In between the cheering, the high-fives, the game-winning shots and the camaraderie, the thousands of folks who come to Bangor each year for the regional basketball championships find plenty of other stuff to do while they’re in town. Here’s your guide to all the family-friendly eating, shopping and playing you can do while you’re visiting the Queen City — tournament time, or any other time.
In addition to hitting up favorite national chain stores not found in the rest of eastern and northern Maine, such as Target, Best Buy, Ulta, Kohl’s and Old Navy, there are several Bangor or Maine-based shopping destinations to check out in town.
The Bangor Mall will host a massive craft fair and business expo throughout both weekends of the tournament, featuring not just crafters and bakers, but also an outdoors expo, lots of local businesses and food vendors. The last time the Bangor Mall hosted a craft fair of this sort, over Veterans’ Day weekend, a whopping 22,000 people came through the doors of the mall over the course of the event.
In downtown Bangor, pick up a book at The Briar Patch on Central Street, or go across the street to find lots of home goods and natural curiosities at The Rock & Art Shop. And across the street from the Cross Insurance Center on both Saturday mornings of the tournaments, the European Market, located at 117 Buck St., you can pick up everything from fresh flowers and handmade gifts to artisan breads and cheese and French macarons.
If you’re looking for lunch options, there are five Harvest Moon Deli locations around the Bangor area, with fast, flavorful sandwich options for the whole family. In downtown Bangor, Bagel Central is a perennial breakfast and lunchtime favorite, while newcomer Tea & Tarts not only offers healthy vegetarian treats, but also lets you have a real tea party with your little ones. And on the brunchier side of things, you can’t go wrong with Dysart’s, either on Broadway or on Cold Brook Road in Hermon.
Dinner? Well, depends on what you’re feeling. Barbecue? Try Moe’s BBQ on Broadway, where kids 12 and under eat for $1 if you dine in and purchase an adult-size meal. Mexican? Miguel’s on Hogan Road has a special kids’ menu that isn’t just reheated chicken nuggets. An outrageously fun pan-Asian meal? Kobe Ninja Steakhouse not only has Chinese and Japanese favorites, but if you can snag a table, you can enjoy the theatrical hibachi dining experience.
Want more options? It doesn’t get easier than Irish pub-themed Geaghan’s, located across Main Street from the Cross Insurance Center, or Seasons, a cavernous sports bar and family dining restaurant just down the street, next to McDonald’s. Another sports bar, Hero’s, is on the Bangor Waterfront, and boasts arcade games as well as some killer wings and mac and cheese. And in Orono, Orono Brewing Company’s headquarters on Margin Street has some of the best beer in Maine, offers great burgers and tacos, and kids eat for free on Tuesdays. And foosball. Don’t forget foosball.
If you have more energy to burn after cheering on your team, Bangor Funplex on Odlin Road offers slides, bounce houses, trampolines, a gyroscope, virtual reality games, events including Nerf Night on Fridays (bring your own Nerf gun) and Military Mondays, with discounts for military families. There’s also a giant arcade and an attached movie theater, the recently renovated Westside Cinemas, showing first-run movies that are only $3 on Tuesdays.
There’s also Orono Trampoline Park, located at 6 Stillwater Ave., which has more than just trampolines: a foam pit, a playground, a ninja obstacle course, dodgeball and lots of special event nights, including movie-themed nights and glow-in-the-dark parties. Check with each venue for pricing and hours.
If your family is more interested in games, be they digital or tabletop, Queen City Cinema Club in downtown Bangor has something for everyone. Hundreds of video games for nearly every console, a huge selection of board games, and two private movie theaters to screen whatever you want — a movie, or perhaps giant Fortnite? Adults can enjoy a great selection of craft beer, and kids can enjoy a menu of items including tater tots and nachos. For something a little more educational, the Maine Discovery Museum, also in downtown Bangor, has for nearly 20 years offered a fun, interactive learning experience for grade school-age kids and their families.
One of the longest-running entertainment complexes in the Bangor area is the Sports Arena, located at 1640 Hammond St. In addition to multiple lanes of bowling, there’s a huge arcade and games area, and a full menu of pizza, burgers and other sports bar favorites. And if you want a fun day or night out that’s also a bit of a brain-bender, Bangor Escape Rooms, located at 1538 Hammond St., offers a variety of escape scenarios for families of all ages.