The town of Rockland, Maine is a charming seaside community nestled on the shores of midcoast's picturesque Penobscot Bay. It’s not only a popular tourist destination, but it's cherished by the 7,000 locals, as well.
From exploring fascinating museums and diving into the vibrant art scene to savoring fresh seafood and immersing yourself in the region's natural beauty, we're giving you our insider recommendations on the top excursions and activities in Rockland Maine to experience it like a local.
Things to Do in Rockland Maine
1. Picnic at the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse
It’s no secret that Maine is home to several of the world’s most famous lighthouses. During your stay in Rockland, take a leisurely stroll along the nearly 1-mile-long breakwater to reach the historic Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. Built in 1902, the light is over 120 years old!
Visiting this lighthouse is one of the best things to do in Rockland, Maine, as it shows off some of the most stunning views of the surrounding coastline. Plus, walking along the breakwater is a unique experience in itself.
Throughout the summer, visitors will find portable toilets set up and occasional open houses where the public can tour the light keeper's house. Any time of year, this is the perfect setting for a picnic — pack some local goodies (ask for recommendations at your Rockland, Maine lodging!) and layers, because it's always colder on the water.
2. Sail on a Windjammer
Although it's small, Rockland is one of the busiest ports in all of Maine. Experience the area's maritime hustle and bustle firsthand by embarking on a sailing adventure aboard a traditional wind jammer. There are several options, with sailing durations ranging from a half-day to over a week, all departing from Rockland Harbor. Check out a fan favorite; A Morning in Maine for a one-of-a-kind experience!
Almost immediately after setting sail, you'll discover why this is one of the best things to do in Rockland Maine. You'll enjoy breathtaking views of the iconic rugged coastline, feast on traditional Maine dishes including lobster and oysters, and maybe even spot some wildlife (be on the lookout for harbor seals, dolphins, puffins, and whales — gray, humpback, pilot, and minke!). Adventurous folks will even have the opportunity to partake in some traditional sailing tasks, like rigging up the sails or steering the ship.
3. Walk Along the Rockland Harbor Trail
Enjoy a scenic walk, run, or bike ride along this 5.5-mile trail that connects the city’s downtown core to the beautiful waterfront. Along the way, you’ll enjoy gorgeous views, go through city parks, immerse yourself in local history, and even check out a bit of the art scene. You'll also pass by some of the best places to eat in Rockland Maine, giving you the perfect excuse to stop for drinks or appetizers!
The trail has mixed surfaces, and parts of it are accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. You'll find stretches of pavement, gravel, brick pavers, and a wooden boardwalk.
4. Explore the Art Scene
While most visitors head to the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland's art scene is far more expansive. If you want to do as the locals do, delve deeper into the vibrant art scene by visiting independently-owned galleries and studios. Some great places to start include Harbor Space Gallery, Art Space Gallery, Clarke Gallery, and Dowling Walsh Gallery.
5. Shop at the Rockland Farmers Market
Fit right in with the locals by visiting the Rockland Farmers Market. Held on Thursdays in the summer and early fall in Harbor Park, the market features a variety of fresh produce and seafood, artisan crafts, and delicious food from local vendors. This is also a fantastic way to support the Rockland community and meet some locals!
Places to Eat in Rockland Maine
While exploring all of Rockland's fun things to do, you’ll surely work up an appetite. Check out some local favorites!
Insider tip: Note that many of Rockland’s restaurants close during the off-season (often starting in October or early November, through April or May). Be sure to call directly or check out the website before visiting.
- The Causeway: The intimate seaside Causeway Restaurant is positioned on the St. George Peninsula right across the causeway from scenic Clark Island. The menu offers diners a unique twist on the region's distinct local flavors through dishes with high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients. With panoramic ocean views, this is the perfect setting for an unforgettable meal near Rockland! Even better, it’s connected to the Craignair Inn by the Sea (see “Where to Stay in Rockland Maine” below).
- Archer's on the Pier: With stunning waterfront views, Archer's on the Pier is a popular spot for seafood lovers. You can indulge in fresh lobster, clams, oysters, and other local catches while enjoying the ambiance of dining right on the water. In fact, the vibe is so inviting that watching the sunset with a beverage, even if you're not having dinner, is one of the best things to do in Rockland Maine!
- In Good Company: This lively bistro has a warm, inviting atmosphere along with a diverse menu featuring small plates, artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, and an extensive wine list. It's the perfect spot for sharing delicious food and enjoying good company after a busy day!
- Suzuki's Sushi Bar: For sushi lovers, Suzuki's is the go-to spot in Rockland. The intimate Japanese restaurant offers a wide selection of fresh sushi rolls, sashimi, and other Japanese specialties, prepared by the owner, Keiko, in this intimate environment.
Where to Stay in Rockland Maine
After a day of exploring (and eating!) like a local, you deserve the perfect place to stay. The historic Craignair Inn by the Sea offers a relaxing stay right on the coast, combining Maine's signature warm hospitality with gorgeous natural surroundings. Guests of this Rockland Maine area bed and breakfast are also treated to a delicious meal every morning. Best of all, Craignair Inn is only 10 miles from Rockland, making it the perfect jumping-off point for exploring MidCoast Maine. Book your stay today!