Lewiston, the home of Bates College and historic mill buildings along the Androscoggin River, is at the southern end of the central Maine region and a gateway to the western mountains, which can also be accessed from Exit 113 in Augusta, the state’s Capitol, and north on Rote 27, which winds through the Belgrade Lakes region, where trophy pike, trout and salmon lure fishermen from across the country. The Kennebec River runs through Augusta and Hallowell, once a vibrant port and lifeline for supplies and travel from points south. Explore the Capitol buildings, including lifelike dioramas of Maine’s wilderness replete with moose, deer, beaver and birds, and browse the Maine State Library. Lakes and ponds, dotted with summer camps, abound throughout the region and offer visitors a real taste of the days of yore, when “sports” from the big cities frequented the region in search of fish and game.

Top 10 things to do in the central Maine region

1. Bates College Museum of Art offers the upcoming exhibition, Green Horizons, featuring an ambitious, interdisciplinary project that focuses on “What is Green and Sustainable”. The exhibit, which opens June 9 and runs through Dec. 9, will enhance frequently and is designed to examine the politics and nature of greenness and sustainability. Located at 2 Andrews Road, Lewiston. Call 786-6255 for more information.

2. Maine State Museum, located at the state Capitol building, 83 Statehouse Station, Augusta, telephone 287-2301. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.; closed state holidays. Featuring the exhibit 12,000 years in Maine – plus much more. Pick up a copy of the Official Maine State Museum Coloring Book, and don’t miss the many interesting collections, including geological, archaeological, ethnographic, and historical. A full day of enrichment and fun is in store for you at the Museum.

3. Androscoggin River – Enjoy a playful day of recreation in and along the Androscoggin River. Get some great exercise and enjoy the beautiful environment. North Auburn boat launch is located on the west side of river, off of North River Road, adjacent to Higgens Sport Center, behind a Wendy’s Resturaunt. The public launch provides access to the stretch of river in between Deer Rips Dam and Great Falls. Auburn Boat Launch is located on the west side of river and features a riverside park with limited public parking. It is reached just downstream of Longley Bridge, off of Main Street in Auburn, adjacent to plaza.

4. Maine Wilderness Tours offers fishing for bass, trout and pike. Book drift

boat trips, white water rafting, eagle watching and more. A popular canoe trip and lobster picnic is offered throughout the summer too. Located at 7 Croquet Lane Belgrade, 04917. Call 465-4333 (314-7130, cell phone) for more information or go online at [email protected] www.MaineWildernessTours.com

5. Belgrade Lakes Region – Seven great ponds make up the chain of Belgrade lakes and offer fishing enthusiasts a wide variety freshwater fishing opportunities. They include: Great Pond – Belgrade, Rome; 8,239 acres; depth, 69 feet; brown trout, brook trout, salmon, smelt, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch, pickerel, northern pike. Messalonskee Lake (Snow Pond) – Belgrade, Oakland, Sidney; 3,510 acres; depth, 113 feet; brook trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, salmon, smelt, pickerel, northern pike. Long Pond – Belgrade, Mt. Vernon, Rome; 2,714 acres; depth, 106 feet; salmon, brook trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, smelt, pickerel, northern pike, white perch. North Pond – Mercer, Smithfield; 2,115 acres; depth, 20 feet; brown trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch, pickerel, northern pike. East Pond – Oakland, Smithfield; 1,823 acres; depth, 27 feet; brown trout; largemouth bass, smallmouth bass; white perch; pickerel; smelt. Salmon Pond – Oakland, Belgrade; 562 acres; depth, 57 feet; brook trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch, pickerel. McGrath Pond – Oakland, Belgrade; 486 acres; depth, 27 feet; brown trout, brook trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch, pickerel.

6. Hallowell – Maine’s antique river port, located two miles south of the state Capitol on Route 201. Take exit 109 off I-95 north, merge onto Route 202 east, and then take a right onto Route 201 south. Enjoy browsing through antique shops and art galleries; take in some live theater and music; find an out-of-the-way romantic bed and breakfast; or drop your boat in the water at the Hallowell boat landing and enjoy a day on the Kennebec River. For more information contact the Hallowell Board of Trade at 620-7477.

7. The Theater at Monmouth -The Shakespearean Theater of Maine. I-95 north to Augusta exit 109. Follow signs for Route 202 west and Winthrop, for 12.5 miles until use see signs for Route 132 and The Theater at Monmouth. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Sunday shows begin at 7 p.m. Afternoon matinees start at 2 p.m. All performances are in air conditioned Cumston Hall, Monmouth. Schedule: June 23 – The Black Fly Follies; June 29-30 – The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. Call 933-9999 for more information.

8. Sabattus Disc Golf – 605 Bowdoinham Road, Sabattus, 04280. This course was built in 2005, and is both well maintained and picturesque. Designed to integrate significant elevation, tight woods, open fields, and a beautiful meandering stream into a challenging course. Call 375-4990 for more information.

9. Northern Maine Riding Adventures – 186 Garland Line Road, Dover Foxcroft. 564-3451. Enjoy a Christian equestrian and adventure-based facility. The owners are registered Maine guides and outfitters offering riding instruction, horseback trips, fly fishing, romantic adventures, along with children’s programs and Christian wilderness trips.

10. Gardener Arts Festival – Downtown Gardner/Water Street, Saturday, June 23, 10a.m. to 9 p.m. This all-day event is the kick-off to the Kennebec Valley “Whatever Family Festival” in downtown Gardiner. You’ll find a juried art show, live performances, lots of local food, fun for kids, trolley rides, pirate ship cruises, kayaking, and evening talent show, followed by fireworks over the Kennebec. For more information call 582-3100.

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