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Top 10 Maine Museums & Historic Sites

These Ten Maine Museums & Historic Sites Top Our List for 2024

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Portland Regency Hotel

Old Port Portland, ME

One of the most charming and historic hotels in the Old Port district, this hotel offers an elegant and cozy atmosphere, with a full-service spa, a fitness center, steam rooms, and hot tubs. The hotel is within walking distance of many area attractions including the Portland waterfront.

20 Milk Street
Portland, ME 04101

Courtyard by Marriott Downtown, Portland Maine

Courtyard by Marriott Downtown

Waterfront Portland, ME

The Courtyard by Marriott Portland Downtown/Waterfront is a modern and convenient hotel in the heart of Portland. It offers spacious rooms and suites with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and luxe bedding. The hotel has a high rating for its location, cleanliness, service, and value.

321 Commercial Street
Portland, ME 04101

Strawberry Hill Seaside Inn

Rockport, ME

The Stawberry Hill Seaside Inn is a scenic getaway in Glen Cove, ME overlooking Penobscot Bay. It offers oceanfront lodging with private balconies, outside pool. cable TV, refrigerators, and binoculars. It is near several midcoast Maine attractions and is highly rated by travelers.

886 Commercial Street
Rockport, ME 04856

Top 10 Maine Badge

MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

From its rugged coastline to forested interior, Maine offers travelers an engaging menu of world-class museums and historical attractions that reveal the captivating stories of the state’s past and present. Art lovers can explore Maine’s creative legacy at the Portland Museum of Art, and at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, while the ornate Victoria Mansion in Portland provides visitors a glimpse into the lives of Maine’s elite during the 18th and 19th centuries. Maritime heritage comes alive at the Maine Maritime Museum, and at the Maine Lighthouse Museum, which highlights the story and importance of Maine’s iconic lighthouses dotting the Maine coastline.

For history buffs, Fort Knox State Historic Site transports guests back to mid-19th century America, and the challenges faced by Maine soldiers stationed at fortifications like Fort Knox during the American Civil War, and in the latter half of the 19th century.

Finally, Maine is also home to several unique and truly amazing antique transportation museums allowing visitors to explore and ride working vintage trains, antique autos, and early airplanes, as well as showcasing re-creations of turn-of-the-century shops and homes. From art to artifacts to architecture and transportation, the diversity and authenticity of these Top 10 destinations allows tourists to dive deep into Maine’s remarkable culture and industry from both the past and the present. It’s no wonder that this collection of Top 10 Maine museums and historic sites attracts countless visitors year after year.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Boothbay Railway Village Museum

586 Wiscasset Road, Boothbay, ME 04537

Boothbay Railway Village Museum in Boothbay, Maine

Step back in time to the early 20th century at the Boothbay Railway Village Museum, an engaging destination located in scenic midcoast Maine. This living history museum provides visitors with a glimpse into turn-of-the-century life as it reconstructs how early Boothbay communities worked, played, and traveled. Stroll through authentic historic buildings like a blacksmith shop, general store, and barber shop brought to the site from around the region. Take a ride on a vintage railway with steam and diesel locomotive trains.

Costumed guides add color and stories. Exhibits of railroading, car, and local community artifacts and equipment help trace Boothbay’s evolving transportation history from sail to rail. Visitors of all ages will enjoy exploring this recreated village where vintage trains, classic cars, and historic buildings from Boothbay’s past have been brought together to entertain and educate about an earlier era in coastal Maine life.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Cole Land Transportation Museum

405 Perry Road, Bangor, ME 04401

Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor, Maine

Experience the evolution of transportation at the Cole Land Transportation Museum, an intriguing museum located in downtown Bangor. This museum displays an extensive collection of horse-drawn carriages, wagons, sleds, and other vehicles that were critical for traveling and working in Maine during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Historic modes of transit like Concord coaches, trolleys, bicycles, and steam locomotives are also exhibited.

As you wander through the museum, you’ll gain insights into how innovations in transportation technology changed life in Maine and connected communities. Kids can climb aboard select vehicles for a fun hands-on experience. The antique automobile exhibition featuring classic cars from the brass era through the 1950s is a highlight.

