Brunswick in 48 Hours
Located along the scenic Androscoggin River, this former mill town offers a vibrant art scene, impressive dining options, and unique retailers, making it the perfect spot for a weekend away.
Suspended over the Androscoggin River, the Androscoggin Swinging Bridge is a historic pedestrian bridge that connects the towns of Brunswick and Topsham, and is a great first stop during your trip to Brunswick. Built by the same company responsible for the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, this iconic landmark is the perfect spot to snap a few photos and immerse yourself in nature.
Across the street sits a curious sculpture of a large wooden head seemingly built into the landscape. A small carved sign claiming the “Gallery Is Open” directs you to take a right. The Barter Art House Gallery is a building that is as quirky as the sculptures that surround it, and features the works of artists Matt Barter, Philip Barter, and Tim Fischer. Around the corner, the Bayview Gallery is another great space to admire and purchase art from renowned artists across New England.
The Federal Hotel is just a short distance away, tucked into a quiet corner of town, steps away from Maine Street but far back enough to provide respite from the bustling retail district. Recently renovated, the hotel’s chic ambience mixed with vintage appeal and attentive, knowledgeable staff makes this the ideal home base for your trip to the southern midcoast. Located inside the hotel is the new 555 North, a Portland favorite (then under the name Five Fifty-Five) that has resettled into its new home a half hour north. The sophisticated tasting menu offers artistically plated dishes, like the popular pepper-crusted scallops or pork rib eye. Trendy, upscale, and delicious, it’s a dining spot any foodie spending time in Brunswick should make a priority.
If you’re craving something sweet after dinner, Gelato Fiasco’s flagship store is a short walk into town and features an array of gelato and sorbet made in-house daily. For a nightcap, head up the road to Pub 165. Take a seat on the cushy leather couch or pull up a chair beside the fireplace to bask in the cozy atmosphere and sip on one of the tasty craft cocktails from their pub menu.
Bowdoin and boutiques
Start the morning off by claiming your spot in line at Dog Bar Jim. While the queue may be long, it moves fast, and the interior of the cafe has no shortage of unique decorations to keep you entertained, including a CRT television playing Seinfeld reruns. After you guzzle a Café Bombon with whipped condensed coconut milk and devour a warm pumpkin-curry muffin stuffed with spiced cream cheese, check out the huge display of artists’ murals that decorate the alleyway outside this eclectic local haunt.
Brunswick’s art scene doesn’t end with galleries and murals. Bowdoin College’s sprawling campus sits along Maine Street and is home to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. A glass and bronze pavilion marks the entrance of the museum, which has rotating art and anthropologic exhibitions and is free to the public. The museum is small but impressive, featuring works from artists including Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, and Katherine Bradford.
Head back into town and check out some of the shops while you ponder your next meal. The Lemont Block Collective has an inventory of goods made by local artisans, sustainable products, and antiques. Nest is another shop brimming with home goods to update your space. Pick up a bottle of wine and some artisanal cheese for later at Vessel and Vine. Make your way out to the back: the vines that enclose the porch create a dreamy vibe that pairs perfectly with one of their craft cocktails.
There is no shortage of lunch options downtown. Maiz Colombian Street Food has generously stuffed arepas with your choice of sauce, fried plantains filled with melted cheese, empanadas, and other Colombian dishes. Across the street, ZaoZe Cafe and Market offers Asian-inspired pastries and lunch fare featuring produce from the aquaponic farm located directly behind. The Big Top Delicatessen always satisfies with a menu that features both hot and cold deli classics; each sandwich comes with a side of potato chips and a sour pickle.
After lunch, spend some time treasure hunting at the Waterfront Flea Market. This massive indoor flea market is located inside Fort Andross. It’s easy to get lost among vintage records, piles of books, narrow corridors of furniture, and racks of clothes. If you’re looking for something a bit less chaotic and a bit more curated, Cabot Mill Antiques is also located in the mill, and is just as entertaining to explore without the risk of knocking over a pile of VHS tapes.
For dinner, reserve a table or grab a spot at the bar at Enoteca Athena, a rustic-chic Greek-Italian restaurant serving generous plates of homemade pasta and other Mediterranean dishes in a space that’s as homey as it is romantic. If you’re having a difficult time deciding on what to eat, the knowledgeable staff is eager to suggest dishes and cocktail pairings based on your taste. The Pesto Mediterraneo pasta dish is highly recommended to those who don’t mind a little heat. Don’t hesitate to indulge in a delicate slice of olive oil pistachio cake for dessert.
Brunch and brews
Start your morning off at Flip Breakfast and Brunch Bar, where you can wake yourself up the right way with a mimosa pitcher and a lobster Benedict. For something on the sweeter side, Frosty’s Donuts is a Brunswick staple that’s been serving up fresh donuts and cinnamon rolls the size of hubcaps since 1965.
If you went a bit overboard at breakfast, enjoy a scenic walk or bike ride along the Androscoggin River Bicycle Path to work off some of that fuel. The trail is a 2.6-mile (one-way) path that winds along the Androscoggin River and offers plenty of spots to stop and admire the water or watch paddling kayakers.
Before you say goodbye to Brunswick, make time to stop at the popular Flight Deck Brewing and try some of their tasty craft beer offerings, like the Krosswind, a crisp, easy-to-drink Kolsch, or the hoppy Subhunter IPA. Located at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, the brewery is bright and airy, with plenty of seating options both inside and out.
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