Midcoast Maine is one of the most popular areas for Maine tourism, as it has the rocky coastline, the colorful foliage in the fall, and the Coastal Route One Highway is dotted with quaint, New England towns complete with steepled churches, sleepy main streets, and friendly people. One of the larger towns along Route One in Midcoast Maine is Brunswick. With a population of over 20,000, Brunswick is still small enough to be called a small town, but it is large enough to have all the amenities desired in a much larger city.
Home for many years of the Brunswick Naval Air Station, Brunswick is one of the more transient towns in Maine. Consequently, with people from all over the United States, and all over the world, coming in and out of Brunswick every few years, the feel of the town has been a bit more metropolitan than other Maine towns of the same size and population. Just a block from the entrance to the Naval Air Station is Route 24, which is the gateway to several of the coastal islands including Bailey Island, Orr’s Island, Great Island, Cundy’s Harbor, and Harpswell. These lobster fishing villages have become popular tourist attractions, and with only one small highway leading to their beauty, the intersection in Brunswick which leads to these hot spots has grown into quite a large area. Known as Cook’s Corner, the intersection, just off Coastal Route One, has developed almost into its own suburbia-type area. Complete with a small mall, a Wal-Mart, a Lowe’s, and several restaurants and fast-food establishments, Cook’s Corner is one of the busiest places in Brunswick. Yet Cook’s Corner is only one area of Brunswick, and it does not dictate the general personality of the town.
Just a few miles down the road past the Naval Air Station is the main part of Brunswick, and the area that is, historically, what gives Brunswick its charm. The main street in downtown Brunswick is one of the widest main street in the United States, and it is dotted with shops and eclectic restaurants. At one end of the main street is the Androscoggin Mill, now converted into an office building with doctors offices, restaurants, and a weekend auction house. Just behind the Mill is the Androscoggin River and a quaint bridge leading to the town of Topsham. At the other end of the main street, about a mile away, is a beautiful, grassy park known as the Brunswick mall, complete with a gazebo, hot dog stands and a farmer’s market in the summer, and an ice rink in the winter. Just past the edge of the mall is the historic First Parish Church where famed Civil War hero, Joshua Chamberlain went to church while attending Bowdoin College. Bowdoin College, itself, as well as Joshua Chamberlain’s home is just across the next intersection. The main street in Brunswick also has several Greek Revival homes including the former home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, which is now a museum. Bowdoin College students can often be seen playing Frisbee on the mall or frequenting the many coffee shops along the main street. Locals enjoy sitting on the park benches, strolling the streets, or enjoying a beer at Joshua’s Tavern.
Brunswick, Maine has many independent and chain hotels and motels, as well as a variety of Bed and Breakfast establishments, as well as the exclusive and historic Captain Daniel Stone Inn, on the edge of the river. Several nearby campgrounds are available up and down the coast. Just recently, a paved bicycle and jogging path was built along the edge of the river, where visitors can safely run, walk, bike, or skate for about two miles with the same views as those driving the Coastal Route One. On Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer and the Maine tourist season, locals put on the largest Memorial Day Parade in Maine which starts in Topsham and marches across the bridge into Brunswick, ending just short of First Parish Church. The parade has participants from all over the Midcoast area, including merchants, school bands, and political and charity groups. People from all over the area turn out for the patriotic display, as well as the presentation on the Brunswick Mall afterward.
Brunswick, Maine is a wonderful place to visit; and if visitors decide to stay permanently, it is the perfect place to live.