Belfast, Maine is one of Maine’s beautiful coastal cities that welcomes visitors with friendly, open arms. Spending a perfect day wandering through the Main Street shops, exploring the working harbor, and dining on the freshest seafood, including Maine lobster, will leave you happy and satisfied.
In the welcoming way Maine approaches all their visitors, Belfast offers free downtown parking and the city is easily walkable. Enjoying a day exploring this quaint, mid-coast city on Penobscot Bay is the perfect addition to your DownEast Maine getaway.
Things To Do In Belfast
Belfast offers guests a peek into the history of the city as they walk along the old brownstone brick shopfronts down to the harbor busy with fishing and pleasure boats.
Stroll The Downtown Shopping District
Charming, independent stores line the streets of the downtown district. Meander towards the bay as you stop into specialty shops housed in beautifully maintained, historic brownstones.
Eat More Cheese is a fabulous gourmet cheese shop that offers specialty products that will round out your charcuterie board. With delicious cheeses from the United States and across Europe, along with beautiful wines, and cured meats, your picnic will be heavenly. Try the Fig salami; it’s fabulous, and not just for vegetarians.
Left Bank Books is one of those shops you can linger in for hours. Artfully displayed books beg you to leaf through them to discover their hidden secrets. A well-designed cover, an intriguing cuisine, a picture book about Maine, and any other number of books requiring you to hold, explore, and discover their captivating words. Book shops are becoming rarer and rarer, it is important to support these treasures whenever they cross our paths.
Vinolio specializes in infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars and is an aspiring chef’s dream. Their infused olive oils provide flavor bombs that will elevate your favorite dishes. Try the Basil Infused Oil on your next Caprese salad, or the Tuscan Herb Infused Oil on your favorite pasta primavera. Vinolio also offers a collection of flavored salts. Some interesting options include Ghost Pepper Sea Salt, Smoked Bacon Sea Salt, and Balsamic Sea Salt; all adding flavor and texture to your culinary creations.
The sweet, downtown boutique, Coyote Moon, enchants shoppers with a fun and eclectic selection of clothing, accessories, and other spiritual items. At Coyote Moon, shoppers will feel the positive energy as soon as they step through the door. Every inch of the shop exudes an attitude of caring and gratefulness.
Explore The Historic Colonial Theater
From the outside, the Colonial Theater looks like an art deco relic held over from the early 1900s. With its pastel-colored façade and rooftop trumpeting elephant, it looks like an old theater located in a tropical destination, not coastal Maine. However, once you step inside, the regal old dame shines through and ushers patrons into one of three state-of-the-art movie theaters that show first-run movies.
The Colonial is one of the theaters listed on the National Register Of Historic Places and well worth a stop for a peek inside.
Stroll The Belfast Rail Trail
Hiking the easy-rated Belfast Rail Trail is a fun way to explore the beauty of Belfast, Maine. The 2.3-mile point-to-point hike meanders along the Passagassawakeag River. Its surface is hard-packed and easy to navigate. The scenery along the rail trail is lovely, showcasing native plants, homes with sweeping river views, and peaceful waterway vistas. Hiking trails along the harbor and river are typically an easy hike and a wonderful way to explore hidden parts of a city; the Belfast Rail Trail is right on point.
Enjoy The Easy Belfast Harbor Walk
When you reach the end of downtown Belfast, you are literally at the ocean’s edge. The new Belfast Harbor Walk is a half-mile scenic stroll beginning at the Armistice footbridge and running along the harbor ending at Steamboat Landing Park. The walkway passes by shops, pubs, restaurants, and views of the shipyard ending at the park. Along the way, stop and enjoy the casual, seaside vibe and pretty harbor views.
Another fun walk from the harbor is across the Armistice Bridge. The footbridge passageway is a memorial to patriots who died in WWI. You will often find locals and visitors tending fishing poles along the way.
Shop For Vintage Pieces
Near the end of Main Street sits a sweet little garden shop, Brambles. The shop is packed with all sorts of eclectic garden décor that works indoors as well as in the garden. If you are looking for that perfect, vintage-inspired piece, Brambles might just have your favorite Maine souvenir.