With its range of historic transit on display, from a simple dog sled to the grand Pullman palace railroad car, the Cole Land Transportation Museum provides a fascinating look at how Mainers traveled through the past 200 years.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Farnsworth Art Museum

16 Museum St, Rockland, ME 04841

Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland Maine

For an immersion into Maine’s incredible artistic legacy, visit the nationally renowned Farnsworth Art Museum located along the state’s picturesque midcoast in Rockland, Maine. This world-class art institution celebrates Maine’s role in American art through its expansive collection of works created by iconic artists closely tied to the state.

Highlights include the numerous masterpieces of the Wyeth family, like Andrew Wyeth’s beloved painting “Christina’s World,” which beautifully capture coastal Maine landscapes and people. The museum also displays a range of paintings and works in various mediums by other influential American artists who found inspiration from Maine’s natural beauty and serenity.

In addition to the galleries, the Farnsworth’s scenic grounds, sculpture trail, and the Wyeth Center located in a converted church should not be missed. Through its remarkable collection, the Farnsworth Art Museum allows visitors to discover Maine’s singular artistic tradition and deep creative spirit.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Fort Knox State Historic Site

740 Ft Knox Road, Prospect, ME 04981

Experience a unique glimpse into Maine’s past at the magnificent Fort Knox State Historic Site. This impressive fortress soaring along the Penobscot River was constructed in the 1840s out of granite during a time of border conflict between the US and Britain. Fort Knox was one of the largest military fortifications in the Northeast, though it never saw battle. Today, visitors can take guided tours to explore the fort’s tunnels, battlements, and underground passages maintained in their original 19th century condition.

Costumed interpreters and guides vividly describe military life at the fort garrison during both the Civil War and Spanish-American War eras. Guests can try on reproduction uniforms and armor in the museum collections. Climbing atop the fort’s parapets provides scenic panoramic views. Fort Knox is a must-see for those looking to immerse themselves in Maine’s earlier military and coastal defense history.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Maine Maritime Museum

243 Washington Street, Bath, ME 04530

Maine Maritime Museum in Bath Maine

Located along the Kennebec River, the Maine Maritime Museum celebrates the state’s deep connection to the sea through engaging exhibits and historic vessels. As you explore the museum, you’ll gain fascinating insights into Maine’s rich maritime heritage including its traditions of boatbuilding, lighthouse keeping, fishing, lobstering and shipping. Highlights include the remains of the Wydah pirate ship, a blacksmith shop, and the scenic outdoor trails.

For hands-on history, hop aboard the historic schooners Pemaquid and Sherman Zwicker to experience what sailing these wooden beauties was like in the 19th century. Throughout the museum, historic artifacts, images, documents and films illuminate how integral the sea has been to the communities, culture and commerce of coastal Maine. The Maine Maritime Museum is a must for travelers looking to understand Maine’s lasting bond with the sea.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Maine Lighthouse Museum

1 Park Drive, Rockland, ME 04841

Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland Maine

Located in midcoast Maine in the coastal community of Rockland, the Maine Lighthouse Museum offers an intimate look at the iconic lighthouses dotting the state’s treacherous coastline. This small yet fascinating museum highlights the vital role lighthouses have played in protecting mariners navigating Maine’s rocky shores for over 200 years.

Explore exhibits showcasing lighthouse artifacts like foghorns, lamps and vintage lenses, along with images, models and films that reveal glimpses into lighthouse keepers’ daily lives. Stand underneath the towering original 1879 Fresnel lens from Monhegan Island Lighthouse as you learn how these complex lenses helped beams shine for miles. With storms and isolation constant companions of lighthouse keepers, discover the courage required to maintain these essential coastal sentinels.

For an in-depth perspective on lighthouse history and duty along the Maine coast, the Maine Lighthouse Museum is a must-visit.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Owls Head Transportation Museum

117 Museum Street, Owls Head, ME 04854

Owls Head Transportation Museum in Owls Head, Maine

Located along the picturesque Maine coast near Rockland, the Owls Head Transportation Museum offers an utterly fascinating look at the evolution of planes, automobiles, bicycles, and equipment that transported people and goods across land, air, and sea over the past 150+ years

. This world-class museum boasts one of the most extensive collections of pioneering aircraft, classic automobiles, and transportation vehicles, chronicling the incredible transformations in how humanity mobilized from the early 19th century onward.

