Living in Lewiston
Depending on who you talk to you’ll either hear, “There’s nothing to do in Lewiston” or “There’s a lot to do in Lewiston!” After two years here, I definitely concur with the latter. You just need to look for what’s going on–don’t expect it to jump out at you.
Lewiston has transitioned from a textile/industrial based economy to one that now includes healthcare, telecommunications, finance, education, light manufacturing, and a growing creative economy of artists and entrepreneurs. Efforts to restore vacant textile buildings by repurposing them for retail and business have brought in many new jobs and housing options such as The Lofts at Bates Mill. Lewiston has further demonstrated its adaptability over the past decade as thousands of refugees/immigrants from several countries have been attracted to the city as a safe, walkable, and affordable community. To some people’s surprise, Lewiston boasts numerous destination restaurants and festivals, community-building events like a weekly Farmer’s Market and monthly Art Walk, and an active arts and culture calendar of events. In addition to outdoor recreation opportunities right here in town (e.g., hiking at Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary or kayaking on the Androscoggin River), we are less than an hour’s drive from the ocean, the mountains, and any number of gorgeous lakes and interesting towns and small cities.
A. WHAT TO DO
These are in no particular order but include many of the fun events in the Lewiston Auburn area. Add them to your calendar!
Lewiston Farmer’s Markets – During the summer months, there’s a big one each Sunday morning at the intersection of Main Street and Lincoln Street – across from Pedro O’Hara’s restaurant – and a smaller one on Tuesdays in Kennedy Park. Once winter hits, there is a monthly indoor farmer’s market in St. Mary’s Nutrition center on Bates Street downtown.
Great Falls Balloon Festival – Toward the end of August each year, the skies are filled with hot air balloons of all sorts. The festival includes morning and evening balloon launches, music, food, kids’ activities, and more. One of my favorite ways to enjoy the spectacular balloons is atop Mt. David, right next to the Bates campus on Mountain Avenue. Another is from a canoe or kayak on the Androscoggin. It’s also fun to watch the balloons lift off from Simard-Payne Park downtown, which is also where most of the music and festival activities are centered.
Events at the Colisee – From sports events to concerts and some strange things in between, the Colisee is a busy events location. Check out their schedule!
Events at Bates – Events at Bates can keep you and your friends/family busy practically any evening or weekend. In addition to official events, you may also want to check out Family Friday at Commons, when faculty and staff with Bates IDs can eat their hearts out at Commons for a mere $6.00 apiece. (cheaper for kids).
Community Supported Agriculture – CSAs – Like fresh produce? Keep an eye out for emails about CSAs (community supported agriculture) from Mike Milliken, director of Wellness at Bates. If you’re not feeding a lot of people, I recommend finding 1-2 Bates friends with whom to share a share. This is a great way to eat healthy and support local food systems.
Androscoggin Land Trust Trail System – LA Trails – Lots of well-maintained walking and biking trails in Lewiston, Auburn, and surrounding area.
Androscoggin River – This river was once so polluted that it sparked the Clean Water Act (authored by Bates alum, Edmund Muskie). Happily, it is well on its way to a full recovery and offers some great places for kayaking, canoeing, or fishing. There are many put-ins right in/near town, as well as rentals at the Auburn River Walk beneath Gritty’s Brew Pub and Restaurant. The Gulf Island Pond section in the Riverlands in Turner comes highly recommended.
Kennedy Park – This is the large park in downtown Lewiston, and it attracts a wonderful cross-section of residents. It features public basketball courts, swimming pool, and skate park, as well as lots of places to people-watch or throw a Frisbee.
Art Walks – From May-September, the last Friday of the month features art, music, tastings, crafts, and friendly neighbors in downtown Lewiston and Auburn.
Greek Festival at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church – In early September – lots of food, drink, and dancing. Grab a colleague and head over for a quick lunch or a crazy night.
Patrick Dempsey Challenge – Yes, McDreamy is from around here, and he shows up at least once a year (September) for the annual bike and run race he founded to raise money for the Dempsey Cancer Center here in
Ice Festival – Hosted by L/A Arts, this winter event will warm your heart. Features ice bars, ice sculptures, food, and live music. February.
