Houlton, Maine, the unofficial capital of southern Aroostook County, was once a boomtown.
At the turn of the 20th century, Houlton was jumping with agriculture, forestry and railroads, bringing in cash and immigrants. Come for a visit and you can still recall those heady days. Tour city streets and enjoy the grand Victorian houses built during the boom years or visit downtown’s Market Square, a National Historic District, which is full of imposing brick commercial buildings. For a little fun, check out The Temple on Market Square. Built in 1919, it’s one of Maine’s oldest historic cinemas and is still showing movies. The theater retains many of its original architectural features.
Agriculture remains a major player here as does transportation, since the town hosts an important gateway to New Brunswick, mere minutes away across the border.
Things to Do in Houlton
There are plenty of things to do in Houlton. For example, you can visit Pluto. You read that right. The people of The County built the world’s largest scale model of the Solar System, posting models of the planets on a 40-mile route from Houlton to the city of Presque Isle. Teeny Pluto is in Houlton; the model of the sun is inside a building at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Visit these planets by driving Route 1.
Whether you’re a hiker, mountain biker, snowmobiler or ATV rider, you can enjoy a different sort of exploration on the Southern Bangor and Aroostook Trail. This 37-mile, multi-use trail follows an old rail bed, so it’s relatively flat. It makes for a great trip as it winds through small towns in southern Aroostook.
In May, join a hoard of other beer lovers in welcoming spring – and a bunch of new brews – at the annual Black Fly Brewfest. Over the 4th of July weekend each year, you can enjoy the Houlton Agricultural Fair, featuring concerts, amusement park rides and agricultural attractions.
Want some fun on the water? Stop by in the spring for the annual Meduxnekeag River Canoe Race. It’s run each spring for more than 35 years and draws paddlers to a 9.5 miles stretch of the river, ending at a park downtown.
Restaurants in Houlton
Looking for some Houlton restaurants? Consider The Courtyard Cafe, the pub in the Shiretown Motor Inn, and Sadie’s Bakery downtown. Scroll down the list of regional businesses below and check out these additional spots.