Lewiston + Auburn
Located on either side of the Androscoggin River, these former manufacturing hubs are now home to cultural and culinary destinations, along with an increasingly diverse community.
My parents and I check in at the Inn at the Agora, where innkeeper Jan Barrett and her friendly puppy, JoJo, are awaiting our arrival. Barrett shows us around the inn, pointing out the fudge and sherry waiting for us in our rooms. All around the inn, books, games, and dishes of candy create a welcoming atmosphere.
Dinner is our next stop. Fish Bones American Grill, located in Bates Mill, is popular with locals and tourists alike. We order mussels, steak, and chicken dishes to share. The portions are big, and by the end of the meal our stomachs are quite satisfied.
Before exploring Art Walk LA, we head to Maine Gourmet Chocolates in downtown Auburn for dessert. The walls are bright pink, and there’s chocolate all over the shop, in fun shapes from sports paraphernalia to tools to peanuts. We leave the candy shop with smiles, ready to try our beautifully designed treats.
The Art Walk begins only a few steps away. We look at photographs displayed in shop windows while eating chocolate. A local band is playing by the waterfront next to Gritty’s, and we sit on a bench for a while to enjoy the performance. From there we pop in to galleries on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, including Kimball Street Studios, which has intricate quilts and tapestries on display, and the Studio, a shared artist space showing local work. L/A Arts, which organizes the art walks, has an exhibition by local artist Celeste LaForme that includes hung pieces and installations made from grass and other materials.
We start our day early, joining the Auburn locals for breakfast at Rolly’s Diner. The packed diner is decorated for Halloween and Thanksgiving. We order crepes, which we’re told are a popular choice here. The crepes are delicious, and soon our stomachs are full and happy. We are ready for our next stop, the Auburn Riverwalk. The air is crisp, and the scenery around the Androscoggin River is beautiful. Not only is the foliage in full effect, but there are many historic mill buildings surrounding the river, once the source of their power.
The Atrium Art Gallery at University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College features an exhibition of beautiful black-and-white photographs by Robert Pennington, who documented the lives of disenfranchised people in Colombia.
Museum L-A should not be missed when visiting these cities. The organization, located in the Bates Mill complex, has a permanent exhibit on the cities’ textile, shoemaking, and brick manufacturing heritage.
We find dessert before lunch at the Cupcakery in Lewiston. The bakery has a case full of goodies, and a baker lets us sample the pumpkin spice cupcake, easily my favorite cupcake I have ever had. From there we each pick out an assortment of flavors: coconut raspberry, chocolate peanut butter, red velvet, apple, and more.
DaVinci’s Eatery is a spacious Italian restaurant in the Bates Mill, bustling with families and couples. The decor is cute, with vintage bicycles and scooters. We order three small wood-fired pizzas to split: buffalo chicken, vegetarian, and eggplant. The former mill space’s large, beautiful windows let in lots of light, making it a perfect lunch spot.
The first thing I notice walking up to Orphan Annie’s Antiques is all the decorations celebrating the season. We explore as long as we can, looking through the store’s large collection of clothing, home goods, jewelry, and more.
Baxter Brewing Co., the third-largest brewery in the state, does not disappoint. After a tour of the Bates Mill facility, we each try three of the beers made there. My dad, who brews his own beer at home, enjoys the Stowaway IPA best, while I like the seasonal Hayride Autumn Ale.
Fuel, a casual French bistro on Lisbon Street, comes highly recommended by friends. We order several different dishes to get a taste of the variety offered. My parents order salmon and chicken, while I get some greens. The relaxed atmosphere also makes the restaurant a great choice for a Saturday night drink. Next door to Fuel is Bear Bones Beer, a small brewery and tasting room. We share a Buck’s Season, a lighter session ale, which is perfect because we are still full from dinner.
The Public Theatre in Lewiston always puts on a wonderful show. Tonight we join a packed audience to see The Revolutionists, a witty play about four women living in France during the French Revolution.
We walk across Kennedy Park to Forage Market on Lisbon Street just as the bakery and market opens, and there’s already a line. The smell of the freshly baked bagels fills the store. There’s a limit on how many bagels you can order here because of the high demand; we each order a breakfast sandwich. At the first bite we understand why there was a line—the bagels are so fresh and soft.
After checking out at the inn, our last stop is Veterans Memorial Park, along the Androscoggin River in Lewiston. The park honors all the men and women from Lewiston and Auburn who have served in the military. We spend a lot of time finding names we recognize on the monuments.
On our way home we continue our talk about all the history of these cities and how the rise and fall of different industries has shaped Lewiston and Auburn, and brought different cultures to our beautiful state.