The 10 Best Things To Do In Rockland, Maine (2023)
Rockland is Maine’s mid-sized city and a very popular tourist destination. Rockland, Maine, is known for its picturesque multi-use harbor, working waterfront, and grand Lobster industry. This self-proclaimed Lobster Capital of the World offers the most flavorful, crunchy, yet tender Lobster that’s caught freshly in Maine’s cold coastal water. Maybe not for the entire world, but Rockland does operate as the Lobster Capital of Maine, at least. Throughout the year, foodies from the state and across gather here to have the best seafood meals of their life.
Rockland has also been known as Coolest Small Town in the United States and Maine’s Popular Foodie and Adventure Town. Though it is a classic coastal town, Rockland is still much more than food. The city offers diverse activities to its visitors, ensuring every single individual can have some fun times. No matter which time of the year you are visiting Rockland, you will find something wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing. Ready to learn more? Here are the 10 Popular Things To Do in Rockland, Maine. Have a look:
10 Best Things To Do In Rockland, Maine
1. Begin your Rockland Trip With A Visit To Farnsworth Art Museum
Farnsworth Art Museum is a grand public place and perhaps the most popular place to visit in Rockland, Maine. This beautiful museum facility is spread over more than 20,000 square feet area and boasts over 15000 works of art by several notable artists of the United States. The museum is solely dedicated to Maine-inspired and American artwork and is a one-of-a-kind center to check out. It is home to the United States, one of the largest collections of Louise Nevelson sculpture works. Farnsworth not just displays a wealth of paintings and sculptures but also introduces visitors to more than two centuries of American Art history. Historical, as well as contemporary art go hand in hand here, with several new pieces getting added to the collection every year. Art enthusiasts can easily spend 3 to 4 hours browsing through the museum exhibits. And even if you aren’t the one, you will still love several art pieces and see how they capture your mind.
2. Move to Another Art Destination, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA)
Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) has been operating since 1952 with a promise of presenting a year-round program of changing exhibitions. For an Art connoisseur, this is the ‘The Place’ to be at. The facility is located in downtown Rockland and is quite easy to find. It isn’t just another art museum in Rockland, but an institution that presents, promotes, encourages, and establishes both art and artists. Entry inside the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) is priced at $5. An interested individual can easily spend an hour or so inside without finding a minute to get bored. The center features a wealth of continually rotating exhibitions, lectures, and lessons. Not only the collection but the glass-enclosed modern building that houses it is quite an exciting settlement to be seen.
3. Attend the Maine Lobster Festival
When in Rockland, there is no major experience than attending the Maine Lobster Festival. Rocklands’ Lobsters are undoubtedly a BIG DEAL, and that is why the city dedicates the first week of August to celebrate it. The festival goes on for 5 days, and the entire stretch is all about lobster feasting and fun. Maine Lobster Festivals begins on Wednesday and goes all the way through Sunday, with weekends being the most crowded of all. The highlight of this event is the world’s greatest lobster cooker, twenty thousand pounds of lobsters, a marine tent, a large parade, carnival rides, the sea goddess coronation, art, craft, entertainment, and more. Not just Rockland and Maine but people from all across the country ensure marking their presence here. Even if you aren’t a fan of Lobsters, the festival has so much more to explore and have fun around.
4. Visit the Rockland Breakwater Light
In the itinerary for Best Things To Do In Rockland, visiting the Rockland Breakwater Light is undoubtedly an important entry. This lighthouse structure has been sitting on a massive breakwater since 1902, and that’s how it got its name. Back then, it took 20 years to build using 700,000 tons of granite that brought this stunning masterpiece to life. The Rockland Breakwater Light soars 25 feet high and stretches more than 4,340 feet into the Rockland Harbor. Today, visitors can take a two miles round trip and observe the structure from close. The lighthouse even allows inside visits during the weekends of summer month. Visitors are advised to wear comfortable and non-slippery shoes since the long breakwater could be a little tricky to traverse. In and around the breakwater, threats like sightings of shorebirds and harbor seals, along with Dolphins (occasionally) too, await the way.
5. Explore the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge
If you are a nature and wildlife enthusiast, then do not miss exploring the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center when in Rockland. The refuge consists of over sixty offshore islands and four coastal parcels. It encompasses nearly 8,200 acres over Maine’s super extensive coastline. The major motivation of the wildlife refuge is to restore and manage the nesting seabird colonies so that future generations can see them in real and not just through pictures. Though exploring the entire refuge isn’t that easy, they have a visitors center in downtown Rockland which individuals can definitely check out. The visitors’ center has a nice art gallery upstairs and a gift shop with a great selection of gifting options. On certain afternoons, Michael Langlois and other biologists happen to visit the art gallery and share valuable information with visitors.
