The Great Maine Scavenger Hunt

Thirty-two activities across four categories that will keep you bouncing around the state in pursuit of the freshest clams, the tiniest bookstore, the largest salt marsh, and a whole lot more — enough fun to fill up an entire summer.

The Great Maine Scavenger Hunt
By Bridget Burns, Will Grunewald, Nora Saks, and Sarah Stebbins
From our May 2024 issue

How to Play

1. Plan of attack. If this scavenger hunt simply inspires you to check out a few new things here or there over the course of the next several months, you probably don’t need much of a strategy. But if you opt to go all-in on the hunt, you’ll be trekking all over the place. In that case, plotting out your travels is probably a good idea in order to avoid a bunch of backtracking. Plus, a number of tasks are date-specific, so you’ll want to give extra consideration to how those fit your schedule. For updates and helpful tips, join our Facebook group just for scavenger hunters.

2. Note to selfie. Throughout this list, you’ll find guidelines for selfies we want you to take, as documentation of accomplishing each task. It’s also quite acceptable to have somebody else take a photo of you instead. We just want to see you in the scene we’ve described. After completing a task, upload your selfie via the form below, and we’ll keep track of your progress. And mark this on your calendar: the last chance to submit selfies is Monday, September 2 — Labor Day — at 11:59 p.m.

3. To the victors, the spoils. If you upload a selfie for every task in every category, we’ll salute your spectacular accomplishment by publishing one of those pics in an upcoming issue of the magazine. If you complete every task in one or more — but not all — categories, we’ll list you in an honor roll in that same issue. And if you don’t complete any of the categories but still have an awesome time exploring Maine this summer, you’re a winner in our book too.

Submit Your Selfies

Outdoors

Sponsored by Maine Coast Heritage Trust

man with backpack and hiking holding poles on a wooded trail
Photo by Chris Shane

1. Hike the AT (But Not All of It!)

Of the more than 2,000 miles along the Appalachian Trail, 282 of them lie within Maine, winding through some of the state’s finest scenery: steep-walled Grafton Notch, hulking Saddleback, the razorback Bigelow Range, the remote 100 Mile Wilderness, indomitable Katahdin. Add that all up, and it’s no surprise that Maine is widely considered to possess the most rugged portion of the AT. But we’re not asking you to do the whole shebang. Great day hikes abound all along the trail: the amble to Dunn Falls, the moderate climb to Piazza Rock, the short, steep route up to The Eyebrow, to name but a few possibilities. Hit the trail for a couple of hours. Or days. Or weeks. Just get out there and enjoy for a while. matc.org

SELFIE: Stake out a spot in front of any Appalachian Trail marker or one of the white blazes on trees along the route.

man with backpack and hiking holding poles on a wooded trail
Photo by Chris Shane

1. Hike the AT (But Not All of It!)

Of the more than 2,000 miles along the Appalachian Trail, 282 of them lie within Maine, winding through some of the state’s finest scenery: steep-walled Grafton Notch, hulking Saddleback, the razorback Bigelow Range, the remote 100 Mile Wilderness, indomitable Katahdin. Add that all up, and it’s no surprise that Maine is widely considered to possess the most rugged portion of the AT. But we’re not asking you to do the whole shebang. Great day hikes abound all along the trail: the amble to Dunn Falls, the moderate climb to Piazza Rock, the short, steep route up to The Eyebrow, to name but a few possibilities. Hit the trail for a couple of hours. Or days. Or weeks. Just get out there and enjoy for a while. matc.org

SELFIE: Stake out a spot in front of any Appalachian Trail marker or one of the white blazes on trees along the route.

swing on Curtis Island
Photo by Aaron Haynes

2. Swing on Curtis Island

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the keeper at Curtis Island Light, at the entrance to Camden Harbor, would reportedly hoist a ball to the top of a tall pole to let people onshore know that a Boston steamship was en route. Crowds would gather on the town wharf to wait for the boat, and some hearty souls would jump into rowboats to race in its wake. Today, locals take their rowboats (and kayaks and paddleboards) out in calm waters to Curtis Island, a town-owned park only accessible by private watercraft, to play on the big wooden swing along the main path, hung from high in the trees, and to picnic on the lawn among the island’s iconic red-roofed buildings. Put in at the boat launch at the end of Steamboat Landing Rd., Camden.

SELFIE: Kick up your heels and attempt a swing and snap.