Stroll through diverse exhibits like the sculpture garden fashioned from vintage plane and auto parts, or take an interpretive guided tour of the collection highlights. Visitors can gaze in wonder at the antique wooden boats, iconic automobiles ranging from Model T cars to 1950s classics, and the impressive early aircraft hanging from the rafters. Kids will enjoy strolling through the museum to see up close these unique vintage vehicles. Special events like the antique car and motorcycle shows allow visitors to admire these working beauties in running condition.

Through its unparalleled breadth of exhibits spanning multiple eras of transit history, from horse-drawn carriages to the modern jet age, the Owls Head Transportation Museum entertainingly traces how pioneering innovations shaped the world we live in today.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Portland Museum of Art

7 Congress Square, Portland, ME 04101

Portland Museum of Art in Portland Maine

The Portland Museum of Art is Maine’s largest and most renowned public art institution. As the cultural crown jewel of the city of Portland, Maine, this architecturally striking museum houses an expansive collection of American, European, and contemporary art works spanning the 18th century to today.

Art lovers can explore galleries featuring iconic Maine artists like Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Louise Nevelson, and Andrew Wyeth. See Wyeth’s seminal piece “Christina’s World” depicting a woman in a pink dress in a coastal Maine field. The museum also displays impressionist and post-impressionist works by Monet, Renoir, Degas, and Picasso. Take advantage of the interactive exhibits, informative tours, and programs offered daily. The light-filled interior courtyard is perfect for a coffee break.

With stunning architecture and the serene Charles Shipman Payson Sculpture Park outside, the Portland Museum of Art delights the eye at every turn. For an immersion in Maine’s incredible artistic tradition, the Portland Museum of Art is a must-visit destination.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Seashore Trolley Museum

195 Log Cabin Rd, Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine

All aboard for a one-of-a-kind visit to the Seashore Trolley Museum, located along Maine’s southern coast in seaside Kennebunkport. This National Historic Landmark is dedicated entirely to mass transit history, specifically streetcars and trolleys that once connected communities across America. The museum astonishingly houses the world’s largest collection of historic streetcars with nearly 250 vehicles dating from the late 19th century to the present day.

Visitors can take unforgettable rides along the museum’s 1.5 mile track on beautifully restored vintage trolleys from cities like New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and even Europe. Interpretive displays trace the chronological development of trolley cars and explain their impact on shaping communities over time. Kids can explore the hands-on exhibits in the Children’s Gallery. Special events like the driven-car meet allow visitors to admire antique buses up close.

For public transit enthusiasts and history lovers alike, the Seashore Trolley Museum is a joyful journey into the past revealing an era when streetcars defined local transportation in towns across America.

TOP 10 MAINE MUSEUMS & HISTORIC SITES

Victoria Mansion

109 Danforth St, Portland, ME 04101

Victoria Mansion in Portland Maine

For a glimpse into opulent Gilded Age living in 19th century Maine, visit the magnificent Victoria Mansion located in Portland’s historic district. This Italianate-style National Historic Landmark home built in 1858 is considered one of the greatest surviving examples of Victorian architecture in America.

Guided tours allow visitors to explore inside this impeccably preserved time capsule. Marvel at the home’s lavish details including the ornate plasterwork, 90+ stained glass windows, frescoed ceilings, gilded appointments, and sumptuous furnishings original to the home.

Wander through the formal dining and drawing rooms, music room, and library to envision the glamorous entertainments and sophisticated lifestyles of Victoria Mansion’s early residents. Accounts of the families who lived here and details of the home’s artistic elements provide a captivating window into Portland’s cultural and economic prominence during America’s Gilded Age.

For an unforgettable journey into Victorian high society, Victoria Mansion is a living museum not to be missed in Portland.

TRAVEL MAINE BLOG

Discover the best of Maine with our travel blog highlighting special travel tips, sightseeing suggestions and regional interest stories to make the most of your Maine vacation trip. We bring you insigthful articles about unique places, kid-friendly activities, and regional entertainment that will help in planning your trip to Maine.

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