change with the season; colorful flowers are a feature later in the year before winter arrives.
While most people make use of the trail during summer, you can still access the preserve in winter and enjoy a little skiing, with the pond often suitable for ice skating.
9. Chebeague Island
Seventeen islands come under the umbrella name of Chebeague Island and provide endless opportunities for visitors during the summer months. Not many people live on these islands, but there is sufficient infrastructure to allow tourists to enjoy themselves.
Some families enjoy camping out in the bay on Little Chebeague İsland. There is other accommodation for rent and several restaurants as well. Beaches are available and swimming is a delight. Inevitably, seafood features strongly on any local menu.
With plenty of connections to the mainland, Chebeague is certainly worth a day of your holiday.
10. Pratts Brook Park
The largest park in Yarmouth covers around 220 acres. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy about six miles of trails, where they can hike in summer and ski in the winter.
The substrate is typical forest floor, with parts of the trail going through meadows. The brook and several tributaries cross the park which has a beaver bond, herds of deer, and an impressive population of bird life, including the Great Horned Owl.
Maps of the park are available to visitors, who are welcome all year around. The area can get muddy at times and visitors are asked to avoid causing damage during those periods by taking alternative trails.
11. First Parish Congregational Church
One of the early churches in Maine, the First Parish Congregational was established in 1730. In those days, the town was closer to the coast, but when it moved inland, so did the church.
A new church followed in 1818 and a third was built half a century later; this is what stands in Main Street today. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 and the interior remains largely as it was in 1868.
12. Camp Hammond
This historic building in Yarmouth dates back to 1869 and is one of the most distinctive structures in town. It is used for special occasions such as weddings and banquets, yet remains important in its own right.
You will find it on Main Street, and quite rightly, it has been included on the National Register of Historic Places. The building and its grounds are most impressive and the renovations that were undertaken in 2002 have ensured that none of its historic qualities have been lost.
13. Toddy Brook Golf Course
Venturing just outside Yarmouth, you can enjoy a game of golf at Toddy Brook. It is an 18 hole public course with facilities to match the best of any private club. When it opened in 2002, it offered nine holes; a further nine were added in 2005. You can expect a little water and plenty of trees, but accurate golfers will be fine. The longest of the four courses is the Black at 6214 yards Par 70.
The course provides a challenge for all and is certainly a great place for a round during your holidays. Coaching clinics are available, with club fitting an additional feature. Full catering is available throughout the day.
14. West Side Trail Trailhead
A relatively recent development by the town of Yarmouth, hikers, runners, and bikers have around 10 miles of trail to enjoy. This is a circular route, much of which is under a forest canopy. En route, you will see ravines and rocky bluffs as well as views over Casco Bay and the Royal River Estuary.
You will feel far removed from city life, despite the fact you are not far from Yarmouth. The Town is continuing to develop the trail to offer even more opportunities for those wanting to enjoy the outdoor life.
15. Muddy Rudder Restaurant
No visit to Maine is complete without sampling the seafood, particularly the lobster. You may have seen the lobster boats during the day, but now is the time to sample the catch. This restaurant on Route 1 has a varied menu, where you can try the bisque as well as several seafood dishes as a main course.
It caters for vegans and offers typical American dishes as well. A full range of alcoholic drinks is available.
You can sit outdoors or get a takeaway to enjoy a picnic elsewhere.