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Things to do in Bath

        Bath - a town by the sea

To help you plan your activities while in Bath, the following is a description of "Things to do in Bath" (put together by the fine folks at The Inn at Bath).

It includes various specific things to do which make Bath a special place to spend time. When people ask what there to do in our area, I start by telling them about our two extraordinary ocean parks/beaches.  Reid State Park, on Georgetown Island is a rugged, rocky, and sandy beach.  Popham State Park and Popham Beach are at the end of our peninsula, where the Kennebec River meets the ocean.  It has a marvelous pristine quality with a beautiful five-mile stretch of white sand.  Rated one of the most beautiful beaches in New England, Popham Beach is particularly noteworthy because it is close to the site of the unsuccessful 1607 Popham colony as well as Fort Popham, a Civil War bastion, and Fort Baldwin, a World War I redoubt.

Fall foliage enthusiasts should also know that the states of New Hampshire and Vermont do not have a corner on the foliage market (the same can be said for maple syrup).  The great advantage of visiting Maine in the fall is that you can combine the beauty of autumn leaves with the grandeur of our beaches.

Called a city, but really a small town, Bath is located on the Kennebec River about 10 miles inland from the sea with which it has had a romance for centuries.  Because of its location on the Kennebec River and the river's inland proximity to timber, Bath became one of the largest centers of wooden-hull shipbuilding and shipping commerce on the eastern seaboard in the 1800's.  Today, Bath still boasts a major shipyard - The Bath Iron Works.  Tying us to this past is the fascinating Maine Maritime Museum which is located just 1.5 miles from Bath Natural Market.  This past is also reflected in the wonderful architecture of Bath's residential Historic District where you can take a Sagadahoc Preservation sponsored tour of its beautiful homes or follow a detailed map which takes you on a self-guided tour of the District.

Something very special that we have here in Bath is The Chocolate Church Performing Arts Center whose diverse year 'round program offers a wonderful evening of entertainment, and is easily within walking distance from Bath Natural Market.  This Gothic Revival Church was built in the mid 1800's by part of Bath's Congregational Parish.  Today it is painted a deep chocolate brown.  Our area is also fortunate to have the Maine State Music Theatre which presents a full summer of musical productions at its home stage on the Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick.

High on the list of activity favorites in the area are exploring lighthouses and whalewatching.  Highly recommended is a lighthouse water tour on the Kennebec River with one of the many local guides, or with the Maine Maritime Museum.  Whale watching is a popular summer and fall adventure that can be booked out of Boothbay Harbor.

The Kennebec River is a major spawning ground for striped bass, attracting worldwide sport-fishing interest.  Fly and spin fishing guides are available for full or half day trips.

A very popular and growing sports activity in our area is kayaking.   Professional outfitters can provide a full range of services, including kayak and canoe rentals, beginner's classes and guided excursions. The Winnegance Creek, a 3 1/2 mile stretch of natural beauty running from the Kennebec River to Casco Bay is one of our area's little known jewels.  Kayaking is also popular around Bailey's Island, Robinhood Cove and in the Boothbay / Christmas Cove region.

A favorite place to go hiking in the immediate area is Morse Mountain, a land trust and bird sanctuary managed by Bates College and located near Popham Beach. The "Mountain" is not really a mountain at all, but rather a forested and hilly trail periodically intersected by marshland. At the two mile mark, halfway through your hike, you will find yourself at Popham Beach overlooking the ocean. For those wanting a greater challenge, there are some wonderful hikes within a reasonable driving distance.  Cloe Chunn's "50 Hikes in the Maine Mountains" is a great reference.

A trip to the Maine Coast is not complete without a day sail or overnight cruise out of Boothbay or Camden.  There are many anchorages such as the islands of Monhegan, Vinalhaven and Isle au Haut that make sailing the coast of Maine so unique.

Another great activity is biking.  We have some wonderful roads and neighborhoods.  For bike rentals, equipment and trail suggestions, Bath Cycle & Ski is just across the river in Woolwich.  If you want to be challenged and are willing to venture out a bit from the Bath area, the book "Mountain Bike! Maine: A Guide to Classic Trails" is a good resource.

For golfers and tennis players there is a nice 18-hole public course at the Bath Country Club.  To reserve a tee-time you can call 207-442-8411.  There are also three municipal hard-tru tennis courts which are available on a first come, first serve basis.

If you are looking for a hard-core ski weekend, Bath is probably not the ideal choice, as the best skiing is a few hours away.   Ski areas that are within two hours of Bath Natural Market include Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Shawnee Peak, Camden Snow Bowl and Lost Valley.

