Category Sponsor: Spurwink
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.
30. Defy Gravity at Palace Playland
Old Orchard Beach is to Maine family fun what Daytona is to stock car racing. It’s a pilgrimage site, and while the beach is lovely and the boardwalk a kitschy hoot, it’s the classic beachside amusement park of Palace Playland that really packs them in. The thrill machine pictured here is known as the Power Surge, but you’ll also find a classic steel coaster, a swinging pirate ship, and kid-friendly rides like carousels, tea cups, and an LED-lit Ferris wheel offering a great view of the whole glittery OOB spectacle. 1 Old Orchard St. 207-934-2001.
Selfie: You or your kids, on or in front of your favorite ride, look of sheer terror optional. We would also accept one of you clutching a giant stuffed animal won in a midway game.
31. Cheer on the Sea Dogs
There is no baseball like minor league baseball, and cozy Hadlock Field is one of the country’s great little ballparks. From the foghorn that sounds after a homer to the between-inning antics of Slugger the 6-foot seal (one of the minors’ most beloved mascots), this is a ballgame as it should be: fun. The Portland Sea Dogs, affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, are coming off a rough year, but fans are excited to see power hitter Rafael Devers step to the plate, a 20-year-old top prospect expected to spend much of his summer on the Sea Dogs’ roster. Another MVP: the Sea Dog Biscuit, a scoop of Maine-churned vanilla ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies. 271 Park Ave., Portland. 207-879-9500.
Selfie: You (or your kids) and Slugger. If you can’t get the mascot himself to pose, the giant statue on the sidewalk outside the ballpark will do.
32. Enjoy the Natural Waterslides at Step Falls
Nothing screams summer like a backyard slip-and-slide or a Griswold-style visit to a waterpark, but you can find the uniquely Maine equivalent at the Step Falls Preserve in Newry, where water cascading down smooth granite creates short and twisty natural waterslides, emptying into shallow pools. It’s a short hike in from the parking area, and on a hot day, you won’t be alone. 8 miles northwest of Newry on Rte. 26. 207-824-3806.
Selfie: You can take your selfie anywhere you like around the preserve, but you’d best be pretty soaked from riding one of the watery shoots.
33. Sink a Few Skee-Balls at the Fun-O-Rama
We’ll grant you, playing video games is not the highest and best use of your Maine summer. But plunking in a few (dozen) tokens at the Fun-O-Rama on Short Sands Beach is an exception to the rule. York Beach’s classic boardwalk arcade, overlooking a stretch of sand dotted with beach blankets, is a throwback to the early days of gaming. Old-school faves like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong share space with air hockey and vintage pinball and throwback midway-style games with crazy mechanical moving parts. A robot Zoltan will tell your fortune, if you can hear him over the sound of skee-balls rolling into the corral. It’s 10,000 square feet of bleeping, clanging nostalgia. 7 Beach St. 207-363-4421.
Selfie: The Fun-O-Rama facade is perfectly retro — the bold red letters above the big bay doors. Hit the beach and get a shot of yourself with the arcade in the background.
34. Sponsored: Volunteer For Kids (Without Your Kids)
Since the 1960s, Spurwink has made Maine’s families a priority. The statewide non-profit, based in Portland, provides behavioral health and education services for children, adults, and families at 37 homes for children and more than a dozen for adults. On June 22, Spurwink hosts its annual Brews and Backpacks event at Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, a community event where grown-ups help assemble backpacks full of care items for kids entering Spurwink’s foster care, child abuse treatment, and residential programs. Parents, leave the kids at home for this one and enjoy a brew or two while pitching in. It’s good to be reminded: part of a perfect Maine summer is giving back. Details at 207-871-1200 or spurwink.org/events
Selfie: We want to see you filling a knapsack at Spurwink’s Brews and Backpacks — but if you can’t make it, we trust you to pick another volunteer opportunity this summer (with or without your kids). Snap a pic while you’re out lending a hand.