Ambiance is a fun and funky vintage shop that specializes in lamps, but carries lots of antiques and unusual pieces. If you love going on a treasure hunt, you will love browsing through Ambiance in downtown Belfast.
Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad
Sit back and relax to the clickety-clack of the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad. Scenic rides through the picturesque Maine countryside begin in nearby Unity. Time your visit to coincide with some of the special event rides, like the Hot Apple Cider & Donuts Train or the Fall Foliage Extended Tour. These special rides are a wonderful way to view the passing scenery and enjoy a seasonal celebration.
Step Across Artful Walkways
The group Our Town Belfast selected local artists to paint crosswalks across the downtown area. The results are interesting public artwork that highlights pedestrian crossings at busy intersections. A fun and colorful play on graffiti, the crosswalks brighten up the drab, and often overlooked pavement and provide an extra safety reminder to distracted drivers and pedestrians.
Work A Lobster Boat
Fishing expeditions and sunset sails are your typical on-the-water activities, but in Belfast, you can hop on a lobster boat and experience the working life of a lobsterman (or lobster woman) with DownEast Boat Company. For close to 2 hours, you will haul traps, measure, and harvest Maine lobsters, flexing your muscles and whetting your appetite.
After you have explored the world of lobsters on the ocean, it’s time to explore the taste of lobsters at Young’s Lobster Pound & Seafood Restaurant. If you can’t make it to Belfast right away, Young’s will overnight a fresh, live Maine lobster for your own at-home, taste of the ocean experience.
Shop Belfast Farmers’ Market
Every Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Belfast Farmers’ Market rolls into town. The market uses two different venues, one for late spring through fall and the other when the weather is less friendly. The market is the best spot to find fresh, local produce, dairy, seafood, meat, and delectable baked goods. It should be on your to-do list if you are in the Belfast area on a Friday morning. Stop by and explore the Belfast food scene, where fresh and local fare are extremely important foodie considerations.
Explore Belfast Historical Society and Museum
The Belfast Historical Society & Museum is the keeper of the artifacts and history of Belfast. The preserved maritime history exhibit detailing Belfast’s short-lived ship-building industry is interesting. It was instrumental in shaping the Belfast of today. For visitors who enjoy exploring the history of the city, the Historical Society can walk you back in time.
Fresh Maine lobster and catches of the day rule the restaurant scene in Belfast. Coastal dining options along with interesting conceptual restaurants dot the downtown area. Belfast is small enough you can scout out all the varied offerings before deciding on your ultimate dining destination.
Perennial Cider Bar and Farm Kitchen
Downtown Belfast is the home of Perennial Cider Bar & Farm Kitchen, an organic restaurant offering locally sourced food transformed into seasonally focused cuisine. With an ever-changing, chef-driven menu dictated by the availability of available fresh products, you will be surprised and delighted at the meal placed before you. The best way to order at Perennial: ask the chef to choose your meal.
Be sure to sample their tap ciders. You will love exploring all the local Maine cider options.
Young’s Lobster Pound & Seafood Restaurant
Jutting out into Penobscot Bay is Young’s Lobster Pound & Seafood Restaurant. Outside picnic tables, glorious waterfront views, and a classic seafood menu await your arrival. You can select your own lobster from the enormous lobster pound and have it cooked to perfection. The menu is filled with assorted lobster-focused dishes listed beside other wonderful gifts from the sea. When you can’t decide what to eat, choose the classic Bucket List for Two, which includes all the goodies: two lobsters, clams, shrimp, mussels, oysters, corn on the cob, and fixings.
Young’s is a “bring your own beverage” establishment, so pack up your favorite libation and head over for a bayside picnic, seafood dining experience.
Pro Tip: There is so much to see along the coast of Maine. If you have some extra time, consider taking a road trip and visiting other quaint towns along the way. Our article on 12 Fantastic Stops On A Road Trip From Boston, Massachusetts to Bangor, Maine will give you a few great ideas. Also, consider a stop in neighboring Bangor for a weekend getaway. Check out How To Spend A Perfect Weekend In Bangor, Maine for some helpful tips about this lovely city.
If you are visiting nearby towns including Camden, Bar Harbor, Bangor, Portland, and other Maine coastal cities, be sure to take a drive down Route 1 and spend a perfect day in the quaint city of Belfast.