13 Must Visit Historic Sites & Museums Near Rockland Maine

Well-known for its fresh lobster and music festivals, Rockland Maine is a city with a rich history. The historic sites, landmarks, art galleries, and history museums in Rockland and the midcoast Maine region aim to preserve that rich history and educate locals and visitors alike. No matter your age, there are many historic sites and museums near Rockland Maine that you will not want to miss visiting.

Best Museums Near Rockland, Maine

As one of the larger cities in MidCoast Maine, there are many popular historical museums near Rockland, Maine. Visiting these museums is a great way to learn about the area’s rich history.

Knox Museum - one of the MUST VISIT Historic Sites and Museums Near Rockland Maine
Photo from Knox Museum’s Facebook page

Maine Lighthouse Museum

With 5,000 miles of coastline, islands, and inlets, Maine is home to 65 historic lighthouses. The Maine Lighthouse Museum is committed to educating visitors about the traditions of America’s lighthouse and lifesaving services and the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard. It has the most substantial collection of related artifacts in the country. Located in the official “Coast Guard City,” the museum allows free admission to all active and retired Coast Guard personnel.

Sail, Power & Steam Museum

Enriching lives, the Sail, Power & Steam Museum has educational, interactive and hands-on experiences. Its steam house features 12 puffing antique steam engines that still operate. The curators provide information about the construction, origin and initial purposes of sail, power and steam vessels.

General Henry Knox Museum and Montpelier

In nearby Thomaston, the General Henry Knox Museum honors the legacy of the Revolutionary War veteran. Knox was a Continental Army officer and served in the U.S. Army. Afterward, he became the first U.S. secretary of war in 1789. Montpelier is the three-story mansion that he built when he settled in Thomaston after serving in the cabinet for five years. The current building is a re-creation of the original and was built in 1929. The museum and Montpelier give you the chance to smell, taste, touch and feel what life was like more than 200 years ago.

Owls Head Transportation Museum

As a nonprofit educational organization, the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Owls Head aims to preserve and exhibit aircraft, engines, ground vehicles and related technologies from before 1940. Established in 1974, it displays more than 150 antique transport vehicles that significantly impacted how transportation evolved. Unique to this museum, most of the collection is operational.

Owls Head Transportation Museum - one of the MUST VISIT Historic Sites and Museums Near Rockland Maine
Photo from Owls Head Transportation Museum’s Facebook page

Best Historic Sites and Lighthouses Near Rockland

Since Rockland is a coastal city in MidCoast Maine, a couple of lighthouses nearby are worth your time to visit. There are also some historic homes that are a “must visit” when learning about the area’s rich history.

Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse

At the north end of Rockland Harbor, Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse sits about 1 mile into the water at the end of a breakwater. Standing 25 feet tall, the lighthouse was built in 1902 and has an attached keeper’s house. You can walk across the granite breakwater to take a tour of the lighthouse when the weather permits.

Farnsworth Homestead

As part of the main Farnsworth Art Museum campus, the Farnsworth Homestead was home to the original museum benefactor Lucy Farnsworth. It was built in 1850 in Greek Revival architecture on the outside and high Victorian style on the inside. The home has stayed intact with minimal electrical systems installed for safety reasons. Other than that, it still has all of the original plumbing and heating systems. In 1973, the homestead was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Owls Head Lighthouse

Just outside of Rockland, the Owls Head Lighthouse sits on an 80-foot bluff that overlooks Penobscot Bay near the south entrance to Rockland Harbor. At 26 feet tall, it was built in 1825 and offers a picturesque view of the bay and islands. There’s an 1856 fourth-order Fresnel lens at the top.

Olson House

Olson House is located in Cushing – just a short drive from the Farnsworth Art Museum campus. It was the subject of nearly 300 art pieces by Andrew Wyeth, such as “Christina’s World” from 1948, which New York’s Museum of Modern Art now owns. The property has been preserved and refurbished to look like that painting, and tours are available during the summer season.

Old German Meeting House

Officially called the German Church and Cemetery, the Old German Meeting House in Waldoboro is a historic Lutheran church and cemetery that was built in 1772. It played a substantial role in the town’s establishment and the lives of its early German immigrants. In 1970, the property was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

German Church and Cemetery - one of the MUST VISIT Historic Sites and Museums Near Rockland Maine
Photo of the German Church and Cemetery found on Facebook

Best Art Museums Near Rockland Maine

Alongside the many history museums and historic sites, there are two major art museums near Rockland Maine. With national acclaim, you don’t want to miss these if you’re an art enthusiast.

Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center

With multiple historic buildings under its umbrella, the Farnsworth Art Museum has a nationally recognized collection of artwork from many of the greatest artists in the country. Containing more than 15,000 pieces, this collection celebrates and demonstrates Maine’s role in American art development.

In addition to the Farnsworth Homestead and Olson House, the museum runs the Wyeth Center that features many works from the Wyeth family. Julia’s Gallery for Young Artists is part of the complex as well.

Center for Maine Contemporary Art

A short walk from the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art displays current generation artwork. The center designs its educational programs and exhibitions to attract and inspire all of its visitors. It’s located in a striking building with an iconic saw-toothed roofline in the downtown area. You can relax in the courtyard and browse the gift shop too.

Farnsworth Art Museum - one of the MUST VISIT Historic Sites and Museums Near Rockland Maine
Photo from Farnsworth Art Museum’s Facebook page

Best Specialty Museums Near Rockland, Maine

In most cities around the country, the museums are rather traditional. Near Rockland though, you get a couple of truly unique museums that you won’t want to miss visiting.

Museum in the Streets — Thomaston

Museum in the Streets is an organization that creates heritage trails to benefit local communities and their visitors. Its installation in Thomaston was the first in the country and designed to bring attention to this shipping town’s exceptional history. This museum encourages passersby to walk the trail and discover the beautiful homes and historic back streets.

Langlais Sculpture Preserve

In nearby Cushing, the Langlais Sculpture Preserve is a collection of 12 large wooden sculptures on a 90-acre homestead that was owned by Bernard Langlais, a renowned Maine artist, and his wife. He created over 3,500 works of indoor and outdoor art throughout his life. The imaginative and edgy pieces are engaging for all ages, and more than 40 communities in Maine display some of them.

Best Accommodations for Seeing the Top Museums Near Rockland, Maine

Glen Cove Inn & Suites has a convenient location for visiting the many historic sites and museums near Rockland, Maine. We’re also just a short drive from some of the best shopping spots and boat tours and rentals.

You can even take advantage of the special deals if you book direct with us!

affordable hotel close to best museums near rockland maine