A Capital Visit
Five great ways to make a day of it in Augusta.
Augusta is home to some great attractions that will let you experience the best of Maine. Even better, all these sites are publicly funded, so it won't cost you much to visit them. Here are almost a half-dozen of our favorites:
Kennebec River Rail Trail
This 6.5-mile trail linking Gardiner with Augusta and the communities in between has become the envy of the rest of Maine since it opened last October. Whether you have a bicycle, Rollerblades, or just want to take a stroll and enjoy the view of the Kennebec River, this brand-new scenic byway is a must-see while you're in Augusta. The trailheads are located on Water Street behind the Maine State Housing Authority and in Capital Park on Union Street.
The State House
It cost us $32 million, but the renovation of the State House gave us a building that is worth a visit from citizens as well as legislators. The granite-lined tunnel connecting the legislative chambers with the State Office building includes dioramas with mounted wildlife and a very impressive triangular skylight, while the chambers themselves are nothing to sneeze at (or in!). Call 207-287-2301 to set up a tour.
A cemetery isn't often on a tourist's itinerary, but the grey and black granite memorial in the center of the Maine Veterans' Memorial Cemetery is worth experiencing. Even on the most pleasant spring day you can't help but be touched by the sacrifices of the Maine men and women listed here. Off Route 27. 207-287-3481.
Pine Tree State Arboretum
It's surprising how few people take advantage of the six miles of trails that crisscross the 224-acre Pine Tree State Arboretum, a gem of a property on Route 9 just south of Route 17 on the east side of the Kennebec River. Whether you choose the one-mile Viles Pond Loop trail out to the piggery and back or something more challenging, this is the place to enjoy the very trees and natural beauty that make the Pine Tree State special. 207-621-0031. http://pinetreestatearboretum.org
Maine State Museum
It's still one of the best deals in Maine - admission is just two dollars for adults and one dollar for children - and the sight of a reassembled 1840s water-powered woodworking mill is worth that much all on its own. The ongoing exhibits are worth a look, too. 207-287-2301. www.maine.gov/museum