Maine's downtowns reward shoppers with more than prized finds. Three —Portland, Bath, and Rockland — have Distinctive Destination status from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, recognized for their authentic visitor experience. In these and others, beautiful National Historical Register buildings house independent and unusual stores and galleries, allowing you to immerse in and out of history while you shop.
Shopping may be the attraction, but you'll find plenty more to see and do in Maine's downtowns. Pick up a walking map at the Chamber of Commerce detailing not only shops, but also lovely parks for picnicking and museums to explore. You might:
- Absorb working harbor flavor along Rockland's vibrant Main Street, which is lined with galleries, specialty stores, thrift boutiques, and restaurants; don't miss the Puffin Project or Farnsworth Museum.
- Blend shopping with history and architecture: Skowhegan's Downtown Historic district has 38 late-19th-/early-20th-century buildings; Gardiner's Greater Historic District, comprises more than 45 downtown buildings; Museum in the Streets placards tell the histories of Belfast and Hallowell through buildings and landmarks.
- Prowl through Biddeford's North Dam, Brunswick's Fort Andross, and Waterville's Hathaway Center, renovated downtown mills now housing shops, flea markets, studio/galleries, and restaurants.
- Pad from gallery to gallery in Ogunquit, Stonington, and Eastport, or antiques shop to antiques shop in Wiscasset or Cornish.
- Soak up the literary flavor in Camden; perhaps purchase a copy of hometown poet Edna St. Vincent Millay's works to read in Camden Harbor Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.
Festivals, early-bird sales, street entertainers, and Paint the Town events add other incentives to spend a few hours or a day in one of Maine's downtowns. Historic theaters in Biddeford, Belfast, Bucksport, Ellsworth, Farmington, Rockland, and Skowhegan might keep you entertained into the night.