The book on an old college town

Art, theater, museums, and the ocean, too

The town green in Brunswick dates to the 18th century. It hosts a farmers’ market on Fridays. The town green in Brunswick dates to the 18th century. It hosts a farmers’ market on Fridays. (Hilary Nangle for The Boston Globe (Above, Below Right); Tom Nangle for Boston Globe (Below Left))
By Hilary Nangle
Globe Correspondent / August 4, 2010

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Much more than a college town, Brunswick, which was first settled in 1628 and became a township in 1717, and its neighbors mesh culture with outdoor activities and fun shops with good restaurants.

Smack downtown and facing the town green is Brunswick Inn on Park Row (800-299-4914,, $145-$195), a handsome Greek Revival mansion and adjacent carriage house. Two other inns are within walking distance of downtown: the recently renovated, full-service Captain Daniel Stone Inn (10 Water St., 877-373-2374,, $149-$269) tucked between Route 1 and the Androscoggin River, and the Black Lantern B&B (57 Elm St., 888-306-4165,, $95-$110), across the bridge in a quiet, riverfront Topsham location. For a peaceful, waterfront escape, check into Middle Bay Farm Bed and Breakfast (287 Pennellville Road, 207-373-1375,, $170-$190), located on the grounds of the former Pennell Brothers Shipyard. For that breezy island feeling, check into the Bailey Island Motel (Route 24, Bailey Island, 207-833-2886,, $135), a congenial, clean, no-frills waterfront spot with great views. Children under age 10 are free, 10 and older are $15.

Local art adorns the walls, and white cloths cover the tables, at Clementine (44 Maine St., 207-721-9800, $18-$29), serving seasonally inspired fare prepared with a dash of creativity. El Camino (15 Cushing St., Brunswick, 207-725-8228, $10-$15) uses fresh, local, and often organic ingredients to create innovative Cal-Mex fare. Shere Punjab (46 Maine St., 207-373-0422, $10-$22) is one of the state’s better Indian restaurants. New on the scene is Trattoria Athena (25 Mill St., 207-721-0700, $14-$21), blending Italian and Greek fare prepared from locally sourced ingredients. Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe Frontier Cafe (Fort Andross, 207-725-5222, $8-$15), a combination cinema, gallery, and cafe serving lighter fare. Order a BLT and a frappe from a carhop at Fat Boy Drive-In (111 Bath Road, 207-729-9431, $2-$12), a landmark since 1955. Mosey down Route 123 to find two local favorites serving lobster and chowders with a view: The Dolphin Chowder House (515 Basin Point Road, Harpswell, 207-833-6000, $7-$25) and the no-frills Allen’s Seafood & Takeout (119 Lookout Point Road, Harpswell, 207-833-2828, $6-$15). Save room for a scrumptious treat from Gelato Fiasco (74 Maine St., 207-607-4002).

Maine Street is lined with independent antiques and specialty shops that make browsing and buying a pleasure. On the campus of Bowdoin College (founded in 1794), the Museum of Art (207-725-3275,, free) houses an impressive permanent collection of 19th- and 20th-century American art and Greek and Roman artifacts, and the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum (207-725-3416,, free) celebrates the Arctic explorations of graduates Robert E. Peary and Donald B. MacMillan. The nearby Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum (226 Maine St., 207-729-6606, $5 adults, $2.50 children) honors the life of Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain. Get the local lowdown at the Pejepscot Museum (159 Park Row, free), where you can purchase the Brunswick Women’s History Trail ($2), a walking tour.

Take a spin through the Harpswells, a peninsula-archipelago complex dotted with fishing villages and linked by causeways, bridges, and a unique granite cribstone bridge. Time it to catch the Bailey Island Noontime Cruise (Cook’s Landing, Bailey Island, 207-774-7871,, $15.50 adult, $13 senior, $7.25 child), a 1 3/4-hour loop through nearby islands. For a more personal excursion, book a lighthouse cruise with Captain Les McNelly, owner of Sea Escape Charters (Bailey Island, 207-833-5531,, $85 per person for two-hour cruise for two). Or kayak in ocean waters on a half-day tour with H2O Outfitters (Orr’s Island, 800-205-2925,, $50-$100 per person).

Five Rivers Arts Alliance (108 Main St., 207-798-6964,, maintains a calendar of area concerts, gallery openings, art shows, lectures, exhibits, and other arts-related events and also sponsors a few key events. Catch a show at the Maine State Music Theatre (Pickard Theater, Bowdoin College, 207-725-8769,, a summer tradition since 1959. The Bowdoin International Music Festival (207-725-3895, showcases an international array of classical talent through early August. Second Friday Art Walks (207-725-4366) take place downtown, from 5-8 p.m. on the second Friday of the month through November. Music on the Mall presents family band concerts at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on the green. The cozy Eveningstar Cinema (149 Maine St., Tontine Mall, 888-304-5486, screens independent films. And be sure to check what’s on the schedule at Frontier Café.

Hilary Nangle can be reached at