The US state of Maine is notable for its scenic beauty, especially along the state’s famed coast. But, if you look a little bit inland from the coast, you will discover Maine’s state capital of Augusta. Located on the scenic Kennebec River about 55 miles north of Maine’s bustling seaside city of Portland, Augusta is the state’s capital and a quaint small town at the same time. Here are a few things to do in Augusta, Maine.
Maine State House
The Maine State House is located on State and Capitol Streets in Augusta. It was built in 1832 which is about one year after the state capital was relocated to Augusta from nearby Portland. It was designed by renowned architect Charles Bulfinch of Boston who was responsible for designing the Massachusetts State House.
With the passage of time, the Maine State House went through successive projects of enlargement and renovation. The most recent renovation took place in 2014. The state house has a Greek Revival architectural design. It is built using locally sourced granite. The state house’s dome is made of copper and has a brownish appearance. It stands at around 185 feet high.
Located on the top of the dome is a glided gold-clad copper statue of Lady Wisdom which stands at around 13 feet high. The state house has three wings to the north, south, and west. It house the office of Maine’s governor, Janet Mills, along with two chambers of the state legislature. Inside the state house, there are art exhibits for you to explore along with collections of Maine battle flags.
There are also portraits throughout the state house of governors and other men and women who have served Maine throughout its history as both a province and a state. If you head to the state house’s visitor’s center, you can check out the state’s collection of butterflies. The state is connected to the Kennebec River via the scenic Capitol Park. Entrance to the Maine State House is free of charge to everyone.
Maine State Museum
The Maine State Museum is located on State Street just south of the Maine State House in Augusta. This museum is dedicated to exploring the history of Maine. One of the exhibits you can check out at the museum will have you exploring the struggles that Mainers endured in their battle to establish Maine as an independent state from the state of Massachusetts in the early 19th century.
You will learn about the difficult decision that needed to be made in establishing Maine as an independent state because doing so meant that slavery would also expand westward to new states in the US west of the Mississippi River in what is called the Missouri Compromise. The exhibit I just talked about is known as Maine’s Path to Statehood.
Another one of the exhibits at the museum is Back to Nature. In this exhibit, you will explore aspects of Maine’s nature, including its seasons, environments, animals, birds, and plants. This exhibit also houses a collection of gemstones that are found in Maine. They are displayed in both their original and faceted forms. Made in Maine is another exhibit that is available at the museum.
In this exhibit, you will hear stories about Mainers at work and the variety of products that they created. You can explore a variety of historical settings within this exhibit such as a sewing room, blacksmith shop, wood carding mill, and shops for making furniture, shoes, and fishing rods. The exhibit is also home to a working water-powered woodworking that has three floors.
These are just some of the exhibits that are available for you to check out, but that should give you a better idea of what you can expect at the museum. The admission fees for the Maine State Museum are $3 for adults and $2 for children and seniors. Those who are aged under six get free admission.
One place you will want to check out, especially if you are looking for a place to eat, is downtown Augusta. The historic riverside downtown is brimming with Victorian architecture. Water Street is the main drag in downtown Augusta, running just west of the Kennebec River. It is home to some of the delicious restaurants that the state capital of Maine has to offer, including a few new ones that opened in recent years.
One such restaurant is called Cushnoc Brewing Co. This restaurant is known for serving wood-fired pizzas. These are called pies at this restaurant. So, take care not to confuse these for dessert-oriented pies. Also, if you are looking for something alcoholic to drink, this restaurant also offer a variety of locally crafted beer.
If you are looking for a restaurant that offer gorgeous views of the Kennebec River, you will want to check out Otto’s on the River. This restaurant specializes in seafood, pasta, and vegan cuisines. There is an outdoor patio overlooking the river at this restaurant.
Once you are done with a restaurant, I would suggest that you take a short walk on Front Street from Water Street toward the river just behind the downtown buildings. That way, you can get up and personal with the river. There is a brief riverside sidewalk that travels along Front Street.
These are the things to do in Augusta, Maine that I would suggest you to take on. With a population of 19,136 as of the 2010 census, Augusta is the third smallest state capital in the country behind Montpelier, Vermont and Pierre, South Dakota.
If you are in search of a hotel to stay at in Augusta, I have got your back. Here are two hotels I would suggest you to book with.
Homewood Suites by Hilton Augusta
This hotel is located on Western Avenue in Augusta. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. If you are looking for a nearby restaurant, a few options include Cloud 9 Restaurant, Texas Roadhouse, and Domino’s Pizza. There is an indoor heated swimming pool at the hotel. The hotel also houses a fitness center for your workout needs.
All of the hotel’s suites come with WiFi, full equipped kitchens, and dining and living areas. The average rate for a standard room range from $126 to $304. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.
Senator Inn & Spa
This is arguably the nicest hotel that Augusta has to offer. The hotel is located on Western Avenue in Augusta. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, Cloud 9 Restaurant is the hotel’s onsite restaurant. There is also an onsite lounge with oysters in the half shell. The outdoor and indoor areas of the hotel each have their own heated swimming pools and hot tubs.
The hotel also houses a sauna, a full service spa, and a gift shop. If you are looking for a place to exercise, you can do so at the hotel’s fitness center. There are four categories of rooms and suites, most of the categories have government themed names. They are Spa Luxury Rooms, Presidential Wing, Congressional Wing, and Legislative Rooms.
The first category is the most luxurious offering, coming with amenities including spa privileges, gas fireplaces, and jacuzzi jet tubs. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $82 to $142. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.
What are your thoughts? Have you been to Maine’s small state capital before? Feel free to leave a comment below.