The tanks hold thousands of freshly caught bugs. Indoor and outdoor tables seat 500. Somehow, it feels as intimate as when the Youngs started serving in their driveway, a century ago — and Belfast Bay is just as pretty. 2 Fairview St., Belfast. 207-338-1160.
2. Catching Sunrise on Cadillac Never Gets Old
Nab a car reservation online (and a park entrance pass) and get to the gate by 4:30 a.m. for a winding, three-mile trip up the summit road. (Or pick a trail and start hiking around 1 a.m.) The breaking dawn on Acadia’s highest peak rarely disappoints. Acadia National Park. 207-288-3338.
Cadillac Mountain, photo by Chris Shane. Young’s Lobster Pound, photo by Dave Waddell. Children’s Discovery Museum, rendering by Rusty Lamar of Field Magnet Design.
3. Norway’s New Farm-to-Town Trail Connects Main Street to the Woods
A new connector makes it easy to eat lunch downtown, hike a couple of forested miles to the Roberts Farm Preserve’s dramatic Lake Pennesseewassee overlook, then hike back for happy hour. A mountain-biking trail is coming this year. Trailhead on Water St., Norway. 207-739-2124. wfltmaine.org
4. The Children’s Discovery Museum Is Coming Back
Formerly located in Augusta, the Children’s Discovery Museum of Central Maine aims to reopen in its new Waterville space this summer, with interactive exhibits focused on mills, watersheds, and rural and city living. 7 Eustis Pkwy., Waterville.
5. So’s the Maine State Aquarium
Closed since 2020 (first for COVID, then renovations), Boothbay’s cozy but fascinating marine attraction — known mostly for its touch tanks full of dogfish, horseshoe crabs, sea stars, lobsters, and more — reopens this summer. 194 McKown Point Rd., West Boothbay Harbor. 207-633-9500.
Last year’s inaugural fest brought some 40 of the country’s buzziest breweries to a Scarborough racetrack. This year’s welcomes more than 50 and moves to Thompson’s Point, on Portland’s Fore River — a much more scenic beer garden. Aug. 5. 207 Thompson’s Point Rd., Portland.
The network of 15 waterfront parks sprinkled around Cobscook Bay shows off Maine at its most unspoiled: dramatic headlands, huge tidal flats, plenty of wildlife, and little development beyond the parks’ lovely picnic shelters. Lubec.
History tours have always been a draw at the 202-year-old lighthouse at the mouth of Boothbay Harbor, but last year, the site swapped out costumed performers for former keepers and their family members. Hear fascinating stories told by those who lived them. Boothbay Harbor.
Burnt Island, photo by Benjamin Williamson. Wares at East End Vend, courtesy of East End Vend.
A pandemic pivot that thankfully stuck around, Shop Maine Craft’s mobile pop-up market is back, bringing a tent village full of vendors — jewelry artists, printmakers, ceramicists, and more — to breweries and other Portland hotspots. June–Sept. Portland. 207-805-4918.
10. Red Snappers Are a Delicacy
W.A. Bean and Sons electric-crimson frankfurters — aka “Lewiston lobsters” — are a hallmark of Maine summer barbecues and available at any supermarket. You have access to a grill. ’Nuff said.
11. Recreational Cannabis Is Everywhere, If That’s Your Thing
12. Summer-Stock Theater Is Alive and Well in Southern Maine
After announcing its closure at the end of last season, Berwick’s Hackmatack Playhouse mounts a surprise comeback, with a new generation taking over the Guptill family’s barn theater. This season includes productions of Tick, Tick . . . Boom!, fresh off its film adaptation, ’70s classic Godspell, and a comedy adapted from the writings of Mark Twain. 538 Rte. 9, Berwick. 207-698-1807.
Peter Trout’s, photo by Nicole Wolf. AMC’s dark skies, photo by Andy Gagne. Kineo from Katahdin, photo by Shannon Bryan.
