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.
Wrought-iron spiders and bats adorn the gate to Stephen King’s Italianate mansion (no, it’s not open for tours)
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.
Chocolate bonbons from Specialty Sweets are almost too pretty to eat. 36 Springer Dr. 207-990-0778.
Mount Hope Cemetery is one of America’s oldest garden cemeteries. For a self-guided tour, visit mthopebgr.com.