With over 200 years of history, the city of Gardiner in the Kennebec Valley offers visitors many historic landmarks, scenic views and recreational opportunities along the picturesque Kennebec River.
During the mid 1800s, because of its location along the river, Gardiner became recognized worldwide for exporting the ice and was known as a flourishing mill city with as many as 10 large riverfront wharves for shipping.
Today, Gardiner is home to more buildings on the historic register than any other city in the area including the Christ Episcopal Church, Gardiner Railroad Station, Laura Richards House and the entire downtown historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places listings for Kennebec County.
The area boasts amazing architecture, highlighted by Oakland’s mansion, built in 1836 as the home of descendants of Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, who founded the city. The city is also known for the architecture designs of the Johnson Hall Opera House and Gardiner Public Library. The Library is highlighted by a vaulted ceiling and restored stained glass window.
The city’s downtown area along Water Street has also become more vibrant with more local shops and restaurants including the A1 Diner. The A1 Diner has received national press in the Food Network to USAirway’s in-flight magazine for best eating spots in Maine.
Great food, local entertainment and the city's culture are all part of the annual Greater Gardiner River Festival and farmers’ market during the summer months. The arrival of fall brings thousands of colors to the landscapes along the Kennebec River showcasing some of Maine’s best foliage.
Recreational activities also make Gardiner a great place to visit. The Kennebec Rail Trail starts in Gardiner and extends north through Farmingdale, Hallowell, ending in Augusta, Maine’s capital city. The stretch of over 6.5 miles is ideal for biking, jogging or walking. In addition to the rail trail, the downtown area also features a boat landing for easy access for boats, kayaks and canoes to the Kennebec River.