15 things to do in Lebanon (Maine)

Lebanon is located at the southern tip of Maine, in York County, about 50 kilometers north of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

It’s not far from one of the most scenic and popular lake districts in the north of the state, and is close enough to the Atlantic coast for a day trip to the beach.

Like much of the state, it’s an outdoor enthusiast and nature lover’s paradise, filled with fantastic state parks, museums, art galleries and historic sites, so finding things to do is no problem.

Here are the 15 best things to do in and around Lebanon, Maine.

1. Bear Creek State Park

Beaver Creek State Park

While you’ll find it in neighboring New Hampshire, Bear Creek State Park is close enough to Lebanon to be on the radar for guests looking to experience the New England wilderness in all its glory.

At over 10,000 acres, it’s the largest of its kind in the state, and with nearly 50 miles of trails, it’s not hard to see most of it.

With nearly 100 campgrounds including mountains, swamps, rivers and streams, the park is popular with outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers of all kinds.

Check out the Welcome Center and Camp Store before you go.

2. Children’s Museum of New Hampshire

Children's Museum of New Hampshire

While it’s not the largest museum in the world, what the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire lacks in size it more than makes up for in fun.

This is one of those rare places that not only entertains children, but also engages and educates them.

Located on Washington Street in Dover, many previous guests said their experience far exceeded their expectations, and their kids never got bored, even after two hours or more.

Much of the museum’s exhibits encourage children to actively participate, rather than just passively watch, so they’ll break out in a sweat and break free from pent-up energies.

3. Portsmouth Room Escape Games

Portsmouth Room Escape Games

For a truly unique and suspenseful afternoon or evening, nothing beats a good escape room.

Portsmouth Room Escape Games features a variety of rooms with different themes, and difficulty levels can be matched well – even for groups with children.

If you’ve never experienced an escape room, they’re a great way to build camaraderie and teamwork, and they exercise your brain’s gray matter, which few other recreational activities do.

Room escapes are also a great idea for a date for two, and since they’re located in the heart of Portsmouth, there are plenty of restaurants nearby for an after-event dinner or drink.

4. Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Rachel Carson was one of the original heavyweights of the environmental awareness movement that swept the country decades ago.

Her book “Silent Spring” remains a classic over the years, and there’s no better way to honor her legacy than by spending some time in the National Wildlife Refuge named after her.

Refugees are important stopping points for migratory and wading birds, especially as more northern and inland freshwater lakes freeze over.

The entrance to the sanctuary is on Port Road in Wells, which was established in 1966 to protect an important coastal ecosystem and the animals that live there.

5. USS Albacore Tuna

USS Albacore Tuna Museum

If you’ve never seen a submarine up close, they’re remarkable machines; their impressive size and girth are worth seeing when they’re completely out of the water.

USS Albacore is a submarine from the 50’s and is now a museum open to the public.

In many ways, ships like the albacore were testbeds for experimental technology, much of which led to the advancements now common on submarines.

Like most visitors, you might find the cramped space claustrophobic, but you’ll get a fascinating look at the stealth weapons systems that were on the front lines for much of the Cold War.

6. Explore Portsmouth Central

Explore Portsmouth Centre

Housed in a building that was formerly the city’s library, the Portsmouth Historical Society includes a unique range of exhibitions and displays covering topics such as science, history, culture, art and the natural world.

It’s unique in that regard, and there’s such a wide variety that almost everyone will find something they’re interested in.

Many of the center’s exhibits are designed for children, many of which are interactive. In addition to their permanent exhibits, they often host temporary exhibits from other institutions, so you never know what you’re going to see until you show up.

7. Wentworth-Coolidge Building Historic Site

Wentworth-Coolidge Building Historic Site

Originally built in the mid-1700s, Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion was once the residence, office and library of the Colonial Governor. The mansion consists of more than 40 rooms and the grounds have been a working farm for most of its life.

This historic site is located on Little Harbor Road just a few miles from downtown Portsmouth; it is one of the best preserved of its type from colonial times.

Once you’ve visited the house, the grounds of the sprawling mansion are a great place to take a stroll and enjoy views of the scenic Little Harbor.

