Though some might view Bangor as a mere jumping-off point to some of Maine’s more iconic vacation destinations like Mount Desert Island and Baxter State Park, there is so much to experience in the city of Bangor itself. Active pursuits, a lively & historic downtown, and some delicious food are just a sampling of what this historic city perched on the Penobscot River has to offer its visitors.

And if you’re on the fence about leaving your pup at home on your next visit to Bangor, think again. There are plenty of outdoor activities to experience in Bangor alongside your favorite furry friend.

Hike the Bangor City Forest + Orono Bog Boardwalk

Walking the dog in the Bangor City Forest.

Whether you arrive in Bangor by car or by plane, it’s nice to stretch your legs after time spent traveling. A nice stroll through the Bangor City Forest and its 9+ miles of well-maintained hiking, cycling, and cross-country skiing trails is sure to get your blood pumping and ease the aches of a drive or a cramped flight.

Although leashed dogs are welcome on almost all of the recreational trails within the forest, they are not allowed on the adjacent Orono Bog Boardwalk. This gorgeous 1-mile loop winds through a protected wetland forest on the edge of Bangor. The trail crosses the town line into Orono as it opens up to a peat moss bog.

Picnic at Cascade Park

Cascade Park in Bangor.

Grab some sandwiches at Harvest Moon Deli for a picnic lunch. Head to Cascade Park with your pup and munch in the shade next to the 20-foot man-made waterfall.

Visit the University of Maine Museum of Art 

A free museum with an impressive permanent collection that includes the works of some of the world’s most celebrated artists – think: Picasso, Hockey, Warhol, Frankenthaler, and Miro among plenty of others – the University of Maine Museum of Art in the heart of downtown should be on the top of any art-lover’s Bangor list. The museum is home to more than 4,000 works of original art. It boasts a strong concentration of American mid-century works on paper. Rotating exhibitions feature a wide array of contemporary art and ideas.

Downtown Bangor Boutiques & Shops

Downtown Bangor Shopping

As Maine’s third-largest city, Bangor is home to an assortment of charming, independently-owned downtown businesses. Shop along Harlow Street for delightful gifts and home goods from The Willie Wags and Accents Home Furnishings & Decor. Jewelry, plants, and other one-of-a-kind treasures can be found at The Rock & Art Shop on Central Street. Antique lovers should allow plenty of time to meander through the two floors at the Antique Marketplace on Main Street.

Dinner at Timber Kitchen & Bar

Timber Kitchen and Bar in Bangor

With an interior that is as stylish as the food is tasty, the 150-seat Timber Kitchen & Bar is a lively dining destination specializing in wood-fired entrees, inventive cocktails, and craft beers. Its design is a nod to Bangor’s rich lumber history. But the space is anything but rustic with a modern, yet warm aesthetic. Either before or after your meal, the fire-lit outdoor patios invite you to have a drink and stay awhile.

Morning Walk Along the Riverfront with Doughnuts

Before you make your way across the bridge for a walk along the Penobscot River in Brewer, begin your day with a doughnut (or three) from Gosselin’s Bakery. This third-generation, family-owned Bangor institution has been serving their signature doughnuts for nearly 75 years. You’ll want to stop in Gosselin’s earlier than later because as people like to say, once they’re out… they’re out.

After you’ve satisfied your sweet tooth, park your car in the lot next to Mason’s Brewing Company and head for a stroll along the Brewer Riverwalk. This dog-friendly paved pathway offers unobstructed views of Bangor. There’s also an educational Children’s Garden, and access to the river for the launching of canoes and kayaks.

Bangor Historical Society Walking Tour of Downtown Bangor

Bangor Historical Society Walking Tour

Ten dollars will buy you a 90-minute guided walking tour of downtown filled with all of the Bangor facts & trivia you could ever dream of knowing. From June to October, employees of the Bangor Historical Society lead various themed tours through the city that are equal parts enlightening and enjoyable.

Lunch at Bagel Central

Bagel Central

After a morning spent exploring Bangor and Brewer on foot, take a seat and refuel at the popular Bagel Central cafe. Bagel Central is known for its delicious and varied selection of bagels and breads. But their pastries and baked goods might be just as popular. Come hungry and try both – you won’t be disappointed.

Want help planning your trip to Bangor? Start with visiting the Greater Bangor Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Words and Photographs by husband and wife, Michael Cain and Meredith Perdue. The duo are writers and photographers living and working together on the coast of Maine.