Halcyon Yarn, the largest distributor of yarns in New England, is located within a 5-minute walk of Bath Natural Market. They conduct knitting classes and sell equipment for knitting, spinning and weaving.  Another special member of our community is the Shelter Institute which for over 25 years has been conducting classes on the design and building of houses, including post and beam structures. Last but not least, we have a very special treat for those who love gardens.   In West Bath, about a 10-minute drive from Bath Natural Market, is Tom York's Nursery (207-443-5865) which specializes in rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias.  His collection is phenomenal and, of course, is particularly interesting for those of you who struggle with hardiness issues.  Tom even has particularly hardy rhododendron stock he brought from Finland.

Bath's central location on the Maine coast makes it ideal for day trips to major points of interest.   A wonderful trip is to travel up the coast to the Camden / Rockland area, and to make stops along the way.  There are excellent antique shops in the area, from Bath to Hallowell, Wiscasset and the Damariscotta/Bristol area.   And of course, don't forget L.L. Bean and the retail outlets in Freeport, only 20 miles away.

-Take in a performance at The Chocolate Church Performing Arts Center in Bath (207-442-8455, www.chocolatechurcharts.org) or a musical at the Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick (207-725-8769, www.msmt.org) at Bowdoin College.
-Walk the rocky beaches at Reid State Park or the white sands of Popham Beach State Park - be careful of tides if you swim; cook-out facilities are available at Reid.
-Relive our forefathers sailing past at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath (207-443-1316, www.bathmaine.com).
-Don't miss our spectacular fall foliage.
-Treat yourself to a day or overnight sailing charter to explore the Casco Bay islands.
-Hike the nature trails at Morse Mountain (nature conservancy with over 70 bird species) which lead to Popham Beach.

-Hit a 300 yard drive at the Bath Country Club, an 18-hole public course (207-442-8411).
-Explore our historic forts in the Popham Beach area (2) and nearby Edgecomb.
-Watch American bald eagles, ospreys and rare terns along our coast.
-Cross-country ski in wooded conservation areas.
-Spend some money at L.L. Bean and the Freeport outlets.
-Visit the Maine State Museum and Capitol in Augusta (207-287-2301).
-Explore the Giant Staircase at Bailey Island.
-Shop at Reny's (Bath) and get unbelievable deals on name brand clothing overruns and seconds.
-Visit the farmer's markets in Bath (Thursday and Saturday) and Brunswick (Tuesday and Friday).
-Watch lobstermen haul traps along the peninsulas.
-Take Kennebec River and light house tour boat rides from the Maine Maritime Museum and on the new Jet Boat Excursions (207-442-0092, www.kennebecjetboat.com) from the Bath City dock.
-Shop for antiques in Bath, Wiscasset, Newcastle/Damariscotta and Hallowell (get list from Innkeeper).
-Talk to a moose at Moosehead Lake.
-Hire a fishing guide to land trophy stripers, blue fish, tuna and sharks.
-Explore Monhegan Island.
-Listen to the Bath Municipal Band in Library Park.
-Visit the Historical Societies in Woolwich, Small Point, Phippsburg, Harpswell and Brunswick.
-See the harbor seals next to Fort Popham - ones with yellow neck bands are from California.
-In August, enter the annual Bluefish and Tuna Tournaments and visit the Topsham Fair.
-Explore our region on the Maine Coast Railroad (800-795-5404).
-Experience a lobstering village at Five Islands, Cundy's Harbor or Bailey Island.
-Learn to build the house of your dreams at the Shelter Institute in Woolwich (207-442-7938, www.shelterinstitute.com).
-Walk the shores and woods of Wolf Neck State Park in Freeport.
-Stroll the Bowdoin College Campus and visit its wonderful Art Museum (207-725-3000, ext.3275).
-Take a whale watch trip from Boothbay Harbor (800-636-3244).
-Don't miss our spectacular fall foilage.
-Visit the Musical Wonder House in Wiscasset (207-882-6373).
-Take the Chocolate Church's Bath Historic House Tour (Tuesdays and Thursdays).
-Warm up at the Peary-MacMillan Artic Museum in Brunswick (207-725-3000, ext. 3416).
-Peruse the art galleries in Brunswick and Bath.
-Admire the skill and artistry of our local potters at work.
-Explore Maine's specialty nurseries and viewing gardens (get list from Innkeeper).
-March in our Fourth of July Parade, enter and win Triathalon and enjoy Bath's Heritage Days.
-Linger at one of our area's 15 lighthouses.
-Check out the flea market in Woolwich.
-Search your ancestor's geneology at the Patten Free Library in Bath (207-443-5141).
-Take a course in weaving at Halcyon Yarn in Bath (207-442-7909).
-Visit the home of Gettysburg's Civil War hero, Gen. Joshua Chamberlain in Brunswick (207-725-6958).
-Serve an ace, smash an overhead at Bath's public tennis courts.
-Savor our native clams, shrimp and lobster on the wharf at Five Islands Lobster Co. (207-371-2990).

-Last, but not least, shop Bath Natural Market for your whole food, vitamin, naturally raised meat, tea, coffee, candle, body care, and gift needs.