Best things to do in Belfast


Belfast, Maine is one of Maine’s beautiful coastal cities that welcomes visitors with open and friendly arms. Spending a perfect day wandering the shops of Main Street, exploring the busy harbor, and eating the freshest seafood, including Maine lobster, will leave you happy and satisfied.

From the welcoming way Maine approaches all of its visitors, Belfast offers free parking in the city center and the city is within easy walking distance. Spending a day exploring this picturesque mid-coast town on Penobscot Bay is the perfect addition to your DownEast Maine getaway.

Things To Do In Belfast

Belfast offers guests a glimpse into the city’s history as they walk along old brown brick storefronts to the harbor occupied by fishing and pleasure boats.

Cheeses from Eat More Cheese (Photo credit: Sandi Barrett)

Stroll through the downtown shopping district

Charming independent shops line the streets of the city center. Stroll down to the bay, stopping at specialty shops housed in beautifully maintained historic brown stones.

Eat More Cheese is a fabulous gourmet cheese shop that offers specialty products that will complement your charcuterie board. With delicious cheeses from the United States and all over Europe, along with fine wines and cold cuts, your picnic will be heavenly. Try the fig salami; it’s fabulous, and not just for vegetarians.

Left Bank Books is one of those stores where you can linger for hours. Cleverly presented books invite you to leaf through them to discover their hidden secrets. A well-designed cover, an intriguing kitchen, a picture book about Maine and any other number of books that require you to hold, explore, and discover their captivating words. Bookstores are becoming increasingly rare, it is important to support these treasures every time they cross our paths.

Vinolio specializes in infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars and is a budding chef’s dream. Their infused olive oils provide flavor bombs that will enhance your favorite dishes. Try basil infused oil on your next Caprese salad or Tuscan herb infused oil on your favorite primavera pasta. Vinolio also offers a collection of flavored salts. Some great options include Ghost Pepper Sea Salt, Smoked Bacon Sea Salt, and Balsamic Sea Salt; all adding flavor and texture to your culinary creations.

Sweet downtown boutique Coyote Moon delights shoppers with a fun and eclectic selection of clothing, accessories, and other spiritual items. At Coyote Moon, shoppers will feel the positive energy as soon as they walk through the door. Every square inch of the store exudes an attitude of benevolence and gratitude.

Exterior of the Colonial Theater in Belfast, Maine
Sandi Barrett

Explore the historic colonial theater

From the outside, the Colonial Theater looks like a preserved art deco relic from the early 1900s. With its pastel-colored facade and trumpeting elephant on the roof, it looks like an old theater set in a tropical destination, not on the coast of Maine. However, once you step inside, the Old Lady Royal shines and invites patrons to one of the three state-of-the-art movie theaters that show first-run movies.

The Colonial is one of the theaters listed on the National Register of Historic Places and well worth a stop for a peek inside.

Take a walk on the Belfast Rail Trail

Hiking the Belfast Rail Trail is a fun way to explore the beauty of Belfast, Maine. The 2.3 mile point-to-point hike winds along the Passagassawakeag River. Its surface is hard and easy to navigate. The scenery along the rail trail is stunning, featuring native plants, homes with stunning river views, and peaceful views of the waterways. The hiking trails along the harbor and the river are generally an easy hike and a wonderful way to explore the hidden parts of a city; the Belfast Rail Trail is just in the right place.

Sandi Barrett

Enjoy the easy walk from Belfast Harbor

When you reach the end of Belfast city center, you are literally at the ocean’s edge. The new Belfast Harbor Walk is a scenic half-mile walk starting at the Armistice Bridge and past the harbor ending at Steamboat Landing Park. The walkway passes through shops, pubs, restaurants and views of the shipyard ending at the park. Along the way, stop and enjoy the relaxed seaside vibe and pretty harbor views.

Another fun walk from the harbor is crossing the Armistice Bridge. The passage of the footbridge is a memorial to the patriots who died during the First World War. You will often find locals and visitors tending to fishing rods along the way.

Brambles store in Belfast Maine
Bramble Shop (Photo credit: Sandi Barrett)

Shop for vintage pieces

Near the end of Main Street is a nice little garden shop, Brambles. The shop is full of all kinds of eclectic garden decorations that work both indoors and in the garden. If you’re looking for that perfect vintage-inspired piece, Brambles might just have your favorite Maine souvenir.

