There are plenty of fun things to do in Lewiston Maine. We have only covered fifteen of them, but there are also restaurants, bowling and laser tag, plenty of parks, and special events throughout the year.
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15 Fun Things To Do In Lewiston, Maine
We’ve listed fifteen reasons why you should consider visiting Lewiston, Maine, including: Thorncrag Reserve, the Androscoggin River, Bates College, the Franco-American Heritage Center, the Downtown Art Walk, the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival, The Colisee, Great Falls Balloon Festival, and the Lost Valley Ski Resort.
However, these are just a few of the many things that make Lewiston a great place to visit. It is also centrally located just an hour north of Portland, and about 1.5 hours south of Bangor. Both of those cities also offer a large number of great things to do (in Bangor).
But First, A Quick Note About Lewiston’s History
Lewiston is often referred to as Lewiston-Auburn. The two towns share a rich history that is deeply intertwined. They are located right next to each other and are often grouped together, hence Lewiston-Auburn.
The area was first settled in the early 1700s and the two cities were founded in 1786 and 1806, respectively. They quickly grew into thriving industrial communities, thanks in part to their location on the Androscoggin River.
There have been ongoing initiatives to officially merge the two cities, but they have always been soundly rejected by voters. They continue to have separate local governments and schools, but continue to be referred to as Lewiston-Auburn.
Today, Lewiston-Auburn is a thriving community with a population of over 60,000 people.
15 Fun Things To Do In Lewiston, Maine
1. Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary is a great place to hike and see the fall leaves.
The Thorncrag bird sanctuary is a great place to hike and see the fall leaves. The trails are well-maintained, and the views of the falls are spectacular. There are also plenty of birds to see, including bald eagles, hawks, and ospreys.
The Reserve covers almost 400 acres in the middle of Lewiston and is home to its highest point as well. Passive recreation is allowed in the park all year long, so go hiking in the warm weather, and snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the winter.
2. The Androscoggin River offers opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking
The Androscoggin River flows right through the heart of Lewiston, Maine, providing ample opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. The riverbanks were once home to the thriving mills that created the town.
It’s beautiful in the fall, as is all the fall foliage in Maine!
There are several public boat launches located along the riverbank, so it is easy to access the water. The banks are also lined with lovely parks and walking trails, making it a great spot for a relaxing day outdoors. There are also some great places to run in Lewiston.
In addition to the river itself, there are plenty of local businesses and restaurants in downtown Lewiston that offer a variety of activities and amenities.
3. Bates College is located in Lewiston and offers a variety of cultural events and activities
There are many things for visitors to do at Bates College. The campus is home to a variety of cultural events and activities, including art exhibits, theatrical productions, and concerts. In addition, the college’s athletic facilities are open to the public.
Bates College also offers a museum that is free to the public. The museum features rotating exhibits on topics such as local history, art, and culture.
4. The Franco-American Heritage Center is a great place to learn about the city’s French-Canadian history
The Franco-American Heritage Center offers a glimpse into the city’s French-Canadian past. The center features exhibits on the culture and history of the Franco-Americans, as well as interactive displays and activities for visitors.
In addition, the center hosts a variety of events and activities throughout the year, including concerts, dance performances, and language classes. The center is home to a research library that contains a wealth of resources on Franco-American history and culture.
There is also a gift shop with unique gifts and souvenirs from Quebec and Maine. The Franco-American Heritage Center is a must-see for anyone interested in French-Canadian culture and history.
5. The Downtown Art Walk is a great way to see the work of local artists
The Downtown Art Walk in Lewiston, Maine is a great way to see the work of local artists. The event happens on the last Friday of every month, May through October, and features the work of artists from all over the area.
There is a wide variety of art on display, including paintings, sculptures, and jewelry. There is also often live music as part of the Music in the Park Summer Concert series after the art walk, and food vendors throughout.
It’s a great way to spend an evening, and it’s free to attend.
6. The Lewiston Auburn Film Festival is a great way to see independent films
The Lewiston Auburn Film Festival is a great way to see independent films. The festival is held every year in October in Lewiston, Maine. It features screenings of independent films from all over the world, as well as panel discussions with filmmakers and other industry professionals.
Many film festivals are struggling to come back after COVID, so here are the latest updates we have on film festivals in Maine.
7. The Great Falls Balloon Festival is a great way to see the city from above
The Great Falls Balloon Festival is a wonderful event that takes place in Lewiston, Maine each year. The festival offers a unique opportunity to see the city from above, as participants are able to take to the sky in colorful hot air balloons.
There is a great atmosphere at the festival, with live music and food vendors providing plenty of excitement and entertainment. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a local resident, the Great Falls Balloon Festival is definitely worth checking out.
8. Attend an event at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee
The Androscoggin Bank Colisee has seen its share of famous people and events over the years. Some of the most notable include Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Mohammed Ali.
All three drew large crowds to the Colisee, with Bruce Springsteen, in particular, selling out multiple shows. In addition to concerts, the Colisee has also hosted a number of other events over the years, including circuses, ice capades, and pro wrestling matches.
9. Go Skiing At Lost Valley Ski Resort
Of course, there is no skiing in the summer, but you can visit their pub and attend one of their Friday night concerts.
10. Visit the Saints Peter and Paul Basilica
Built in Lewiston between 1905 and 1938, Saints Peter and Paul Basilica is the second largest church in New England, and the only one to be faithfully modeled on a European Gothic cathedral. Moreover, the church looms as a Franco–American cultural monument.
