Destination Bangor, Maine

Beautiful architecture, great food, fine art, and a frontier spirit

Waterfront rock concerts and sophisticated new restaurants have raised Bangor’s profile in the last few years, but the event that may best define the Queen City is 53 years old. Every third weekend in April, 400-odd canoes and kayaks carrying 800-odd whooping, costumed, and frantically bailing paddlers surge into the narrow canal that slices across downtown, the final stretch of the boat-rocking, bone-chilling 16.5-mile Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race. It’s a wild and rugged contest, befitting the former lumber capital of the world.

But Bangor also enjoys a decidedly urban vibe, and a burst of new investment downtown has been spurred in part by those riverfront concerts, which have attracted tens of thousands of people from across the state every summer for the past nine years. Inside a quarter-mile of the historic downtown, you’ll find several excellent restaurants, one of the state’s best beer bars, a small, but robust contemporary art museum, a top-notch children’s museum, and a gorgeous Art Deco opera house that’s home to a professional theater company.

With nearly one-third of the 32,623 population between ages 20 and 40, Bangor’s energy is youthful, adventurous, and unpretentious — just what you’d expect from a city sitting at the edge of the Great North Woods.

Stephen King's Bangor home
Photograph by Greg Hartford

Wrought-iron spiders and bats adorn the gate to Stephen King’s Italianate mansion (no, it’s not open for tours)

antique phonograph
Photograph by Robert F. Bukaty.

A rare Edison Triumph phonograph is one of thousands of collectibles at Antique Marketplace & Cafe. 65 Main St. 207-941-2111.

blueberry ware
Photograph by Robert F. Bukaty

Find Brewer-made blueberry ware at Rebecca’s Gift Shop, a downtown fixture. 43-45 Main St. 207-945-3588.

Blaze Bangor
Photograph by Meredith Perdue

Stencilled panels cast a soft glow in the bar at Blaze. 18 Broad St. 207-922-2660.

Rockland painter Meghan Brady’s Everyday and Blue + Gold Gardenhead are on display at the University of Maine Museum of Art through May 4. 40 Harlow St. 207-581-3300.

Specialty Sweets

Chocolate bonbons from Specialty Sweets are almost too pretty to eat. 36 Springer Dr. 207-990-0778. 

Mount Hope Cemetary
Photograph by Scott Brewer

Mount Hope Cemetery is one of America’s oldest garden cemeteries. For a self-guided tour, visit