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Karen Beaudoin

Karen Beaudoin is a life-long Mainer, which means she’s a fan of the Red Sox (World Champs again! Take that Yankee fans), whoopee pies, Ogunquit Beach, the L.L. Bean boot mobile and vacations in tropical locations in February and March. Ninety-eight percent of her work week is spent as web editor for PressHerald.com; during the remaining “fun” percent she contributes to mainetoday.com.

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Posted: May 21, 2014

Central Maine: Things to do, museums, camping, disc golf, breweries and pick-your-own fruits

Written by: Karen Beaudoin

The central Maine area is one of Maine’s most picturesque, with mirror-flat lakes, swaths of woodlands and tumultuous rivers.

Most visitors to this region aim for the lakes: the Belgrade Lakes, China Lakes, and Winthrop Lakes. For people who want more action, the Kennebec and the Dead Rivers provide some of the best whitewater rafting in New England, and The Forks are the most popular jumping off point.

Augusta is the state’s capital and though it’s not a teeming metropolis it has some fine attractions in the Maine State Museum, the State House and the governor’s mansion, the Blaine House.

Waterville, almost as large as Augusta, is a mix of a classic central Maine mill town and a northern college town, with students piling out of Colby College buildings. The college’s Georgian buildings are worth a look, as are the art museum and arboreteum.

Portland Press Herald file photo of the Kennebec River Rail Trail.

Portland Press Herald file photo of the Kennebec River Rail Trail.

Biking and hiking

Kennebec River Rail Trail, Augusta to Gardiner
Trail runs 6.5 miles parallel to the rail bed along the Kennebec River and is used for walking, running, cycling, rollerblading and dog walking.

Kennebec/Messalonskee Trails, Waterville area
Several mutli-use trails of varying lengths and loops including Pine Ridge Recreational Area, Quarry Road Recreation Area, Thomas College Trail and Messalonskee Stream Trail. Maintained by volunteer organization.

Bond Brook Recreation Area Multi-Use Trails, Augusta
Series of cross-country ski and mountain biking trails still under construction with access at Hope Cemetery, Augusta Public Works, Mt. Vernon Avenue and Bond Brook Road.

Kennebec Valley Trail, Embden Eight miles of great views along the Kennebec River through Solon to Bingham. Route includes the historic “Arnold Trail.”

Old Narrow Gauge Volunteer Nature Trail, Randolph
Trail runs for 1.25 miles between Water Street in Randolph (beginning by the IGA) and into the forest near the end of Andres Way.

Woodbury Nature Sanctuary, Monmouth/Litchfield
No bikes allowed but you can hike, cross-country ski, snowshoe and bird watch.

Kennebec Land Trust, Winthrop
Maintains 43 trails and properties from Litchfield to Mt. Vernon, open to the public for multi use.

Portland Press Herald file photo

Portland Press Herald file photo

Disc Golf!

Beaver Brook Disc Golf Course, 1 Wilson Pond Road, North Monmouth
Excellent beginner’s course open May to October.

CR Farm Disc Golf, 702 Lewiston Road, West Gardiner
One of Maine’s largest facilities with pro-level (7,061 feet), intermediate (5,052) and recreational (4,400) courses.

LaVallee Links Disc Golf, 85 Barber Road, Randolph
Quarry Run, 225 Hospital St., Augusta
Eighteen holes for $5 a day with discount cards available.

Porcupine Ridge Disc Golf, Augusta
Dual tees for two distinct 18-hole courses. Wooded holes, a brook through five of the holes and plenty of variety.

Burnsboro Disc Golf Course, Burns Road, Vassalboro
Located on 20 acres where monthly tournaments are held.

D ‘n’ D Disc Golf, 100 Philbrick Road, Sidney
Challenging course charging $5 a day.

Skyriders Disc Golf, 200 Ohio Hill Road, Fairfield
Championship-level course charging $5 per person.

Quaker Hill Disc Golf, 146 Middle Road, Fairfield
Eighteen-hole, 4,480-foot, par-60 course open year-round, sunrise to sunset.

A1 Diner. Portland Press Herald file photo.

A1 Diner. Portland Press Herald file photo.

Food

Central Maine offers a variety of eateries that are well-known and well-loved, from long-time favorite pizza spots, to award-winning seafood places and quick stops for hot dogs.

One of the best if you’re looking for seafood is The Red Barn (455 Riverside Dr., Augusta), where Laura’s chowder annually wins honors as the best around. The eat-inside, eat-outside or take-out spot has a 12-inch lobster roll on the menu that overflows with meat.