Ambiance is a fun and funky vintage shop that specializes in lamps, but has lots of antiques and unusual pieces. If you like to go on a scavenger hunt, you’ll love exploring Ambiance in Belfast city center.

Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railway

Sit back and relax on the sofa bed of the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad. Scenic walks through scenic Maine countryside begin in nearby Unity. Schedule your visit to coincide with some of the special event rides, like the Hot Apple Cider & Donuts Train or the Fall Foliage Extended Tour. These special rides are a wonderful way to see the passing scenery and enjoy a seasonal celebration.

Colorful sidewalk in Belfast, Maine
Sandi Barrett

Cross artistic bridges

The Our Town Belfast group selected local artists to paint crosswalks in the city center. The results are interesting public works of art that highlight crosswalks at busy intersections. A fun and colorful play on graffiti, crosswalks brighten up dull and often overlooked pavement and provide an added safety reminder to distracted drivers and pedestrians.

Working a lobster boat

Fishing expeditions and sunset sails are your typical activities on the water, but in Belfast you can board a lobster boat and experience the working life of a lobster fisherman (or a woman lobster fishing) with DownEast Boat Company. For nearly 2 hours, you’ll hoist traps, measure and harvest Maine lobsters, flexing your muscles and whetting your appetite.

After exploring the world of lobsters on the ocean, it’s time to explore the taste of lobsters at Young’s Lobster Pound & Seafood restaurant. If you can’t make it to Belfast right away Young’s will bring you a fresh and lively Maine lobster overnight for your own home experience, taste the ocean experience.

Shop the Belfast Farmers Market

Every Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Belfast Farmers’ Market comes to town. The market uses two different sites, one for late spring to fall and the other when the weather is less favorable. The market is the best place to find fresh, local produce, dairy, seafood, meat, and delicious baked goods. This should be on your to-do list if you are in the Belfast area on a Friday morning. Stop and explore Belfast’s food scene, where fresh, local dishes are hugely important dining considerations.

Explore the Belfast Historical Society and Museum

The Belfast Historical Society & Museum is the custodian of Belfast’s artifacts and history. The preserved maritime history exhibit detailing Belfast’s short-lived shipbuilding industry is interesting. He helped shape Belfast today. For visitors who enjoy exploring the city’s history, the Historical Society can take you back in time.

Perennial Cider House Belfast, Maine
Perennial cider house and farmhouse kitchen (Photo credit: Sandi Barrett)

Belfast Restaurants

Fresh Maine lobster and the catch of the day dominate the restaurant scene in Belfast. Coastal dining options as well as interesting concept restaurants dot the downtown area. Belfast is small enough that you can check out all the varied offerings before deciding on your ultimate dining destination.

Perennial cider house and farmhouse kitchen

Belfast city center is home to the Perennial Cider Bar & Farm Kitchen, an organic restaurant serving local dishes transformed into seasonal cuisine. With a constantly evolving chef’s menu dictated by the availability of fresh produce available, you will be surprised and delighted with the meal on offer. The best way to order from Perennial: ask the chef to choose your dish.

Make sure to taste their ciders from the tap. You’ll love exploring all of the local Maine cider options.

Young’s Lobster Pound & Seafood Restaurant

Young’s Lobster Pound & Seafood Restaurant juts out into Penobscot Bay. Outdoor picnic tables, gorgeous waterfront views, and a classic seafood menu await. You can select your own lobster from the huge lobster stash and cook it to perfection. The menu is filled with an assortment of lobster dishes listed alongside other wonderful gifts from the sea. When you can’t decide what to eat, choose the classic Bucket List for Two, which includes all the delicacies: two lobsters, clams, shrimps, mussels, oysters, corn on the cob and fixings.

Young’s is a ‘bring your own drink’ establishment, so whip up your favorite drink and head for a bay picnic and seafood dinner.

Pro tip: There is so much to see along the coast of Maine. If you have a little time, consider taking a road trip and visiting other quaint towns along the way. Our article on 12 Great Stops on a Road Trip from Boston, Massachusetts to Bangor, Maine will give you some great ideas. Also consider stopping in the nearby town of Bangor for a weekend getaway. Check out How to Spend a Perfect Weekend in Bangor, Maine for helpful tips on this charming city.

If you’re visiting nearby towns like Camden, Bar Harbor, Bangor, Portland, and other coastal towns in Maine, be sure to take Route 1 and have a perfect day in picturesque Belfast.

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