MDI’s friendliest pub has amazing fried chicken, fluffy biscuits, melt-in-your-mouth meatloaf, a patio with harbor views — and now, a refreshed dining room with a brand-new bar. 48 Shore Rd., Southwest Harbor. 207-244-8619.
14. Maine Has the East’s Last Dark Skies
When the Perseids meteor shower peaks in mid-August, there are no better places to catch it than Maine’s two International Dark-Sky Association–certified tracts: Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods property between Monson and the Canadian border.
Fresh off the first leg of a restoration, with several decks replaced, the 1914 steamer heads back onto Moosehead Lake, taking in views of the islands and Mt. Kineo, with beer, wine, and snacks served in the galley. 12 Lily Bay Rd., Greenville. 207-695-2716.
Pack a basket, order from the vast charcuterie menu, or hit a food truck at this farm and orchard off Cobbossee Lake, with a full bar in the 150-year-old shingled barn, including pours of a dozen exquisite house ciders. 799 Winthrop Center Rd., Winthrop. 207-395-2004.
In a former miners’ lodge on the rambling campus of the sustainable-ag nonprofit Greenhorns, the newly expanded shop stocks everything from organic produce to seaweed broths to Maine cheeses to house-made vinegars and medicinal teas. 12 Little Falls Rd., Pembroke. 207-726-4442.
Saco Drive In, photo by Irvin Serrano. Smithereen Farm products, photo by Justin Smulski. Funtown, photo courtesy of Joel Rogers | coastergallery.com.
Maine’s venerable amusement park brings in booze stations, bands, and DJs for its ticketed “All Grown Up” nights, which debuted last summer. July 15, Aug. 5, Aug. 26. 774 Portland Rd., Saco. 207-284-5139.
26. The Crabtree Sessions Artist Showcase Is a Can’t-Miss Concert Series
Imagine Austin City Limits set in a North Haven barn and you get a sense of the vibe at the Crabtree Sessions Artist Showcase, which launches its third season this summer. Bands and singer-songwriters — mostly rootsy Americana types — ferry out to the island for performances punctuated by languid bits of storytelling for crowds of no more than 100 in Turner Farm’s picture-perfect post-and-beam barn. Promoter Michael Lawrence describes the setting as a “listening-room atmosphere,” an intimate scene where the audience can really dial in, even as they sip drinks and slurp oysters. Lawrence — himself a songwriter, as well as a farmer and lobsterman — spun off the shows from a series of livestreamed concerts and conversations he launched at the outset of the pandemic (which continue and have also birthed a residency program at the farm where he lives, on the island’s Crabtree Point). Among the indie-famous performers who played beneath the barn’s twinkle lights last year were Latin-tinged folk-rockers David Wax Museum and Rounder Records breakout Sierra Ferrell. This year’s lineup includes teenage banjo prodigy Nora Brown and Austin-scene songwriting queens Kelly Willis, Brennen Leigh, and Melissa Carper. Attending a show on ferry-serviced, lodging-light North Haven takes planning, but it’s well worth the effort. — Brian Kevin
Promotions for Maine’s minor-league baseball team include transforming into the Maine Whoopie Pies (June 10) and the Bean Suppahs (August 13), complete with custom jerseys and, respectively, whoopies for fans and an all-you-can-eat bean supper at Hadlock Field. 271 Park Ave., Portland. 207-879-9500.
28–29. Two Different Spots to Salute the Alex Katz Foundation
Both the Colby College Museum of Art, which has received more than 500 works by emerging artists via the NYC/Lincolnville painter’s foundation, and Rockland’s Farnsworth Art Museum, which houses more than 60, salute its huge impact with exhibitions. Sept. 20, 2022–June 11, 2023. 5600 Mayflower Hill Dr., Waterville. 207-859-5600.
