Beyond the lighthouses and lobsters, the rocky shoreline, and the infinite pleasures of simply being near the ocean, mid-coast Maine offers up plenty of world-class museums to explore. In fact, with dozens of museums within easy driving distance of our bed and breakfast in Newcastle, Maine, you might have trouble deciding which ones to visit. To discover more, here’s a history lovers guide to Coastal Maine where you’ll find some of the top spots we recommend to guests.
Maine Maritime Museum
Located on the banks of the Kennebec River in Bath, the Maine Maritime Museum provides an intimate look at Maine’s maritime heritage. Founded in 1962 by an ambitious group determined to preserve and promote the legacy of Bath as the “City of Ships,” the museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibits chronicling its long history with the sea. Stroll through the buildings where shipbuilders once toiled to construct huge wooden ships. Visit the lovely Victorian-era home of one of Bath’s many shipbuilders. Take a boat tour that cruises past the Bath Iron Works, where sophisticated Navy vessels are under construction. Then wander through the indoor exhibits to view a restored American clipper ship and other artifacts that detail the life and times of Maine’s mariners. In the museum’s working Boatshop, witness craftsmen tirelessly teaching traditional boat building techniques. Kids will enjoy climbing aboard the Pirate Ship or taking a turn at the helm of a tugboat. Open 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM daily.
Owls Head Transportation Museum
Tucked away in the tiny fishing village of Owls Head, the exhibits at the Owls Head Transportation Museum feature pre-1940s aircraft, automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, and engines. With a mission to preserve and educate, the museum hosts dozens of seasonal events, including a vintage motorcycle festival and the much-anticipated New England Auto Auction. Featuring more than 150 vintage and classic automobiles, the auction is an opportunity to get “up close and personal” with memorabilia and relics that would make any collector’s heart go pitty pat. Open daily, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Farnsworth Art Museum
Located in the heart of Rockland, the art capital of Maine, the Farnsworth Art Museum features a vast collection of American artists, including the wildly popular Wyeths. With acres of gallery space, the museum hosts more than 15,000 works of art, featuring some of America’s finest artists and dedicated to showcasing Maine-inspired art. First opened in 1948, the museum was created as a memorial to Williams Farnsworth, a significant figure in Rockland’s history. Open Wednesday through Monday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum
Located just north of Wiscasset, the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum is dedicated to protecting, preserving, and maintaining Maine’s steam-powered narrow-gauge railway. Take a trip aboard the historic steam train on one of the many theme-based excursions. Active from the late 1800s until its demise in 1933, the train served as a link between the coast of Maine and its forested interior. Brought back to life by some dedicated locals, the museum now serves as a link to the past by sharing stories, remnants, and memories of a once-vital industry. Check the website for dates and times of train trips.
Lincoln County Historical Association
Founded in 1954 by a local artist, the Lincoln County Historical Association’s 3 museums strive to tell the story of Lincoln County by preserving and maintaining the Pownalborough Court House in Dresden, the Old Jail in Wiscasset, and the Chapman-Hall House in Damariscotta. Within the walls of these 3 historic buildings, you’ll find tools and textiles, photographs, housewares, maps, and more telling the story of the life and times of its many residents. Tour the courthouse and jail for insight into the law and order and crimes and punishments of the time. Check the website for tour times and dates.
After a day spent revisiting the history of mid-coast Maine, come back to the quiet and tranquility of the Newcastle Inn. Relax in an Adirondack chair with a view of the river, or cozy up to the fireplace in our glass-enclosed porch.