6. Stop at Olson House
Less than half an hour’s drive from Rockland, the Olson House is located in Cushing. It isn’t technically in Rockland but in one of the neighboring towns. Olson House is basically a 14-room Colonial farmhouse built by Captain Samuel Hathorn II during the late 1700s. A lot of people can recognize the house for its featuring Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, and that’s what brings it the major number of visitors. Olson House is today a National Historic Landmark, an entity of Farnsworth Art Museum, which is open for the public to explore. A visit to Olson House is like a time capsule to past art and nature, and that too in a very pleasant way. Tour guides working for Olson are extremely enthusiastic about their job and make sure to present their best experience and knowledge to visitors. Tickets and reservations for exploring Olson House are available at the Farnsworth Art Museum itself.
7. Pay a Visit to Maine Lighthouse Museum.
Sitting right in the center of Rockland (surprisingly), the Maine Lighthouse Museum is an interesting attraction to stop at. As visitors pass through the Museum doors, it unfolds the largest collection of lighthouses, lifesaving, and U.S. Coast Guard artifacts of the United States. For a lighthouse enthusiast, there can’t be a better, bigger, or more important landmark than this fantastic museum space. It is also home to the incredible collection from the former Museum of Lighthouse History of Wells, and that’s how its extravagance grew so grand. Its collection has everything from boats, lighthouse lenses, replicas, pictures, photographs, and other artifacts. The Maine Lighthouse Museum operates throughout the week from 10 am to 5 pm (closes an hour early on Saturday and Sunday). For admission, visitors need to pay a minimal amount of $8 for seniors and $10 for adults, while entry for 12 and below is free.
8. Enjoy Rockland’s Summers By Attending Summer Solstice Festival and North Atlantic Blues Festival
Summer Solstice Festival and North Atlantic Blues Festival are the two summertime festivals that adorn the town like none other. The Summer Solstice Festival is a two-in-one festival that is organized on Main Street, continuing the tradition every year. During the day hours, the festival features games, entertainment, food, and other family-friendly events. Whereas as soon as night begins, it transforms into an adults-only festival with a cash bar, food, adult games, entertainment, and more for the 21+ crowd. The latter, on the other hand, is the annual two-day blues music festival. It is one of the most prestigious events of its kind on the East Coast, featuring national blues performers. A music lover should definitely attend it at least once in their lifetime. The festival organizes in the month of July when the scenery turns beautiful, and the weather remains temperate. Besides live music entertainment, other attractions include crafts, food, and drinks.
9. Enjoy Waterfront Dining at Archer’s on the Pier.
Popular for its fresh seafood delight, Archer’s on the Pier is located directly on the waterfront. Though it is yet, another seafood restaurant in Rockland but it has an excellent ocean view. Archer’s on the Pier features a bright white exterior with navy and black accents. For sitting, it has ample indoor and a huge covered outdoor patio space where visitors can dine while watching the boats come and go. The restaurant’s menu has everything from sandwiches, burgers, fish, wraps, salads, and lunch classics. Of all the extensive menu, the must-try is ‘Local Wild Oyster,’ a dish no seafood lover can overlook. The owner, Lynn Archer, ensures remaining heavily involved in the business, and that’s how everything from their food, hospitality, customer service, and pricing is appreciable.
10. Try Japanese Cuisine at Suzuki’s Sushi Bar
Trying Suzuki’s Sushi Bar’s Japanese cuisine is definitely one of the best things to do in Rockland, Maine. It isn’t an authentic Japanese restaurant but one that brings the fusion of seafood and cultural cuisine with a twist directly to your plates. Their sushi is made up of locally sourced ingredients and the freshest seafood to keep that excellence alive. The sushi roll options go from Rockland rolls to tuna and avocado, spicy salmon, and more. In addition to that, the restaurant also offers a good selection of gyoza, sashimi, noodles, rice, salads, and a few drinks to pair with them. Suzuki’s Sushi Bar operates Wednesday through Saturday and is open for reservations and walk-in entries both. They even have a small bar and ample seating options. However, since Suzuki’s Sushi Bar is in a populated restaurant place, it is quite easy to miss.