Lenora dining room, photo by Jen Wyllie. Emma McMillan, Project X, 2019. Aquarelle and oil on panel, 36 x 24 in. (91 x 61 cm). Gift of the Alex Katz Foundation; 2019.470, Courtesy of Alex Katz Foundation.
Headliners of the college’s august summer program include Grammy-nominated woodwind quintet Imani Winds and Carnegie Hall vets the Jupiter String Quartet, plus lots of student performances. June 26–Aug. 4. 181 Park Row, Brunswick. 207-373-1400.
32. The Cataracts Trail Is a Choose-Your-Own Swimming-Hole Adventure
Along a trail of less than a mile, tracing Frye Brook, in the Mahoosuc Public Reserve, hikers find a string of tiny falls and cool, shaded pools (of varying depths) for a summer plunge. Trailhead on E B Hill Rd., 5½ miles west of Rte. 5, Andover West Surplus Township. 207-778-8231.
34. A Beach Town Hosts an International Chili Society Showdown
Warm weather and hot chili? Not an unnatural pairing — in Wells, anyway. The Wells Chili-Fest is one of some 50 nationwide cook-offs sanctioned by the International Chili Society, with cooks from across the U.S. schlepping to southern Maine during the dog days of summer to ladle up servings of their signature stews outside the local junior high (where there’s also bands and craft vendors — the usual summer festival atmosphere). Judges choose winners in each category (traditional red, chili verde, homestyle, and salsa), who can advance to the World Championship Chili Cook-Off. But regular folks get to taste and rank too, wandering the eccentrically decorated booths (an Elvis theme here, a Thelma & Louise theme there), to pick a people’s choice winner. The competition is red hot. Aug. 26. 1470 Post Rd., Rte. 1, Wells. 207-646-2451.— Adrienne Perron
The new season at the 1887 post-and-beam barn includes Pink Floyd, Beatles, and Allman Brothers copycats, plus comedian Caroline Rhea, cabaret singer Annie Royer, and more. 53 Old Post Rd., Arundel. 207-985-5552
Last year’s 20th anniversary MOFF screened some 75 short films around Portland, all focused on adventure and conservation and paired with panels, food trucks, parties. Afterwards, a pared-down slate tours the state. July 21–30. Portland. 207-619-3622.
In its 25th season since being conserved by what’s now the Royal River Conservation Trust, this family-run farm in Bradbury’s shadow has the pick-your-own grand slam: strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. 429 Elmwood Rd., Pownal. 207-303-7339.
47. You Can Watch Outdoor Theater in a Desert
Bowdoinham’s mildly surrealist, puppet-loving Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble returns for a second season on the dunes of Freeport’s Desert of Maine, premiering the site-specific fantasy The Sand Princess. June 3–25. 95 Desert Rd., Freeport.
Bradbury Mountain Berry Farm, photo by Kelsey Kobik. Ziggurat performance, photo by Sarah Gagnon.
48. The Crooked River Has Something for Every Paddler
It’s a leisurely five-mile paddle from Crooked River Campground, in Casco, to Sebago Lake — or tackle rapids upstream. Herons and egrets throughout. With a dozen access points (and boat delivery from the campground), it’s easy to customize your float. 45 Crooked River Ln., Casco. 207-655-5383.
The Dead and Kennebec are New England’s classic wilderness rafting rivers — or you can float them solo, guided or unguided, on sturdy custom-designed inner tubes. Helmets are a must (or there are flatwater trips too). 745 Rte. 201, Caratunk. 207-672-9298.
The gallery’s 65th anniversary exhibition, Generations, shows off little-seen works from artists who showed there in its founding years: Marguerite Zorach, Dahlov Ipcar, Stephen Etnier, and more. Five-minute walk to Red’s for a lobster roll after. May 4–June 10. 15 Warren St., Wiscasset. 207-687-8143.
