Insider Tips for Visiting Bangor

When exploring a town or region in Maine, the locals know best. That’s why we asked Emily Burnam, a longtime reporter for the Bangor Daily News and ride-or-die Queen City resident, to tell us what to do and where to go when visiting her adopted hometown.

ANTIQUES + VINTAGE FINDS

Antiques Marketplace on Main Street offers thousands of square feet of art, jewelry, and local ephemera. Just one block away on Columbia Street, Antique Alley has a hip selection of midcentury modern decor and furniture, vintage leather jackets, and band T-shirts. Across the river in Brewer, the School House Antique Mall is packed with New England–made home goods, kitchen items, and textiles. And don’t forget Bangor’s two record shops: stalwart Dr. Records on Hammond Street and newcomer The Vinyl Canteen on Central Street.

EAT LOCAL

The Bangor Farmers’ Market, open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sundays during the warmer months on Harlow Street in downtown Bangor, is a vibrant, cheerful place to buy locally grown food and to people-watch. One of my favorite weekend treats is a made-to-order crepe from the YumBus, a food truck run by chef Billi Barker that is parked at the market each weekend. I recommend the braised beef with super-sharp cheddar and chipotle crema, which packs a savory, flavorful punch. I also love Barker’s ginger scones and chorizo and kale hand pies.

MASTER OF HORROR TOUR

Everybody knows that Bangor is the home of Stephen King, but to really get the inside scoop on all the different corners of the city that have inspired the author, book a tour with SK Tours of Maine. Led by the amiable, knowledgeable Stu Tinker, the tour takes you all over town, pointing out everything from the sewer drain that inspired It to the store whose name King used for Randall Flagg.

RETRO FUN

Queen City Cinema Club in downtown Bangor might be the coolest bar you’ve never been to in Maine. But while you might come for the craft beers and the menu of elevated stoner food, you’ll stay for the retro arcade with pinball and Pac-Man, the private movie theaters, and the overall cool basement/romper room vibe. There’s always great music on, and you can feel no guilt about mowing down on Mexican street corn nachos and house-made chicken tenders while you destroy your opponent in air hockey.

TRAIL TREKKING

The Bangor area boasts an extensive network of trails and nature preserves, ripe for walking, biking, paddling, snowshoeing, and skiing. Local nonprofit and social club Bangor Greendrinks has an incredibly useful map of every mile of trail in the region available on its website. My personal favorites are Essex Woods in Bangor, which is off-leash dog-friendly, and Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Old Town.

A view of Bangor from the Penobscot River.

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