Photo Credit : Courtesy Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce
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Widely considered the unofficial capital of northern Maine, Bangor was born as a lumber city but more recently has transformed into a tourist hub. Its airport makes it an easy jumping-off point for vacationers headed to Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park, and Baxter State Park, but there’s plenty for visitors to enjoy within city limits, too. The regional restaurant scene has been growing in recent years, while Bangor’s renewed waterfront plays host to live performances throughout the summer, including the popular American Folk Festival in August.
Ready for a visit? Then read on for our guide to Bangor, Maine.
America’s second-oldest garden cemetery is the final resting place for luminaries including U.S. Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, painter Waldo Pierce, and gangster Al Brady. It also was a filming location for the 1989 horror film Pet Sematary, based on the novel by Bangor resident Stephen King. Download a map for a self-guided visit, or join one of the Bangor Historical Society’s guided tours.
Penobscot River Walkway
This short stroll (just half a mile) traverses Bangor’s scenic Waterfront Park between Union Street and the intersection of Railroad and Front streets. River views are the main attraction, but the park also hosts events throughout the year.
Opened in 1997, this interactive learning center appeals to kids of all ages. The three floors are filled with interactive exhibits that invite visitors to explore the worlds of nature, geography, literature, music, art, and science.
While the good folks in Akeley, Minnesota, will no doubt disagree, Bangor proudly calls itself the birthplace of Paul Bunyan, the lumber industry’s most legendary figure. His purported birth certificate (DOB: February 12, 1834) is on display in the city clerk’s office, while his statue stands outside the Bangor Civic Center in Bass Park. At 31 feet tall and weighing 3,700 pounds, it’s the largest Bunyan statue in the world. Your move, Akeley.
Make it part of your vacation, or make it your vacation. This all-inclusive resort features deluxe lodging, three restaurants, and plenty of diversions, from live shows to horse races to casino action.
Raised in Japan by a Malaysian mother and an American father, chef Mel Chaiken brings innovative Asian treatments to otherwise recognizably New England food. Much of the produce comes from the restaurant’s own farm; meats, seafood, and cheeses come largely from Maine producers. Named a 2018 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Farm to Table.”
Among the lunch and dinner offerings on the menu at this sleek restaurant and bar are wood-fired pizzas, hearty salads, and hefty burgers. The delicious Sunday brunch options force some tough choices: Will it be the cinnamon brioche French toast or the sweet potato hash with chorizo?
New American cuisine is the star at Evenrood’s, where the pulled pork earns rave reviews, as does the seafood chowder and vegetable primavera. For the carnivore crowd, Evenrood’s has a top-notch selection of steaks and burgers.
This popular eatery celebrates its Bangor roots by covering its walls with work from area artists. Once you’re done perusing the artwork, dig into a menu that includes an assortment of fresh seafood, soups, and pizzas, and generous entrées such as chicken cordon bleu.
Located in nearby Brewer, Masons is the brainchild of Chris Morley, a former Bangor cop who caught the beer bug, traveled around the West Coast and Europe exploring taprooms, then opened his own brewpub. Couple the homegrown beer with the dirty fries, sushi sliders, a burger, or one of the creative pizza choices.
With Bangor being Stephen King territory, it’s only appropriate that the most sought-after room here is the King’s Suite, which is filled with books, movie posters, and other nods to the writer’s long career. Situated in downtown Bangor, the Charles Inn is within easy distance of most of the city’s highlights.
Ideal for visitors on an extended stay, all of the rooms at this small, locally-owned hotel come outfitted with a kitchenette that includes a stovetop, microwave, refrigerator, and sink.
Share your top picks for Bangor, Maine, in the comments below!
This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated.