Crawl Washington Avenue
We’re so old, we remember when Portland’s inner Washington Avenue had some auto garages and vacant spaces and next to nothing for nightlife. What a difference five or six years makes. The four-block stretch west of Munjoy Hill is now arguably the city’s most fun and diverse place to eat and drink. There’s Silly’s, of course, the exception that proves the rule, proudly being weird and delicious and pleasing vegetarians since 1988. Almost all of its neighbors are newcomers: Island Creek Oysters, the bagel bosses at Forage Market, Vietnamese noodle shop Cong Tu Bot, nationally lauded Drifters Wife wine bar, two distilleries, and plenty more. Barbecue boutique Terlingua and Oxbow Blending and Bottling opened five winters back and already feel like neighborhood stalwarts. Noshing and sipping your way up Washington is a new staple of a Portland summer weekend.
Pick your favorite hangout between Cumberland Avenue and the Eastern Prom and pose out front by the sign.
Tour a Mustard Mill at Raye’s
Raye’s Mustard in Eastport is the country’s last stone-ground mustard maker, and in 2017, the company spun off a nonprofit arm, Raye’s Mustard Mill Museum, aiming to restore and preserve its historic mill and ramp up the working facility’s interpretive offerings. Visitors can check out the mill’s enormous, 116-year-old quartz grinding wheels (they literally weigh a ton), along with artifacts from Maine’s once-prominent sardine industry (did you know some were packed in mustard)? The preservation campaign is ongoing, and the retail shop has a separate, temporary home downtown during some summer renovations, so head to 54 Water Street if you want take a few jars home. ► Tours daily at 10:30 a.m., 83 Washington St., Eastport. 207-853-4451. rayesmustardmillmuseum.org
The grinding wheels inside are often in action, but there’s one sunk into the lawn out front — get that one in your selfie.
Play With Your Food at the Maine Potato Blossom Festival
For the 72nd year running (!), the good folks of Fort Fairfield are celebrating the agricultural staple of Aroostook County: the humble spud. Did you know Mainers harvest some 50,000 acres of potatoes each year? Did you know some of those potatoes get mashed up and poured into a giant tub so that kids (and a few crazy adults) can wrestle in it every year in Fort Fairfield? Along with a parade, a pancake breakfast, live music, and the usual town-fair frivolity, the Maine Potato Blossom Festival, July 13–21, features all kinds of hands-on potato games, from potato plinko and potato croquet on Thursday, to mashed-potato wrestling on Friday, to a peeling contest on Saturday, to a potato-themed obstacle race on Sunday. ► facebook.com/mainepotatoblossomfestival
Scavenger hunters need to compete in one of the fest’s potato games or challenges (call ahead to sign up for wrestling or the obstacle race). See the schedule online, and take a selfie during or after your tuber-tastic feat.
Go Behind the Scenes at Sebago Brewing Company
Don’t call it a trend — with the statewide brewery count now someplace north of 130, beer tourism is simply a part of the Maine summer experience. When it lauched in South Portland in 1998, Sebago Brewing Company helped lay the groundwork for Maine’s national rep as a craft-brewing hub. Today, Sebago’s HQ is its destination brewery in Gorham, where the tasting room pours fan favorites and exclusive pilot brews, the kitchen serves up locally sourced food and wood-fired pizzas, and the dog-friendly patio-yard has bocce, cornhole, and other diversions. There’s arguably no better brewery to introduce you to the brewing process, so head to the website to sign up for a free brewery tour. ► Mon.–Sat. 616 Main St., Gorham. 207-856-2537. sebagobrewing.com
Tour Sebago’s destination brewery in Gorham and snap a selfie with one of the gleaming kettles and tanks. (Then hit the tasting room to sample the finished product!)
See Maine Sea Salt
Steve and Sharon Cook have been harvesting sea salt for more than 20 years, and the pristine Down East waters drew their Maine Sea Salt Company to Marshfield in 2006. During the summers, Steve offers free tours “whenever anybody shows up,” walking visitors through the 10 greenhouses where seawater evaporates to become sea salt. Samples in the showroom of the natural, unrefined salts include the Cooks’ surprisingly robust woodsmoked variety. ► 11 Church Ln., Marshfield. 207-255-3310. maineseasalt.com
Get a shot inside one of the company’s neat greenhouses — there are often piles of nearly dried-out salt in the last two.
Dine Out(side) at the Lobster Shack
Ruth and Jim Leadbetter opened The Lobster Shack at Two Lights in 1969, and 50 years later, the third generation of the Leadbetter family is still running this Cape Elizabeth landmark. Order at the window inside, but then settle at an outdoor picnic table — you could toss a clamshell into the surf if you threw it hard enough, and the spray against the jagged shoreline makes for one of the most memorable views of any Maine eatery. Bring a cooler full of drinks (the shack is BYO), clamber around on the rocks, visit the cute little gift shop, and make a night of it. ► 225 Two Lights Rd., Cape Elizabeth. 207-799-1677. lobstershacktwolights.com
Stand on the rocks with the umbrella-topped picnic tables behind you. Don’t forget to take off your bib.