Gardiner is a vibrant riverside community that enjoys a rich heritage and is now a thriving arts hub in central Maine. Water Street is a glittering wonder of elaborate brick and stone businesses, with excellent shopping and enticing restaurants.
Things to Do in Gardiner
Today, Gardiner's grand brick downtown – manifested on Water Street – is a national historic district. Gardiner is also a Designated Main Street community, acknowledging its work in revitalizing its downtown. Stroll down the brick-lined streets and enjoy a bevy of new shops, restaurants, pubs and stores. Drop into the elaborate Gardiner Public Library – at the end of Water Street – and enjoy the stained-glass windows and soaring ceilings. Or climb up from the river basin to Gardiner Common and see the stern Christ Church, built in 1820 and the first ‘Gothic’ style church built in New England. For more immersive historical tours, check out Gardiner’s Historic Walking Trail by following the blue sturgeon fish painted on the sidewalks or the route that highlights the life of Edwin Arlington Robinson, a Gardiner native and Pulitzer-prize winning poet.
If you’re in the mood for more walking, stroll the Kennebec River Rail Trail, a 6.5-mile route that follows the rail line and links Gardiner with Augusta. The trail is very popular with walkers, runners and cyclists. It crosses through the towns of Hallowell and Farmingdale and steers close to the Kennebec.
To enjoy the arts in Gardiner, step inside Johnson Hall, the state’s oldest opera house (opened in 1864). Sit along the Kennebec River for a free concert every Friday in the summer at the Gardiner Waterfront Park. For visual arts, visit the Artdogs Studios or the Alan Claude Gallery or pop into Monkitree, for handmade crafts and unique gifts, all on Water Street.
Gardiner offers plenty of ways to have fun. Each October, stop by downtown for the annual Swine and Stein Oktoberfest. There’s food, there’s beer (natch) and there’s music to celebrate autumn. Speaking of high spirits, Gardiner hosts Bateau Brewing on Water Street, featuring locally brewed beer, and Sebago Lake Distillery, makers of bespoke rum (call for information about tours).
Outside of the downtown in West Gardiner, you can see the newest work by Maine artisans at the Center for Maine Craft. It includes works by hundreds of crafters including baskets, ceramics, fiber, furniture, glass and jewelry.
Where to Stay in Gardiner
Some accommodations to consider include Second Street Bed & Breakfast and Maple Hill Farm Inn, in Hallowell; Foggy Bottom Campground and Marina along the Kennebec River in Farmingdale; and these suggestions. Also, scroll down through the list of regional businesses below.
Restaurants in Gardiner
Hungry? Start you day off right at Bintliff’s Corner Brew for coffee and all-day brunch. Check out the A1 Diner, Lisa's Legit Burritos, The Blind Pig Tavern and these suggestions. Also, scroll down through the list of regional businesses below.