After a series of starts and stops, in 1934, T.G. O’Connell, a Boston architect, began work on a new design for the church. He designed the church in the fashionable English Norman Gothic style.
The cornerstone was laid in April 1934, and interior work was completed by 1938. The church is 316 feet long, 110 feet wide, and has two 167-foot-high towers. It can accommodate 2,200 parishioners.
The gray granite used to build the church comes from the small town of Jay, about 30 miles away. It is a grand sight, and looks a bit out of place in Lewiston, sitting among modest, working-class homes, but it is beautiful.
Unfortunately, you can only enter during church service. You might be able to enter just before the service to get a glimpse at the inside and then sneak out if you don’t want to attend the service!
The inside is as beautiful as the outside.
11. Attend a play at The Public Theatre
The Public Theatre is an amazing venue for film and plays. It’s been voted the best theater in Maine for seven years in a row! You’ll see professional actors performing in the well-selected plays the Theatre puts on each year.
It is also home to a wide variety of events, from father-daughter dances to bus tours to Boston to see plays. It’s definitely worth checking into if you are going to be in the area.
12. See what’s happening at the Lewiston Public Library.
I love libraries, and I think they are underused and under-appreciated public spaces. If you have kids, there are always library activities (not to mention borrowing all those books for free!).
Any resource you might be looking for can be found with the help of a librarian. In a new area and need to know something? Check with your local librarian. Libraries are awesome, and here are a couple of others in Maine worth checking out if you are in the area: Bangor, Islesboro, Island Falls, and Lincoln.
13. Go Rollerskating at the Rollodrome.
How long has it been since you’ve been rollerskating? Sure, this is in Auburn, but since it’s really Lewiston-Auburn, we’ll include it. Plus, it’s just plain fun. They have all kinds of special skates and great music. You can go with or without kids. It will be fun either way.
14. Visit Mt. Apatite Park
Mt. Apatite was historically mined for apatite and tourmaline. Amateur geologists explore the area now, and there are also four miles of trails if you just want to take a relaxing walk. If you are interested in the geology of Maine, here are a couple of posts that talk a little about some really amazing Maine geology: Smalls Falls & Islesboro.
15. Go Bowling.
Just-in-Time Recreation (formerly Spare Time Recreation) offers candlepin and ten-pin bowling. It also has a sit-down restaurant and a bar. It’s been completely updated and is a great place for a little downtime while still having a lot of fun.
✅ Lewiston’s Undeserved Negative Nickname
Lewiston has long been considered a high-crime area, due to its reputation for being a gritty, blue-collar town. However, this image is not entirely accurate. While Lewiston has its share of crime, it is statistically much safer than many other cities its size.
In fact, at the beginning of each school year, we often had a law enforcement representative give a presentation on the reality of Lewiston’s low crime statistics to combat its less-than-stellar reputation.
➡️ Industrial History Contribution
Another reason for Lewiston’s undeserved negative nickname of the Dirty Lew is its industrial history. For many years, the city was home to a number of factories and other industrial facilities, which released pollutants into the air and water.
As a result, the city has a legacy of environmental pollution that continues to haunt it today.
➡️ Immigration Bias Contribution
There can also often be a bias against cities with large immigrant populations. Lewiston’s factories grew due to an influx of French-Canadian immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Today, Lewiston has a large population of Somalian immigrants, as well as many other newcomers from all over the world.
Consequently, Lewiston has always been a very diverse city, with people from all over the world choosing to call it home. Sadly, the bias against large immigrant populations probably continues to contribute to Lewiston’s undeserved nickname.
✅ Lewiston 2.0!
Despite all of these challenges, Lewiston has worked hard to reinvent itself as a welcoming and vibrant community. In recent years, the city has undergone a major revitalization, with new businesses and attractions popping up all over town.
You can go wine tasting at a local shop, take a run in a local park, and even eat at a vegan restaurant. That’s the new Lewiston, so don’t listen to the old stereotype of this great town.
✅ Is Lewiston Worth Visiting?
So, despite its negative nickname, Lewiston is actually a great place to work (which I did), live, and visit. It is a vibrant and historic city with plenty of things to do. So don’t let the worn-out old reputation fool you – come and explore Lewiston for yourself.
It is also a multi-cultural hub in central Maine, as shown by the many countries and languages represented in the local schools.
Where To Stay In Lewiston, Maine
✅ Places To Eat In Lewiston, Maine
➡️ Forage Market is a breakfast and lunch spot in downtown Lewiston, offering a deli and bakery. It also offers vegetarian and vegan options. It has a great atmosphere with big windows and high ceilings.
➡️ DaVinci’s is a super popular eatery in Lewiston for Italian food. They are located in an old mill building and have a casual atmosphere. They close pretty early though, so you’ll have to make it an early dinner (or opt for lunch).
➡️ Oh, The Italian Bakery. Get some bakery items there. Period. Hands down amazing.
Conclusion: 15 Best Things To Do In Lewiston Maine
Hopefully, you now have a really good idea of what to do in Lewiston Maine if you are in the area. Lewiston is a great city to visit, with plenty of things to do and see. It is also a very safe and welcoming community, despite its negative nickname.
So if you’re ever in the area, you’ll see that there are a lot of fun things to do in Lewiston Maine. Be sure to check out Lewiston’s restaurants, places to stay, and activities for yourself! You won’t be disappointed.