College & University Towns
Strollable streets lined with boutiques. Bustling coffee shops and energetic sidewalk patios. And a vibrant arts scene with independent galleries, theater productions and film screenings. These are the hallmarks of Maine’s college towns, where a delightful energy and hometown charm create a sense of community and connection for residents and visitors alike.
Start your visit with Brunswick. This picturesque town is a nationally designated Main Street Community featuring a thriving downtown filled with shops, diverse restaurants and galleries, and a village green hosting a seasonal farmers’ market. Everything is within walking distance of the beautiful Bowdoin College campus, including the campus highlight, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The museum, open to the public with free admission, is one of nine art museums on the Maine Art Museum Trail, and features 25,000 objects created over 5,000 years by artists from around the world. Also on Bowdoin’s campus is the Pickard Theater, home to the Maine State Music Theater, bringing professional theater to MidCoast Maine. Amtrak’s Downeaster train station is steps from downtown and the Bowdoin campus.
Waterville, home to Colby College and Thomas College is a lively town that boasts several restaurants, retail shops and the new Lockwood Hotel, thanks to the downtown revitalization efforts of Colby College and their investment in the city’s downtown. Also, part of the Maine Art Museum Trail, the Colby College Museum of Art houses an outstanding collection that emphasizes American art and contemporary art. The Maine Film Center and Railroad Square Cinema is the state’s only Sundance Art House Project cinema. The acclaimed mid-summer Maine International Film Festival is a big draw to the city.
Orono, home to the University of Maine’s largest campus, is a small town with big entertainment options. Sports lovers are in their glory rooting for the U Maine Black Bears, regardless of season or sport, and the school colors of black and blue wave proudly throughout town. The large, spacious campus is perfect for a stroll and a visit to the Hudson Museum, the Versant Power Astronomy Center or take in a performance at the Collins Center for the Arts. Off campus, see native plants and wildlife while strolling through the Orono Bog Walk.
Looking for outdoor fun? Check out Farmington, home to the University of Maine Farmington (UMF). This quaint town is a four-season destination and the gateway to the western mountains. Get to know Farmington by taking the self-guided historic walking tour of the downtown area and campus, which is situated in the middle of downtown. Don’t miss browsing the cute shops, galleries and one of the best used bookstores in Maine.
Other notable college towns in Maine include:
Bar Harbor – College of the Atlantic
Lewiston – Bates College
Biddeford – University of New England
Portland – University of Southern Maine