It only seemed appropriate to take a Stephen King tour in Bangor, Maine, right after the release of the IT remake. SK Tours of Maine took us on a fascinating ride through the city which inspired many of King’s most notable stories, including IT. You’ll find Derry to be identical to Bangor, but the actual name was switched to protect the reputation of gorgeous, harmless Bangor.
We were picked up in a crimson van complete with IT peering through a hole on the side. A clown hand was reaching out toward passengers from beneath the driver’s seat. Very festive!
Our guide has known King for years, making him an appropriate candidate for leading a very fun and informative trip. He used to own a bookstore, and the famed writer would drop by for exclusive signings.
Our first stop was the cemetery that inspired Pet Cemetary, and we got to see some of the locations used in the film. It was also really cool to hear about the history and particular reasons behind the landscape; I won’t spoil too much in case you go on the tour!
King spent even his earlier, less well off days in Bangor; it’s genuinely his home town, and still is. We drove by his old apartment location and learned that his early career as a school teacher was no picnic for him or his family. His success can be largely attributed to his wife digging the Carrie manuscript out of the garbage, ultimately leading to a life changing $250,000 check and writer status. The rest is history.
In IT, you’ll see a massive water tower, “The Barrens”, and a creepy Paul Bunyan statue; all of these things are mirrored from Bangor. We got to see them up close, which was really cool.
King’s wife always had a favorite house in Bangor, and it happened to be one of the most beautiful. She was shocked when a real estate agent took them to see it after King’s career started to roll. Still, it was out of their price range, but his wife’s love for the place was undeniable. It is now their current home.
This leads me to the highlight of the tour…getting to see the house of Stephen King. Complete with a custom iron fence adorned with bats, spiders and dragons, the muted red, historical home couldn’t be more perfect for the horror guru. While putting off major spooky vibes, the home his completely gorgeous. It’s amazing that bystanders and tourists really respect that this is his place of refuge; no one walks too close, but rather snap quick photos and continue on.
The tour put the spotlight on a lot of charitable works done by the King family, but they remain incredibly modest and humble by opting to keep things as hush hush as possible. From brightened children’s hospital rooms, to professional style little league fields, the big hearts of these people are immensely evident in the community.
We highly recommend the tour, especially with Halloween looming. The guide keeps it fun and spooky while also being really light hearted. He’s an awesome picture taker too, which we were really grateful for. Selfies get kind of old! Happy Halloween and keep a close eye on that drain when strolling by Jackson Street!