For great pizza stop in at Pat’s Pizza (292 State St., Augusta). Part of the locally owned chain, Pat’s is known for its fresh dough, special sauce and variety of sandwiches. Or if you’re looking for more upscale fare try Cloud 9 at the Seantor Inn (284 Western Ave., Augusta). It’s said to have the best brunch around (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays) and the Oyster Bar Lounge offers a daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.

Those in the mood for a quick bite can stop at Bolley’s Famous Franks (38 Water St., Hallowell and 96 College Ave., Waterville) where it’s all about hot dogs, fries and whoopie pies. More great desserts can be found at Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream (170 Silver St., Waterville). Try flavors like Moose Tracks, Camp Coffee or Chocolate Rainforest Crunch.

Hallowell is packed with places to eat, drink and listen to live local music. Start at Slates (161 Water St., Hallowell), where the breakfast menu is bolstered by the restaurant’s connected bakery. There’s also a deli for sandwiches, cheeses and salads and the restaurant offers gourmet dinners. Try Hattie’s Chowder House (103 Water St., Hallowell) for great seafood, a full bar and live entertainment. Lucky Garden (218 Water St., Hallowell) offers Friday night Chinese buffets that always bring crowds and Cafe de Bangkok (232 Water St., Hallowell) is a great place for sushi.

Just south of Hallowell find the A1 Diner (3 Bridge St., Gardiner), offering comfort food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch at reasonable prices. In Readfield, the Weathervane Restaurant (Route 17) features outdoor seating in the summer months that overlooks the pond. After dinner, head downstairs to the bar for live music and karaoke. You’ll find plenty of variety at Peppers Garden & Grill (101 Main St., Winthrop), where pasta, salads and burgers have spots on the menu along with Mexican fare like burritos and fajitas.

Breweries

The Liberal Cup, 115 Water St., Hallowell
Find live loval music in the brew pub where craft beers like Bug Lager, Alewife Ale and Smelt Camp Strong Ale are created. Sister brewery to Run of the Mill in Saco.

Oak Pond Brewing, Oak Pond Road, Skowhegan
Producer of ales and lagers for local and regional distribution. Products include Nut Brown Ale, White Fox Ale, Somerset Lager and some seasonal brews.

Portland Press Herald file photo.

Portland Press Herald file photo.

Seasonal pickings

Lakeside Orchards, 318 Readfield Road, Manchester
Thirty varieties of apples and three varieties of pears. Purchase apples from the retail store.

Mt. Nebo Orchard, 339 Wings Mill Road, Mt. Vernon
Open September and October, PYO.

Lemieux’s Orchard, 210 Priest Hill Road, Vassalboro
PYO and pre-picked McIntosh, Cortlands, Northern Spies and many other varieties.

The Apple Farm, 104 Back Road, Fairfield
PYO and farm-fresh pressed cider. Open August to December.

Sandy River Apple Orchard, 240 West Sandy River Road, Mercer
Pick your own apples or buy ready-picked. Forty varieties offered.

Cayford Orchards, 99 Hilton Hill Road, Skowhegan
Fifty-seven varieties of fruit including berries, peaches, plums, pears and heirloom apples. Open September to mid-December.

North Star Orchards, 97 Orchard Road, Madison
PYO, visit the cider mill and purchase specialty foods in the gift shop.

Avalon Acres Orchard, 234 Dexter Road, St. Albans
Pick your own Cortlands, Northern Spies, Red Delicious and more.

Museums and historic sites

Old Fort Western, Augusta
National Historic Landmark was built in 1754 and is New England’s oldest surviving wooden fort. Open seasonally. Adult admission $6.

Colburn House State Historic Site, Pittston
Benedict Arnold and Aaron Burr slept in this colonial Federal-style house that was built in 1765. Open weekends in July and August.

Fort Halifax State Historic Site, Winslow
All that remains here is the oldest blockhouse in the country, part of what was once Fort Halifax. Built in 1754, it was dismantled by eight-foot-high flood waters in 1987.

State House, State St., Augusta
Find Maine battle flags, portraits of former Maine governors, the Maine Law Library, Legislative Chambers and Office of the Governor.

Blaine House, Augusta
The home of Maine’s governors is also a public building with gardens, The State Reception Room, The State Dining Room and other rooms with impressive decor.