8. Strawberry Bank Museum

Strawberry Bank Museum

Spread over 10 acres in one of Portsmouth’s most historic districts, the Strawbery Banke Museum is home to a stunning living history museum, one of the most complete repositories of historical and cultural artifacts in the state.

The museum has different times at different times of the year and offers guided tours, many of which include other historic buildings and structures in the area.

For travelers who are only in the area for a short time and are interested in learning about the history of the area, spending a few hours at the Strawberry Bank Museum would be a smart way to go.

9. Woodman Museum

Woodman College Museum

With such a rich history going back hundreds of years – until much of New England remained British territory – it’s no wonder that Maine and New Hampshire have so many amazing museums.

Established in 1916, the Woodman Museum includes elements of art, history, Native American culture, and the natural world.

The museum consists of four buildings with their own unique histories; they are the homes of some of the most interesting and historical figures in the area, dating back to the 1600s when the area was a wild swarm of hostile locals and animals And dangerous borders.

10. Portland Museum of Art

Portland Museum of Art

Over the past few years, New England has been home to many of the country’s most respected and accomplished artists.

The Portland Museum of Art is the oldest and most comprehensive art museum in the state, housing a fantastic collection of art—some of them priceless.

While many of the museum’s works are traditional, there are also many contemporary pieces. In addition to its permanent galleries, it also hosts temporary galleries from other institutions throughout the year.

Located in Historic Congress Square, the best way to find out about their events and exhibits is to check their website regularly.

11. Shopping at the Old Port

old port

Portland’s Old Docks is the city’s ancient waterfront, once a thriving marina filled with boat berths, warehouses and horse-drawn carriages navigating its cobblestone streets.

Now undergoing a transformative revival, it’s one of the most fashionable and sought-after retail areas in the area, filled with shops, galleries and restaurants, often attracting large crowds.

Many of the store’s items are uniquely New England-American. While the prices aren’t cheap, you’ll get more special items than you’ll find at national retail chains.

The Old Port is a great place to relax with a glass of wine or cappuccino while waiting for the sun to set.

12. Visit Historic Homes

Portland

There are many historic homes in downtown Portland, making it the perfect place for a historic home tour.

For do-it-yourselfers, it’s pretty easy to compile a home listing within a few blocks. If you’d rather let others worry about the details, there are also a variety of professionally guided family tour options to choose from.

Whichever route you decide to take, you’ll get a fascinating glimpse into the past. It will also help you understand the layout of the city, which will come in handy as you continue to explore all the city has to offer.

13. Oriental Promenade

Oriental Promenade

Portland certainly has no shortage of waterfront departments, and the Eastern Promenade is arguably the most quaint, scenic, and favorite area for locals and tourists alike.

Set on a beautiful stretch of land between the Falls River and the Back Bay, the nearly 70-acre park is full of trails, beaches and open spaces to keep you and your traveling companions for hours.

It’s open year-round, and while it’s especially popular during the warmer months, some of the most dramatic scenes can be seen during the windy winter months, when the scenery is like a classic oil painting.

Much of the park is relatively remote and will make you feel like you’re further from civilization than you really are.

14. Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park

Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park is located near the town of South Berwick, along the Salmon Falls River, which most of the time forms the dividing line between Maine and New Hampshire.

The park is open year-round, and while it doesn’t have any amenities to speak of, it’s filled with incredible views and many trail options along the river.

For those who want to combine a bit of history with the natural beauty of the park, there is a well-marked trail to the Hamilton House.

The house sits on a cliff overlooking the river and this is a photo that should be taken advantage of.

15. Fort Allen State Park

fort allen state park

Portland’s Casco Bay is one of the region’s natural gems, and there’s no better place to see it than in Fort Allen State Park.

Land that is now part of a state park used to sit idle while they dealt with unused space in many towns. Now, it’s a great community resource with a variety of outdoor options popular with locals and tourists alike.

Filled with easy-to-walk trails, picnic areas and covered gazebos, it has everything you need for a great time.

The park is open all year round and is not very busy, especially in the fall and winter.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Lebanon, Maine (ME)
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