Va­ca­tion in Maine? Wa­ter, woods, the arts and ad­ven­ture

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By BETH J. HARPAZ As­so­ci­ated Press

For me, sum­mer va­ca­tion means spend­ing time in a Maine pond where the sound of loons call­ing is about the most ex­cit­ing thing that hap­pens all day.

But I do ven­ture oc­ca­sion­ally from my lit­tle par­adise to ex­pe­ri­ence other things the north­ern­most state in the north­east­ern United States has to of­fer, whether it’s the coast, a moun­tain hike, a white­wa­ter ad­ven­ture or a mu­seum. Here are a few op­tions.

The shore

Maine’s scenic coast has so many won­der­ful towns that you al­most can’t go wrong, but every spot has its own per­son­al­ity. Old Or­chard Beach just out­side Port­land has a sandy beach, busy pier with food, drink and sou­venirs, and an old-fash­ioned amuse­ment park. You could also make a day of vis­it­ing Popham Beach State Park in Phipps­burg in the morn­ing and nearby Reid State Park in Ge­orge­town in the af­ter­noon. In Rock­land, the man­made Break­wa­ter jetty lets you walk nearly a mile from the shore into Penob­scot Bay, and a ferry runs across to Vi­nal­haven is­land, where it’s worth spend­ing the night. Pe­maquid Point Light­house Park is an­other pop­u­lar spot.


Aca­dia Na­tional Park and the gate­way town of Bar Har­bor are beau­ti­ful but very busy in sum­mer. About 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple vis­ited the park in July and Au­gust of 2016, so be pre­pared for traf­fic and crowded trails. For a lovely, doable al­ter­na­tive, con­sider a day in Cam­den, with a hike up Mount Bat­tie. A poem by Edna St. Vin­cent Mil­lay, Re­nascence, en­graved on a plaque at the top, de­scribes the stun­ning view, with ref­er­ences to “three long moun­tains and a wood” and “three is­lands in a bay”.

For se­ri­ous hik­ers, the Ap­palachian Trail runs through Maine, ter­mi­nat­ing atop Mount Katahdin in Bax­ter State Park. Depend­ing on your route and fit­ness level, a hike up and down Katahdin’s steep, rocky trails could take 10 to 12 hours, which means you’ ll run out of day­light if you don’t start early. Park­ing for Katahdin hikes is also lim­ited and of­ten gone by 8 am, so con­sider driv­ing up the night be­fore.

The new (and con­tro­ver­sial) Katahdin Woods and Waters Na­tional Mon­u­ment doesn’t of­fer many vis­i­tor ser­vices yet, but the Na­tional Park Ser­vice of­fers tips on­line for en­joy­ing the area.


White­wa­ter trips are avail­able on sev­eral Maine rivers. My fa­vorite out­fit­ter is Moxie Out­door Ad­ven­tures, based in West Forks, which of­fers an all-day Ken­nebec River trip that’s part pad­dling like crazy through Class IV rapids and part scenic wilder­ness float trip. Mid­day, boats are beached on an is­land where guides cook steak and chicken over a fire. On one trip, we even saw a moose en route to our launch spot. Warn­ing: You will get soaked. Bring a quick-dry­ing fleece to wear over a swim­suit and shoes (not flip-flops) to wear in the wa­ter.


You can find moose­watch­ing tours on land and wa­ter. I’ve en­joyed sun­set boat trips to see moose on Moose­head Lake, but as with any such ex­cur­sion, there are no guar­an­tees that you’ ll see the wildlife you came for. In ru­ral and north­ern ar­eas, moose present se­ri­ous driv­ing haz­ards, es­pe­cially at dawn, dusk and af­ter dark, so watch out (and be care­ful what you wish for).

For kids

Port­land Chil­dren’s Mu­seum is fun for a rainy day. Aquabog­gan Wa­ter Park in Saco of­fers slides, wave pools and mini-golf. Old-fash­ioned fairs take place around the state all sum­mer, fea­tur­ing rides, games, farm an­i­mal dis­plays and more. One friend told me his lit­tle girl’s fa­vorite Maine out­ing was chas­ing but­ter­flies at the Coastal Maine Botan­i­cal Gar­dens .


Freeport is home to dozens of out­let stores along with the flag­ship for L.L. Bean. Take your pic­ture in front of the mas­sive boot by the Bean en­trance. Note for in­som­ni­acs: Bean’s flag­ship is open 24/7.

The arts

In Port­land, visit Henry Wadsworth Longfel­low’s house (he wrote the poem Paul Re­vere’s Ride) or take a Stephen King tour of Ban­gor to see places that in­spired his spooky tales. In Cush­ing, tour the Ol­son House where An­drew Wyeth painted Christina’s World and see Wyeth paint­ings at Rock­land’s Farnsworth Mu­seum. The Port­land Mu­seum of Art of­fers tours of painter Winslow Homer’s water­front stu­dio and house on Prouts Neck. Mu­sic fes­ti­vals abound as well, from clas­si­cal to folk.

Boat rides

Rent a kayak or ca­noe, or take a ferry, like the ones to Mon­hegan Is­land or from Port­land to the is­lands of Casco Bay. There are fancy yachts, schooner rides and din­ner cruises, along with lob­ster boats where you can watch a lob­ster trap be­ing pulled in. Many port towns also of­fer na­ture boat rides. Just know that you could pay a lot of money to spend a few hours on the ocean and not see the whales, seals, ea­gles or puffins pic­tured in the brochure.


Ev­ery­body has a fa­vorite place for lob­ster rolls and chow­der. Mine in­clude the Har­raseeket Lunch and Lob­ster Com­pany in South Freeport and The Lob­ster Shack at the end of Two Lights Road in Cape El­iz­a­beth.


Take your pick: camp­sites, B&Bs, mo­tels, ho­tels, even up­scale re­sorts. Or rent a rus­tic cot­tage, what Main­ers re­fer to as a “camp”. If you’re lucky enough to be on the wa­ter, sit back and lis­ten for those loons.

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