There are so many charming small towns in Maine that it’s truly hard to pick a favorite!
If I had to pick, the area of Midcoast Maine and all of its charming small towns come to mind.
And in particular, I fell in love with the beauty and vibe of Damariscotta almost instantly.
It’s a small town — pretty much made up of one street and lots of beautiful bodies of water — but trust me that if you visit, it will steal your heart just as it stole mine!
The Best Things to Do in Damariscotta, Maine
Wander around the galleries and jewelry stores on Main Street.
There are a number of excellent boutiques, galleries, and stores on the Main Street of Damariscotta, which stretches about three blocks long at its core.
Here are a few of my favorite stores:
- Aboca Beads & Jewelry has well-priced classic pieces, including freshwater pearl necklaces, glass beaded jewelry, and other gorgeous sea-inspired jewelry.
- Wildings has plants and all sorts of plant accessories, as well as devastatingly beautiful jewelry and accessories. I left with a beautiful blush pink belt bag; my friend left with a lovely brass geometric ring…. And that was us showing restraint!
- Citizen Maine is a punnily-named wonderful shop selling all things Maine for your home décor.
Grab an old-fashioned soda at Rexall Malts.
Is there anything better than grabbing a frosty milkshake or soda float at an old-fashioned soda fountain? If you think of anything, I’ll be waiting.
Unfortunately, Rexall Malts was closed when I visited in 2021 due to a labor shortage, but they intend to reopen for the 2022 season.
However, I got to peer inside and it is all the vintage nostalgia that dreams are made of! I’ll definitely be returning for a float or a sundae sometime soon.
Have a wood-fired pizza with a view of the water.
Maine has so many delicious restaurants, with new ones opening frequently, and Damariscotta is no exception to the foodie fun!
Damariscotta has a new kid on the block in their small but mighty restaurant scene. There’s a brand-new pizza restaurant in Damariscotta called Oysterhead Pizza serving up wood-fired pizzas with a view of the harbor!
I didn’t get a chance to eat here, but like the soda shop, it’s on my list for my next visit to Damariscotta.
Grab a pastry at Barn Door Baking Co, then browse some books.
There’s nothing I love more than grabbing a pastry and a coffee and browsing a bookstore.
Luckily, Barn Door Baking Co. is literally located within a bookstore, so a great book to stick your nose in is never far from reach!
The next-door bookstore is called Maine Coast Book Shop and it has a wide selection of Maine fiction and non-fiction as well as a great curated section of new releases.
Watch a movie at the Lincoln Theater.
I love small one-room theaters – perhaps because my hometown of Lafayette had one, and it was always fun to see what the (only) choice was for what to see!
In a world of Netflix and infinite options, sometimes it’s nice to have the choice made for you: and that’s just the case at Damariscotta’s Lincoln Theater.
When I was in Damariscotta, they were playing Roadrunner, the new Anthony Bourdain documentary!
I desperately want to see it, but I am not seeing movies in theaters at the moment due to the Delta variant. It’s on the list for next time!
Grab some ice cream at Wicked Scoops.
If you haven’t already had enough to eat, grab something sweet at Wicked Scoops!
They serve ice cream from local Maine ice cream company Gifford’s which prides itself on its “HomeMaine” ice cream!
The two most delicious flavors are campfire s’mores and blueberry ice cream!
Have a cheeky drink at King Eider’s Pub.
I love a pub that looks like it comes straight out of another era, and that is exactly what King Eider’s Pub looks like!
With its British-inspired sign, brick façade, and Kelly green awning, the décor of this little pub is as classic as it gets.
Have a world-class seafood meal at Damariscotta River Grill.
I didn’t get a chance to eat dinner here, but my friend who was showing me around – who is a Maine local who lives nearby Brunswick – was raving about this Damariscotta River Grill.
Not sure what to get? She recommends the coconut-curry Thai seafood stew and the lobster cakes!
Wander around Damariscotta Town Harbor.
Virtually every Maine small town on the water – whether it be an ocean or a river – has its own little stretch of a harbor for locals to keep their boats.
Damariscotta’s harbor area is teeny-tiny but it’s lovely to go for a walk after digesting a meal at one of the many places I recommended in this post!
Go for a kayak or SUP.
Want to go kayaking? Head over to Midcoast Kayak in Damariscotta where you can rent a kayak.
Prices are reasonable: a two-hour rental costs $30 for a single kayak and $40 for a tandem kayak.
Stand up paddleboards are also available for $30 for a 2-hour rental. Other rental durations are available (half-day, full-day, weekly).
You might even see a harbor seal on the rocks in Damariscotta River — they love it here!
Enjoy a peaceful day on Damariscotta Lake.
Damariscotta Lake is a short drive from downtown Damariscotta and it’s a great place to spend some time relaxing with beautiful nature views.
The lake is massive, covering some 4,000+ acres, and has many islands and islets inside the lake. The northern portion of the lake is protected as a state park as well.
Note: Check online before visiting Damariscotta Lake as it may not be good for swimming — as of August 2021, there’s a cyanobacteria bloom.
Visit the historic shell midden.
One of the more unique things to do in Damariscotta is visit Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site where you can find a shell midden.
What is a shell midden, you ask?
A midden is a historic dumping ground for organic waste: in this case, the oyster shells left behind by the Native American peoples centuries ago. Here is some more information on the shell middens of Maine.
The middens along the Damariscotta River were thought to be left behind by the Wawenock (or Walinakiak, meaning “People of the Bays”) Abenaki Indians over 2,500 years ago (source).
They are not only ecologically important, but they also tell important stories of people who lived in the region millennia ago, who have much to teach us but no written history: which is why these sites are so important!