Brunswick, Maine, a designated Main Street Community, is a quintessential college town in Midcoast Maine with a convenient Amtrak Station located steps from downtown. Bowdoin College, founded in 1794, sits in the heart of the town on a beautiful campus. Brunswick has a rich history. Joshua Chamberlain was a professor at Bowdoin during the Civil War who joined the Union army; his heroism at the Battle of Gettysburg made him a legend. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and member of the Underground Railroad, lived and worked in town. Her house is now a designated National Historic Landmark. Time it right, and enjoy the special Tea with Harriet event there each month.
The neighboring town of Topsham, situated along the Androscoggin River, once had thriving mill and agricultural industries. For more than 160 years, the popular Topsham Fair has celebrated that history with crafts, activities, harness racing and more.
Things to Do in Brunswick and Topsham
Brunswick is home to the Maine State Music Theater, with Broadway-quality performances. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art is one of nine art museums of the Maine Art Museum Trail with more than 20,000 objects in its permanent collection. It’s free to the public. Dive into history with a self-guided tour of historic properties in Topsham including an underground tunnel used to help slaves reach their freedom. The Skolfield-Whitter House is a museum in a sea captain’s home, offering an excellent glimpse into the town’s past. For year-round exhibits, workshops and a perfect start for planning visits to fiber artist’s studios, stop in at Maine Fiberarts.
Shopping is fun in Brunswick – the Tontine Mall has the Evening Star Cinema. Maine Street has bakeries, shops, boutiques, antique shops and restaurants. Check out Gulf of Maine Books for a terrific selection of bestsellers and Maine titles. In Topsham, Renys is a favorite among both locals and visitors. Freeport and its many outlets is only ten minutes south of Brunswick and Portland is only a half-hour’s drive.
There are numerous events, lectures and musical performances in Brunswick, many hosted by Bowdoin. Be sure to check the college’s event calendar when in town. Brunswick Town Mall – a grassy park between Maine Street and Park Row – has a free summer concert series, and May-November there is a twice-weekly Farmers’ Market. In the winter months the Brunswick Winter Market is in the restored Fort Andross Mill Complex.
Where to Stay in Brunswick and Topsham
From casual lodging in Brunswick, there’s the Travelers Inn, cozy bed & breakfasts, and boutique hotels such as The Daniel Hotel and the Brunswick Inn. The Brunswick Hotel and Tavern has one of the most popular restaurants in Brunswick as well as a convenient location near the college. In Topsham, The Black Lantern B&B has views of the Androscoggin River and is right across from downtown Brunswick.
Restaurants in Brunswick and Topsham
Brunswick is one of the best towns in Maine to eat. Cuisines from around the world are found in the many restaurants on Maine Street. There’s also classic Maine seafood and farm-to-table fine dining. The Brunswick Diner on Pleasant Street has long been the go-to place for a quick bite to eat and to catch up on the local news. For dinner and a movie, the Frontier Café in the Fort Andross Mill is the place for a delicious meal and a show. Bolos Kitchen Cantina and Candlepins offer great south-of-the-border options and candlepin bowling. No trip to Brunswick is complete without a sweet treat from Gelato Fiasco’s flagship location on Maine Street.