[dropcap letter=”F”]rom the trail to the taproom to the tidal pool, from the lake to the lunch counter to the lobster shack, let our second (annual?) scavenger hunt be your guide to everything the Pine Tree State has to offer in the season when it shines brightest. This is your summer to discover something new. Happy hunting.
Gather the Herd at Wolfe’s Neck
The baaas of sheep and sight of cows grazing against the shimmering backdrop of Casco Bay herald your arrival at the farm on Freeport’s nonprofit Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment campus. In addition to a campground and wooded walking trails, the 626-acre center includes a dairy barn (stop by at 4:30 p.m. to watch the cows file in for their afternoon milking) and livestock barn with sheep, goats, chickens, and ducks. Visitors can wander in dawn till dusk, and kids can deliver hay to the animals in little red wheelbarrows, pet willing parties, and (for $5 apiece) take part in short educational programs, such as “Farmer for the Morning.” 184 Burnett Rd. 207-865-4469.
► Selfie: You and your kids with Dolly, Clover, or whomever you can wrangle. If the animals aren’t cooperating, we’ll settle for a shot in front of the barn.
Take a Kid Fishing
This is Maine; fishing is in our blood. So this one’s easy — find someone under 16, preferably someone you love. Then find a body of water with fish in it. Show up at a pier, with or without a boat; with a rod or two or three; with flies or bait, as you prefer and as allowed; maybe even with a guide, if you like. Then, waste the day away. Talk a lot. Maybe catch some fish. Maybe don’t. At the end of the day, who cares? Start at maine.gov/ifw/fishing-boating/fishing for info on seasons, limits, lake inventories, and licenses. Kids under 16 need no license. Visit takemefishing.org for ideas of where to go.
► Selfie: You and your fishing buddy, wherever you decide to wet a line.
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth in Hallowell
Scrummy Afters (that’s British slang for “scrumptious desserts”) is more than a candy shop; it’s a rich, sensory-stimulating event, the creative expression of interior designer Kim Davis and her daughter, costume designer Hilary Davis. A rainbow of fabrics swoops from the ceiling, bringing to mind a hot-air balloon. The place is so jammed with festive decorations, it can seem as if you’re gliding through a real-life Candy Land. Every inch of the place sprouts sweets: gumdrops, jawbreakers, lollipops, jellybeans, and more, in a seemingly endless array of colors and flavors. And did we mention the handmade chocolates? Hilary’s own milk-chocolate-and-caramel-coated toasted marshmallows, dark-chocolate roses, and silky truffles are scrummy indeed. 136 Water St., Hallowell. 207-621-2900.
► Selfie: Grab one of those giant rainbow-swirl lollipops and just try not to smile.
Discover Bean’s Discovery Park (and More)
As many a Maine parent will attest, a visit to L.L.Bean’s Flagship campus in Freeport — open 24/7, 365 days a year — is a reliable summer crowd-pleaser. Maybe it’s the trout ponds, the huge chalkboard wall in the kids’ department, or the iconic giant boot outside. Maybe it’s the season-long Summer in the Park celebration, a series of free, family-friendly concerts, movies, and outdoor happenings in Discovery Park (including the Life Happens Outside Festival, benefitting Teens to Trails, on August 18, great for all ages and abilities). Or maybe it’s the chance to gear up for another summer of Maine family fun, with four distinct stores offering everything from big tents to boat totes to bike trailers. 95 Main St. 877-755-2326.
► Selfie: Snap your little one (or yourself) getting an insider’s view of L.L.Bean’s giant fish tank from inside the beloved “fish bubble,” across from the customer service area.
Page Through Vinalhaven’s Story Trail
The Basin Preserve on Vinalhaven is 789 acres of pure island magic, with 3 miles of trail winding through coastal forest, over cliffs, and alongside the protected waters of the preserve’s namesake inlet. Along the Granite Island Trail, hikers will find a story amidst the trees, as three-dozen moveable brackets along a half-mile of trail display a rotating outdoor exhibit of pages from children’s books. The featured stories all have ties to Maine — the works of seasonal islander Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon and The Little Island, are often in the rotation. Get lost in the story (but not so lost you miss the last ferry back). Find the trailhead on Granite Island Rd., ½ mile north of the bridge from the main island. 207-863-2543.
► Selfie: Snap a picture alongside your favorite page — and, if they’re with you, your favorite young readers.
Fill Your Pail on Caterpillar Hill
Travelers along Route 15 in Sedgwick often pull over at the Caterpillar Hill Scenic Turnout to gaze across boulder-strewn blueberry fields at the distant curves of Eggemoggin Reach, Penobscot Bay, and the Camden Hills. But a landscape this lovely (and loaded with berries) deserves more than just a pit stop. Thanks to the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, which owns a 134-acre hillside parcel called Cooper Farm, you can walk right into this Blueberries for Sal–like scene. Take the first right after the turnout onto gravel Cooper Farm Road and park in the small lot. From there, follow one of three easy loops — comprising 1½ miles, all told — meandering through scrubby fields. Come midsummer, you can pick and/or eat blueberries the whole way. 296 Caterpillar Hill Rd. 207-374-5118.
► Selfie: Get yourself (and maybe some kids) next to the Cooper Farm sign at the trailhead. Blueberry-stained faces are a plus, as are pails that make a satisfying kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!
Fun fact about Goodall Park, home to the collegiate summer baseball team the Sanford Mainers: it’s where Babe Ruth played his last game in a Red Sox uniform, touring New England with a barnstorming team before being bought by the Yankees. Today, the talent level is still high for the environs — the nonprofit Mainers bring in some of the NCAA’s best, and some players go on to play professionally (like former Mainer Jason Motte, who won a World Series title with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011). And, like any good small-town ball club, the Mainers entertain: promotions like free cake night and craft beer night pack them in, and the dual mascots (two dancing moose brothers named Broose and Boomer) are a hit with kids. 38 Roberts St., Sanford, 207-324-0010.
► Selfie: Get a shot with Broose or Boomer or from outside the historic ballpark, with its locally beloved “green cathedral” facade.