Once you have mastered the ropes of being a graduate student, you are ready to focus on your day-to-day needs. The greater Orono area is like many other university towns in a predominantly rural setting – housing is plentiful, restaurants can be found, and cultural events do go on, but it takes some time, luck, and investigation to discover the best of these. Those of you coming from outside Maine or the United States may experience some culture shock, but it’s good for you. Those of you from big cities may experience lack-of-culture shock. But with a little bit of help you should be able to find enough to keep you occupied during those few moments you free yourself from your studies.
There are two options for graduate students who wish to live on campus. Stodder Hall is a co-educational residence hall with both single and double rooms for graduate students and non-traditional undergraduate students. Stodder houses the Graduate Center, which provides computers, printers, and a resource room for all graduate students. A choice of meal plans for use in any of the dining commons on campus is part of the residence package for Stodder residents.
The other facility, University Park, caters to students, staff and faculty with family members. This housing option does not require any meal plan, as the apartments have kitchens. To obtain information on housing in either Stodder or University Park, contact Housing Services at 581-4580 or visit their web site at http://www.umaine.edu/housing/.
Off-Campus Living – how to find it and where to live
Most graduate students live in the Orono / Old Town region, although many prefer the city of Bangor or the small nearby towns of Veazie and Milford. Graduate students with families will often find cheap houses in any of the small communities that surround this region. As with any university town, the competition for cheap apartments or houses in good locations is fierce. There are a number of places you can begin your search for a place to live. The Commuter/Non-traditional Student Program maintains a list of available off-campus housing. You can receive a copy of this list at the information desk in the Memorial Union, by calling 581-1405, or online at http://www.umaine.edu/cntsp/housing.html
You may also find housing notices on the bulletin boards in the union and the library.
If you already have a FirstClass account, roommate posting and apartment listings can be found in the “Student Resources” folder on your desktop (then to “Housing” then “Roommates and Apartments”). This is by far the best place to look for current listings, especially for rentals.
Don’t forget there is also craigslist. Go to http://maine.craigslist.org/ and under housing click on either apt/housing, rooms/shared or sublet/temporary. It is recommended that you narrow down your searches by using keywords like your desired location eg: Orono, Old Town, Veazie and/or Bangor.
Finally, the Bangor Daily News classifiedsBangor Daily News classifieds and The Weekly – a Bangor-area paper distributed free of charge – are other sources of potential leads.
Here are some general tips regarding your search for housing:
- Apartments in Bangor tend to be cheaper than ones in Orono, but many people prefer the convenience of a short commute. If your car is unreliable, it is even more important for you to live within biking or walking distance of campus for those frozen Maine winter days.
- Many rentals in the area come with amenities that make your life easier, but not all, so it helps to ask in advance. Some nice features to look for are: heat and hot water included in the rent; driveway or off-street parking; and snow plowing and removal.
- Fellow students and staff can be great sources of leads, because many of the best places only get passed on by word of mouth. Check with students in your department who are finished and leaving the area to see if they are vacating a prime location.
- It is worth your while to determine who your neighbors will be. If you choose to live near campus, you may find yourself surrounded by undergraduates with slightly less work ethic than you. Consider whether you can handle the loud parties, beer cans in the yard, and music before you move in.
Options for Out-of-Town Visitors
For the weekend visitor, there are a number of motels and hotels in the area. The University Inn (866-4921) and the Black Bear Inn (866-7120) are both located nearby to the campus. The Lucerne Inn (843-5123) offers a nice old world experience a bit farther away across the river. There are also many other hotels and motels surrounding the Bangor Mall (exit 187 [formerly exit 49]). For big weekends, especially graduation weekend, make reservations exceptionally early. The University also rents out rooms in dorms for a very reasonable rate, but this service is based on availability.
Below we list many options, but we would especially recommend Ichiban (Japanese), Captain Nick’s (classic Maine seafood), and Opus, Thistles, and Luna Bar and Grill for fine dining. If you need New York pizza in Maine, you will drive to Finelli’s in Ellsworth. Information for select restaurants can be found at:
Angelo’s Pizza 499 Hammond St Bangor (942-5553)
Bagel Central 33 Central St Bangor (947-1654)
Bangor Wine & Cheese 84 Hammond St Bangor (942-3336)
Bear Brew Pub 36 Main St Orono (866-2739)
Brother’s Pizza 167 Center St Old Town (827-8711)
Café Nouveau 84 Hammond St Bangor (942-3336)
Dysart’s Truck Stop Cold Brook Rd Hermon (942-4878)
Frank’s Bake Shop 199 State St Bangor (947-4594)
Geaghan’s Restaurant and Pub 570 Maine Street Bangor (945-3730)
Harvest Moon Deli 18 Mill Street Orono (866-3354)
Ichiban 226 Union St Bangor (262-9308)
Margarita’s 15 Mill St Orono (866-4863)
Muddy Rudder 5 South Main St Brewer (989-5389)
Market Café 827 Stillwater Ave Old Town (827-3663)
Luna Bar and Grill 47 Park St Bangor (990-2233)
Opus 193 Broad St Bangor (945-5100)
Orono House of Pizza 154 Park St Orono (866-5505)
Pepino’s 570 Stillwater Ave Bangor (947-1233)
Paddy Murphy’s 26 Maine Street Bangor (945-6800)
Pat’s Pizza 11 Mill St Orono (866-2111)
Pizza Dome 752 Stillwater Ave Orono (827-6867)
Sea Dog Brewery 26 Front St Bangor (947-8004)
Spanky’s Pizza 4 Walter Ct Bangor (941-8626)
Taste of India 68 Main St Bangor (945-6865)
Thai Orchid 28 Mill St Bangor (866-4200
The City Park Grille 170 Main St Old Town (827-3030)
Thistles 175 Exchange St Bangor (945-5480)
Tri-City Pizza 422 Center St Bangor (942-2933)
Whig and Courier 18 Broad St Bangor (947-4095)
Woodman’s Bar & Grill 31 Main St Orono (866-4040)
A Real Experience (or a favorite that we thought we should mention)
If good BBQ is your thing, a short drive to Monson (Route 15 towards Greenville and Moosehead Lake) is worth the trip for the best BBBQ this side of the Rio Grande (the extra B is for BYOB). Hardly new to the barbecue community, owners Mike and Kim have recently opened Spring Creek BBQ, which is bound to emerge as a Maine State landmark. Although originally from Maine, Mike is a Texas-trained and Kansas City approved smoker; he even uses Maine wood in the smoker. The hours may vary, but you can count on them being open summers from Thursday through Sunday, 8am – 8pm, or until the food runs out.
How about Breakfast?
Here we take a quick moment to offer you a couple of things that give you a local experience. We offer these without additional explanation and suggest you not miss a one: Dysart’s Truck Stop, Pat’s Pizza, Harvest Moon Deli, Stonehouse Café, The Store Ampersand, and The Eagle’s Nest on the river in Eddington.
Hannaford Supermarket and Pharmacy
500 Stillwater Avenue
Old Town ME 04468 (207) 827-2700
Bell’s Orono IGA
6 Stillwater Avenue
Orono, Maine 04473 (207) 827-0354
Don’t miss these additional options when shopping for food:
The Steam Plant Parking lot across from campus on College Ave. hosts the Orono Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings (8-1) and Tuesday afternoons (2-5:30) from May till November & from June to October, respectively. Many local organic farms sell their goods here.
The Natural Living Center on Stillwater Ave in Bangor (near Home Depot) features organic and health foods.
The Store Ampersand is a great place to pick up baked goods, coffee (by the cup or by the pound), some healthy food, wine, and fancy random beers.
There are at least four self-service laundries frequented by UMaine sorts. The large and clean Gold Star Cleaners (480 Stillwater Ave; 827-3349) is located on Stillwater Ave next to Spotlight Cinemas and IGA. There’s also Bangor Dry Cleaning and Laundry (36 Springer Dr; 942-6157) adjacent Shaw’s on Springer Drive in Bangor. And the crème de la crème, the Garden Island Laundry on Stillwater Ave in Old Town is clean, large, and offers as an added convenience…a tanning salon.
The Richard R. and Anne A. Collins Center for the Arts (CCA) hosts a variety of shows from around the world throughout the year, and is a true gem. With your new MaineCard you get two free tickets that can be used for any show that isn’t sold out. Student-rate tickets are sold the day of the show at the CCA box office. The upcoming events at the CCA can be found online at http://www.collinscenterforthearts.com/. The School of Performing Arts offers music, theater and dance performances as well. The Hudson Museum, which celebrates Native American culture, is housed within the CCA.
The Page Farm and Home Museum is located on campus near the MCA and is worth a visit. Occasionally Page Farm hosts lectures, and at the very least can be a small haven if you need to get away from your desk.
Visit http://www.umaine.edu/pagefarm/ for more information.
The Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium and Observatory in Wingate Hall hosts multiple shows, geared towards different audiences during the year. Call 581-1341 or visit their web site at http://www.galaxymaine.com/ for more information and a show schedule.
The recently opened University of Maine Museum of Art (UMMA), located at 40 Harlow St in Bangor, is definitely worth a night on the town and is free to students with their MaineCard. Call 561-3350 or visit their web site at www.umma.umaine.edu for more information.
The Campus Activities Board puts on tons of free events during the school year, including movies, karaoke, game nights, and fun things during finals. Look for fliers in the union or check out their website at www.umaine.edu/campusevents/index2.asp.
The Research Café runs a lecture series at 4pm on Thursdays in the University Club on the second floor of Fogler Library. The seminars focus on a wide variety of topics, and if that’s not enough to entice you, they offer free refreshments. Visit the Research Café web site at www.umaine.edu/research/cafe.htm to read about upcoming talks.
Music and Nightlife
If you’re into dancing and want to stay close to campus, you should try Curva Ultra Lounge; however, expect a vivacious, younger crowd. Old Town, Orono, and Bangor have many bars. In Old Town, check out the Number 10 and the Riverfront Pub, within walking distance of each other. In Orono, there’s the Bear Brew, Margarita’s, Pat’s, and Woodman’s Bar & Grill.
If you are looking for live music around town, it’s out there. The Riverfront Pub & Woodman’s Bar and Grill hosts live music on occasion.
During the fall and spring semester, the Bear Brew Pub hosts live music regularly throughout the week. The Whig and Courier, The Waterfront Tavern, the Seadog, and Café Nouveau are all located in Bangor and host live music. There is a Summer Concerts in the Park series at the Old Town Riverfront Park, in the park in Orono by the bridge, and also in Bangor at the waterfront.
Bangor hosts the Bangor State Fair in late July and the American Folk Festival in late August. There are also a number of small Bluegrass festivals tucked away in small towns throughout Maine. If you are willing to drive to Rockland, you can choose from the Lobster Festival in early July, the North Atlantic Blues Festival in late July, or the North Atlantic Folk Festival in August. A can’t miss is the Common Ground Country Fair held in Unity in late September. The fair is supported by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, MOFGA, and emphasizes sustainable agriculturally based rural communities. The fair is a blast and features organic foods, a wide variety of crafts, and many performances. The Piscataquis Heritage Festival hosts the Annual Maine State Barbecue Championship in Dover at the end of September – bring your chili boots.
There are two cinemas in the area: Hoyts Bangor Mall Cinemas 10 at the Bangor Mall and Spotlight Cinemas in Orono both offer mainstream releases. If you are a fan of indie films, challenging content, and diversity, checkout the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville. View their listings at www.railroadsquarecinema.com. While you are in Waterville, explore some restaurants.
The Grand Auditorium in Ellsworth (www.grandonline.org) also frequently offers foreign films and others not carried by the more mainstream theaters.
Reel Pizza Cinerama in Bar Harbor regularly offers indies and foreign films in addition to mainstream releases, and also features the option to dine on gourmet pizza during the show. Call 288-3811 for their information line.
There are also many showings on campus. (MPAC) Maine Peace Action Committee holds a film series to promote peace.
The film series is listed at: http://www.umaine.edu/mpac/films.htm
In Maine the lack of professional sports allows collegiate and high school level sports to enjoy the spotlight. It will be necessary to drive to Portland or Boston to see a pro team play, but don’t worry if your car won’t make it because the UMaine sports teams are very competitive. One of the largest draws around during the winter is the men’s hockey team, there is also women’s hockey team too that draws smaller crowds but should not be missed. Don’t forget to check out both men’s and women’s basketball as well.
All students can attend all sporting events at the university for free as long as you’ve paid your fees for the semester. Be sure to get to Alfond early enough for games against big rivals or you won’t get in. Check out http://goblackbears.cstv.com/ for game times and info for all the teams. Also check out other Division 1 football and baseball games. Local game coverage and Boston’s professional action can be heard on the Sports Zone, WZON AM 620.
Recreation – On Campus/Local
UMaine Campus Recreation is the primary facilitator for on-campus fitness, sport, and recreational offerings. You can check out their web site at:
www.umaine.edu/campusrecreation. Links to the hours and membership fees (if applicable) of the Student Recreation and Fitness Center, MaineBound Adventure Center, Mahaney Dome, Wallace Pool, and Alfond Arena are listed. The Student Recreation and Fitness Center is a new 83,000+ sq. ft. facility that all students are being charged a fee to use. We recommend you take advantage of this and use this impressive facility. Various aerobics classes are offered, including aquacize classes, and the Fitness Center is well equipped with free weights, nautilus-style machines, and aerobic equipment. Early morning and during dinnertime are the best times to avoid the largest crowds. Racquetball courts and volleyball courts are available, but may require reservations.
There are various club, intramural, and tournament-style teams forming throughout the year, as well as events you can compete in as an individual. For more information, see the Campus Recreation web site or stop by their office in the Memorial Gym.
There is a well maintained trail system in the University Forest for biking, hiking, jogging, and cross-country skiing. Trail maps are available at:
There are other trail systems throughout the area, including the Bangor City Forest (http:// cityforest.bangorinfo.com), Brown Woods and Essex Woods Trails in Bangor, and the Orono Bog Boardwalk (www.oronobogwalk.org).
MaineBound Outdoor Adventure Center is located in the big barn by the Memorial Union and rents out an array of outdoor gear for personal use, including kayaks, tents, snowshoes, and skis (be sure to get the student rates). Additionally MaineBound houses an interior climbing wall (and free gear to borrow) and offers a variety of instructional classes and trips for all skill levels.
Recreation – Off Campus
For those who enjoy off-campus fitness facilities, there is a YMCA in Old Town and a YMCA and YWCA in Bangor. They are both reasonably priced and offer a range of programs. A little known and conveniently unadvertised fact is that the Bangor YMCA (and maybe the other two) offers a subsidized membership fee to qualifying applicants with modest incomes (i.e. grad students on stipends).
UMaine is conveniently located just over an hour from Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, one of the most popular parks in the nation. One benefit of residing in the area is the ability to enjoy the park in every season. The park features over forty miles of carriage roads that are fabulous for hiking, biking, and crosscountry skiing. The well maintained hiking trails allow access to the highest points on the Eastern seaboard. Maps and information can be obtained at the Park Service Visitors Center and at www.nps.gov/acad/home.htm.
There are a number of downhill skiing resorts, including Sunday River and Sugarloaf, within a few hours drive of Orono for the snow bunnies. MaineBound offers discount student passes in the fall for those who frequent the slopes. Mud Pond and Alfond Arena are sites used for ice skating. Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on trail systems previously mentioned is a great way to enjoy a Maine winter (and you might as well because it is long).
Canoeing and kayaking are extremely popular in Maine, with the endless supply of freshwater lakes, rivers, and the coastline. The Stillwater River, Mud Pond, Pushaw Lake, and Sunkhaze Meadow National Wildlife Refuge are all enjoyable paddles with close proximity to campus. Be sure not to miss the Kenduskeag Stream Race held every spring. The fishing and paddling opportunities are virtually endless so just ask around or explore – we don’t want to give all our secrets away. (The same goes for the swimming holes.)
The area surrounding the university offers a good deal of rock climbing. The town of Clifton, across the river and down Route 9, has several crags that have climbs for every skill level, including Eagle’s Bluff Practice Wall– a good place to set up a top rope if you are a beginner. Acadia National Park has several spots, including the South Wall of the Precipice and Otter Cliffs, and Baxter State Park has some climbing. Don’t limit yourself to the well-known areas – get yourself a DeLorme Maine Atlas & Gazetteer (the best $20 investment you can make) and go somewhere. Don’t leave Maine without exploring the Downeast coast (anywhere east of Ellsworth including Canada), Aroostook – “The County”, Gulf Hagas, and the western Maine Mountains. Also, be sure to check out the Maine Tourism website for other road trip ideas http://www.visitmaine.com/.