Category Sponsor: L.L. Bean
A stop-by-stop road map to everything the Pine Tree State has to offer when the sun is shining, the ocean is warm(-ish), the festivals are plentiful, and the dining is al fresco. Join us on the hunt for the best Maine summer ever.
19. Take the Bayside Culture Crawl
The revitalization of Portland’s Bayside neighborhood continues apace, with restaurants, breweries, boutiques, and start-ups continuing to fill former industrial and seen-better-days commercial spaces — not to mention an increasingly engaged populace. When artists and Portland Murals Initiative founders Will Sears and Tessa O’Brien looked around at Bayside’s cinderblock buildings two years ago, they saw canvases. Today, five former ugly ducklings boast bright murals, abstracts to seascapes, by Maine art up-and-comers like Greta Van Campen and Ryan Adams. 207-253-9633. For a trail map, visit Portland Trails.
Selfie: “Our idea was to bring art to areas that were visually disengaging,” Sears says. Get visually engaged with a stroll along the Bayside Trail, from which you can spot all five, and get a shot in front of your favorite.
20. Gallery Hop Way Down East
The Tides Institute and Museum of Art presides over Eastport’s downtown from the junction of Water and Sea streets. The 130-year-old brick building, a former bank, was buckling when Eastport native Hugh French and his wife, Kristen McKinley, rescued it in 2002 with plans to create a space dedicated to the art, architecture, and history of the Passamaquoddy region. Today, the Tides Institute hosts seasonal exhibits of fine art, folk art, and vintage photos and artifacts — plus a residency program drawing artists from around the world. With six 19th-century buildings in various stages of restoration, it’s at the crest of the wave of Eastport’s comeback. Free admission. 43 Water St., Eastport. 207-853-4047.
Selfie: Stand under the sign at the entrance of the Water Street headquarters — but don’t leave Eastport without visiting the institute’s Free Will North Church Project Space, where resident artists Charley Young, a Nova Scotia sculptor, and Shoshannah White, a Maine photographer, are collaborating on a work about climate change.
21. Sponsored: Find Outdoor Tunes (and Gear, Of Course) at Bean’s
No Maine summer is complete without a stop at L.L.Bean’s Flagship campus in Freeport, open 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s been a favorite for visitors and locals alike for over a century, with four distinct stores, famously friendly service, and the biggest boot you’ve ever seen. (Not to mention eye-popping taxidermy displays.) Stock up on summer gear, from stand-up paddleboards to totes to sandals, and don’t miss L.L.Bean’s season-long Summer in the Park celebration, a series of free, family-friendly festivals and outdoor happenings, including big-name concerts in Discovery Park. Check the web for this year’s schedule of shows. 95 Main St. 877-755-2326.
Selfie: Take a break from the outdoor festivities and head inside to find L.L.Bean’s giant fish tank, across from the customer service area (hint: look for a crowd of awestruck kids). Snap a shot inside the beloved fish “bubble” for a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
22. Catch Some Shakespeare in the Park
Heading into their seventh season, the MaineStage Shakespeare players of the Kennebunks are once again packing up the Bard-mobile (sets, costumes, concessions, the works), bringing free and lively performances into the community. Managing artistic director Chiara Klein calls this year’s slate a “season of seasons,” featuring A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Winter’s Tale. “It’s an escapist season,” she says, “a season that’s in our world, but not in our world.” Starting July 13, audiences can soak up the romance, faerie magic, and lyrical prose every Wednesday through Saturday at sites around the Kennebunks. 207-613-6225.
Selfie: Stick around after the show, as the actors mingle with the audience — then find one in full period garb and ask if they doth mind to pose with you.
23. Step Into a Novel at Fast Eddie’s
Hey, is that Miles Roby slinging burgers at Fast Eddie’s Drive-In in Winthrop? Unfortunately, no. The bighearted diner cook from Empire Falls still lives only in fiction — but the booths from his Empire Grill have improbably managed to merge with reality. When HBO turned novelist Richard Russo’s Pulitzer-winning Empire Falls into a miniseries, starring Ed Harris as Miles, the production crew refashioned a Skowhegan pizza joint into a real-world Empire Grill. Seven years later, in 2010, the place went out of business, and its contents went to auction. Fast Eddie’s acquired the booths, and the vintage eatery, where patrons can dine in their cars or inside, feels like proper digs for the literary/cinematic artifacts. Roby would certainly feel right at home with the menu of burgers, clams, and shakes. 1308 Rte. 202. 207-377-5550.
Selfie: Frame yourself in front of the dark-blue awning that announces “Car-Hop Service” in bold, yellow print, with the pic of a tray-wielding waitress alongside a chromed-out ride.
24. Find Art as Compelling as the Landscape
Owners Bill Rudd and Lynda Rasco have been creating jewelry together for decades, but when they relocated their studio from Portland to the western Maine mountain town of Lovell two decades back, they wanted to branch out. Their Harvest Gold Gallery showcases the work of more than 200 artists, with Mainers well represented, in every medium you can think up. (Painting and sculpture? Check. Woodworking and glassblowing? Check. Salt shakers and yard ornaments? Check and check.) The gallery also showcases Kezar Lake — there’s a view from the deck out back that’ll knock your socks off on a sunny day. 1082 Main St. 207-925-6502.
Selfie: Get a shot with the lake and the White Mountains out back or the yard art out front. Patron’s choice.