A Trip To This Maine Hidden Gem Needs To Be On Your Bucket List
Let's be honest, most Maine adventures take place from Central Maine south and / or east. That's where many of the state's attractions are - malls, amusement parks, concert venues, etc.
Because of the fact we put so much focus on Southern Maine and Coastal Maine, it often feels like we neglect the northern part of the state.
Aroostook County, for example.
The City of Presque Isle, one of Maine's hidden gems, lies deep in the hearth of Aroostook County.
A Charming College Town
Much of the city's population is, in some way, associated with the two colleges that lie within Presque Isle's limits. The University of Maine at Presque Isle (aka UMPI) and Northern Maine Community College (aka NMCC). Together, the schools have about 2,000 students. Several hundred people are employed be each of the schools.
Downtown Presque Isle
The city, which has a population of just under 8,800 people, has a downtown that consists of one main street. While the post-Loring AFB economic downturn has definitely taken its toll on the city's downtown, there are still quite a few cool, unique businesses in the buildings that line the street.
In the early 1990s, Presque Isle beat out Houlton as the place where developers would construct a shopping mall. As far as we know, it was the first all inside shopping mall north of Bangor. The Aroostook Center Mall started its life as any other mall, with about 90% of its retail spaces filled with national (or international) chains. At first, the mall was the place to be! People from Presque Isle, Limestone, Houlton, and New Brunswick flocked to the shopping mecca.
Then, as time went on, the crowds started to dwindle. Slowly, the chains left. For a while, it looked like the place was going to close for good. Then, the current owners started making an effort to attract local, non-chain, businesses to the vacant spaces. The breathed new life into the mall and made it very unique.
As of November 2022, the mall is now home to a mix of national chains, like Harbor Freight, and local businesses. The mall is home to a local medical supply company, a gymnastics studio, a martial arts school, a local book store, and more.
Get more details about the mall HERE
Aroostook County as a whole is known for being a great place for people who really love Maine's outdoors. There are hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails that snake through the county, great places to hunt (or hike), and some amazing scenery.
For people who love to camp, you'll find Aroostook State Park adjacent to Presque Isle.
And, if you are a skier or a snowboarder, you can find some decent skiing in the nearby town of Mars Hill.
If you have the chance, you really should plan a day trip to Aroostook County and the City of Presque Isle.