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Spend a Day in Wiscasset

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

Maine's Coastal Town with Fun Family Activities!

In the pleasant summer months when folks descend upon Vacationland for a trip to Maine’s scenic coast, many flock to iconic spots like Portland, Bar Harbor, and Kennebunk. Maine has dozens of stunning coastal towns, many with breweries, art galleries, and seafood restaurants.

When our family of four took a day trip to the coast, we looked for a place that offered more, something for all of us to enjoy. This led us to the picturesque seaside village of Wiscasset. Here’s how to spend a great day there:

Birches Coffee Bar & Market

After driving for over an hour through a dreary morning to get to the coast, the first thing on our mind was coffee. We stopped at Birches Coffee Bar & Market on Route 1. At first glance, we weren’t sure we were in the right place. Birches abuts the Seacoast Coffee Company, and as we entered the building, it looked more like a gift shop than a place that served coffee.

Fortunately for us, looks can be deceiving. We ordered two hot lattes and two frappes from the counter tucked away in the back of the shop. Their seating was outdoors, so we went through the back to enjoy our delicious beverages in the Adirondack chairs under the pines.

Old Jail Museum

The three-story brick and stone structure that once served as Lincoln County’s jail, rests in a quiet neighborhood overlooking the Sheepscot River. Built in 1811, the stone half of the building housed prisoners for over a hundred years, while the attached brick dwelling was added several decades later for the guard and his family.

Our docent was very knowledgeable about the jail’s history. She explained how the jail guard’s wife cooked meals for the inmates. There used to be a garden outside where inmates could grow food in the summer. Occasionally, they worked various jobs within the building to bring in revenue – like shoemaking – which wasn’t as lucrative as local officials had hoped.

We toured the first and second floor of the jail, and the first floor of the home. The jailers reserved the third floor for women, debtors, and the insane (prior to the introduction of specialized asylums in the mid-1800s). Today, the Lincoln County Historical Association uses it for their offices as extra storage space.

In the jailer’s home, we saw the main living quarters, the kitchen, and the workshop. There wasn’t any original furniture from when the jail was in use, because the guards brought their own. But the historical society has done a fantastic job of redecorating with period correct pieces.

The jail is open to visitors during the summer months for a small fee. For more information, check out the Wiscasset Old Jail website.

WW & F Railway

The Wiscasset, Wilmington, and Farmington Railway is a must-see attraction for train enthusiasts, children, history buffs, and people who just like to look at cool stuff. We were confused when we arrived because we couldn’t find an entrance building for the museum. A volunteer kindly informed us the entire railyard was the museum.

We walked through train cars, watched volunteers load wood and coal into an engine to prepare it for an upcoming ride, and spoke to another volunteer who was building a train car from scratch, based on hundred-year-old design plans.

Inside an old train depot, we found the check-in desk and gift shop with t-shirts, toy trains, books, and postcards. Though we didn’t take a ride on the train for this visit, there were several options available for the day. Train rides range from approximately fifty minutes to several hours, depending on the excursion.

The WW&F Railway is a volunteer-led organization with a passion for preserving history. They welcome volunteers for events and regular work days. For more information about visiting the museum, riding the trains, or volunteering, check out the WW&F Railway website.

Indian Trail Antiques

Though we’re not usually the type of family who enjoys antiquing as an outing, we occasionally stop into stores to gawk at the treasures. After reading a brochure from the Old Jail Museum that boasted of an antique shop in an 1800s barn with four floors, we had to go see it.

We thought we’d gotten lost on the way to the shop because, even though it’s near Route 1, it feels miles away from everything. The large red barn sat on a property a short path from the main road.

This antique-lover’s paradise had everything one might look for in a shop. It’s 15,000 square-feet held “mantiques” like automobile collectibles, fire helmets, and even a motorcycle. We saw desks and other furniture, a stoplight, toys, a vintage cash register, and military memorabilia.

Visit their website at Indian Trail Antiques for more information.

If you plan to visit Maine’s coast, don’t miss this charming small town with enough activities to please everyone in the family.

1 Comment

Awesome article and pictures!

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