51. Having a Friend With a Party Boat
Call them pontoon boats, if you must, but the practical, flat-bottomed crafts are perfect for hosting a bunch of swimsuit-clad pals and a couple of coolers. A friend’s boat is best, but in a pinch, marinas from Sebago to Great Pond to Moosehead will rent you one (buying one, of course, is for suckers). And hey, they’re not just for fresh water — one Down East editor has a pal with the rare oceangoing party boat, on which she finagles invites for social flotillas in Cape Porpoise’s Stage Harbor.
The quintessential Route 1 diner keeps the case full of summertime staples (blueberry, strawberry rhubarb), plus amazing cream pies, but four-berry is the GOAT: raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries. 1885 Atlantic Hwy., Waldoboro. 207-832-7785.
Some of the country’s most accomplished choreographers and performers gather in Lewiston for both main-stage events and site-specific performances outdoors around the Bates campus. July 7–28. Bates College, Lewiston. 207-786-6381.
Party boat, photo by Mikaela Flynn.Higgins Beach surfer, photo by Jason Frank.Bates Dance Festival, photo by Kathryn Butler. Lupines, photo by Benjamin Williamson.
64. The Rangeley Lupine Festival Has Bargains and Blossoms
The waves are better in autumn, and a summer curfew means morning and evening surfing only. But Higgins is prettiest around dawn and dusk anyway, and during low tide and southeast swells, the tribe gathers. Gear and lessons from Black Point Surf Shop. 134 Black Point Rd., Scarborough. 207-939-6016.
66. You Can Learn to Live Off the Land in Northern Maine
Forage River Outfitters’ field site, on the Mattawamkeag River, is an idyllic spot for a day-long workshop on foraging plants and mushrooms — and making medicinal tinctures from the bounty of the north woods. June 17, July 9, July 29, Aug. 13, Sept. 17. Winn. 207-217-1641.
67. Lawn Mower Racing is a Spectator Sport
The midcoast’s Thunder Valley Mower Racing circuit got its start in a backyard more than a decade ago, but as the roster of tractor racers grew — and the rides themselves got more customized and turbo charged — mower racing has taken to tracks where onlookers can dig the spectacle: notably, Threshers Brewing Co. (22 Main St., Searsmont; 207-342-2337) and the Union Fair (207-785-3281), this year held the last week of July. The latter is where the biggest crowds gather, watching round after elimination round of various classes of mods braaap-ingtheir way across a 150-foot flat track (the most souped-up can top 30 miles per hour). But the brewery, where Thunder Valley turns up for a few family-friendly weekend races in summer and fall, is the more fun and freewheeling — and not just because you can crush a couple pints of Threshers’ crisp Thunder Valley Lager tribute beer. There are bands and food trucks too. — B.K.
The Biddeford creamery — launched in the mill — has a new Main Street shop serving its yummy house-pasteurized scoops (try the brown butter crunch), plus floats, house-made sodas, and espresso drinks. 128 Main St., Biddeford. 207-494-4852.
69. You Can Cool Down with an Ice-Cold Moxie
They’ll pour you one at Lisbon’s three-day Moxie Festival, where you can also taste apps, entrées, and desserts made better (?) with Maine’s old-school gentian-root soda. July 7–9. Lisbon. moxiefestival.com
Sixty years since Massachusetts blue blood Stephen Phillips bought Students Island, on Mooselookmeguntic Lake, his conservation legacy includes scenic shoreline, four other islands, and some 70 primitive campsites beloved by paddlers. Rangeley. 207-864-2003.