Wine and Beer Tasting at the Vault – The Vault in downtown Lewiston is a great place to buy some special wine or beer, and they often hold free wine and beer tastings–sometimes even with live music!
Great Falls Forum at Lewiston Public Library – A great, free speaker series in Callahan Hall at LPL. A joint venture of the library, Bates College, and the Sun-Journal newspaper, programs occur monthly on Fridays from noon – 1:00pm. Bring your lunch or grab a sandwich at Forage or another downtown spot and head upstairs at the library for fabulous presentations, usually featuring Maine talent, including Bates faculty and staff.
Live music, film showings, and The Corner at Guthries – This place has it all – a yummy, healthy, affordable, eclectic menu for lunch and dinner; live music on Friday nights; a microcinema; and the popular (NPR Moth-inspired) monthly story-telling program called The Corner.
Lost Valley Ski – Only 8 minutes from campus, this small ski area is a local gem. Discounts with a Bates ID.
Exploring and Adventuring just out of town
Ponds/State Parks like Range Pond and Taylor’s Pond are incredibly close and a great place to hang out or cool down on a crazy hot and humid day.
Mini golf or driving range at Tabers at Lake Auburn – Hit some balls, then enjoy a burger or cone.
Brewery Tour at Baxter Brewing – It’s free, short, informative, and delicious.
Get inexpensive produce at Blackies – a large farm stand in Auburn with lots of yummy food for a lot less than the grocery stores!
B. WHERE TO EAT
So now that you know what’s available for you to do, here are some of the tasty places you should visit on payday—again, in no particular order.
Antigone’s Pizza, 757 Main Street – The best pizza in Central Maine, a region blessed with excellent pizza. Take out and diner still eat-in – no delivery.
Guthries, 115 Middle St. – Chill place with beer, tea, coffee, paninis, and mexican. Weird, fun, and absolutely delicious.
Fuel, 49 Lisbon St. – French bistro, more expensive, drinks will knock you off your seat (only order 1..). They constantly change their menu, too!
Forage, 180 Lisbon St. – Great place to grab a bagel, coffee, sandwich or soup. Then buy some organic groceries! Really cool atmosphere.
Mother India, 114 Lisbon St. – Darn good Indian food.
Simones Hot Dogs, 99 Chestnut St. – Super cheap hot dogs (and other food). Also a hotbed for local conservative politics. Been in town for close to 100 years so it’s worth checking out.
Gritty’s Brew Pub and Restaurant, 68 Main St. Auburn – good food, atmosphere, and beer. (They make their own on the premises.)
Auburn Library Cafe, 49 Spring St. Auburn – In the basement of the Auburn Library. Great small menu – sandwiches, salads, pastries.
DaVincis Eatery, 150 Mill St. – Italian/pizza place. Eat all the garlic knots you can. Lots of seating. Extremely popular.
The Pop Shoppe Diner, 413 Main St. – A great place for a greasy brunch fix. Quite inexpensive, too.
Giffords, 910 Minot Ave, Auburn – Delicious, creamy ice cream. You can also find their flavors in the local grocery stores. Go.
Dairy Joy, 109 Campus Ave. – Walking distance from Bates (there’s one in Auburn, too). Cheap, yummy ice cream.
Somali Restaurants, Lisbon St. – These sometimes change names and locations, but just walk down Lisbon Street and see what you find. Try a Sambusa—yumm!
The Cupcakery, 97 Lisbon Street – An array of yummy cupcakes, all made by differently-abled people.
Fishbones, 70 Lincoln St. – Get your seafood fix here. Nice bar. Moderately expensive.
Jasmine Café, 730 Center Street in Auburn – Yummy sushi and Asian fusion. Great for catering, too.
Tripps Primal Farm and Kafé, 1056 Center Street in Auburn – An ALL gluten-free zone. Fabulous soups, pizza, pastries, and sandwiches.
Orchid, 29 Lisbon St. – Freshest sushi in town, small but delish Asian fusion menu; a thoughtful, always-changing wine and beer list;
Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli, 624 Turner St. Auburn – Yummy sandwiches.
Nezinscot Farm, 284 Turner Center Road, Turner – Don’t miss it! A fabulous farm-to-table organic farm, café, and store.
Pat’s Pizza, 85 Center Street, Auburn – great view of the river on the porch – popular pizza joint