Scarborough Marsh
Photo by Mat Trogner

3. Explore Maine’s Largest Salt Marsh

Covering an area almost four times the size of New York City’s Central Park, Scarborough Marsh is Maine’s largest contiguous salt-marsh system, expansive habitat for snowy egrets, glossy ibis, and countless other birds, as well as plenty of fish and small mammals. Among the windswept grasses, a handful of rare plants also thrive, like dwarf glasswort and beach plum. A state wildlife-management area contains most of the marsh, and Maine Audubon operates a small visitor center with information about local ecology (92 Pine Point Rd., Scarborough; 207-883-5100). From there, visitors can explore on foot via a short nature trail, but the best way to appreciate the environment is from the water. Audubon’s center rents out canoes, and other put-ins for personal canoes and kayaks are located throughout the marsh (Friends of Scarborough Marsh offers an online map marking access points).

SELFIE: From the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, get a shot from the rear deck, backdropped by the Nonesuch River winding through the marsh.

lady slippers
Photo courtesy of MCHT

4. See What All the Buzz Is About at MCHT’s Bog Brook Cove

Since 1970, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has helped protect more than 170,000 acres of the state’s shoreline and islands, and its 79 public preserves provide critical habitat for native plants and wildlife, including a range of vital pollinators, such as bumblebees, monarch butterflies, and hummingbirds. In the spring, pay close attention to the edges of forests and fields — trees are a crucial source of pollen for generalist pollinator species — and to wooded wetlands where skunk cabbage thrives. By late summer and early fall, fields of goldenrod and asters create veritable playgrounds for pollinators across many Maine Coast Heritage Trust properties. And one of the group’s preserves that’s especially conducive to pollinators is down east’s 1,500-acre Bog Brook Cove, with its bluejoint meadows, blueberry barrens, and spruce-pine forest. Enjoy the peaceful trails and sweeping views of Maine’s Bold Coast, but also keep an eye out for those little guys flitting all around you. Parking lots on Rte. 191 in Cutler and Moose River Rd. in Trescott.

SELFIE: In front of an MCHT welcome sign at one of the trailheads.

Category Sponsor:
Maine Coast Heritage Trust

lady slippers
Photo courtesy of MCHT

4. See What All the Buzz Is About at MCHT’s Bog Brook Cove

Since 1970, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has helped protect more than 170,000 acres of the state’s shoreline and islands, and its 79 public preserves provide critical habitat for native plants and wildlife, including a range of vital pollinators, such as bumblebees, monarch butterflies, and hummingbirds. In the spring, pay close attention to the edges of forests and fields — trees are a crucial source of pollen for generalist pollinator species — and to wooded wetlands where skunk cabbage thrives. By late summer and early fall, fields of goldenrod and asters create veritable playgrounds for pollinators across many Maine Coast Heritage Trust properties. And one of the group’s preserves that’s especially conducive to pollinators is down east’s 1,500-acre Bog Brook Cove, with its bluejoint meadows, blueberry barrens, and spruce-pine forest. Enjoy the peaceful trails and sweeping views of Maine’s Bold Coast, but also keep an eye out for those little guys flitting all around you. Parking lots on Rte. 191 in Cutler and Moose River Rd. in Trescott.

SELFIE: In front of an MCHT welcome sign at one of the trailheads.

5. Inhale Hundreds of Lilacs in South Paris

When Bernard McLaughlin moved into his father-in-law’s old farmhouse, in 1936, it was surrounded by fallow fields and sandy soil. He spent the next 59 years transforming the grounds into a two-acre garden that today encompasses wildflower meadows, woodlands, pond and rock gardens, a primrose bed, and a rambling perennial border, plus more than 200 lilac trees made up of more than 125 individual varieties. When he was alive, McLaughlin welcomed visitors anytime his gate was open. Now, a nonprofit maintains the McLaughlin Garden, opening the gate from May 11 to November 1 and hosting events and tours. Go during the annual Lilac Festival (May 24–27) or in the couple of weeks on either side for the full olfactory experience. 97 Main St., South Paris. 207-743-8820.

SELFIE: A scene rich with the scent of lilacs in bloom.

lilacs in bloom at McLaughlin Garden in South Paris
Photo courtesy of McLaughlin Garden

5. Inhale Hundreds of Lilacs in South Paris

When Bernard McLaughlin moved into his father-in-law’s old farmhouse, in 1936, it was surrounded by fallow fields and sandy soil. He spent the next 59 years transforming the grounds into a two-acre garden that today encompasses wildflower meadows, woodlands, pond and rock gardens, a primrose bed, and a rambling perennial border, plus more than 200 lilac trees made up of more than 125 individual varieties. When he was alive, McLaughlin welcomed visitors anytime his gate was open. Now, a nonprofit maintains the McLaughlin Garden, opening the gate from May 11 to November 1 and hosting events and tours. Go during the annual Lilac Festival (May 24–27) or in the couple of weeks on either side for the full olfactory experience. 97 Main St., South Paris. 207-743-8820.

