Wooden Ships Through Maine History
The Maine Maritime Museum
on Washington Street in Bath
collects, preserves and interprets materials on the early days of Maine’s shipbuilding industry and features the country’s only surviving wooden shipbuilding yard. From watercraft and lobstering, to shipbuilding and sea trade, visitors hear stories about dangerous voyages to distant lands; see how a shipbuilder’s family lived in the 1890s; smell the sawdust from historic ship timbers; and discover the wonders and mysteries of Maine’s maritime culture. Highlights include ten acres of galleries and exhibits; a life-size sculpture of the largest wooden sailing vessel ever built; seasonal river cruises; and a children’s play area. Phone: 207-443-1316.
105 Years and Hundreds of Models
BlueJacket Ship Crafters
at 160 E. Main Street in Searsport
is the oldest ship modeling company in the country, producing wooden museum-quality kits and models, half-hull models, fittings, tools, and books, by Maine craftsmen. The public is welcome to visit the shop and browse the gallery, with more than 100 models, and the workshops and metal foundry. A new series, Great American Workboats. Including Florida shrimpers, New England draggers, a Maine sardine carrier, is coming online soon, These models will be modestly priced and designed for less-experienced builders. Open year-round, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Phone: 800-448-5567.
A Garden for All Ages in All Seasons
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
is an oasis of beautiful trails and plants on Barters Island near Boothbay
in midcoast Maine. Open to the public year-round, it is a haven of ornamental gardens and natural beauty, waterfalls, and stonework and sculpture. Miles of trails allow visitors to experience waterfront and woodlands typical of Maine. The Lerner Garden of the Five Senses has many features that make it accessible to disabled people. A new children’s garden, featuring themes derived from children’s literature by authors with a Maine connection, allows children the ability to explore. Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., year-round. Phone: 207-633-4333.
All Aboard a Rail Trip
Through the Scenic Mid-Coast
Maine Eastern Railroad
conducts rail excursions May to October through the Midcoast towns of Rockland, Wiscasset, Bath
, and Brunswick
, so park your car and begin your vacation! The trains are restored rail cars from the 1940s and '50s. Beside the coaches, there is a restored dining car where travelers hear a narrated discussion of the scenery and historic highlights of the 57-mile route. It is a front-row seat to some of Maine's most breathtaking seascapes. Trains run Wednesdays through Sundays. Phone: 866-637-2457.
Bath Builds Big Ships
Would you like to see a warship taking shape before your eyes? From mid-May to mid-October, the Maine Maritime Museum
, at 243 Washington Street in Bath
offers a trolley tour of the Bath Iron Works. This one-hour trolley tour takes you behind the gates of Bath Iron Works to see how modern U.S. Navy destroyers are built. The Navy's most modern warship - DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer - is taking shape and visitors in 2012 were among the first to see it being built. Advance reservations are strongly recommended. Check museum website for 2013 tour dates. Phone: 207-443-1316.
Best Shopping Anywhere
It is hard to overstate how much Mainers and their out-of-state visitors love Renys
, a chain of family-owned dry good stores founded 62 years ago when the grandfather of the clan stepped out of his job as a department store clerk and founded a new store where everyone is always treated right. The stores, mostly found in the state’s healthy, small downtowns, are low in superficial glamour and packed full of useful goods, all priced as low as the store can manage. Merchandise ranges from tinned organic pumpkin meat to rubber boots and wedding dresses. Stores are located in Bath, Belfast, Bridgton, Camden, Damariscotta, Dexter, Ellsworth, Farmington, Gardiner, Madison, Newcastle, Pittsfield, Portland, Saco
, and Topsham
. Don’t miss Renys! Open year-round. Phone: 207-563-3177
Boating to Dreamy Monhegan Island
Port Clyde sits on the tip of a St. George peninsula, jutting into Muscongus Bay, and it is the home of the Monhegan Boat Line
, making daily trips to enchanting, natural (and vehicle-free) Monhegan Island. The boat steams out of Port Clyde harbor, past Marshall Point lighthouse, among pine-clad islands. Porpoises, small whales, seabirds, and lobstermen at work are among the passing sights. On the return trip from the island, the boats passes lots of activity at Seal Rock. The company also offers puffin and nature cruises, a lighthouse cruise, and sunset cruises. Phone: 207-372-8848.
