Maine’s Western Lakes and Mountains Region is a study in contrasts. From the hustle and bustle that is Windham, Lewiston and Auburn, to the quiet serenity and winding back roads of quaint New England villages such as Bethel and South Paris, and the more open and remote northern region towards Eustis.
Known best for its crystal clear lakes and rugged mountain ranges, the region offers many outdoor activities including water sports, fishing, hiking, biking and skiing.
While there are many back roads and quiet tree-lined lanes to discover, there are also plenty ofgolf courses, miniature golf courses, and diversified shopping and dining opportunities for your entire family to enjoy.
Of course, if you’re looking for something different to do, there are opportunities to enjoy llama trekking or digging in quarries for gemstones and minerals such as amethysts, tourmaline, garnet and topaz. You might even try your hand at panning for gold.
The well-known Sebago-Long Lake area offers miles of boating and many lakefront activities including parasailing and windsailing. Sebago Lake may be Maine’s second largest lake, but it has a small-time feel to it as there are numerous quiet inlets to explore. There are even mail boat and seaplane rides available at the Naples Causeway on Long Lake.
The hand-operated Songo Locks, the only one remaining from 27 locks built in the 1830s, makes it possible to see the entire 42-mile waterway encompassing Sebago Lake, Songo River, Brandy Pond and Long Lake. The paddlewheeled Songo River Queen II is also a great way to see an upper portion of this waterway.
Naturally, no Maine region would be complete without a good old-fashioned country fair and the Western Lakes and Mountains features one of the oldest and the best – the Fryeburg Agricultural Fair held at the end of September/ beginning of October.
The quintessential and historic New England town of Bethel serves as an entry to the White Mountain National Forest, and two of the finest covered bridges in Maine are found in South Andover and Newry.
Elsewhere, the Rangeley Lake area is a true fourseason recreational community. The area includes some of the best hunting and fishingin Maine, including more than 40 trout and salmon lakes and ponds.
Incredible mountain views of the Carrabasset River, and unrivaled picnic spots can be found nearby at the Bigelow Mountain Range.Eustis Ridge, at the end of a two-mile hillside drive, is one of the most spectacular picnic spots in Maine, but it is never crowded and outdoor grills are even provided.
The commercial hub of the region, Lewiston-Auburn, originally came into its own in the mid-1800s when textiles and shoemaking were among the top industries of the day. Nowadays the twin cities are best known for the Great Falls Balloon Festival and the Festival de Joie that celebrates Maine’s Franco-American heritage. Both events are held in August.
Maine’s history is also on display at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore. The 430-acre farm presents rural life during post-Civil War days from the perspective of those who actually lived at the time.
While many visitors arrive in the Western Lakes and Mountains with the idea of spending most of their time involved in water activities, they soon discover there is much more to do. Some of the region’s most popular activities and attractions include:
- The Naples Historical Society Museum offers a presentation on the C&O Canal and the old Sebago-Long Lake steamboats.
- The Jones Museum of Glass and Ceramics in East Baldwin is America’s only museum dedicated to the decorative arts of glass and ceramics. More than 6,000 objects are on display.
- The Oxford Plains Speedway is ideal for those who enjoy NASCAR racing and is home each July to the “Oxford 250.”
- The McLaughlin Foundation in South Paris is one of the most beloved gardens and arboretums in Maine. It was started in 1936 and is full of wildflowers, perennials and 98 varieties of lilac.
- Perham’s of West Paris is a jewelry store and nature shop renowned as a primary source of Maine tourmaline. The museum includes a scale model of a working feldspar quarry and two early gem-cutting machines.
- The Bryant Pond Telephone Museum in Buckfield includes a twoposition operator switchboard in working order, manual toll recording stamps, original telephone directories and nostalgic notes.
- A wildlife viewing blind at the southern end of the White Mountain National Forest near Bethel offers visitors an opportunity to observe a 25- acre wetland complete with wildlife.
- The 1870 Sunday River Bridge near Newry is one of Maine’s most photographed and painted covered bridges.
- The Farm and House Museum in Wiltonhouses a collection of Maine farm tools, Maine bottles, and memorabilia of G.H. Bass, the originator of Bass Shoe.
- Screw Auger Falls on the Bear River in Grafton Notch State Park located just north of Bethel, this impressive natural wonder is a favorite for visitors and residents alike. Numerous hiking trails are also located near the gorge.
- The Cascades in Farmington is an impressive natural gorge and waterfall and nearby Small Falls has a stairway built along the Sandy River for exceptional views.
- The Red Schoolhouse Museum in Farmingtonis a restored one-room schoolhouse.
- The Nordica Homestead Museum in Farmington is the 1857 homestead of 19th century opera singer Lillian Nordica and features spectacular gowns, stage jewelry, opera scores and personal items.
- The Stanley Museum in Kingfield celebrates F.E. and F.O. Stanley, the manufacturers of the Stanley Steamer automobiles, with displays of 1905, 1910 and 1916 steam cars.
- The Stanton Bird Sanctuary at “Thorncrag” in Lewiston is a 230- acre preserve considered one of New England’s largest bird and smallanimal sanctuaries.
- The Shaker Museum in the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village of New Gloucesteris the last Shaker community in the country. Shaker furniture, inventions, early American tools, tin and woodenware, textiles and fancy goods are displayed.
- The Maine Wildlife Park on Route 26 in Gray exhibits over 25 species of Maine wildlife, including moose, black bear, lynx and bald eagles.
IN THE REGION …
- Annual Moxie Festival in Lisbon Falls – celebrates the mystique of the beverage with a parade and activities – early July.
- Annual Gem, Mineral, and Jewelry Show in Bryant Pond – collecting tips and features Maine minerals – most of July.
- Old Time Fiddler’s Contest in Rangeley – mid-July.
- Kingfield Community Days – family celebration – end of July.
- Andover Olde Home Days – community celebration – early Aug.
- Great Falls Balloon Festival and Art Show in Lewiston – mid-August.
- Norlands Living History Center in Livermore Falls – autumn celebration – late September.
- Fryeburg Fair – a top attraction in Maine features a large midway, agricultural exhibits and racing – early October.
- Local Holiday and Special Events
- Live Theater and Art Performances
For additional regional information, visit the region web site at www.MaineLakesAndMountains.com