Children’s Discovery Museum of Maine, 171 Capitol St., Augusta
Find an array of exhibits and activities that promote developmental skills in children. Changing exhibits and events. $5.50 per child; $4.50 per adult.

Colby College Museum of Art, Colby College campus, Waterville
Founded in 1959, find 18th-, 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century American art here. Free admission to museum, gallery talks, lectures and receptions.

Lindbergh Crate Museum, 241 Easy St., Canaan
Collection of Lindbergh memorabilia displayed inside the packing crate in which Lindbergh’s plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, was shipped back to America in 1927.

Maine Military Historical Society Museum, 194 Winthrop St., Augusta
Only Maine museum dedicated to the state’s military history. Open the first Sunday of the month 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free admission.

Maine State Museum, 230 State St., Augusta
Permanent collections about Maine’s history and natural sciences, with a variety of changing exhibits. Adult admission $2.

Margaret Chase Smith Library, 56 Norridgewock Ave., Skowhegan
Museum section offers a clothing exhibit and house tour. Library includes biographical information about Smith.

Nowetah’s American Indian Store and Museum, 2 Colegrove Road, New Portland
Private family museum has operated since 1969 with more than 2,400 square feet of Indian culture.

Redington Museum, 62 Silver St., Waterville
Offers a comprehensive view of life in Waterville over the past two centuries. The 1814 home’s period rooms include a parlor, kitchen, library and an adjoining apothecary.

 

Music/theater

Augusta Symphony Orchestra, Augusta
Made up of amateur and semi-professional musicians, the group performs concerts throughout the region.

Kennebec Performing Arts Company, Augusta
Company began as Augusta Symphony Orchestra before expanding to include jazz, chorus and a wind ensemble and other muscial genres.

Jewett Auditorium, Route 27, Augusta
Part of the University of Maine at Augusta, the venue offers public concerts as well as school programs.

Waterville Opera House, 93 Main St., Waterville
This 810-seat, municipally owned venue hosts theater, concerts, dance, comedy and other performing arts.

Gaslight Theater, 1 Winthrop St., Hallowell
The oldest continuously operating community theater in Maine, the Gaslight Theater was originally founded in 1937 as Augusta Players. Regularly performs four shows a year.

Movies, etc.

1-7-10 Bowling & Entertainment Center, 2246 N. Belfast Ave., Augusta
Twenty lanes for candlepin bowling, with an arcade, Splitters Sports Bar & Grille and Saturday night Rock & Bowl.

Central Maine Family Fun Center, 414 Madison Ave., Skowhegan
Sixteen lanes for bowling plus a game room, billards room, food court.

Sparetime Recreation, 215 Whitten Road, Hallowell
Free bowling for kids in the summer, plus glow bowling and Lane Side Grille.

Sparetime Recreation, 155 West River Road, Waterville
Free bowling for kids in the summer, plus glow bowling and Lane Side Grille.

Pittsfield Community Theatre, 69 Main St., Pittsfield
Small local theater showing Hollywood films and offering venue rentals.

Railroad Square Cinema, 17 Railroad Square, Waterville
Three-screen independent theater showing film festival and art films. Host theater for the annual Maine International Film Festival.

Skowhegan Drive-In, 201 Waterville Road, Skowhegan
Seasonal drive-in theater playing first-run double features.

Portland Press Herald file photo

Portland Press Herald file photo

Camping

Abnaki Family Camping Center, 89 Abnaki Road, Madison
Yonder Hill Campground, 221 Lakewood Road, Madison
Two Rivers Campground, 327 Canaan Road, Skowhegan
The Evergreens Campground & Restaurant, Solon
KOA, Augusta/Gardiner, 30 Mallard Drive, Richmond
KOA, Skowhegan/Canaan, Route 2, Canaan
Beaver Brook Camping Area, 1 Wilson Pond Road, North Monmouth
Augusta-West Lakeside Resort Kampground, 183 Holmes Brooke Lane, Winthrop
Great Pond Camping, Route 27, Belgrade
Pleasant Point Campground, McGraw Pond Road, Oakland
Maine Roads Camping, Mercer Road, Norridgewock
Sandy Beach Campground, Route 201, Madison
Happy Horseshoe Campground, 1100 Long Falls Dam Road, North New Portland
Green Valley Campground, 1248 Cross Hill Road, Vassalboro
Castle Island Camps, 441 Castle Island Road, Belgrade
The Birches Campground, 201 Norris Point Road, Litchfield
Green Valley Campground, 1248 Cross Hill Road, Vassalboro

 

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