75. On Deer Isle, You Can Picnic on a Sandbar
The mile-long hike through the Barred Island Preserve’s fairyland of moss carpeting and lichen-draped spruces, to a sandy beach nestled between pink-granite boulders, is delightful at any time of day. But arrive at the beach within three hours on either side of low tide, and you can cross a sandbar from the mainland to uninhabited, rockbound Barred Island. There’s no trail on the island (famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted once owned it and evidently opted not to ply his trade), but surefooted souls can scramble around the two-acre island’s stony perimeter. The sandbar itself, with views of North Haven, Vinalhaven, and the Camden Hills to the west and Isle au Haut to the east, is a sweet spot for a picnic or a swim. (The water on both sides is equally brisk.) Owned by the Nature Conservancy and managed by Deer Isle’s Island Heritage Trust, the 28-acre preserve also encompasses a half-mile forested loop off the main trail, which is a nice way to extend your visit if you don’t hit the tides just right.— Sarah Stebbins
Glamorous cocktails served atop the Canopy by Hilton contrast nicely with the city’s still-gritty working waterfront. Try the Spicy Llama, with pisco, pineapple juice, and jalapeños. 285 Commercial St., Portland. 207-791-0011.
Taking a page from Maine Maple Sunday, more than a dozen wild-blueberry farms open their barrens for tours, samples, and family-friendly activities, while restaurants, breweries, wineries, and others put the state fruit to use. Aug. 5–6. 207-581-1862.
After closing in 2021, Aroostook County’s iconic lakeside restaurant reopened last summer with a limited menu and hours, including their delicious ployes by the basket. 48 Sinclair Rd., Sinclair. 207-543-7584.
Chic sun hats, totes, and picnicware are among the summer inventory at Katie Bowes and Hannah Haehn’s seasonally influenced boutique, now in its second year, plus an exquisitely curated selection of home goods, body products, and more. 65 Washington Ave., Portland.
This summer marks five years of southern Maine’s happening food-truck park, with newcomers like Bubba Frye’s (solid wings) and Cheese the Day (epic grilled cheese), plus the return of the beer garden and live music. 1100 Post Rd., Wells. 207-646-4219.
81. Windjammers Under Full Sail Are Breathtaking
The best spot to watch a bunch of them is on the Rockland Breakwater during the 45th annual Great Schooner Race, when no fewer than 20 tall ships take to Penobscot Bay. Rather be onboard? Book a cruise during the week of the race. July 7. Rockland.
82. You Can Take Home a Trophy at the Ocean Park Sand Sculpture Competition
Serious artistry goes into this 37-year tradition on the south end of Old Orchard Beach. This year’s theme: “Transportation Modes: Air, Land & Sea.” Oh, and all teams must include at least one child. July 3. Old Orchard Beach. 207-934-9068.
Portland has a skater-rathskeller vibe. Oxford and Newcastle have forested trails. All three have easy-drinking farmhouse beers perfect for hot summer days. 274 Jones Rd., Newcastle. 207-315-5962; 420 Main St., Oxford. 207-539-5178; 49 Washington Ave., Portland. 207-350-0025.
The cute York Beach shop opened last year, slinging graphic tees and hoodies with beachy slogans (e.g., “Salty Sandy + Stoked”) and other seashore tchotchkes. New this summer: a second location at Ogunquit’s bustling Perkins Cove. 2 Beach St., York. 116 Perkins Cove Rd., Ogunquit. 207-606-0051.
Trails were cut wide on the Little Moose Public Land’s new 12-mile mountain-biking trail network, to accommodate families and new riders. Still, the jumps and berms are a thrill, and new intermediate trails are coming online this year. Trailhead on Eveleth Hill, off Moosehead Lake Rd., Greenville Junction. 207-290-7156.
88. You Can Get a Bite of the World’s Largest Ploye
The annual Ploye Festival celebrates the St. John Valley’s favorite Acadian buckwheat flatbread, culminating in the Bouchard family busting out their station-wagon–size griddle (and handing out regular-size samples). June 23–24. Fort Kent. 207-834-5354.
89. You Can Swim on Top of Tumbledown Mountain
Several routes (some with iron rungs) reach the glacially plucked tarn below Tumbledown’s 3,068-foot summit. The rewards for a challenging hike are knockout views of the western mountains and a refreshing dip in the pond. Trailheads on Weld-to-Byron Rd., Weld. 207-585-2347.
