Homecoming: explore the Waterville area
As much fun as campus can be, sometimes we all need to get away. Many of us might feel that we’ve exhausted the options available to us in Waterville, but the greater Waterville area has a lot to offer. Whether you’re searching for a place to bring your family over family homecoming weekend or for an original date idea, here are a few great things this area has to offer.
With the Colby Art Museum closed for construction, the Kennebec Valley Art Association’s Harlow Gallery in Hallowell is the perfect alternative for those looking to admire great art. The current collection at the gallery, “Chalk” features a collection of two-dimensional blackboard/chalk-based images on display until Oct. 29. Also on Oct. 29 is the “Day of the Dead Performance,” a performance highlighting the story of a young woman mourning the loss of her love told through poetry, song and projected images from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
For any students with history-buff parents, Augusta, the state capital, has a lot of options. After Maine separated from Massachusetts and became its own state in 1820, the capital was originally designed to be the popular city of Portland. It was later decided that the capital should be in a more central location for the state, so it was moved to Augusta, where the State House was constructed in 1832. Today, the Maine State House is open to the public from Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both professional tours and self-guided tours are available.
The Maine State Museum, located in Augusta as well, features “four floors of exhibits, many educational programs and thousands of collection items from Maine’s history, pre-history and environment [which] make the museum a popular destination for visitors, as well as a place of pride for Maine people,” according to the Maine State Museum website. Collections include a Civil War flags exhibit and a three-story, water-powered woodworking mill.
Built in 1754 and a current National Historic Landmark, Old Fort Western in Maine is New England’s oldest surviving wooden fort. Located on the Kennebec River in Augusta, Benedict Arnold used the fort during his assault on Quebec City during the American Revolution. The fort is open in November, December and January only on the first Sunday of the month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Even though it’s getting close to winter, fall is a great time to enjoy the outdoors before the snow falls. If you’re looking to stay on campus, enjoy the Perkins Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary. The arboretum covers 128 acres and has miles of trails great for hiking and running. Bring your family or significant other out for a walk and enjoy the beautiful Maine foliage.
Another population destination in Waterville is the Ticonic Footbridge, better known in town as the Two Cent Bridge. The Bridge traverses the Kennebec River and connects the towns of Waterville and Winslow. The bridge was recently reconstructed and offers a great view of the riverfront area downtown.
If you’re looking to enjoy nature outside of Waterville, there is another arboretum located in Augusta. The Viles Arboretum has 224 acres of land featuring a rock garden, a brilliant lilac collection, a hosta garden and “Governor’s Grove,” a collection that includes over 60 stately eastern white pines each named in honor of one of Maine’s former governors.
For some short local hikes with beautiful views, the Belgrade Lakes in Oakland are your best bet. The Long Pond, the Great Pond, North Bay, Hatch Cove, Ellis Pond, Salmon Lake, McGrath Pond and Messalonskee Lake are all close options that offer spectacular water views. Hiking options in the area include Blueberry Hill, French’s Mountain, Kennebec Highlands, Mt. Philip and the Mountain. All are very laid-back hikes that make for a great daytime activity, and don’t forget to bring a camera.
And for the best part of any parental visit or romantic evening: the food. For local eateries, be sure to check out Apollo’s Bistro. The restaurant uses some of its own patio-grown herbs and vegetables and local growers for organic and fresh ingredients. The menu features extravagant appetizers and enticing entrees for around $10 and $25, respectively.
Buen Apetito is another great local option. Serving Mexican cuisine to the greater Waterville community for over 10 years, the restaurant is known for its variety of salsas and delicious margaritas. With a full menu of nachos, quesadillas and burritos, Buen Apetito, located at Railroad Square Cinema, offers a great atmosphere for friends and family.
Hallowell also offers several great dining options in a relatively close destination. Slates, a popular bakery and restaurant in the area, has been a successful business for over 30 years. All of the restaurant’s breads, pastas, desserts and ice creams are homemade at Slates Bakery. The bakery was recently expanded so customers can sit and enjoy coffee, baked goods and lunch. All produce is from local organic farmers whenever possible and offers an impressive selection of liquor, beer, wine and drink specials. Slates is open Tuesday through Friday serving lunch and dinner, Saturday for brunch and dinner, and Sunday for brunch.
As the semester hits the halfway point, be sure to branch out from campus and food delivery options and really enjoy what the Waterville area has to offer. Don’t limit yourself to sporting events and dining halls. Bring out your family or grab some friends and take advantage of our great location.