Top 5 Things to do at Saint Croix in Maine

Take a hike. Things to do at Saint Croix in Maine with Kids
Visit Saint Croix International Historic Site to learn about the French explorers. Credit: Catherine Parker

At the tip of the U.S. in Maine, the Saint Croix International Historic Site is where French explorers spent a long, hard winter on an island between Maine and Canada’s New Brunswick. From 1604 to 1605, the first French colony in North America dug in; by spring, about half of the men had died. Now, an International Peace Park, it features two sides in two countries to tell the story of the colony. The U.S. park offers a hiking trail along with a seasonal visitor center. Here are the top things to do at Saint Croix in Maine.


Saint Croix at a Glance

Year Established: 1949
Located: Eastern Maine at the Canadian border
Size: 6.5 acres
Top Features: Overlooks the first French colony in North America

Things to do at Saint Croix in Maine 

  • Stop by the Visitor Center
  • Take a Hike
  • Attend a Ranger Program or Earn a Junior Ranger Badge
  • Learn about the Explorers
  • Do some Bird watching
Top Things to Do in Acadia National Park 

Stop by the Saint Croix International Historic Site Visitor Center

The Saint Croix International Historic Site offers a small visitor center with interpretive displays about French colonization in the area. Visitors should also check to see if the park offers a ranger program.

The visitor center is a main feature of this historic site. Seasonally, it is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Thursday to Monday ( Memorial Day weekend until October 31).

Hiking at Saint Croix National Historic Site

To learn more about the original French colony, visitors should take the .2-mile interpretive trail. The route is shaded and overlooks the water.

It is paved and offers interpretive signs. At the end, visitors can see Saint Croix Island, where the colony was based, from a covered pavilion.

Earn a Junior Ranger badge. Things to do at Saint Croix in Maine with Kids
Learn on a trip, too, with the Junior Ranger program at Saint Croix International Historic Site. Credit: Catherine Parker

What to Do at Saint Croix with Kids

The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about a National Park Service site. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the badges that the Park Rangers present them with after they complete their booklet.

After walking the self-guided trail and looking at the bronze statues commemorating the expedition, we arrive at an overlook to see Saint Croix Island. After returning to the visitor center, the Park Ranger gave us a thorough area history. Then takes a moment to look over the kids’ Junior Ranger booklets before reciting the Junior Ranger Oath and handing the kids cool patches.

Guide to Junior Ranger Badges

Birding at Saint Croix International Historic Site

Birding is a popular activity at Saint Croix. Visitors can find Bald Eagles, Osprey, Blue Herons and various ducks. This area also offers woodland birds, like woodpeckers and chickadees.

Learn the History of Saint Croix

The French charted and settled this portion of North America along the Atlantic Coast and the Saint Lawrence River. Pierre Dugua arrived in North America in 1599 before Samuel Champlain.

During 1604-1605, Pierre Dugua’s French Expedition established the first French settlement in North America. The first winter proved hard, with icing conditions that cut off fresh water and wild game. Of the original settlers, 36 of the 79 men died.

When spring came, the expedition moved the mainland along the Nova Scotia side of the Bay of Fundy at Port Royal. Later, the French colony abandoned this settlement too.

Visit the Canadian Side of Saint Croix

Saint Croix Island is part of an International Peace Park, a park that’s shared by two countries. The Canadian Saint Croix Island International Historic Site is in Bayside, New Brunswick.

Part of the Capital of l’Acadie, a plan envisioned by Samuel De Champlain, the Canadian park also celebrates the first attempt at year-round colonization by the French in June 1604.

This area is open from June 1 until October 15 and includes a trail and interpretive signs. Free, though not staffed.

Where’s Saint Croix International Historic Site

Located at 84 Saint Croix Drive, Calais, Maine. Open year-round from dawn to dusk. Free to enter

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Acadia National Park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Other National Park Service sites in Maine

During your visit to Maine, explore other National Park Service sites.

Roosevelt Campobello International Park—Franklin D. Roosevelt spent his summers on this island as a child. During the summer, it is open from sunrise to sunset. There is no admission fee, but visitors must clear Canadian Customs and take a ferry.

Acadia National Park—The oldest National Park on the East Coast boasts many old carriage roads, perfect for summertime bike rides. See Thunder Hole or chase waves at Sand Beach. Continue the tradition and sample pop-overs at Jordan Pond.

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Other Parks Canada Sites

During our road trip through the Canadian Maritimes, we explored the following.

Saint John–Explore the capital of New Brunswick with the family for the Reversing Falls and foodie finds.

The Bay of Fundy–Walk on the ocean floor where kids can see the highest tides in the world in nearby New Brunswick.

Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place–Learn all about the Anne of Green Gables series at the location that inspired the series on Prince Edward Island.

Charlottetown–A visit to Prince Edward Island offers lots of family fun, like lighthouses and clamming.

Cape Breton National Park–On the east shore of Nova Scotia, explore the rugged landscape.

Quebec City–A UNESCO World Heritage Site

L’Ile d’Orleans–A foodie day trip in Quebec

Kids love adventure. So learn about the North American Explorers at the First French Colony in North America at the Saint Croix Island International Historic Site while exploring Maine along the Canadian border. #NPS #NationalPark #Maine National Parks in Maine


Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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