Moosehead mountain biking, photo by Andy Gagne. Tumbledown Pond, photo by Jack Stolz.
90. Portland Has So Many Indie Bookstores
You won’t want for summer reads in the Forest City, where the newest addition to the lit scene is Back Cove Books, in Woodfords Corner’s former Odd Fellows Hall (check out the nonfiction titles in the old bank vault). 651 Forest Ave., Portland. 207-536-1250.
91. Ferry Beach Has Southern Maine Sand Without the Crowds
A white-sand beach just south of Old Orchard, but the $7 nonresident state-park fee and a not-quite-quarter-mile walk from the parking lot seem to keep crowds away. Great trails (including through a rare tupelo grove) and a cool hands-on nature center too. 9 Bayview Rd., Saco. 207-283-0067.
The Maine State Clam Shucking Contest includes heats for pros, local-media celebs, and amateurs. Last year, festivalgoers ate 217 gallons of fried clams and drank an ocean of lime rickeys. July 21–23. Yarmouth. 207-846-3984.
In spite of its vastness and “forever wild” ethos, parts of Baxter State Park can feel downright slammed. That’s because so many campers and day-trippers tend to converge on three trailheads accessing Katahdin. Hiking Maine’s highest mountain is a bucket-list experience — just one that’ll likely be shared with several dozen strangers. For comparative solitude, you can pick a non-Katahdin trailhead: traverses of the Brothers, Double Top, and the Traveler are majestic and see far less traffic. But to really get away, go ahead and score one of those coveted advance day-parking reservations at a Katahdin trailhead — then, don’t hike the Great Mountain. Instead, from Roaring Brook, make for South Turner Mountain. The path rambles along the boulder-strewn, moose-y shore of Sandy Stream Pond, then, after .7 mile, pitches seriously upward for another 1.3 miles to the 3,100-foot summit and knockout Katahdin views. Or start at Katahdin Stream and follow the crowds up the gently climbing Hunt Trail for a mile, then split left, leaving nearly every other group behind. Two strenuous miles later, the 2,500-foot summit of The Owl perches at the end of a narrow ridge. It too offers a stunning Katahdin vista, and sometimes, when the wind is right, voices echo of the many hikers ascending that other peak. — Will Grunewald
Spectacular fireworks over the Kennebec River are the climax of five days of free concerts, carnival rides, a two-day art fair, a vintage car show, “Maine’s largest parade,” and more. June 30–July 4. 207-442-7291.
Made from Maine spuds and served scalding-oil hot since 1932 (with salt and vinegar or nacho cheese or as poutine), OOB’s crinkly, crispy snack is the perfect complement to beachfront people watching. 12 Old Orchard St., Old Orchard Beach. 207-934-2328.
Wandering the 100,000-square-foot outdoor-gear shop is a just-crossed-the-border tradition for plenty of Maine pilgrims. The cathedral-like store with the big old bullseye out front is marking its 85th year. 301 Rte. 1, Kittery. 207-439-2700.
There are finds to be had among the rummage at the midcoast’s venerable outdoor flea market (antiques on Wednesdays, everything on Saturdays and Sundays), but the real draw is chatting up the 100-plus vendors — Montsweag attracts characters. 6 Hunnewell Ln., Woolwich. 207-443-2809.
99. Bridgton’s Main Street Is What a Downtown Should Be
In Maine’s back-to-the-land hub, the Saturday market packs in nearly 50 farmers, prepared-food vendors, and craft artisans, plus live music (usually folkie). Don’t sleep on hand-rolled doughnuts from Marilyn’s Jam Session. Blue Hill Fairgrounds, 233 Ellsworth Rd., Blue Hill. 207-610-3793
101. Maine Summer Is Fleeting
Before you know it, you’ll be seeing your first red leaf in September and freaking out. To paraphrase Allen Ginsberg, the transitory nature of a Maine summer is what makes it sacred.