Category Sponsor: Maine Maritime Museum
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.
14. Motor Out to Burnt Island Light
One of Maine’s cooler and lesser-visited state historic sites, rugged little Burnt Island, about a mile out from Boothbay Harbor, is home to a nearly 200-year-old lighthouse that saw 30 keepers come and go between 1821 and when it was automated in 1988. Guided tours on Mondays and Thursdays in July and August offer visitors a glimpse at a solitary keeper’s life in the 1950s, complete with guides in period garb. There’s good hiking and picnicking opportunities around the 5-acre island as well, with plenty of rocky shoreline to explore. Boothbay’s Balmy Days Cruises leads trips on tour days ($25 adults, $15 children), but recreational boaters can also help themselves to moorings and a dock. 207-633-9559.
Selfie: Definitely get some shots of the stout white lighthouse, but for your selfie, find the tire swing on the island’s perimeter trail, installed by Randy Griffin, lighthouse keeper from 1974–1977. Take a ride and snap a photo while you do.
15. Visit the Eagle Lake Locomotives
They’re a classic entry in the logbook of rural Maine curio: a hulking pair of turn-of-the-(20th-) century steam engines, marooned in a clearing on the edge of Eagle Lake, deep in the Allagash wilderness. How’d they get there? Dragged over ice by tank-like carts called Lombard log haulers in 1926, the locomotives allowed lumber barons to transport wood across 13 miles of rail between Eagle and Chamberlain lakes. When demand for pulpwood tanked during the Great Depression, they were simply left behind. How do you get there? Technically, you can hike a tangle of old logging roads and overgrown footpaths, but the going is rough, and it’s easy to get lost. Better to put in a canoe on either lake and paddle to the site — and you might as well camp a night or two on the Allagash while you’re at it. Find maps, camping info, and access details at maine.gov/allagashwildernesswaterway
Selfie: Stand in front of the old logging trains, then make like a chainsaw and show us some teeth.
16. Score Tickets to Hamilton (House)
Can’t beat the location of the grand 18th-century Georgian manor known as the Hamilton House, built by shipping merchant Jonathan Hamilton and overlooking a wide and forested stretch of the Salmon Falls River in South Berwick. Can’t beat the wallpaper either, alternately covered in baroque patterns and two elaborate murals commissioned by the home’s genteel residents in the early 20th century. The Hamilton House cuts a stately and impressive figure from outside, and you can easily lose an afternoon perusing the period furnishings inside. (Great gardens too!) The property opens in June, and Historic New England leads hourly tours Wednesday through Sunday. $10 adults, $9 seniors, $5 students. 40 Vaughan’s Ln. 207-384-2454.
Selfie: Stand outside and see how many of the four giant chimneys you can get in one shot.
17. Sponsored: Maine Maritime Museum
It’s a big summer at Bath’s Maine Maritime Museum. How big? Try 73 feet, the sparred length of the two-masted clipper ship Mary E, built in Bath in 1906 and brought to the museum this summer to be restored in full public view. Or 1,800 pounds, the weight of the Frensel lens that shone from 1874 to 1994 in the east tower of Cape Elizabeth’s Two Lights. It’s now the centerpiece of Into the Lantern: A Lighthouse Experience, a whole new museum wing and a very cool immersive re-creation of the tower’s lantern room, opening June 17. Of course, the sculpture of the Wyoming — a museum highlight, with its 120-foot flagpole masts — still evokes the scale of the largest wooden ship ever built in the U.S., and the MMM’s Lobstermobile is still the biggest crustacean on four wheels. $16 (free for members), $14.50 seniors, $10 kids 6–12. 243 Washington St. 207-443-1316.
Selfie: The first artifact most visitors see is the 1912 Fiddler’s Reach fog bell, outside the front entrance. Get a shot alongside it before you head in.
18. Scout for French Ships from Atop Fort William Henry
Sunbathing on the white sand at Bristol’s Pemaquid Beach, it’s easy to forget that this quiet confluence of Johns Bay and the Pemaquid River once hosted frequent skirmishes. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, everyone from Native Americans to pirates to the French navy attacked the tiny British colony here. Fortifications were razed and rebuilt several times over, and the tower that now stands at Fort William Henry houses a museum detailing the rocky history of this stretch of coast. The original structure was commissioned by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692 and destroyed by French and Wabanaki forces in 1696. In 1908, the state of Maine rebuilt it, and the tower has perched peacefully above the scenic harbor ever since. $3 Maine resident, $4 nonresident. Colonial Pemaquid Dr., New Harbor. 207-677-2423.
Selfie: Any shot with the battlements in the background will do. One cool perspective is actually outside the site’s grounds, 100 yards past the entrance gate, down Old Fort Road. You’ll find a nice view just before the road dead-ends at a private drive.