SELFIE: A scene rich with the scent of lilacs in bloom.

lilacs in bloom at McLaughlin Garden in South Paris
Photo courtesy of McLaughlin Garden
Isle Au Haut Post Office
Photo by Matt Cosby

6. Write About an Island Adventure

Minus a seaworthy vessel of your own, the surest way to get to Isle au Haut is catching a ride on the mail boat. So once you’re out there, how about sending a note back to the mainland via that same boat, by dropping off a postcard at the island’s postage-stamp-size post office? (For the post office’s hours, visit isleauhaut.org.) Maybe you could write to a friend about how you explored some of the 18 miles of lovely, lightly trafficked trails that crisscross the portion of the island managed as an offshore unit of Acadia National Park. Or write to us, and we might share your note on social media (address to the editorial department at P.O. Box 679, Camden, ME 04843). And to complete this task, you needn’t necessarily visit Isle au Haut. Pick any unbridged Maine island with a post office and go exploring out-of-doors. (In most cases, probably wise to bring an already-stamped postcard with you for the trip.)

SELFIE: Post up in front of the island P.O.

Photos by Andy Gagne

7. Experience Moosehead on Two Wheels

Greenville, at the southern end of Moosehead Lake, has long been known as a destination for boaters, hunters, hikers, snowmobilers, and fishermen, but another mode of recreation has lately pedaled into town. Three years ago, the nonprofit Moosehead Outdoor Alliance formed in order to make the area a top-notch destination for mountain biking. So far, the group has laid a network of beginner-friendly and intermediate routes within a short ride of downtown Greenville (where Northwoods Outfitters rents mountain bikes) and has opened up some more challenging terrain nearby, on Little Moose Mountain. The aim is to eventually wind up with at least two dozen miles of track, but there’s already plenty to get rolling on.

SELFIE: Take a breather by the Gravel Pit Pond trailhead, at one of the picnic tables by the water.

8. Check out the Katahdin Region’s Hidden Gem

Baxter State Park and Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument get top billing in the vast swath of forest surrounding Maine’s mightiest peak. But it’s only a short drive (in relative, north-woods terms) from the northern entrances of both those properties to Scraggly Lake Public Land, 10,000 acres managed by the Bureau of Parks and Lands that see hardly any visitors at all. The crown jewel is the lake itself, which isn’t scraggly in the least. Brisk and sparkling, it’s great for paddling, swimming, and casting for salmon and trout, and it’s surrounded by nothing but a handful of primitive campsites (some only accessible by boat) and uninterrupted woods. Plus, the gentle two-mile climb up Owls Head, a small peak along the lake’s eastern shore, offers an outsize reward, with sweeping views of the pristine lake and pointy evergreens as far as the eye can see.
Scraggly Lake Rd., Township 7 Range 8 WELS, northwest of Patten.

SELFIE: Get a pic in front of the state signage, near the group campsites and boat launch.

Arts & Culture

Sponsored by the Rufus Porter Museum of Art and Ingenuity

Pushcart Press outpost in  Sedgwick, Maine
Photo by Greta Rybus

9. Browse the World’s Smallest Bookstore 

The world’s smallest bookstore is, apparently, tucked away on the Blue Hill Peninsula, although we aren’t fact-checking the claim made by owner Bill Henderson about his 96-square-foot Pushcart Press outpost. Perched in woods at the edge of a blueberry field, the quaint, honor-system shop is chock-full of eclectic titles, used and new, handpicked by Henderson, a summer resident who founded the New York–based Pushcart Press indie publishing house more than half a century ago. Books cost from two to five dollars, and all sales — cash only — help fund Pushcart Prize Fellowships, supporting emerging writers. 380 Christy Hill Rd., Sedgwick. Open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, early spring through late fall. 

SELFIE: In front of the “World’s Smallest Bookstore” sign, maybe holding up your next beach read.

Pushcart Press outpost in  Sedgwick, Maine
Photo by Greta Rybus

9. Browse the World’s Smallest Bookstore 

The world’s smallest bookstore is, apparently, tucked away on the Blue Hill Peninsula, although we aren’t fact-checking the claim made by owner Bill Henderson about his 96-square-foot Pushcart Press outpost. Perched in woods at the edge of a blueberry field, the quaint, honor-system shop is chock-full of eclectic titles, used and new, handpicked by Henderson, a summer resident who founded the New York–based Pushcart Press indie publishing house more than half a century ago. Books cost from two to five dollars, and all sales — cash only — help fund Pushcart Prize Fellowships, supporting emerging writers. 380 Christy Hill Rd., Sedgwick. Open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, early spring through late fall. 

SELFIE: In front of the “World’s Smallest Bookstore” sign, maybe holding up your next beach read.

10. Carve Out Some Time for Belfast Harbor

At low tide, wooden figures clothed in algae and clumps of seaweed and dotted with barnacle warts emerge from Belfast Harbor. The late local sculptor Ron Cowan stationed them there in 2000, after surveying the scene from his waterfront studio and deciding it needed a bit of intrigue. Cowan, who spent 30 years carving faces into old barn beams and logs, used to refurbish the original seven-member Belfast crew (known as “The Long Breath,” for the deep inhale a person takes before dunking underwater) and decorate them with seaweed hair. Now down to just two leaning, bedraggled members, they’re worth visiting before the sea swallows them for good. Heritage Park, 25 Front St., Belfast.

SELFIE: Make sure you time the tide right, and let Cowan’s harbor guys photobomb your shot. 

"The Long Breath" carvings by sculptor Ron Cowan
Photo by Dave Waddell

10. Carve Out Some Time for Belfast Harbor

At low tide, wooden figures clothed in algae and clumps of seaweed and dotted with barnacle warts emerge from Belfast Harbor. The late local sculptor Ron Cowan stationed them there in 2000, after surveying the scene from his waterfront studio and deciding it needed a bit of intrigue. Cowan, who spent 30 years carving faces into old barn beams and logs, used to refurbish the original seven-member Belfast crew (known as “The Long Breath,” for the deep inhale a person takes before dunking underwater) and decorate them with seaweed hair. Now down to just two leaning, bedraggled members, they’re worth visiting before the sea swallows them for good. Heritage Park, 25 Front St., Belfast.

SELFIE: Make sure you time the tide right, and let Cowan’s harbor guys photobomb your shot. 

"The Long Breath" carvings by sculptor Ron Cowan
Photo by Dave Waddell
The Mi’kmaq Nation's Mawiomi at Spruce Haven
Photo by Paul Bagnall | Bangor Daily News

11. Celebrate Tribal Traditions

Every August, the Mi’kmaq Nation, one of the four Wabanaki tribes in Maine, hosts a major celebration showcasing “the beauty, strength, spirit and endurance of the Mi’kmaq culture and tradition” at its Spruce Haven events property. This year marks the 30th Mawiomi (or “gathering”), and the two-day affair will feature traditional drumming, dancing, singing, colorful regalia, sunrise prayer ceremonies, the ritual scent of sweetgrass and tobacco, sacred fires burning in the teepee, and delicious foods and handmade arts and crafts. Free and open to the public, the Mawiomi welcomes Native and non-Native visitors alike. Aug. 17–18. 214 Doyle Rd., Caribou.

SELFIE: In front of your favorite food vendor or craft stand.

The Zillman Art Museum, University of Maine
Photo courtesy of Zillman Art Museum, University of Maine

12. Get Your Art Fix in Bangor

As acronyms go, the Zillman Art Museum’s Batman-esque ZAM has a punchy ring to it (formerly called the University of Maine Museum of Art, it was renamed in 2021 after retired UMaine educators Donald and Linda Zillman donated $1.3 million for a major expansion). And this summer, the 11 airy galleries pack plenty of punch, with selections from ZAM’s collection of more than 4,000 works by the likes of Hopper, Picasso, and Warhol, plus new exhibitions by contemporary Deer Isle photorealistic painter Vaino Kola and UMaine art professor James Linehan, known for his vivid, abstract landscapes. 40 Harlow St., Bangor. 207-581-3300.

SELFIE: Show us a work that makes you stop and say, zam!

Vigorous Tenderness outdoor concert series
Photo by Jocelyn Leighton-Cory

13. Listen to Sol Music

Europe’s pre-Christian pagans used to heap logs on roaring bonfires to fete the longest day of the year. Now, Vigorous Tenderness attendees might see, rather than logs, a piano set ablaze instead. At least that’s happened at past iterations of the experimental, communal, downright memorable outdoor concert series that takes place four times a year, on solstices and equinoxes. Portland-based violist Kal Sugatski founded the series partly as a way to bring people together under pandemic conditions, partly to showcase musicians from underrepresented and marginalized groups. Selections could range from Bach to new-age experimentalism, and the venue could be just about anywhere within a generous stone’s throw of Portland: lighthouse grounds, a state park, a small farm. The upcoming show on June 20 will be on Mackworth Island from 6-7:30 p.m. More details will be announced nearer the date via Instagram (@vigorous.tenderness). Admission is free; donations are encouraged.

SELFIE: Give us a taste of the summer-solstice show.

14. Catch a Show

Summer in Maine has long ushered in first-rate stage performances. The Ogunquit Playhouse, for instance, started putting on shows way back in 1933, and this year’s lineup includes musical hits such as Little Shop of Horrors and Waitress. Elsewhere, find Brunswick’s Broadway-quality Maine State Music Theatre, the intimate Acadia Repertory Theatre, the Shakespeare-driven repertoire at Theater at Monmouth, and on and on. We couldn’t pick just one, but you can. Comedy or drama, musical or not, go see whatever’s up your alley. And if you happen to like the combination of excellent shows and free admission, consider one of Fenix Theatre Company’s productions of Shakespeare in Portland’s Deering Oaks park. All the world’s a stage, after all.

SELFIE: In front of a marquee, with a playbill, in your seat . . . whatever sets the scene.

15. Picture Your Favorite Outdoor Mural

All over Maine, murals adorn everything from former Greyhound stations (like in Portland) to roadside boulders (like outside Baxter State Park) to movie theaters (like in Bethel). They are, variously, expressions of civic pride, reflections of local ways of life, calls for social action, celebrations of nature. As you scavenger-hunt your way across the state this summer, just keep your eyes peeled, and when you find a mural that really resonates with you, let us know.

SELFIE: Little you, big mural.

16. Find Rufus at the Rufus Porter Museum 

Rufus Porter
Photo courtesy of the Rufus Porter Museum

Rufus Porter was quite the polymath: a folk artist known for large-scale landscapes and miniature portraits, a designer of elevated railways and airships, and the founding publisher and editor of Scientific American magazine. In 1970, Time dubbed him a Yankee version of da Vinci. That leaves plenty of ground to cover at the Rufus Porter Museum of Art and Ingenuity, in Bridgton, where Porter grew up in the early 1800s. Among the collection: Porter’s small-format portraits, models of his many inventions, and early editions of Scientific American, plus works by Porter’s nephew, Jonathan Poor, one of many Porter acolytes across New England. The museum’s new Graham Center houses a large number of landscape murals, all done by 19th-century painters who adopted Porter’s motifs, styles, and techniques, along with space for events and children’s programming. Despite Porter’s massive talent, the museum manages to shrink him down to size, literally, as visitors can play “Where’s Rufus?” — searching for hidden two-by-three-inch portraits of Porter in each of the museum’s buildings. 121 Main St., Bridgton. 207-647-2828.

SELFIE: Get one of the hidden mini portraits in the shot (and don’t be shy about asking a staffer for help finding one).

Food & Drink

Sponsored by Grey Havens Inn

17. Chow Down at Maine’s Easternmost Lobster Shack

cooked Maine lobster

It didn’t seem right that Eastport — all the way down east, sandwiched between Passamaquoddy Bay and Cobscook Bay, with an economy as tied to fisheries as any — didn’t have a proper lobster shack. But that was the case in 2021 and 2022, after locally beloved Quoddy Bay Lobster stopped slinging rolls. Last year, a uniquely qualified buyer got things up and running again. The establishment’s new name is Look Lobster, and the new owners are the Look family, which has been dealing lobster for five generations, ever since brothers Oscar and Burt started selling seafood from a little grocery store in Jonesport in 1910. Their retail and wholesale operation now has a few outposts up and down the coast, but Eastport has their only lobster shack. Stop by for a lobster roll, chowder, and a picnic table with a clear view of Canada across the water. 7 Sea St., Eastport. 207-853-6640.

SELFIE: In front of the picnic pavilion, so we can see that big red lobster cutout hanging from the roof.

Photos by Greta Rybus

18. Dig for Clams

Mucking around for soft-shell clams — also known as steamers or longnecks — is an all-seasons endeavor in Maine. Some towns, though, require a low-cost license for recreational harvesting and occasionally close beds, so the first things newbie clammers should do are read up on local spots and check with a town clerk before donning boots and trudging through mudflats. Bring something to dig with — specialized clam rakes have bent heads and short handles — and a basket for any clams that meet the minimum length of two inches. Then, look for tiny surface air holes, a telltale sign of clams. Back home, we suggest steaming them up and serving them simply, with some reserved broth and drawn butter for dipping.

SELFIE: We want to see you out in the muck, earning your meal.

Food trucks on the Eastern Prom in Portland, Maine
Photo by Michael D. Wilson

19. Savor Meals on Wheels

A couple of years ago, after residents along Portland’s Eastern Prom complained about noise and congestion from food trucks lining up across the street (as pictured here), the city moved the food-truck spots a few hundred feet downhill, to a small lot inside the park. For whatever reason, business slowed down for the truck owners after that. Maybe it was the slightly reduced roadside visibility. Maybe some people didn’t want to tromp back uphill after downing, say, a North Shore–style roast beef or a couple of frosted doughnuts or a fried-chicken banh mi. But the new location, from a customer perspective, should be great, with the same abundant surrounding picnic space, minus traffic zipping by the trucks. So pack a picnic blanket and go pay a visit this summer. Cutter St., Portland.

SELFIE: Big smile in front of your fave truck (even if you need to find a toothpick first).

view from the Grey Havens Inn
Photo courtesy of Grey Havens Inn

20. Unwind on the Porch at Grey Havens Inn

Less than two miles up the road from Reid State Park, in Georgetown, Grey Havens Inn is a pretty darn ideal spot for kicking back after a day of swimming, surfing, or tidepooling, and you don’t have to be an overnight guest to enjoy it. The inn’s wraparound porch is outfitted with lounge seating, rocking chairs, and a swing and comes with views out over the craggy bluff and protected natural harbor. Those views pair well with a summery cocktail or a nice glass of chilled Vermentino wine from the bar. Or, if you’re after more than bar service, reserve a table (well in advance, ideally) at Blue, the inn’s fine-dining restaurant helmed by chef Esau Crosby, whose seafood chowder is rightly revered by regulars. And as if any extra incentive to stop by and raise a glass were needed, this summer marks the inn’s 120th anniversary. We’ll certainly cheers to that. 96 Seguinland Rd., Georgetown; 207-371-2616.

SELFIE: Let’s take in that ocean view from the porch.

Category Sponsor:
Grey Havens Inn

view from the Grey Havens Inn
Photo courtesy of Grey Havens Inn

20. Unwind on the Porch at Grey Havens Inn

Less than two miles up the road from Reid State Park, in Georgetown, Grey Havens Inn is a pretty darn ideal spot for kicking back after a day of swimming, surfing, or tidepooling, and you don’t have to be an overnight guest to enjoy it. The inn’s wraparound porch is outfitted with lounge seating, rocking chairs, and a swing and comes with views out over the craggy bluff and protected natural harbor. Those views pair well with a summery cocktail or a nice glass of chilled Vermentino wine from the bar. Or, if you’re after more than bar service, reserve a table (well in advance, ideally) at Blue, the inn’s fine-dining restaurant helmed by chef Esau Crosby, whose seafood chowder is rightly revered by regulars. And as if any extra incentive to stop by and raise a glass were needed, this summer marks the inn’s 120th anniversary. We’ll certainly cheers to that. 96 Seguinland Rd., Georgetown; 207-371-2616.

SELFIE: Let’s take in that ocean view from the porch.

21. Go See Tyce

Jamaican barbecue chicken wings

It’s both the name of the restaurant and a good idea: Go See Tyce. Inside the white-clapboard building, on an otherwise ho-hum stretch of Route 1 in Saco, owner Mabel “Tyce” Reid-Wallace cooks up some superlative Jamaican barbecue, imbued with flavors as bright as the green and yellow paint on the walls. Though the diminutive counter-service shop opened to little fanfare a few years ago, Reid-Wallace’s dishes are worth traveling out of your way for: jerk chicken, pork, and wings, braised oxtails, curried chicken and goat, beef patties, fried plantains, rice and beans. It’s a real taste of summer, since, you know, it’s always summer in Jamaica. 810 Portland Rd., Saco. 207-494-8025.

SELFIE: In front of the roadside sign with the colors of the Jamaican flag.

stack of ployes with butter
Photo by Michael D. Wilson

22. Enjoy a Ploye (or Two or Three) 

Airier than pancakes and thicker than crepes, ployes are a longtime staple of Acadian cuisine. Once served at just about every meal in the Saint John River valley, the griddled flatbreads are usually made from buckwheat flour, and they’re just as tasty rolled up with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, smeared with creton (pork spread), or used as a savory sponge to mop up fricot (hearty chicken stew). Sample a stack at Dolly’s Restaurant (17 Rte. 1, Frenchville; 207-728-7050), check out Fort Kent’s annual Ploye Festival (June 14–16), or even make ployes at home with the just-add-water mix from Fort Kent’s Bouchard Family Farms. If opting for the latter, whatever you do, don’t flip them on the griddle!

SELFIE: With your ploye-laden plate in hand.

24. Get a Taste for Making Taffy

salt water taffy

The confectioners at The Goldenrod, a restaurant and candy shop in York Beach, have been churning out saltwater taffy for beachgoers ever since the place opened, in 1896. Passersby can watch through windows from outside as boiling taffy is transferred from copper kettles to cooling tables and then to mechanical pulling machines that fluff it to twice its previous size (pulling was done by hand until the 1940s). The final machine can cut and wrap 180 taffy pieces — “kisses,” as they’re called at The Goldenrod — per minute. If the smell of boiling sugar tempts you to step past the old neon marquee, make sure to try the peanut-butter taffy, by far the best-selling flavor. 2 Railroad Ave., York Beach. 207-363-2621.

SELFIE: In front of the vintage “Goldenrod Kisses” neon sign.

23. Fill Your Blueberry Pail

Atop Rockport’s Beech Hill, a 1915 sod-roofed stone hut appears to have sprung from the blueberry fields that surround it. Designed by landscape architect Hans Heisted as a teahouse for a wealthy landowner, the structure now marks an epic picnic spot with panoramic views of the Camden Hills, Chickawaukie Pond, and Penobscot Bay. Part of a 295-acre preserve, the area is open to anyone who’s up for the .6- or .9-mile climb (depending on route). For a week in late July or early August, property owner Coastal Mountains Land Trust lets visitors pick blueberries for free. Visit the trust’s website in early July for dates and to sign up for a time slot. Trailheads: 316 Beech Hill Rd. and 76 Rockville St., Rockport. 207-236-7091.

SELFIE: Plant yourself with the stone hut behind and show those stained fingers.

Rockland Breakwater
Photo by Dave Waddell

25. Find the Full-Width Stone

Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1881 and 1900 to protect ships and shorefront buildings vulnerable to nor’easters, the Rockland Breakwater forms a nearly mile-long barrier for the city’s harbor. Granite rubble from nearby quarries, delivered by sloops and lowered into the water by derricks attached to ships’ masts, forms the jetty’s trapezoidal base. Flat slabs of granite were pieced together on top, making for a fairly smooth walk out to the 1902 lighthouse at the far end. Roughly halfway from shore is the only stone that spans the full width of the massive breakwater. Local children are known to yell “Ice cream!” when they reach that point, in hopes of a post-walk reward. If it’s a hot day, you might want to shout for ice cream too. At the end of Samoset Rd., Rockland.

SELFIE: Crouch down so we can get a look at that granite crosspiece. 

History & Landmarks

Sponsored by Renys

Marlin on the wall at the L.C. Bates Museum
Photo by Mark McCall

26. Bring Home a Fish Story

There’s nothing else in Maine quite like the old L.C. Bates Museum, on Fairfield’s Good Will–Hinckley campus. Nowadays, the staff organizes fresh interpretive programming, educational offerings for kids, and other interesting events throughout the year, but the place retains the look of a natural-history museum from a bygone era, mostly because it’s stuffed to the gills with taxidermy. And speaking of gills, one of the museum’s most notable objects is a marlin reeled in by none other than Ernest Hemingway back in the 1930s. The famous author entrusted his big fish to Fred Parke, a Bangor taxidermist with a wide reputation for fine craftsmanship. One way or another, the fish never made it back to Hemingway, and Parke dropped it off at the museum, where it still hangs on a wall today. Quite a catch. 14 Easler Rd., Hinckley. 207-238-4250.

SELFIE: Get that storied marlin overhead.

Portland Freedom Trail

27. Walk the Portland Freedom Trail

In the early 19th century, Portland was home to a small Black community with an outsize presence in the antislavery movement. The Portland Freedom Trail, a free, self-guided walking tour, travels to 13 sites in the Old Port and on Munjoy Hill related to the fight for emancipation. Bronze-and-granite markers with bas-reliefs by local artist Daniel Minter identify spots like the Abyssinian Meeting House, the third-oldest African American meetinghouse in the country and a former station on the Underground Railroad, Mariner’s Church, which housed an antislavery bookstore and print shop in its basement, and the Franklin Street Wharf, where citizens helped runaway slaves escape to safety. The sites aren’t organized in any particular order, so start wherever you like and plan to spend at least an hour on the two-mile route. Download a map and guide here.

SELFIE: A shot with one of Minter’s evocative trail markers. 

Portland Freedom Trail

27. Walk the Portland Freedom Trail

In the early 19th century, Portland was home to a small Black community with an outsize presence in the antislavery movement. The Portland Freedom Trail, a free, self-guided walking tour, travels to 13 sites in the Old Port and on Munjoy Hill related to the fight for emancipation. Bronze-and-granite markers with bas-reliefs by local artist Daniel Minter identify spots like the Abyssinian Meeting House, the third-oldest African American meetinghouse in the country and a former station on the Underground Railroad, Mariner’s Church, which housed an antislavery bookstore and print shop in its basement, and the Franklin Street Wharf, where citizens helped runaway slaves escape to safety. The sites aren’t organized in any particular order, so start wherever you like and plan to spend at least an hour on the two-mile route. Download a map and guide here.

