With the arrival of the first cruise ships into the harbor this past week it's official that Summer season is upon us here in Maine. 

For those of you familiar with Maine summers you know that they are much like a romantic fling; coming in hot and heavy, riddled with confusing and sometimes cold moments before fizzling out long before you had enough. That being said, summers here are also something you don't want to miss and are by far the most active and beautiful time to be in the state.

With so much to see, and do, it can be a bit overwhelming - so I've put together the first of a few lists of my top things to do this summer in Maine.

 

#1 Kennebunkport Food and Wine Festival

kennebunkport food and wine festival - wood fired private dinner

This is the festival to see, and even more importantly be seen, and to me is the unofficial kick off to summer here in Maine. Held in Kennebunkport, and put on by Maine Magazine, this festival is unlike any other festival in Maine.

Starting Tuesday June 6th and running until Saturday June 10th it's five days filled with amazing private dinners hosted in luxury Kennebunkport homes prepared by local chefs, cocktail receptions at unique venues like Chicks Marina and the Spirit of Massachusetts and late night parties with live music, dancing and you guessed it...more amazing food and wine. 

My suggestion is to buy the weekend pass, or tickets for a few events and stay a night or two. Since we're so close to the event finding lodging might be a little tricky but there are definitely still festival tickets available which you can grab here.

Here are my favorite places to stay in Kennebunkport:

The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel

Kennebunkport Inn

Captain Fairfield Inn

 

#2 Sign up for an L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery School

 

As if L.L. Bean needed another reson to be one of Maine's most beloved brands...but seriously, if you are looking for something active, outdoorsy and unique to do give one, or a few of these a try. 

Offering everything from kayak and SUP lessons to archery, fishing and shooting lessons the L.L. Bean Discovery School is a must do for those of you who like a little action. Last year we did the Sporting Clay Discovery Course and this year are looking forward to trying a few more. 

Beyond the lessons they also offer overnight and multi-day adventures filled with hiking, sailing, rafting, hunting and more. Talk about a true Maine experience!

 

#3 Movies Under the Stars

 

What better way to enjoy a warm summer evening than lounging on a blanket gazing underneath the stars while watching your favorite film on the big screen. In Portland there are three different venues to enjoy just this including downtown at Congress Square Park, up on the Eastern Promenade and my personal favorite...Bug Light Park overlooking the city of Portland, Casco Bay and the lighthouse.

This activity is perfect for a date night or an evening out for the whole family with movie titles such as; Dirty Dancing, LaLa Land, Super8 and The Outsiders. 

 

#4 Maine BayCycle

Maine BayCycle
*Above image from Maine BayCycle

I first saw this type of contraption roaming the city streets when we were living in San Diego and thought 'how cool is that?!'

Here in Portland there is one that combines one of my favorite things to do in the summer (be out on the water) I to say I am thrilled would be an understatement. At Maine BayCycle you and up to 13 of your friends can board the ship and pedal your hearts out through Casco Bay - all while enjoying the ocean breeze and a tasty adult beverage. It's BYOB (beer & wine only) and you can also bring snacks - ummm yes please!

We are planning to give it a try this summer with friends and I cannot wait. 

 

#5 Enjoy a Waterfront Concert

 

If you like music and taking in views of the water you won't want to miss the summer concert series at the Maine State Pier. You aren't going to get huge, big name shows with fancy lights and thousands of fans but what you will get is an up close and personal show, at a good cost with ocean breezes. This summer there are 11 shows including some of my personal favorites; Pat Benatar, Lifehouse and the Goo Goo Dolls (who we saw last year at this venue and absolutely loved).

I suggest splurging for the tickets in sections 1-3 or at the very least sections 4-6; this will give you a guaranteed seat and near front row views of the stage. A word of the wise for you ladies out there...don't bring a large purse or bag the maximum size you are allowed is 8x5x2 and it can't have a strap. You can read more about their bag policy here.

 

#6 Go Glamping

sandy pines campground glamping tent
*Above image from Sandy Pines Campground website

I've been reading about glamping for quite some time now, and am so excited that it has finally made it's way to Maine - and in a pretty big way I might add. Sandy Pines Campground will have 12 unique, professionally designed, glamping tents available for reservations starting at the end of June.

The designers include:

The luxe glamp tents will be revealed on Friday June 23rd at their Preview Gala and Designer Showcase (of which part of the proceeds will go back to local charities) and on Saturday June 24th at their open house. You can grab tickets for both here.

 

#7 Take a Ride on the Mailboat

 

This is one of the best hidden secrets here in Portland so don't tell too many people.

Sure, you can pay to go on the 2 hour cruise of Casco Bay, or out on one of the Schooners or even rent or charter your own boat...but for half the cost you can see the entire Casco Bay all of the islands, enjoy your own food & beverage AND bring your dog. Only catch is that, unless you live or are staying on the islands, you can't get off. 

For me that's perfectly fine, and when we have people come to town this is always on our agenda (and our dog Hunter's personal favorite). Before boarding we pick up some champagne or wine, artisan cheeses and crackers, pack up our cooler and grab a comfy blanket to sit on settling in for a nice long wine and cheese cruise through Casco Bay.

Is it fancy? No. But you get a glimpse into island life, can partake in some pretty amazing people watching and you're back before 5pm. 

The Mailboat runs daily during the summer at 10am and 2:15pm and I suggest arriving at least 30 minutes early to get your tickets and get in the front of the line so you can grab a good seat up on the top deck. 

 

No matter what you choose to do in Maine this summer you are destined to enjoy yourself - it's a beautiful (and very busy) season and definitely one that you do not want to miss. If you are traveling here I highly suggest booking your accommodations early and making reservations for any activities and meals - even on the weekdays popular places can be packed.

Next week I'll cover some of my favorite things to do outside of the city so stay tuned!

 

 

 

Voyage à Paris

January 15, 2017

It's been about a month since our trip to Paris, and I still think about it almost daily. The entire Iceland & European adventure was epic to say the least and I miss all the destinations and am constantly daydreaming of visiting again. Of all the destinations my favorite was a tie between Iceland and Paris, and since traveling to Paris was a childhood dream it was a little extra special. 

Within minutes I fell in love with the vibe of the city, the vibe, the bustling streets, the cafes, the architecture and the history. I can't even begin to express how amazing Paris is - a definite must see for those of you who love to travel.

While in Paris we stayed at La Maison Favart, which was absolutely lovely. Before our arrival, the concierge reached out to us to assist in planning dinner, tours and itineraries. Normally I have everything already planned when we travel, but since Paris is such an overwhelming destination with so much to see and do I decided to lean on them for help - and I am so happy we did. The concierge staff, which was two men, took our list of things we wanted to see and do and put together a perfect itinerary making suggestions, adding in must see items and suggesting delectable dining locations. They purchased all of our museum tickets for us, made all of our dinner reservations, made sure we had cabs to and from locations and were warm and welcoming every time we saw them (the entire staff was for that matter). 

The hotel itself was beautiful, from the decor to the fresh florals, furniture, lounge area, fireplace and location it could not be a better place to stay for our first visit. We were able to walk almost everywhere we wanted to go and everything else was a quick cab ride away. Our breakfast was included, which saved us time and money each day, and was delicious with fresh fruits, breads, pastries, jam and hot selections such as eggs, bacon, crepes and quiche. In the evenings we also enjoyed the 'honest bar' (where you just wrote down what you had and they billed it to the room) with a selection of drinks, snacks, petite fours and yummy chocolates. 

We packed every single day of our stay from the very first thing in the morning until the last bit of the evening with late dinners sipping fine champagne and enjoying some of the best foods of all our travels. Unfortunately, we didn't have an extremely long visit, but we did get to see almost everything on our lists. Here was our agenda:

Day 1

Mid Morning Arrival from Iceland & Early Check-in at our hotel
Explore Galeries Lafayette - a must see for shopping
The Louvre & the Louvre Shops
Dinner Au Petite Riche

Day 2

*my favorite day*
Morning workout at the hotel gym
Orsay Museum - my personal favorite of all
Explore Montmarte neighborhood- lunch, coffee, shopping & walking through the neighborhood and then walking all the way back to our hotel
Eiffel Tower we arrived after the sunset with a bottle of champagne and had the entire park to ourselves and lucked out arriving at the top of the hour for the lightshow
Dinner at Glou

Day 3

Notre Dame
Saint Chapelle
Explore Île Saint-Louis
Explore the Jewish Ghetto - shops, stopped for coffee & pastries and simply wandered the streets...absolute perfection
Sunset at the Eiffel Tower (this time we viewed it from across the way at the Trocadero which is a great place for sunset views)

Dinner at 

The only thing I would have changed about our stay was for it to be a little longer, I would have taken one day less in Rome to have one more day in Paris. A truly magnificent city.

 

xo - margaret

 

 

Destination Maui

November 22, 2016

This year was seriously the year of weddings. It was one after another, after another...and I must say that I absolutely loved it! Thankfully our friends either live in some pretty awesome places, and/or chose even better places for destination weddings. Case in point, our friends who chose to have their destination wedding in Maui. I mean, twist my arm, I guess we can make it!

Hawaii has been on both mine and my husband's list for years, and it was even more beautiful that I could have imagined. I can see what everyone has been raving about all these years - it's truly a magical place. The surf, the sand, the weather, the breathtaking landscape and the food...oh man the food, so, so good! 

Upon arrival, we were greeted with a warm breeze and sunny skies and after a quick ride over to our hotel we pretty quickly decided that we didn't ever want to leave. We stayed at the Andaz which I would HIGHLY recommend. This property is stunning. As soon as we arrived we felt at home - were welcomed with cocktails, cool towels and leis as we were escorted to the beach sand lobby check-in area. After a long flight it was exactly what the doctor ordered. The resort itself is the utmost in luxury with breathtaking views, swanky pools, impeccable architecture and breezy beach styled rooms with tech creature comforts like automatic blinds, music and lighting. 

Most of all I loved the restaurants on site, nightly live music, pool-side cocktails and snacks, the gift and spa shop (which were both dangerously good) and the large, well-equipped fitness center. Plus the property had it's own private beach area, which I learned from some of our friend's resorts wasn't quite as common as I thought, with towel and drink service...plus excellent off shore snorkeling, SUP and kayaking (all included in the rates). And did I mention the complimentary shuttle service?! Total lifesaver for rides to and from beaches, shops and restaurants.

The Andaz was definitely worth the splurge and completely spoiled us each and every day. 

5th & Magnolia | Travel | Maui, Hawaii

We did end up renting a Jeep Wrangler for part of our stay so that we could explore the island and get to and from our zip lining and helicopter adventures that we had planned. Although we didn't need the Jeep the entire trip, it was certainly nice to have for a few days of top-down driving adventures. Definitely made me miss my Jeep, which was one of my very first cars. 

For ziplining there were quite a few different options, but our destination wedding group made it easy for us and they selected Pi'iholo Ranch - which was spot on. The ranch is located just outside of Haiku Pauwela (which I would suggest stopping in for some shopping & a bite to eat) and it's absolutely beautiful. There are a variety of options for your tour, and ours featured 5 zips through tree-tops overlooking the rainforest and ocean views. I can't even begin to describe how amazing it was. Such a great way to spend the day.

Next up for adventure was our helicopter tour of the entire island with Blue Hawaiin Helicopters, which was my personal favorite. You simply cannot go to Hawaii and not take a helicopter tour, especially if you are on a shorter trip like we were. It was the best way for us to see the entire island, rural towns, the rainforest, volcano and amazing waterfalls. I am pretty sure my jaw was on the floor the entire time. You can check out some videos on my intsa page to get a taste of what you are in for.

5th & Magnolia | Travel | Maui, Hawaii

The rest of our trip was filled with wedding festivities for two of our dearest friends, pool & beach days with friends, shopping, sipping cocktails, enjoying delicious food and sneaking in as much time together as possible. We also got in a few really good works with morning runs and walks on the beach and some HIIT workouts our trainer set up for us before we left which made me very happy.

5th & Magnolia | Travel | Maui, Hawaii

All in all, one of my favorite vacations in one of the most beautiful tropical destinations I have seen to date. Don't worry...I will keep searching for others.

Happy Travels.

xo - margaret