Insider Tips for Visiting Waterville

Things to do in Waterville include visiting the Colby College art Museum.

Located on the Kennebec River, this central Maine city is undergoing a resurgence, thanks to downtown investments from Colby College, new businesses, and a strong arts community. Patricia King, vice president of local arts organization Waterville Creates, shares where she sends visitors when they’re in this former mill town.

Bagels and the Mill

Start your morning in Waterville’s South End neighborhood and grab a fresh bagel and coffee at Sunrise Bagel on Water Street. The bakery also offers pastries and an assortment of bagel sandwiches. Cross the street to explore antiques and vintage finds at Hathaway Mill Antiques, including pottery, paintings, furniture, decorative arts, and more. Continue down the hall in the Hathaway Creative Center to Ticonic Gallery and Studios (formerly Common Street Arts), which has programming and exhibitions throughout the year.

Explore Green Spaces

Head Falls, a large riverfront park near downtown, includes landscaped walkways, benches, and open space for outdoor gatherings, musical events, picnics, and general recreation. The park leads directly to the only remaining toll foot bridge in the country, Two Cent Bridge, which traverses the Kennebec River and leads to a small park in Winslow.

Things to do in Waterville include visiting the Two Cents bridge.

It’s Showtime

The historic Waterville Opera House has been in operation since 1902 and hosts community theater events, live musical performances, and broadcasts from around the world. In November the Opera House will present Clue, a play based on the cult classic film and board game, and on December 18 country singing legend Wynonna Judd will perform. Down the road, Railroad Square Cinema was founded in 1978 as an independent art house theater, and its lobby serves as an art gallery throughout the year. Adjacent to the theater, Buen Apetito serves classic Mexican fare with delicious margaritas made with fresh lime juice. Across the parking lot is Grand Central Cafe, a local favorite and a perfect spot to perch on a wintery day or evening, with its brick oven providing a warm glow while cooking pizza to perfection.

Things to do in Waterville include visiting the Waterville Opera House.

World-Class Art

Colby College Museum of Art has an exceptional permanent art collection, and admission is free. On view through January 9 is the exhibition This House is Mine, which explores the work of the visionary African American painter Bob Thompson and his brief but prolific career. The exhibition brings together paintings and works on paper from more than 50 public and private collections across the United States and is accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalog. While on the Colby College campus, don’t miss the Perkins Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary. Established in 1946 and comprising 128 acres with 2 miles of groomed trails, the Arboretum is a delightful respite on the campus.


While not in Waterville, a favorite local lunch spot is Riverside Farm Cafe and Wine Market, just over the Messalonskee Stream in Oakland. A short drive from the Colby campus, Riverside Market serves delicious sandwiches, grilled fare, and daily specials. Riverside began as a roadside farm stand but has since expanded to a full restaurant, deli, and bakery. Excellent wine selections can be found here and also down the road at Tree Spirits Winery and Distillery, where Colby grads Karen Heck and Bruce Olson have a tasting room and retail space for their wines, spirits, and sangrias.

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