Teresa Hamilton (left) of Glenburn and Matt Watkins of Bangor watch the sun set near Bangor International Airport. Credit: Bridget Brown

You always hear about “things the locals know” in guidebooks and on travel websites. But are they really the sorts of gems only a resident would know about?

In Bangor, it’s no big secret where Stephen King’s house is or that downtown Bangor is a really fun place to be. There are other things, however, that are much more of a local secret. At the risk of blowing our cover and inviting a bunch of “people from away” into our little hidden gems, here are six things in Greater Bangor that are definitely known only by the locals.

Credit: Emily Burnham

Kittredge Road entrance to Bangor City Forest

The Bangor City Forest is no longer a secret. It has grown in popularity over the years and is a must-go for anyone visiting the Queen City. Though most people arrive via Tripp Drive, off Stillwater Avenue, where the largest parking area is and which is the closest entrance to the Orono Bog Walk, there’s another entrance that’s much quieter.

To access it, take Kittredge Road off Stillwater Avenue — across the street from the rear entrance to Target — and follow it all the way to the end. You’ll enjoy a lovely view of the forest via the Arboretum trail, which stretches over a big hill towards a scenic little pond, full of frogs, birds and other creatures.

Credit: Emily Burnham

Watch the sunset at Copeland Hill

Speaking of hills, Greater Bangor has lots of them. If you’re looking for a romantic place to take that special someone to watch the sunset that isn’t the airport or the municipal golf course, here’s a tip. Copeland Hill in Holden affords one of the most sweeping vistas in the area that’s especially beautiful at sunset, when you can stop, park and look west back toward the river.

There are several ways to get there. The fast way is to take Route 1A to Holden, then turn onto Copeland Hill Road, crossing Wiswell Road and passing by Bates Road, before you see a large white farmhouse and a large field — which is where you’ll want to stop and park on the side of the road. You can also access it via a more scenic route, taking Elm Street off South Main Street in Brewer/Route 15 and following it (it will turn into Wiswell Road) until it intersects with Copeland Hill Road, where you’ll take a right.

Credit: Ashley L. Conti

Avoid Route 1A traffic to Ellsworth or Mount Desert Island

Mainers love to gripe about the horrendous, often mildly terrifying traffic on Route 1A between Brewer and Ellsworth. You can avoid it almost in its entirety, however, on a much more pleasant drive with a fraction of the traffic and that takes only 15 to 20 extra minutes in time. Take Route 15 from Brewer to Bucksport; in Bucksport, Route 15 will turn into Route 1. Follow Route 1 all the way to Ellsworth.

If you’re continuing onto Mount Desert Island, once in downtown Ellsworth, cross the bridge and immediately turn onto Water Street, which will turn into Bayside Road. Follow Bayside Road (Route 230) for about 6.5 miles and then turn left onto Goose Cove Road; follow that until the end and then turn left again onto Oak Point Road; follow that until you reach Route 3, and take a right. That’ll put you less than a mile from the causeway linking Trenton to MDI. Voila! You’ve just bypassed the entirety of Route 1A.


Get in shape for a bargain in Hampden

If you can’t commit to a regular series of classes or can’t afford a gym membership, you’re in luck: Group exercise instructor Danielle Donovan Johnson teaches an array of classes at the Hampden Academy multipurpose room three times a week, and they’re all highly affordable, drop-in style classes for all ability levels.

At 6 p.m. Mondays and 7 p.m. Thursdays she offers Strong by Zumba, a Zumba class mixed with interval training. At 7 p.m. Mondays and 6 p.m. Thursdays she offers PIYO, a low-impact combination of yoga and pilates. And at 8 a.m. Saturdays, there’s Zumba Mashup, a mixture of Strong and Piyo. All classes are either $1 or $2. You will not find a better fitness deal in the Bangor area.

Credit: John Clarke Russ

Stroll through Ecotat Gardens in Hermon

Did you know that in Hermon there’s a lovely little arboretum/botanical garden that’s entirely volunteer-run? If you live in Hermon you surely do — but if you’re new to the area, you probably don’t.

Ecotat Gardens, in operation since 1995, contains more than 1,500 species of plants, including 280 varieties of trees and hundreds of perennials, and has an easy 0.75-mile walking trail. If you’re mobility impaired or like to take it slow, it’s a great place for a nice walk. It’s open year-round, and admission is free, though donations are accepted. It’s located just off Route 2 in Hermon, at the intersection with Annis Road.

Posted by Skyliners Dance Band on Saturday, 16 August 2014

Swing the night away with the Skyliners Big Band

It’s most likely the best-kept musical secret in the Bangor area. The Skyliners Big Band, comprised of 14 lifelong area musicians, every month plays a Saturday night dance party at the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer. Big band classics from the 1940s, foxtrots, waltzes, Latin, pop hits and much more are played by this ensemble, inspired by greats like Count Basie and Glenn Miller.

You can dance, or you can just enjoy the music. Dances usually start at 7:30 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month, but make sure you check the Next Generation Theatre website to be sure. Admission is $8, and there’s a cash bar for those 21 and older.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.