SELFIE: A shot with one of Minter’s evocative trail markers. 

28. Get a Little Cranky

world’s largest telephone in Woodstock, Maine

Decades after the rest of the country had hung up on hand-crank telephones and switched over to direct dial, Bryant Pond and its independent telephone company hung on to the old ways. The village’s 431 customers were happy placing calls through switchboard operators, who were good for weather, news, and maybe some gossip too. But, eventually, modern ways came, and in 1983, Bryant Pond Telephone Company’s last hand-crank phone was yanked. Now, a 14-foot-tall sculpture of a candlestick-style hand-crank telephone — with a claim to being the world’s largest telephone — commemorates that local Luddite impulse and a piece of technology that never suffered a broken screen or a dead battery. 1 North Main St., Woodstock.

SELFIE: Angle your smartphone to fit all of that big crank phone in the background.

Renys Damariscotta store on October 7, 1949
Photo courtesy of Renys

29. Ring in 75 Years of Renys

Seventy-five years ago, R.H. Reny opened his first department store, in Damariscotta, selling everything from clothes and kitchenware to boats and snowmobiles. Over the years, Mainers fell in love with the store’s no-frills vibe and its low-cost approach to selling seemingly anything and everything. This year, with the third generation of the family at the helm, Renys opened its 18th location — and one of its largest — in Bangor. Stop in to check it out. Because whether you need, say, pool noodles, hiking boots, or fixings for a fluffernutter sandwich, they’ve probably got it. And while you’re poking around, check out the sign showing the distance to each of the 17 other Renys locations throughout the state, from Bridgton to Bath to Belfast and beyond. 46 Springer Dr., Bangor. 207-203-9078.

SELFIE: In front of that Bangor sign showing all 18 Renys that have opened over the past three-quarters of a century.

30. Play a String at Archie’s

candlepin bowling ball

Opened in the 1960s, Archie’s Strike and Spare, in Parsonsfield, had a good, long run, but after half a century, the candlepin bowling center had fallen into disrepair. Most of the original pin-setting and ball-return machinery was kaput and bar sales had turned into the main revenue source before the place eventually went out of business. Then, JP Espinosa bought the old alley, fixed it up, and reopened it in the summer of 2021. Now, the original machinery works again for all 10 lanes, sleek mid-century design details have been preserved, and local painter Octavia Bishop, the niece of one of the lanes’ heyday owners, freshly decorated interior and exterior walls with candlepin-themed scenes. In addition to bowling, Archie’s hosts darts, billiards, stacks of board games, open-mic nights, comedy shows, concerts, and fundraisers. The reincarnated alley feels like a step back in time, not just on account of the retro vibes and the heritage New England pastime but because it’s once again a hub of the community. 135 Federal Rd., Parsonsfield. 207-625-9508.

SELFIE: How about, ahem, striking a pose with those creamsicle-colored ball returns behind you?

Acadian Village in Van Buren, Maine

31. Take a Trip Back in Time 

In 1755, the British government kicked French settlers, known as Acadians, out of southeastern Canada. Most were sent off in ships bound for Bermuda, New Orleans, and other faraway spots, but a few fled to the St. John River valley on what’s now the Maine–New Brunswick border. In 1976, the Historical Society of Living Heritage, in the border town of Van Buren, recreated an Acadian village. Open June 15 to September 15, it comprises 17 buildings moved from other sites or constructed as historically accurate replicas. Among them: the 1857 Morneau House, which incorporates nautical features like “ships knees” supports, typical of Acadian craftsmen, many of whom had been boatbuilders, as well as a circa 1880 schoolhouse and a reproduction 18th-century log chapel. 859 Main St., Van Buren. 207-868-5042.

SELFIE: Pick your favorite brightly colored building for a backdrop. 

Roxmont, Down East magazine's offices in Rockport, Maine
Photo by Benjamin Williamson

32. Let Us Toot Our Own Horn

Down East turns 70 this year, and we figure that managing to hang around since the early days of the Eisenhower administration is a feat worth touting. Of course, the reason we’re still here is that you, our readers, keep on reading, for which we are endlessly grateful. So when you swing by our headquarters to complete this scavenger-hunt task, look out for some free swag — water-bottle stickers and maybe occasional other odds and ends — stashed on the front porch. Call it a small, totally insufficient thanks from us as we look forward to many more years of sharing summer
adventures with you. 680 Commercial St., Rockport.

SELFIE: A banner year calls for . . . a banner. So get the one hanging from our porch in your shot (and if you catch one of us coming or going through the front door, we’ll probably hop in the photo too).

Like the Maine Gazetteer, you might want our print issue handy while driving to far-flung tasks. Order this issue online here.