Set on the Kennebec River, the charming and historic riverside towns of Gardiner and Hallowell act as a southern gateway to Maine’s Kennebec Valley. Each bustles with local shops, restaurants, and unique cultural offerings. Spend a day in one, or maybe both, as a perfect complement to the region’s outdoor adventure.


Shopping, dining, entertainment; a short visit to the riverside town of Gardiner can easily be turned into a full day. Cute shops and a surprising number of popular and well-rated restaurants flank both sides of Water Street.

For those looking for entertainment should look no further than Johnson Hall. The hall now boasts year-round performances as it continues to work towards the complete restoration of the magnificent theater that bears its name. 

gardiner public library in the riverside town along water street, kennebec river
Gardiner Public Library

Looking around, you’ll notice how well-cared-for the facades of the buildings are. This is a testament to the town’s efforts to keep the spirit of the area alive. Additionally, family-friendly and fantastic events grace downtown and the waterfront park each year. There is no going wrong if you plan on coming to Gardiner. Visitors are welcome to take advantage of the town’s amazing waterfront park. Wander past its many picturesque homes, the beautiful library, or take the self-guided walking tour in the footsteps of poet E.A. Robinson.

Enjoy a locally crafted beer at the Liberal Cup in Hallowell. Riverside town, local food,
Enjoy a locally crafted beer at the Liberal Cup in Hallowell.


Hallowell rests on a slow-moving stretch of the Kennebec River below Augusta. But the town does not feel like it’s resting, day or night. A key center of art and culture for the region, Hallowell should top your list of places to visit in Maine’s Kennebec Valley.

The eclectic variety of restaurants and shops create the tidy and welcoming package that is Hallowell — Maine’s tiniest city and a National Historic District to boot. Because of this, visitors feel simultaneously quaint and urbane. With an abundance of Federalist and Victorian structures, the area deserves a more in-depth visit. 

Shop along Water Street stopping in at any of the many charming shops. Take your pick from a collection of antique and vintage shops where you can certainly find something you “have to have.” Discover an excellent selection of boutiques, book shops, and gift stores. Plus, there are all the locally owned places you’d expect to find in a busy community.

Destinations: About Maine’s Kennebec Valley | Lakes Area | Cities: Augusta, Waterville, and Skowhegan | Small Town Charm | The Forks Area | Jackman and Moose River Valley

Other Visitor Resources: Gardiner Main Street | Hallowell Area Board of Trade