Late-summer leisure with wine, sailing, gardens and picnics
There’s no place better for summer relaxation than Maine. With mountains, lakes, oceans, agricultural tourism, cultural and historical sites, there’s truly something for everyone to try out and enjoy, no matter your interests and your physical abilities. Here are just a few of the ways to get the most out of this exceptional state.
Whaleback Shell Midden and Ice Cream, Damariscotta
Take a stroll through beautiful woods and fields, picnic by the river and learn about the region’s Native American heritage at the Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site. This beautiful site boasts the remains of a shell middens built by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago. An immersive look at human history, you’ll also have a great chance to watch wildlife in the river (including otters!). The trailhead is less than a mile-and-a-half north of downtown Damariscotta along Main Street, opposite the Great Salt Bay School. After your walk, head up the road to Round Top Ice Cream (526 Main St.) and try one of the dozens of flavors made in house.
Good to know: The trails run through private property at times, so it’s important to stay on marked paths. In an effort to protect local wildlife, fields surrounding the trails are not mowed, so be sure to check yourself and your furry friends for ticks. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on leash and on the trails.
Mt. Battie, Camden Hill State Park, Camden
At 800 feet above sea level, the summit of Mt. Battie offers spectacular views of Penobscot Bay and Camden Harbor as well as inland to the region’s lakes and rolling hills. With trails to hike and a road to drive, this mini-adventure is great for all abilities. After you’ve spent some time at the summit, why not check out one of the area’s wineries? There are three to choose from less than a half-hour’s drive from the mountain. Check out Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville (mainewine.com), Savage Oakes Vineyard & Winery in Union (savageoakes.com) and Oyster River Winegrowers in Warren (oysterriverwine.com).
Good to know: Some hiking trails are also open to bikes and horses (and seasonally appropriate winter activities). If you’d like to extend your stay at the park, campsites are available.
Wood Island Lighthouse, Biddeford
What could be more Maine than exploring a lighthouse? Located on an uninhabited island in the mouth of the Saco River, the Wood Island Lighthouse is open to the public for tours three days a week in July and August in an effort to raise funds to restore and preserve this spectacular piece of history. If a guided tour isn’t really your thing, you can paddle to the island and picnic on the lighthouse grounds, but you won’t be able to go inside.
Cost: Suggested donation of $15
Good to know: Nearly 30 acres of Wood Island is managed by the Maine Audubon Society as a bird sanctuary, so bring your binoculars and watch out for nests.
McLaughlin Garden & Homestead, South Paris
If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll through some stunning gardens, head to the charming village of South Paris. The McLaughlin Garden began as the pet project of Bernard McLaughlin in 1936 when he started adding plants to his property. His spectacular 2-acre garden was open to the public any time that the gate was open. Since 1997, it has operated as a non-profit organization, continuing Bernard’s tradition of welcoming visitors to the property.
Cost: Free, donations appreciated
Good to know: The gardens do not allow dogs.
FMI: 207–743–8820 or mclaughlingarden.org
Maine Sailing Adventures, Portland
Take a sail through Casco Bay on the Frances, a replica of the cutters that moved cargo along the coast of New England from 1790–1812. Unlike modern sailing yachts, her design is that of a working vessel. So she’s a little different from other boats you may see in the harbor, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be comfortable as you take to the sea. Service is the top priority for captain and crew, and you won’t be disappointed whether you’re out for a simple day sail, a sunset trip accompanied by acoustic music, a wine tasting or even on-board yoga. Pick the way you want to relax and take in the scenery.
Good to know: While it may be blisteringly hot in Portland, the temperature will drop once you’re out on the water; bring layers to ensure you don’t shiver through your trip.
Lucinda Hannington is a transplant to Maine from Vermont. She is an avid reader, cook, eater, and lover of all things historical who lives in Portland with her husband and dog.