20 Best Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor, Maine [in 2020]

Situated on Maine’s MidCoast, Boothbay Harbor is a welcoming, friendly community, and Flagship Inn & Suites is at the center. Whether you’re a local or visitor, this beautiful town has a lot to offer throughout the year. From walking through downtown in the summer to enjoying holiday festivals in the winter, there are plenty of things to do in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor Maine

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The Best Outdoor Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor

The scenery in Boothbay Harbor is one of the town’s biggest attractions making outdoor adventures some of the best things to do in Boothbay Harbor. There are numerous hiking trails and gardens to explore, and several boating companies offer tours of the harbor by water.

Penny Lake Preserve

In downtown Boothbay Harbor, Penny Lake Preserve is a freshwater wetland right next to our hotel in Boothbay Harbor. There’s a bridge that connects the two properties, making it convenient to access. Under the ownership of Boothbay Region Land Trust, the 54-acre preserve has an accessible half-mile trail that crosses a wooden bridge. This trail is ideal for those who use wheelchairs or have small children in strollers. Another half-mile trail is perfect for dog walkers, hikers, and runners.

bridge-to-penny-lake-preserve-nature-boothbay-harbor-flagship-inn

Other Boothbay Region Land Trust Preserves

Penny Lake Preserve isn’t the only parcel of land that has hiking trails and is managed by Boothbay Region Land Trust. This nonprofit land conservation organization works hard to maintain the natural regional beauty and habitats. Across the peninsula, it grants free public access to 26 preserves and more than 35 miles of hiking trails.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Aside from the preserves, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a major attraction on the peninsula, and Flagship Inn has the closest accommodations. Stretching across 295 acres, its many gardens offer a truly scenic experience. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is the biggest botanical garden in New England, and it is home to Gardens Aglow each November and December. You can book one of several tours to see the butterflies, blooming plants, and more. It’s open daily from mid-April through October.

Cap’n Fish’s Boat Trips

Several companies in Boothbay Harbor offer boat tours, but Cap’n Fish’s Boat Trips has some unique opportunities. Along with dolphin and whale watching, it offers tours with lobster hauling and puffin watching. You’ll see a few lighthouses and other landmarks along the coastline as well.

Schooner Lazy Jack Cruises

For more intimate boat tours, consider hopping aboard a windjammer or sailboat. Schooner Lazy Jack Cruises operates two-hour tours and private charters on the oldest sailboat in the harbor. In addition to a variety of marine wildlife and lighthouses, you’ll get panoramic views of the coastal islands and mountains.

Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor Maine

Best Boothbay Harbor Region Museums and Historical Sites

There’s always a bit of time to learn something new on vacation, and Boothbay Harbor has a few really neat locations for couples and families. They’re full of interesting facts and fun exhibits.

Maine State Aquarium

Sitting on the shore of West Boothbay Harbor, Maine State Aquarium has a collection of regional invertebrates and fish in the granite-like cliffs of its main gallery. There are lobsters of all colors and sizes, and Neptune is the jumbo male in the lobster’s den. You can also view sea stars, red sea anemones, squid, shrimp, and bottom dwellers. Some of the most interesting species on display are the skates and sharks. The aquarium also has a 20-foot-long touch tank where you can get up-close and personal with some Maine marine life.

Burnt Island Lighthouse

Built in 1821 and open to the public, Burnt Island Lighthouse is the second-oldest in Maine that still stands. It sits on a 5-acre island and offers an exceptional, historic recreation and education facility. You can step into the 1950s via the living history lighthouse tour and learn about how the lighthouse keeper and his family lived.

Boothbay Railway Village

Particularly fun for kids, Boothbay Railway Village is a historic organization and museum that transports you to the mid-19th century, shortly after Maine became a state. The village is full of old-fashioned buildings and a collection of 60 antique automobiles. It’s the only place where you can ride an authentic, narrow-gauge steam train through a historic replica village. The organization uses the Village Green to host a range of special events, including auto shows, craft fairs, and vintage ballgames.

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Great Entertaining Things to Do in Boothbay Harbor, Maine

When you want to experience some of the local arts and culture, you can’t go wrong with music and shows. While there are several entertainment venues and things to do in Boothbay Harbor, here are the highest-rated options.

Carousel Music Theater

Next door to Flagship Inn & Suites, Carousel Music Theater is accessible by the same bridge as Penny Lake Preserve. This community theater allows you to experience the tradition of eating a meal while you watch a show. Talented singers and actors take to the stage while you enjoy a three-course meal.

hotel near gardens aglow in boothbay harbor maine

Pythian Opera House

Built in 1894, Pythian Opera House is open to the public for more than 100 events and performances each year. Its historic charm makes it a great place to listen to jazz or celebrate the holidays. There are bars on the main floor and second floor, which used to be the Pythian lodge. The opera house hosts private meetings and parties when there are no public performances.