Coastal Images Though Winslow Homer's Eyes
The former home of Winslow Homer, the painter who created magnificent images of the Maine coast in the late 19th century, is open for guided tours as the Winslow Homer Studio
at Prouts Neck in Scarborough
. The studio was recently acquired and renovated by the Portland Museum of Art. Before or after your tour, be sure to stroll along the nearby cliff walk, as a way to enter the world and imagery that Homer so famously turned into painted art. Tours in the warm seasons, starting in April. Phone: 207-775-6148
Cooking Enthusiasts, Take Notice
Now You’re Cooking
is a full-service cookware store at 49 Front Street in downtown Bath
. Do not be prepared to find a little, precious hole-in-the-wall establishment. The store occupies the first floor of one full block adjacent to City Hall. Here you will find a large selection of fine cookware, wine and beer, specialty teas, coffee, and condiments, and a large assortment of kitchen tools and accessories. Michael and Betsy Fear founded Now You’re Cooking in 2000; over the years they have assembled a knowledgeable staff that is always testing new products, trying new recipes, and sharing what they learn. Now You’re Cooking also hosts cooking classes, weekly product demonstrations and monthly wine tastings. Phone: 207-443-1402.
Fiber Artists, Stop Here
The Fiber Cottage
at Maple View Farm, 48 Birches Road in Waldo
is an outgrowth of the well-respected North Island Fiber Shoppe, founded at North Haven Island, 12 miles offshort from Rockland. As on the island, the mainland shop sells top-quality wool yarn from Romney sheep, natural fiber yarns from various New England cottage companies, and fiber-arts supplies and books.
The Fiber Cottage also makes custom hand knit clothing. Open year-round. Phone: 207-975-0424.
It’s All About the Lighthouses
The Maine Lighthouse Museum
at 1 Park Drive in Rockland
is the home of the largest collection of Fresnel lighthouse lenses and the most important landmark collection of lighthouse artifacts and Coast Guard memorabilia in the United States. A few years back, the museum merged its collection with that of the former Museum of Lighthouse History of Wells (now closed). The two collections are now on display and marvelously complement each other. Visit the museum gift shop and find spectacular inventory of lighthouse models and miniatures, replicas, clothing, gifts, art, toys, memorabilia, and exclusive regional favorites. Open year-round but hours vary by season. Call ahead for hours Phone: 207-594-3301
Lavish Art From Around the World at Bowdoin
The Bowdoin College Museum of Art
, part of the Maine Art Museum Trail
, displays 15,000 ancient, European, American, modern, and contemporary works; prints; drawings; and photography. After a renovation in 2007, the museum, in the Walker Art Building on the college campus in Brunswick
reopened in a transformed space in which its traditional features melded with a dramatic new entry pavilion and a glass curtain wall. Fourteen galleries feature changing exhibitions of objects from museums and collections around the world.
Living Lighthouse Tour
Burnt Island Light Station at the entrance to Boothbay Harbor offers an intriguing and unique Living Lighthouse Tour
. The light station’s restored buildings serve as a living history museum where interpreters in period clothing portray a lighthouse keeper’s family. Visitors climb the winding stairs into the lantern room; view photos and documents in the museum; fish off the rocks; or picnic by the waterfront. Tours offered July 8 to August 29 in 2013, on Monday and Thursday afternoons. Boat service from Boothbay Harbor pier. For reservations call Balmy Days Cruises call 207-633-2284.
Made in Maine -- Sold in Bath
Bath has a charming, unaffected downtown where Maine daily life is on display at all times, but special treats and mementos still are available for visitors and vacationers. Lisa Marie's Made in Maine
at 170 Front Street in Bath
is a fine place to shop for Maine-made artwork and photography, gifts for children and pets, Christmas items, home décor, skin care, jewelry, pottery and kitchen items, and more. Wonderful, unique artistry to remind you of your visit to this glorious state. Phone: 207.443.2225
Sailing from Ports in Rockland, Rockport and
If you’re looking to explore where the big ships can’t go, a Maine windjammer can get you there.
Cast off on a three- to six-day sailing adventure aboard one of Maine’s ten legendary windjammers in the Maine Windjammer Association. Help sail the ship or just sit back and enjoy the every-changing scenery. Keep a lookout for seals, porpoises, lighthouses and lobster boats; explore pristine islands and quaint fishing villages. Enjoy great sailing by day and cozy anchorages every night. Delicious home-cooked meals and a lobsterbake included. Sailing from Camden-Rockland from May through October. www.sailmainecoast.com
Olson House Is Wyeth Inspiration
The Olson House and Farm
in Cushing could be a Maine mecca for people who love the work of artist Andrew Wyeth. A National Historic Landmark, was the home of Alvaro and Christina Olson, the subject of one of Wyeth's most famous paintings. Wyeth created many paintings and drawings at the house from 1939 to 1968. He said, "In the portraits of that house, the windows are eyes or pieces of the soul almost. To me, each window is a different part of Christina's life." The house is open in summer. Phone: 207-596-6457 ext. 104.