Vibrant buildings lined along Main Street in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine. Editorial credit: Miro Vrlik Photography /

8 Towns in Maine With the Best Downtown Areas in 2024

The state of Maine can be accredited as being home to some of the best cities in America, like Portland and Bangor. Yet, the hustle and bustle of their downtown areas might be overwhelming for some. Luckily, the Pine Tree State is home to many small towns with some of their own fantastic downtown areas. From the river town of Bath, with its many historical landmarks, to the coastal town of Boothbay Harbor, possessing its own Waterfront Park, these eight small towns in the Pine Tree State are well worth visiting in 2024.


The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine.
The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Maine. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

The picturesque town of Bath in Sagadahoc County is home to a rapidly growing downtown area. Front and Commercial streets, running parallel to each other, provide various shops, restaurants, and historical buildings. The Davenport Memorial City Hall, built in 1929, still displays a bell from 1802 that was rumored to have been cast by Paul Revere himself. There are several events held downtown, along the banks of the Kennebec River, including a hometown Farmers Market every Saturday. Bath also offers several festivals each summer, including an exhilarating outdoor concert series that is held each summer at the Lincoln E. Temple Waterfront Park on Commercial Street.

Bar Harbor

Main Street in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Buildings along Main Street in downtown Bar Harbor, Maine. Editorial credit: Kristi Blokhin /

Bar Harbor has a thriving downtown area located along the edge of Mount Desert Island, between Frenchmen Bay and Eagle Lake. Along with several excellent seafood restaurants, like Stewman’s Lobster Pound and the Fish House Grill, downtown Bar Harbor has a plethora of outdoor areas ideal for a breath of fresh air. Two of the top spots are Agamont Park and Village Green, both offering lush foliage and scenic views.

There are also several events that urge visitors to return each year for the festivities. In June, Bar Harbor spends a fun-filled day with children of all ages at the Oceanarium for the Maine Ocean Festival. In July, this coastal town holds the Bar Harbor Music Festival. And, in the fall, Bar Harbor celebrates the Night Sky Festival, a devotion to the wonders of the nighttime sky in Maine.


Crowded coastal buildings and marine in Castine, Maine.
Vibrant buildings along the marina in Castine, Maine. Editorial credit: Kristi Blokhin /

Castine, located along the banks of Penobscot Bay in Hancock County, is an oasis of fun and excitement, especially during the summer. Along with various historical aspects in the downtown area, like Fort Madison and Fort George state parks, this town of just over a thousand residents is also home to various exhilarating events and festivals. The Plein Air Festival and the Bastille Day Celebration both occur in mid to late July and the Storytelling Festival is held every August. Plus, downtown Castine also offers some great shopping and dining choices, like the Castine Farmers Market, which provides fresh local produce within the historic town square of Castine, and Safe Harbor Cafe, which serves one of the best lobster rolls along the coast of Maine.


Vibrant buildings in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Vibrant buildings in the town of Kennebunkport, Maine. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

The picturesque town of Kennebunkport, with less than four thousand permanent residents, is located just above where the Kennebec River connects to the Atlantic Ocean. This proximity to the coast supplies downtown Kennebunkport with several excellent seafood restaurants, including Alisson’s Restaurant, the Boathouse Waterfront Restaurant, and Hurricane Restaurant. Plus, Dock Square, conveniently located in the exact center of town, offers visitors an opportunity to check out various mom-and-pop shops. Beach Grass and Daytrip Society both provide rare gifts that might not be found at home. If historical attractions are more to your liking, A Walk Through Time is an ongoing specialty tour that allows people to experience the history of some of the older buildings in Kennebunkport.


Aerial view of buildings in the town of Eastport, Maine.
Aerial view of buildings in the town of Eastport, Maine.

Eastport, as the name indicates, is a lovely town that lies along the eastern border of Maine with Canada. Along with its extreme east location, the town itself is an archipelago surrounded by water, making every street and viewpoint full of coastal scenery. Visitors roaming the downtown area are sure to adore the sights as they try out local restaurants, like the Waco, which claims to be the oldest diner in Maine, and the Happy Crab. Both offer great food and outside seating with outstanding views of the water. Eastport also offers a variety of festivals showcasing downtown and its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, including one of the largest 4th of July celebrations in Maine, the Salmon & Seafood Festival, and the Pirate Festival.


Rustic buildings in downtown Gardiner, Maine.
Rustic brick buildings in the downtown area of Gardiner, Maine. By Doug Kerr -, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Located in Kennebec County, Gardiner is another Maine town with a thriving downtown area. This town of less than six thousand permanent residents promotes several festivals every year, like the Summer Music Festival, held all summer long at Waterfront Park, and the Gardiner Parade of Lights, occurring downtown every December. Plus, within the historic district of Gardiner, visitors can experience the town’s roots, which go back to the middle of the eighteenth century, when Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, a prominent surgeon from Boston, first settled there. There are even several quaint hometown shops and restaurants in downtown Gardiner, including the Blind Pig Tavern, which is most famous for its Blind Pig Poutine.


People out on the streets of Rockland, Maine for the annual Maine Lobster Festival.
People out on the streets of Rockland, Maine for the annual Maine Lobster Festival. Editorial credit: WoodysPhotos /

Home to the Maine Lobster Festival, which occurs for five consecutive days every year in August, the town of Rockland is a haven for seafood restaurants like the Waterworks Restaurant and Clan MacLaren. Along with a world-famous Lobster Festival, this town of less than seven thousand people is also home to the North Atlantic Blues Festival in the middle of July and the Maine Home & Boat Show in August. Plus, within the historic downtown of Rockland, guests can experience a plethora of quaint shops, picturesque galleries, and unique attractions. Some top draws are the Strand Theatre, known for its historic ambiance and enticing shows, and the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Center, a haven for animal lovers. Main Street Historic District, famed for its 19th-century architecture, is also home to several establishments (with plenty of outdoor seating) where one can watch the lobsters being brought in from the Atlantic Ocean daily.

Boothbay Harbor

Businesses lined along a street in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
Businesses along a street in the town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Forty miles up the coastline, Boothbay Harbor’s downtown area is a welcome haven to many festivals and events held year-round, especially during the summer. The Lincoln Arts Festival and several waterfront concerts are held each summer, while Boothbay Lights occurs during the winter holidays. As it is located on the jagged coast of the upper Atlantic Ocean, the town of Boothbay Harbor offers amenities similar to most coastal towns, like long, rickety piers jutting out into the water, the perfect spot for fishermen. Unlike other towns, though, Boothbay Harbor also offers an excellent downtown area, complete with not one or two but three phenomenal piers that supply several seafood restaurants and mom-and-pop specialty shops to guests and residents alike. There are also plenty of hotels in town, such as Fisherman’s Wharf Inn and Tugboat Inn, which offer quick access to both downtown Boothbay Harbor and the scenic Atlantic Ocean.


In conclusion, if you find yourself visiting the great state of Maine this year, remember to stop, get out of your vehicle, stretch your back, and smell the flowers every chance you get. Whether it is historical background, quality restaurants, and quaint hometown stores, or mind-blowing festivals and events, there is something special for each and every person. The thriving downtowns in these small towns, like Skowhegan, Gardiner, and Kennebunkport, have a plethora of activities and attributes to offer you all year long.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 8 Towns in Maine With the Best Downtown Areas in 2024

More in Places