Located along coastal Route 1, Wiscasset, Maine, is a picture-perfect small town and a great place to stop and enjoy a quintessential mid-coast Maine day. This Maine town is full of historic buildings, offers amazing antiquing, some unique stays, and first-rate lobster rolls.
Just north of Boothbay Harbor and south of Augusta, Wiscasset sits on the Sheepscot River. It is a short ride to the ocean waters and situated deep in one of Maine’s craggy coastline fingers jutting out into the Atlantic.
1. Stroll Through A Picturesque State Park
A picnic or a stroll along the bluff at the Fort Edgecomb State Historic Site is a wonderful spot to enjoy a sunny day. Overlooking the Sheepscot River, the historic blockhouse is perfectly placed for a panoramic view of incoming vessels. The high hill provided soldiers with a great vantage point to watch for unwanted ships sailing into the harbor. The rolling greens down to the edge end with the bluff where wildflowers dance on the banks.
The green is dotted with picnic tables and spots for blankets where guests can lazily watch ships meander up the river. Grab your morning coffee and find a spot to watch the sun sparkle on the water. This state park is a beautiful way to begin your day. It might even inspire you to practice some al fresco yoga or tai chi.
There is a nominal fee to enter and a small parking lot next to the blockhouse.
Adventurous visitors might want to explore other water-oriented features in Maine. You can start your research with our article about The 10 Most Scenic Waterfall Hikes In Maine.
2. Stay In A Historic Mansion
The Nickels-Sortwell House in downtown Wiscasset is a beautiful representation of a federal-style home. Built in 1907, it is a National Historic Landmark and is available to rent through Turnkey. The home sleeps five and is furnished with traditional period décor that works alongside the modern amenities necessary for a great stay. Located on a beautiful tree-lined street downtown, this lovingly restored home gives you a peek into what it was like living in a turn of the century coastal Maine village.
When the home is not rented out, it is open for guided tours. Prior registration is required.
3. Ride The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway
The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway (WW&F) is home to a steam-powered, narrow gauge railroad. It serviced the towns in the Sheepscot Valley from 1894 to 1933. You can take a fun ride on this historic trail or ride the rails for one of its special events. Located just outside of Wiscasset in Alna, a ride on the WW&F is a journey through time as you explore the beautiful valley and the small town countryside.
For visitors who are looking for something more adventurous and physical, the WW&F Railway has you covered. You can test your skills and take the self-powered hand car along the tracks for a scenic workout as you pump the car along the rails. While you glide steadily down the track, creating your own locomotion, imagine a time and place where self-powered hand cars were an actual means of transportation, not just a fun afternoon activity.
4. Tour The Castle Tucker
Sitting perfectly on a hilly outcrop overlooking the Sheepscot River, the Castle Tucker is a living history of Maine’s shipping magnate Richard Tucker and his family. The home’s past is a historic timeline reflecting the economic highs and lows of the succession of owners before the Tucker family took possession. In 1997, Castle Tucker and its contents were bestowed to Historic New England for the preservation of the history of coastal Maine.
Exploring the museum is like taking a walk back to the turn-of-the-century life of the rich and famous. Regularly scheduled guided tours of the home are available for a nominal fee and are typically held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Special events, like the Behind Closed Doors tour of Castle Tucker and Cocktails at the Castle, are regularly scheduled and can be found on the Castle Tucker webpage.
5. Go To Jail, Do Not Pass Go
The Wiscasset Old Jail, dating back to 1811, is a look at the dark and cramped living spaces of Wiscasset’s prisoners. Attached to the jail is the jailer’s house where you can explore the harsh life of the jailor and his family. Stepping into the cell, you can feel the anguish of the guilty prisoners and the agony of the innocently charged.
The jail is a short walk from the town center. There are guided tours during the summer months.
6. Antique And Art Shopping
Lots of cute shops and art galleries line the town center waiting for day-trippers and weekend guests to explore. As you navigate up the hill from the river, you will find quaint shops, historic homes, and famous spots for a classic lobster roll. Maine antique hunters and pickers have galleries filled to the brim with gorgeous wooden furniture, an array of fascinating art, and assorted accent pieces.
Marston House Wiscasset is a cute antique and textile store and additionally serves as a bed & breakfast. Located on Main Street, the lodging is in the carriage house behind a beautiful sunken garden. Marston House features a collection of exquisite French antiques and fine textiles. It is open seasonally from May to October.
At Peter Eaton Antiques you will discover fine antique pieces. Purchase of federal and colonial period antique furniture along with art and rugs will impart a piece of New England history to your home décor. Peter Eaton Antiques is a gallery of gorgeous, well-loved old pieces that have a story to tell. It is recommended you call ahead for an appointment as the shop keeps irregular hours.
The Maine Art Gallery offers viewers a range of exhibits including a Contemporary Realism exhibit created in a variety of mediums. Other exhibits include a Fine Photography exhibit celebrating the state of Maine and contemporary exhibits like Acquired Symbols. The showings are interesting and thought-provoking as they explore the artist’s interpretation of the wonders of Maine.
For antique lovers that have the desire to visit other fabulous shops across New England, our list of The 13 Best Antique Stores In New England will help get you started on your own antiques roadshow.
7. It’s All About The Lobster
Dining on a perfect Maine lobster is one of the many reasons folks visit the coast of Maine. Two great restaurants are waiting to help you get your fill of the classic lobster roll. Both of them can be found downtown. They are located across the street from each other, thereby amping up the dining competition.
Red’s Eats has been dishing up amazing lobster rolls and other seafood goodies for over 80 years. The food delivered from this tiny shack is absolutely amazing. Frequented by well-known foodies, Red’s Eats has been featured by many including The Zimmerman List with Andrew Zimmerman, the king of great eats. As you traverse your way up and down the coast of Maine, stopping at Red’s Eats is a must for every lobster-loving foodie who is on a mission to experience all the best lobster rolls on the planet. Don’t worry, you will probably have to spend time in line — but it is definitely worth the wait!
Another great local spot is Sprague’s Lobster. Situated on the dock with picture-perfect views of the river, you can enjoy an al fresco, picnic table lobster dinner with all the fixings. No need to worry about fancy table linens, Sprague’s is the spot for hands-on lobster consumption. Surrounded by cute little shops to peruse after dinner, Sprague’s has been a fixture in town for over 35 years.
No matter which spot you choose, enjoying a fresh, expertly cooked lobster is one of the best parts of the coastal Maine experience.
8. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth At Mammy’s Bakery
Mammy’s Bakery is the pastry shop to satisfy your sweet tooth. Delectable delights line the cases tempting even the most discerning dessert aficionado. Let your fancy wander among the rows of yummy treats, but seriously consider the cookie or cheesecake of the day offering to experience the freshest seasonal taste sensations. With so many sweets to choose from, you may need to pick a few items and share them with friends. More than just a sweet spot, Mammy’s offers delicious savory items like pizza, salad, and sandwiches.
Pro Tip: Arrive just before lunch and queue up for your lobster dining extravaganza. After lunch, stroll around town and explore the wonderful history and beautiful galleries. Then, when you have walked off lunch, stop at Mammy’s for a luscious dessert — a fitting end to your day in the beautiful town of Wiscasset.
You will find more wonderful coastal Maine stops along the 12 Fantastic Stops On A Road Trip From Boston, Massachusetts to Bangor, Maine.
If you love shopping and L.L. Bean items, be sure to swing by Freeport to its flagship store. You will find lots to do in Freeport, beginning with research on How To Spend A Fantastic Day In Freeport, Maine: Shopping, Eating, and Relaxing.
Maine has its share of unique destinations: