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.
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:
#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!
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.
*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.
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
*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:
- Huffard House
- Hurlbutt Designs
- Ingunn Joergensen
- Nicola’s Home
- Favela Chic
- Antiques on Nine
- Lisa Teague Studios
- EcoHome Studio
- James Light Interiors
- Spaces Kennebunkport
- Chatfield Design
- Annie Stickney Design
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.
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!