Best of Maine: Family 2013

Sprint across floating lobster crates. Build a fire without matches. Rent a VIP limo for your dog.

Photo: William Cullina

Unique Athletic Competition 
Lobster Crate Races
Nothing tests your speed, dexterity, and balance quite like a lobster crate race, a competition that is, as far as we know, unique to Maine. The contest involves running across a string of slippery, floating, bobbing lobster crates (not to be confused with traps). Rules vary, but the winner is the person who runs the most crates before falling into the ocean. 
Races will be held at the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland (August 4, and the Camden Windjammer Festival (August 31,

Place to be a Teen 
Bath Youth Meetinghouse 
and Skate Park
When the YMCA in Bath closed in 2011, local teenagers made impassioned pleas to city councilors to rebuild their skate park. The city listened and reinstalled the Bath Youth Meetinghouse and Skate Park, along with all its half pipes, ramps, and rails at the Armory last July. On any given day, dozens of teens show up at this 11,000-square-foot facility, Maine’s largest indoor skate park. There are even plans to expand by adding more room as well as a six-foot half pipe for more advanced skaters. 
4 Old Brunswick Rd., Bath. 

Wilderness Training Camp 
Bryant Pond 4-H Camp
At a time when many summer camps feel more and more like vacation resorts, the University of Maine 4-H programs at Bryant Pond are a welcome throwback to camps of old. These one-week camps promote natural resource education, encourage traditional outdoor recreation, and teach outdoor survival skills to kids ages seven to eighteen. Your child will learn how to build a fire without matches, paddle a canoe confidently, identify flora and fauna, and even build a dry shelter using natural materials. Bryant Pond. 207-665-2068.

Garden to Explore 

Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden
Trip Advisor named the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens the top of its kind in the country — and we won’t argue that fine distinction. But we will say that its two-acre children’s garden deserves the specific attention of families with kids of all ages. Spend a blissful day meandering the plants and flowers while your child explores educational play areas and hands-on stations. Don’t miss Fairy Fridays in July and August, with music, dancing, dress-up, crafts, a bubble machine, and fairy house building. 
132 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay. 207-633-4333.

Second-Hand Kids’ Clothes 
Lots for Tots
The wealthy suburban communities of Scarborough and Falmouth are great towns to look for those bargain deals on second-hand kids’ clothing and toys. Lots for Tots, with a location on Route 1 in both towns, offers a great selection of kids’ stuff at prices that won’t make you squeamish even if your toddler outgrows that North Face jacket in the blink of an eye. 240 U.S. Route 1, Falmouth. 207-347-8601; 152 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough. 207-883-1100,

Doggie Resort 

It’s A Dog’s Life
A self-described “exclusive boutique hotel and day camp for dogs,” this Freeport dog haven is the Ritz for your furry friends. Some of the amenities include: a VIP Pet Limo service with bottled water, television, soothing music, private scenic walks by the ocean, and even canine water sport activities such as paddleboarding and kayaking. Live in the area but work long hours? Your dog can attend play camp and romp around with canine friends for six to seven hours before you pick them up on your way back from work. Don’t worry — naptime is worked into the schedule, on plush beds of course. 58 Osprey Cove Road, Freeport. 207-319-7997.

Family Friendly  Hikes
Take the entire family up one of these trails for 
an easy and rewarding hike.

Bald Mountain Trail

Beech Hill Preserve

Blue Hill Mountain
Blue Hill

Bradbury Mountain


Mount Agamenticus

Etsy Baby Gifts
Outfit your toddler with the help of Maine’s DIY masters.

Cashmere Baby Blankets by House of Rowan
Heirloom blankets made from recycled cashmere sweaters adorned with two-needle felted hedgehogs. $79, House of Rowan,

Button Top Booties by Three Kittens Knitting
Hand made using easy-care acrylic yarn, these brown tweed booties will keep those five-inch feet warm through the Maine winter. $15.75, Three Kittens Knitting,

Lobster Suspenders and Bow Tie by Chatterbox Shop
Your three- to eight-year-old boy will be looking fancy for that special Maine dinner with a matching lobster bow tie and suspenders. $31.99, Chatterbox Shop,

Hand woven Kids Pack Basket 
by Ocean Mist Crafts
Handwoven using natural reed, these ten-inch-tall baskets are made so your kids can tote them around filled with snacks, toys, or clothes. $55, Ocean Mist Crafts,