Cabbage Island Clambake

For the ultimate experience and entertainment, visit Cabbage Island for a clambake with the Moore family. From the end of June through Labor Day weekend, the family hosts a traditional Downeast clambake every day. After the meal, you have the opportunity to explore the island, including its wooded hiking trails, the great oak tree and activities like badminton and horseshoes.

Best Boothbay Harbor Restaurants

When you aren’t at the clambake or music theater, you won’t have a hard time finding a restaurant that satisfies your cravings. Most of the eateries are along the harbor and serve fresh seafood, meat and vegetable dishes. There’s even a great spot for dessert. Here are some of the best Boothbay Harbor restaurants:

Kaler’s Restaurant

With a harbor-side atmosphere, Kaler’s Restaurant is a casual place with friendly staff. The menu has everything from fresh seafood and chowder to sandwiches, including the popular Maine lobster roll. If you try the gumball machine while you wait, you could get a free dinner if there’s a lobster on your gumball.

Mine Oyster

For a truly unique dining experience, visit Mine Oyster. You can’t get a closer venue to the water because it’s in an oceanfront, stilted building. The first floor has a raw bar, and the second floor has three dining rooms and a bar. The menu features oysters, of course, and also it has soups, salads, and coastal favorites, including a lobster roll.

The Boathouse Bistro

In downtown Boothbay Harbor, The Boathouse Bistro offers a fun atmosphere and well-balanced menu with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. The tapas bar and restaurant serves cold and hot tapas,, as well as shellfish, sandwiches and grilled items. It has a nice wine list too.

Ports of Italy

If you’re in the mood for Italian cuisine, Ports of Italy has exactly what you want. It specializes in homemade pastas, ravioli, breads, and desserts. All of its ingredients are locally sourced in an effort to support the community.

Sarah’s Scoops

Whether it’s the middle of the day or during an evening stroll, you can satiate your sweet tooth at Sarah’s Scoops. Next to Flagship Inn & Suites, this ice cream stand is owned and operated by a local family. You can find limited flavors of sorbet, sherbet, and frozen yogurt, and the stand has at least 24 flavors of soft-serve ice cream.

Best Events in the Boothbay Harbor Area

You can immerse yourself further into Boothbay Harbor and Maine culture at the town’s events. Throughout the year, the town and surrounding area celebrate the elements that make the MidCoast so attractive. However, here are a few of the most notable.

Windjammer Days

Kicking off the summer between late June and early July, Windjammer Days is an annual event presented by the nonprofit Friends of Windjammers. It’s a great time to reconnect with loved ones, support local businesses and honor the region’s maritime history. The festival features a variety of activities, such as stage concerts, a lighted boat parade, and fireworks over the harbor.

Fall Foliage Festival

If you want to see the leaves change color, the Fall Foliage Festival is a great time to do it. The event is held every Columbus Day weekend on the Village Green of Boothbay Railway Village. Along with viewing the colorful leaves, you can browse handmade crafts and indulge in local treats from dozens of vendors. The organization sets up live entertainment as well.

Gardens Aglow

Held in the central garden of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, the Gardens Aglow event features more than 650,000 lights. The festive display becomes the largest and brightest in New England. The event occurs from mid-November through December. Learn everything that you need to know about Gardens Aglow here.

Gardens Aglow near Flagship Inn
Image courtesy of BoothbayLights.com

Harbor Lights Festival

If you’re in town during Gardens Aglow, don’t miss out on the Harbor Lights Festival. This event ushers Santa and Mrs. Claus into the harbor at the beginning of December. The festival features a host of characters, such as elves, lobsters, and moose. There are many activities too, including horse-drawn carriage rides, a town tree-lighting ceremony, and a lighted boat parade.

The Best Hotel in Boothbay Harbor for Affordability, Comfort, and Convenience

Boothbay Harbor is full of things to do for everyone. There are even plenty of shops and art galleries to explore. Flagship Inn is in the most convenient spot to stay so that you can see and do it all. With more than 80 rooms and suites, our friendly staff makes sure that you’re comfortable.

We offer different specials throughout the year to enhance your stay. Contact us today to start planning your MidCoast Maine getaway!

best hotel in boothbay harbor maine

Our 20+ Page Vacation Guide is packed with the best things to do in Boothbay Harbor and the surrounding area in coastal Maine. Request it FREE today!

Request the Vacation Guide