College Town Tours: The Best of Waterville, Maine

Miller Library on Colby College Campus

Located an hour and a half north of Portland, Maine, the city of Waterville is located in Kennebec county, and is home to Colby College and Thomas College. So what is there really to do in rural Maine besides hunting, eating bluberries, and camping in the summer? To be quite honest, not a whole lot. But for a population of 15,000, Waterville has quite an eclectic mix of restaurants and stores that really show off Maine’s charm. Lets skip the Walmart on Waterville Commons Drive and dive into the list of the need-to-go places when you happen to swing by Waterville!

–Megumi Sasada, Small Kitchen College Ambassador

**SKC Picks**

Best Local Market
Barrels Community Market
74 Main Street Waterville // (207) 660-4844
Barrels is a nonprofit community market in downtown Waterville that sells local goods at affordable prices. It always has the freshest in-season vegetables and fruits and also sells an array of oats, jams, fresh dairy products, and frozen health foods. As a volunteer, I have helped cook some prepared foods such as soups and sandwiches in their new kitchen as of 2011. Shopping at Barrels is a great way to give back to our community through buying locally. When you walk in, you immediately get the Maine ambiance with its enticing woodsy aroma and just picked produce.
Must buy: Locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, artisan breads, natural almond butter, Maine jams such as blackberry and blueberry

Best Pub Food
Mainley Brews
1 Post Office Square Downtown Waterville // (207) 873-2457
It’s a Thursday night and you just need that beer after that last biology test? Mainley Brews is the place to go. Always crowded with locals and students, this joint offers great pub food and a cozy atmosphere. Though the service can be at times slow, this just means you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely dinner. Be sure to catch live performances on designated days to kick back and relax. With its impressive drink menu, you won’t want to miss out.
Must Order: Coconut crusted haddock sandwich, ahi tuna entree, any of the burgers

Best College Thai
Pad Thai Too
400 Kennedy Memorial Drive Waterville // (207) 859-8900
Thai food is a must for any college town. We have two restaurants just in Waterville! As most Colby students would agree, Pad Thai Too is the more popular compared to the Thai Bistro downtown. It must be Pad Thai Too’s innovative twists on traditional Thai like their crispy pad thai, and the “altogether variety” that keeps everyone coming back. From soups and salads, noodles, rice bowls, curries, and entrees, Pad Thai Too has something for every taste bud. The most fun thing about Pad Thai Too is their star system. They rate the spiciness of dishes using a 0-5 star scale (5+ costs extra). One of my guy friends once tried to be all manly and got the crispy pad thai with 5 stars. That plan backfired for he was on the verge of tears. Lesson learned? Use your stars wisely. Though most of my other friends stick to “pad thai chicken, no stars”, I usually branch out and try their selection of curries and stirfries all with three stars of course. Live a little.
Must try: Crispy dumpling pad thai, Panang curry, Jungle stir fry, Mango Mai Tai cocktail

Best Ice Cream
Dairy Cone
127 North Street Waterville // (207) 873-0877
How lucky are we that this year Dairy Cone is celebrating their 50th anniversary! Happy Birthday. Dairy Cone is one of the better kept secrets in town. The other ice cream competitor would have to be Gifford Ice Cream, famous for its ice cream stands throughout Maine. With their originals like black raspberry and deer track, you’d think they’ve got you hooked. They lure in tourists with their mini golf games but you haven’t fooled us, we students know that Giffords is for amateurs. (And besides, we can get your ice cream for free in the dining hall.) Dairy Cone is only open half of the year so its opening in late March is always accompanied by a celebratory ice cream run. Dairy Cone only uses the freshest ingredients and makes the creamiest, most delicious ice cream you’ll ever taste. Though its perfect on a hot summer day, let’s be real: it would be just as great on a winter snowy day as well. It’s certainly an indulgence, for your wallet and muffin top, but in the end it is worth every lick.
Must try: Butter pecan, coffee fudge, anything with caramel sauce

Best Fancy Restaurant
The Last Unicorn
8 Silver Street Waterville // (207) 873-6378
The Last Unicorn is considered the most elegant and expensive restaurant in Waterville. As surprising as it may be, I’ve never actually been so I don’t believe I’m able to write an informative review, but I couldn’t exclude it from the classic Waterville eateries. Though some friends complain about the inflated prices, they nonetheless rave about the appetizers and entrees. I recommend bringing parents here, not only for their financing but also for the fine dining experience.

Best Classic Maine Seafood in Surrounding Area: Winslow
Lobster Trap
21 Bay St Winslow //  (207) 872 0529
Around Parents’ Weekend, the Lobster Trap is always packed with students, friends, and family. When tourists arrive in Maine, they all crave the quintessential lobster, cole slaw, and corn on the cob. And this is the place to get it. Located along the Kennebec River, you can fully enjoy your seafood fare as you watch the sun go down. Though their boiled shellfish plates are emblematic, there are other options such as lobster rolls, fried clams, shrimp scampi, and clam chowder. There are even some non-seafood options as well.
Must Order: Lobster pie, boiled lobster and steamed clam plate

Best Brunch In Surrounding Area: Oakland
Riverside Farm Market & Café
291 Fairfield Street Oakland  // (207) 465-4439
This family owned market and café are a must go. It is a definite favorite for professors and students alike. A mile away from campus, Riverside might as well be in Waterville its so close. The market has a wide selection of wines, gelato, and baked goods, while the café is infamous for its brunch menu. They satisfy both the sweet tooth and the savory appetite by offering classic omelets with an array of filling options, eggs benedict, pancakes, and more. If I had to sum up Riverside in one word it would have to be adorable. With its warm wooden interior and welcoming staff, Riverside is the perfect way to start your Sunday morning.
Must Order: Eggs benedict, oat and honey pancakes

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Originally posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2011

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