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The Ultimate Summer 2021 Maine Vacation Guide

Your region-by-region preview of the traditions, activities, and events that make this time of year unforgettable. Maine summer is back.

Maine Summer Is Back! | Down East Magazine
Photograph by Dave Waddell

Choose a Region

Southern Maine

By Bridget M. Burns

Least terns and piping plovers sometimes outnumber the people on Laudholm Beach. Photo by Jay Arbelo.

The Beach

The Wells Reserve at Laudholm is a fascinating estuary research center and picturesque wedding venue. It’s also the gateway to under-the-radar Laudholm Beach, accessed via the Knight and Barrier Beach Trails, a walk of just over half a mile through an aspen grove, over a tidal marsh, and across a wooden boardwalk. At high tide, it’s a narrow stretch of sand and cobbles; at low tide, it’s expansive and full of tide pools. Busy Drakes Island Beach is just next door, but there’s a rocky barrier between them and no public parking nearby, so Laudholm will feel like it’s all yours. ▸ 7 a.m. to sunset. $5 adults, $1 kids. 342 Laudholm Farm Rd., Wells. 207-646-1555.

The Show

Award-winning blues bassist Biscuit Miller is among the headliners at the York County Blues Fest. Photo by Bruce Drummond, via Flickr, Creative Commons

Who hasn’t periodically felt the blues in the last year? The York County Blues Fest has a super-relaxed, small-town feel, with national headlining acts like Biscuit Miller & The Mix and Grammy-winner Paul Nelson playing in front of a ballpark for an audience on blankets and folding chairs. Maine acts include Memphis Lightning and Mike James Blue Lions. Gorham’s Rustic Taps pours Maine beers and ciders (wine too) out of its 1954 Chevy pickup turned mobile bar. ▸ August 21. Friendship Park, 231 Old Alfred Rd., Waterboro.

The Treat

Chomping a cone at Big Daddy’s ice cream stand, in Wells. Photo courtesy of Big Daddy’s.

When Raney and Melanie Tromblee took over Big Daddy’s ice cream stand last March, they weren’t sure what to expect at the Wells institution, which has been serving house-churned scoops since 1976. Luckily, Melanie says, “People love ice cream, especially during a pandemic.” The shop’s original 41 flavors include salty caramel crunch, Maine blueberry (naturally), and a creamy ginger with candied-ginger chunks. But why choose? The Tromblees have introduced four-flavor flights — and a new Ogunquit location. ▸ 2165 Post Rd., Wells; 478 Main St., Ogunquit. 207-646-5454.

The Trail

Biddeford’s Timber Point Trail shows off the best of the southern Maine coast. Photo by Petr Marecek.

An out-and-back walk of just a mile and a half, Biddeford’s Timber Point Trail shows off the best of the southern Maine coast, wending past salt marshes, through mixed forest, and along rocky shores. On the peninsula’s tip, hikers can picnic on the lawn of a historic 14-bedroom “summer cottage,” built in 1931 and now a weathered landmark, maintained by the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Watch for black ducks and eiders and surfers catching breakers off wooded Timber Island, accessible by a land bridge at low tide. ▸ Trailhead on Granite Point Rd., 1½ miles south of Rte. 9, Biddeford.

“People are so eager to be back outdoors, doing things, so we’re making adjustments, keeping things outside. The blessing of the fleet is scheduled — I think we could all use a little blessing right now.”

— Laura Dolce, executive director of Kennebunk- Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber, which hosts Launch! A Maritime Festival, June 16–20.

The Feat

The secluded north beach campsite on Vaughn Island in Cape Porpoise Harbor. Photo by Ty Christopher.

Folks camping on the Cape Porpoise Harbor islands won’t find much at the archipelago’s eight primitive campsites — just fieldstone firepits, cleared tent pads, the scent of sea air, and the sound of lapping waves. You’ll need a boat to access two of the three camping-friendly islands, Trott and Cape. From the public kayak launch on the Cape Porpoise causeway, it’s a protected paddle of less than a mile to the latter, farther island. The three sites on Vaughn Island, though, are accessible by a short walk at low tide. The Kennebunkport Conservation Trust maintains the sites and offers free online reservations. ▸ Cape Porpoise Pier, 81 Pier Rd., Kennebunkport.

The Fest

Performers at the Maine Renaissance Faire include fire-eaters, jugglers, and other medieval fools. Photo courtesy Epic Studio.

Outdoor events at this summer’s Maine Renaissance Faire are operating at 100 percent capacity, so grab a goblet of mead and a turkey leg and pull up a bench to watch jousting, aerial acrobatics, a guy who holds multiple Guinness World Records for juggling flaming whips, and more. Merchants hawk jewelry, hand-forged ironwork, and, of course, plenty of leather and chainmail. ▸ July 17–18 and 24–25. Single-day tickets $20 adults, $15 kids. Acton Fairgrounds, 550 Rte. 109, Acton. 207-850-1162.

The Chow

Twin Lobster Rolls at Pool Lobster Co. Photo by Kaira Kristbergs.

It isn’t summer in Maine until you’ve enjoyed a lobster roll with a view of the water. The roll at Pool Lobster Co., at Goldthwaite’s general store, is classic and unassuming: lightly dressed with mayo and nothing else, nicely griddled split-top bun. The view, from a picnic table or Adirondack chair out back, is of sailboats navigating the Saco Bay islands. Don’t sleep on the onion rings, house-battered in buttermilk with a top-secret seasoning blend. ▸ 3 Lester B. Orcutt Blvd., Biddeford Pool. 207-284-5000.

Greater Portland

By Mira Ptacin

The Beach

Beachgoers pay a small fee to splash in Sabbathday Lake at privately owned Outlet Beach, where they can rent tubes and other watercraft or just plunge off a slide or floating diving board. Jumping in is the best way to wash off ice cream after visiting the adjoining snack shack, Bresca and the Honeybee, the oldest-standing structure on the lake. (Try the crème-fraîche key lime pie, in a waffle cone.) ▸ $3–$5, season passes available. 106 Outlet Rd., New Gloucester. 207-926-3388.

The Trail

Scattered throughout Portland’s oldest neighborhoods, the 16 sites along the self-guided, 2-mile Portland Freedom Trail (pdf) tell the story of Maine’s Black freedom fighters and other abolitionists who led the state’s anti-slavery movement in the mid-19th century. Art on the markers explaining each location’s significance was created by Portland artist Daniel Minter, cofounder of the Indigo Arts Alliance, which cultivates the work of African-American artists.

The Fest

Born out of a longing for community during Maine’s pandemic winter, the Maine Street USA documentary showcase put out a call for short Maine-made documentaries and was overwhelmed with submissions from storytellers across the state. Screenings will “document the myriad ways life is lived” in the Pine Tree State and be aired at outdoor venues across the state, including Congress Square Park in Portland. ▸ August 6–7. Free.

The Chow

The gargantuan lamb burger from Greeks of Peaks. Photo courtesy of Greeks of Peaks.

It’s worth the 20-minute ferry ride from Portland to Peaks Island to grab a gyro from Greeks of Peaks, run by Haley Campbell and wife Nancy Klosteridis, whose Greek family has a five-generation presence on the island. The food truck serves up family recipes like spanakopita and souvlaki, and the house-made aioli is good enough to drink. ▸ Welch St., next to the American Legion, Peaks Island. 207-650-1602.

“It was a pandemic adaptation, but then we thought, that makers thing was really fun, we should find a way to keep that, because people really liked it.”

— Margaret Hoffman, community relations manager at Visit Freeport, which runs the Makers on Main outdoor marketplace, with 30 to 40 vendors hitting the streets the first Saturday of each month, May–September.

The Show

Rocking out at Thompson’s Point (remember that?). Photo by Lauryn Hotinger.

Maine music fans rejoiced this spring when the state’s biggest concert promoters announced they were cautiously scheduling shows for late summer and fall. At the Depot Pavilion at Thompson’s Point, the first is a double bill of Gen-X rockers, Grammy winners Wilco and indie all-stars Sleater-Kinney. The show is contingent on COVID trends and gathering restrictions, but after a year-plus of a dormant concert industry, fingers crossed. ▸ August 25. $50–$55. 10 Thompson’s Point Rd., Portland. 207-956-6000.

The Feat

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature,” Rachel Carson wrote, and little is more soothing than paddling the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge — the sound of a paddle dipping, the chorus of the wind in reeds. Watch for herons, egrets, and ibis along the Spurwink River, which wends through salt marsh to Scarborough’s Higgins Beach. ▸ Pier access on Rte. 77, ½ mile west of Spurwink Ave., Scarborough.

The Treat

Out-of-this-world sticky buns at Tandem Coffee + Bakery. Photo by Greta Rybus.

Arrive early at Tandem Coffee + Bakery — or else place your order online — because the epic sticky buns at this gas station turned coffee shop go fast. Pastry genius Briana Holt’s perfect blend of soft and crunchy, browned butter and orange essence, will have you adding Tandem to your mapping app’s favorites (after you’ve licked your fingers clean). ▸ 742 Congress St., Portland. 207-760-4440.

Central & Western Maine

By Samuel Wheeler

Calm days are the best days on Flagstaff Lake. Photograph by Chris Bennett.

The Feat

The challenge of paddling Flagstaff Lake is that the vast reservoir gets choppy when the wind picks up. The appeal is dozens of miles of wilderness shoreline and knockout views of Mount Bigelow. At Maine Huts & Trails Flagstaff Hut, on the lake’s east end, a $50 membership gives day and overnight visitors access to canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards, and the lovely hut (which offers lunch, gear, and beer on summer weekends) is on a protected cove. ▸ Flagstaff Hut trailhead on Long Falls Dam Rd., 22 miles north of Route 16, near Kingfield. 207-265-2400. See a map of campsites and boat launches.

The Chow

Noodle dishes pair well with New England IPAs at Le Mu Eats and Steam Mill Brewing, in Bethel. Photo by Marina French | Sunday River.

The one-two punch of Le Mu Eats and Steam Mill Brewing is tucked on a Bethel side street. Chef Sav Sengsavang serves up Laotian-fusion street food from a trailer next to a bait shop turned taproom. Try a Mu taco, pork belly and plum slaw wrapped in a scallion taco, washed down with a Paradise Perle, a Belgian wheat brewed with Maine wildflower honey. ▸ 7 Mechanic St., Bethel. 207-461-2345.

The Trail

One of the more impressive rock formations along Maine’s stretch of the Appalachian Trail is also one of the easier to reach. The eponymous slab along the Piazza Rock Trail is a huge granite cantilever that hangs over the trail, and the gently graded hike to reach it is less than 4 miles out and back, perfect for families and picnickers. ▸ Trailhead on Rte. 4, 9 miles south of Rangeley.

“It’s beautiful, uplifting music, performed in a timber-frame opera house. No formal attire, no stuffiness to it. It’s so characteristically summer in Maine.”

— Lee Bearse, board of trustees for the Sebago–Long Lake Music Festival, at Harrison’s Deertrees Theatre, July 13–27.

The Beach

A cozier, quieter alternative to the state park down the road, Tassel Top Beach is a sandy stretch ringed with woods along Sebago Lake’s Jordan Bay. The swimming’s good (no lifeguards), and there’s a short interpretive trail and a cute snack shack with ice cream and a few beach toys, if you need a shovel and pail. ▸ Admission $2–$6. Tasseltop Rd., Raymond. 207-655-4572.

The Treat

Treats galore at Readfield’s Apple Shed Bakery. Photo courtesy of Appleshed Bakery.

With an orchard as its backdrop, the Apple Shed Bakery is a must-stop for flaky fruit pies and turnovers, but the carb selection is vast: coffee cake, sweet breads, cinnamon rolls, and more, plus over-the-top brownies (stuffed with wild Maine blueberries and covered in blueberry buttercream frosting, for example). ▸ 1625 Main St., Readfield. 207-685-3522.

The Fest

This year’s Bates Dance Festival includes outdoor performances choreographed by Yup’ik artist Emily Johnson and Maine’s own Vanessa Anspaugh (whose piece, be warned, includes an element of audience participation). There are streamable performances as well, including by Mexico’s much-praised Delfos Contemporary Dance Company, and several pieces that thread the live/digital needle, like Puerto Rican choreographer Yaniri Castro’s project at the L/A Arts Gallery, where the movements of visitors affect the movements of recorded performers projected life-size on a screen. ▸ July 14–31. $5–$20. Multiple venues across Lewiston.

The Show

The pickin’ gets pretty frenzied at the Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Festival. Photo by Katie Doherty.

Greg and Sandy Cormier started their family bluegrass band in 1987 and a down-home festival four years later. This summer, the Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Festival marks its 30th anniversary with acts from around the country over two summer weekends. Headliners include the Grammy-nominated Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, although festival regulars also come for the impromptu campground jams. ▸ June 17–20 and August 26–29. Evening, day, and weekend tickets $20–$90. Litchfield Fairgrounds, 44 Plains Rd., Litchfield.

Midcoast

By Brian Kevin

A calm moment at vast Popham Beach. Photo by Benjamin Williamson.

The Beach

Phippsburg’s Popham Beach stays busy in the summer, and for good reason: the golden-white sand is soft and lovely, the views of Seguin Light are romantic, the dunes and braided channels of adjacent Morse River are fascinating to admire. Luckily, Popham is plenty roomy, stretching well over a mile and broad even at high tide. It’s the most fun at low tide, though, when beachgoers can stroll out to the granite whaleback of Fox Island, which has tide pools and other nooks and crannies to explore. ▸ Day use, $1–$8. Popham Rd., Phippsburg. 207-389-1335.

The Trail

Newly opened last winter, the packed-gravel Round the Mountain Trail partially encircles 1,300-foot Ragged Mountain, the Eastern Seaboard’s fourth-highest peak and the nucleus of more than a dozen miles of trails on the western side of the Camden Hills. Eventually, the multi-use path will be a loop, but the first 5½ miles stretch from Hope’s Thorndike Brook to the busy Camden Snow Bowl ski area, a none-too-steep stroll (and a fun, flowy bike ride) past old farmsteads and gnarly outcrops, with views of glittery Mirror Lake. The wide trail is mellow but connects to steeper paths up the mountain and the midcoast’s best mountain-biking network along the Goose River. ▸ Trailheads on Hope St., ½ mile north of Rte. 17, Hope, and at Camden Snow Bowl, 20 Barnestown Rd., Camden. 207-236-7091.

The Chow

Maine Summer Is Back! | Down East Magazine
A lobster roll in its natural habitat, at Five Islands, in Georgetown. Photo by Benjamin Williamson.

Reasonable people can disagree over the best spot for a shore dinner, but Georgetown’s Five Islands Lobster Co. is the Platonic ideal of a lobster shack: out of the way, on the wharf, overlooking granite-and-spruce islands and the boats that bring in the bugs. The lobster roll can’t be beat (although it’s got a little lettuce — sorry, haters), and the golden batter coating the fried clams is perfection. Bring your own grown-up drinks and don’t skip a post-meal walk at the wooded Ipcar Natural Preserve, just around the corner. ▸ 1447 Five Islands Rd., Georgetown. 207-371-2990.

The Treat

Nothing says summer in Maine like blueberry pie, and this one, from Brooklin’s Wild Fern Pies, says it scrumptiously. Photo by Sarah Brown.

At the eastern edge of Eggemoggin Reach, the tiny beach at Brooklin’s Naskeag Point is a great spot for a picnic. On the way, you’ll pass the Wild Fern Pies roadside pie-and-coffee stand, an honor-system booth stocked with baker Sarah Brown’s flaky-crusted wonders: full-size and hand pies, lattice-topped and crumbled, stuffed with local berries or rhubarb or whatever’s in season. Brown — who sometimes slings pies and other treats at the Blue Hill Co-op or the Four Seasons Farmstand, in Harborside, on the far end of the peninsula — hopes to have the stand up in June. She’ll take orders for pickup too. Check the website to see what’s available each week. ▸ 635 Naskeag Rd., Brooklin. 207-412-1290.

“It’s a midcoast Maine staple, and I think a lot of that is thanks to the location, right on the water’s edge, on Steamboat Landing, overlooking the bay.”

— Sandy Patrick, organizer for Belfast’s Arts in the Park, which marks its 25th anniversary with more than 60 vendors gathering on the town’s waterfront, June 26–27.

The Feat

The Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad Company’s rail line, christened in 1870, never actually made it to Moosehead Lake. But it did carry passengers and agricultural products across the pastoral inland midcoast for a century or so before giving way to tourist trains. These days, visitors can go rail cycling on the B&ML railroad with the B&ML RailCyclers, which leads hour-long trips in pedal-powered two-seaters back and forth along a (train-free) stretch of tracks in Unity. The grade is gentle, the clickety-clack is hypnotic, and the scenery’s lovely, through woods and pastures and along the shore of Unity Pond. $34 for two riders. ▸ 212 Depot St., Unity. 207-315-9410.

The Fest

Lobsterboats are silhouetted against Boothbay Harbor during the Windjammer Days fireworks show. Photo by Michael Leonard.

It’s a dramatic sight when Maine’s fleet of historic schooners sails into Boothbay Harbor at the outset of Windjammer Days. Among them this year is the Lewis R. French, the country’s oldest commercial sailing vessel, launched in Christmas Cove in 1871 and celebrating 150 years. (The Stephen Taber, homeported in Rockland, also marks its 150th anniversary this summer.) Windjammer captains offer boat tours, but the festival has highlights even if you never step aboard, including a kid-friendly pirate invasion, a stone-skipping contest, and an evening of fireworks over the harbor. ▸ June 27–July 3.

The Show

Wilhelmina Smith, founder and artistic director of Damariscotta’s Salt Bay Chamberfest, brings this year’s festival to the water’s edge. Photo by Joe Zizzo.

In a typical year, the Salt Bay Chamberfest attracts national talent to play in a 92-year-old hay barn, which pretty perfectly captures the urbane–arcadian mashup that characterizes much of the midcoast mystique. This year, the 29-year-old festival embraces that duality a bit differently, bringing its main program to Damariscotta’s historic Lincoln Theater, supplemented with a series of free, site-specific concerts performed at outdoor locations along the Damariscotta River. Performers include the Yale School of Music’s Brentano String Quartet, renowned violinist Jennifer Koh, and Wabanaki drummers the Burnurwurbskek Singers. ▸ August 15–30. 2 Theater St., Damariscotta. 207-522-3749.

Down East & Mount Desert Island

By Joyce Kryszak

Roped up at Acadia National Park with the Atlantic Climbing School. Photograph courtesy of Atlantic Climbing School.

The Feat

You don’t need to be an experienced mountaineer to ascend a granite slab in Acadia National
Park if you’re climbing with the Atlantic Climbing School. “If people have the will, then we’ll make it happen,” manager Ryan Scott says. ACS guides have helped climbers ages 3 to 73 rope up on MDI. Full- and half-day courses can accommodate individuals or groups, and the island’s dozen or so climbing areas offer routes for all skill levels — some of them unique, like the sheer Otter Cliffs looming right over the ocean. ▸ 67 Main St., Bar Harbor. 207-288-2521.

The Beach

Sandy beaches are overrated, as Machiasport’s Jasper Beach proves. Photo by Michael Gamblin | Alamy Stock Photo

A half mile long and a bit otherworldly, Jasper Beach is a horseshoe ridge of cascading mounds of wave-polished stones, fist-size and smaller, many layers deep. Only some of the stones are truly jasper, the iron-rich aggregate with Seussian swirls. Others are rhyolite, basalt, quartz; all are beautiful, perfectly tumbled gems, flung against the shore into berms and swales by tenacious seas. Lay against the sunbaked hillocks and listen to the burbling harmony of waves continuing their work, or explore the beach’s eastern edge, where craggy cliffs overhang narrow caves. ▸ Howard Cove, Rte. 92, Machiasport.

The Chow

Eastport’s unassuming WaCo Diner is the Down East fishing town’s nearly century-old de facto living room. Photo by Don Dunbar

The place to get a fried fish basket in Eastport is pronounced like “wacko” — not “way-co” or “wah-co.” “We’ve heard it all,” says WaCo Diner manager Sally Mahoney. The name of Maine’s oldest diner is a mash-up of the surnames of the original owners, who opened the harborside eatery in 1924. The place has changed a little since, but it’s still where regulars spill the beans over coffee and both locals and visitors grab deck tables to tuck into lobster benedicts, rib eyes, halibut — you name it — while gazing at Campobello Island and maybe even spotting a whale. ▸ 47 Water St., Eastport. 207-853-9226.

“It’s like the swallows of Capistrano — people just come back year after year.”

— Francis Fortier, founder and artistic director of the Bar Harbor Music Festival, hosting its 55th year, June 27–July 25.

The Fest

Die-hard and dilettante birders take to the hills, streams, and ocean during the Acadia Birding Festival. Photo courtesy of the Acadia Birding Festival.

Old-school naturalist and birding icon Roger Tory Peterson once called Mount Desert Island “the warbler capital of the world,” but there’s a lot more to the annual Acadia Birding Festival than just peeping little songbirds. If you fancy a trip out to sea, guides lead boat trips to spot pelagics and puffins. On land, join a coastal ramble looking for ocean waterfowl, night hikes listening for owls, mountaintop surveys for nesting peregrine falcons, and more. Plus, workshops and evening keynotes for the diehards. ▸ June 3–6. Registration $15, a la carte trips and events $15–$105. Mount Desert Island. 207-233-3694.

The Show

The shed-like Gateway Milbridge Waterfront Stage gets cooking on summer Friday nights. Photo courtesy of the Town of Milbridge; Zack Bowen.

Milbridge’s outdoor Friday Night Live concerts series has the town’s pretty marina as a backdrop and benefits the rebuild of the historic Milbridge Theatre. The seven-week series runs a gamut of styles: Acadian fiddle, classic country, piano jazz, country rock, bluegrass, steel drums, and traditional Irish song and dance. Come during Milbridge Days, on July 30, and stick around the next day to catch the town’s famed codfish relay, where teams race each other clutching a hefty dead fish. ▸ July 16–August 27. Bay View Rd., Milbridge.

The Treat

Mount Desert Ice Cream’s premium scoops are fast becoming a notable Maine export (but you can taste the original). Photo courtesy of Mount Desert Ice Cream.

We keep coming back to Mount Desert Island Ice Cream for the Maine-sourced ingredients, organic milk and cream, and the sometimes surprising flavors. Wasabi, anyone? Bay of Figs, perhaps? Or, maybe Kulfi, a frozen delight of sweet milk, pistachios, cardamom, and saffron? Owner Linda Parker started making artisanal ice cream in her first Bar Harbor shop in 2006. The place is now an MDI institution, but it’s no longer a local phenomenon — Parker opened a Portland shop in 2010, a Washington, DC, location in 2018, and last year, an MDI Ice Cream in Matsumoto, Japan. Global domination wasn’t always the plan. “I didn’t know any better,” Parker says. “It’s all been very organic.” ▸ 7 Firefly Ln., Bar Harbor. 207-801-4007.

The Trail

The Orange River Water Trail packs a lot into a 6-mile stretch of easy, flat-water paddling. The little-developed surroundings, woodland and wetland, are home to herons and bitterns, beavers and otters, and plenty of other wildlife. Bald eagles are a common sight, often clutching brook trout. Gliding past sedge and lily blooms, paddlers can access a handful of far-flung picnic sites and hiking trails, including a three-quarter-mile scramble up little Estey Mountain, a 289-foot, rocky-topped knob with great views of the watershed. ▸ Two hand-carry boat launches off Rte. 1 in Whiting.

Northern Maine

By Brian Kevin

Exploring Penobscot River Trails, near Medway. Photo by Taylor Walker.

The Trail

The 16 miles of crushed-stone paths at Penobscot River Trails follow the East Branch of the Penobscot River through a stretch of woods that bikers (and walkers) share with deer, moose, and the occasional skittish black bear. The gently graded trails lead to a pair of huts with views of Katahdin peeking over the skyline. Really nice mountain bikes — for kids and adults — rented by donation. ▸ 2540 Grindstone Rd., Soldiertown Township. 207-746-5807.

The Feat

Paddling on the St. Croix River, arguably Maine’s best low-key wilderness river trip. Photo by Chris Shane.

One of New England’s great river trips, paddling the St. Croix River along the New Brunswick border is none too daunting for families or inexperienced canoeists. Backcountry campsites are plentiful, and whitewater stretches are moderate and far between. With access galore, it’s possible to plan a weekend or a weeklong outing, and lots of outfitters lead guided trips. ▸ Find a guide and peruse campsite maps and a trip planner.

The Beach

You won’t find an ocean beach with a view like the one at Peaks-Kenny State Park, where Borestone Mountain rises up rugged at the far side of Sebec Lake. The sandy strip is narrow — you’re hard pressed to have a frisbee game — but there’s room to run in the grassy park behind, plus grills and picnic tables, a playground, and a trailhead for a short hike up the Birch Mountain Ledges (where the views are even better). ▸ Day use, $1–$8. 401 State Park Rd., Dover-Foxcroft. 207-564-2003.

“We’re just looking forward to everyone coming back. We’re bringing in some new things to reflect even more of the culture. I think it’s going to be better than ever.”

— Sharon Boucher, co-chair of the Acadian Festival, in Madawaska, which celebrates the heritage of the St. John Valley, August 13–15.

The Fest

Though the national Appalachian Trail Conservancy is still discouraging thru-hikers, hiker registration on the AT is open this year, and day hikers and others are looking forward to returning to the trails. As summer wanes, Millinocket celebrates the close of hiking season at its Trails End Festival, a long weekend of concerts in the park, a raucous rubber duck race, a plein-air-paint-athon, and more. ▸ September 11–13. Millinocket. 207-723-4443.

The Treat

Whoopies from Rock’s Family Diner, classic and sought-after. Photo courtesy of Rock’s.

Last spring, an Aroostook County émigré in Portland posted a Facebook pic of his preferred quarantine comfort food: a whoopie pie from Rock’s Family Diner, shipped to him by the proprietors of the Fort Kent institution. Soon, the 81-year-old diner was mobbed with orders from the Aroostook diaspora, and a whoopies-by-mail biz was born. They’re even better in person, though, on a summer road trip through the St. John Valley. (We’re partial to the chocolate with peanut butter filling.) ▸ 378 W. Main St., Fort Kent.

The Show

In Brewer, all the waterfront park’s a stage. Photo by Barrett Hammond.

Summer outdoor theater was pandemic-friendly before it was cool, and Bangor’s Ten Bucks Theatre, fresh off the company’s 20th anniversary season, has been putting on Shakespeare Under the Stars since 2004. This year, it’s As You Like It. (That’s the one with the quadruple wedding and “All the world’s a stage.”) ▸ $10. July 15–August 1. Indian Trail Park, Brewer. 207-884-1030.

The Chow

The deck at Kelly’s Landing, on Moosehead Lake. Photo courtesy of Kelly’s Landing.

The quintessential summer meal in the Maine north woods? How about a brook trout or togue you reeled in yourself on Maine’s largest lake? Moosehead Lake anglers can call Kelly’s Landing in Greenville Junction, and (if they’re not too slammed) the kitchen will prep your catch for dinner — perhaps on the restaurant’s outstanding deck, looking out over the boats on the lake’s West Cove. ▸ 13 Rockwood Rd., Greenville Junction. 207-695-4438.


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