Who could possibly improve on this shop’s description of itself: “An Exploratorium and interactive shop for everyone who’s even a little curious about the last 13.8 billion years (give or take).” The Naturalist’s Notebook at 115 Main Street in Northeast Harbor is a melding of science, art, and nature learning and activities zone (not to mention its fantastic gift shop). The Notebook offers 13.8-billion-year art workshops, book signings, talks and other special events. Fun for science lovers and all the rest of us, too. Phone: 207-276-4120.
Go East -- All the Way -- to Explore West Quoddy Head Lighthouse
Maine is lighthouse country, and to see one of the best of the batch, make your way to the heel of the state, in Lubec, on the Bay of Fundy, to see the West Quoddy Head Light . The lighthouse and a Visitors Center in the lighthouse keeper’s house are open to the public Memorial Day through Labor Day. The center has neat exhibits on lighthouses and local marine life. Visitors may picnic at clifftop tables at Quoddy Head State Park next door, watch lobster boats and trawlers plying the waters, and observe frolicking seals, soaring bald eagles, and, distant whale movements. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. 207-733-2180.
Blueberries Take Their Place in Fine Wine
Bartlett Maine Estate Winery at 161 Chicken Mill Pond Road in Gouldsboro is a small detour off the fabled road to Acadia National Park. At Bartlett’s, prize-winning wines are pressed onsite from native fruits. According to the owners, when a local friend shipped a few bottles of Bartlett's Blueberry Reserve to France, the tasters refused to believe it was pressed from blueberries. The winery’s aging process, using French and American oak, creates complex, wines sure to please even traditionalists. The tasting room is housed in a hand wrought stone building. Tasting room is from June to October or by appointment.
Bring Your Own Lobster Pot
Get primitive with nature and its lobsters. Go camping in Acadia National Park at either the Blackwoods campground off Route 3 or the Seawall campground off Route 102A, both in Bar Harbor. Take a huge lobster pot and buy lobster and clams off the boats if you can. Throw some sea salt into the boiling water and steam your clams, then cook your lobster. Melt butter, buy some potato salad and rolls; throw some corn on the cob in the pot, and you have a lobster feast. Throw old newspaper on the table and don't be neat. Primitive camping and basic sea food. Sounds good!
Paddle Board Yoga -- You Can Do It!
Acadia Stand Up Paddle Boarding at 55 West Street in Bar Harbor wants to help you up off your butt and onto your feet -- on a paddle board -- during your vacation in Maine. The company offers beginner lessons, rentals, tours, and yoga classes on area lakes and bays. Ok -- you don’t have to do yoga poses, but you can try it. Stand up paddle boarding is fun, easy to learn, and a good workout. Most beginners are standing up and paddling in less than 30 minutes! What’s a vacation without a bit of a challenge? Phone: 207-610-2970.
Climb That Mountain
Rock climbing in Acadia National Park: you can do it. Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School on Main Street in Bar Harbor will take out anybody on a customized half-day or full-day rock climbing experience in the heights of glorious Acadia National Park. The school has guided climbers from age four to 80. Dramatic sea cliffs of pink granite and inland escarpments offer climbing routes for people of all abilities and ages and fitness levels. You get all the equipment and direction you can possibly need. For the adventure of a lifetime. 888-232-9559
Flutter on Over to This Butterfly Garden
The Charlotte Rhoades Park & Butterfly Garden at 191 Main Street in Southwest Harbor on Mount Desert Island welcomes people to come and enjoy the butterflies and bring a picnic. It has been named Best Pocket Garden by the editors of Yankee Magazine, so you know you are in for a treat. A box at the entrance has brochures and other helpful material. From April to October, volunteers are on site Thursday mornings to describe the garden and butterfly activity. The path through the garden is four feet wide and the surface is compacted crushed rock, which is reasonably easy to navigate for a wheelchair user. No restrooms or drinking water at the garden. Open mid-May to mid-October, sunrise to sunset.
Axes All Around
Baseball may be the national sport, but competitors of the Great Maine Lumberjack Show might contest that idea. The tradition of performance and competition, known as the Olympics of the Forest, in which lumberjacks and lumberjills use big tools to demonstrate their art, dates back over 100 years in Maine. Now, families can view the competition at 127 Bar Harbor Road in Trenton. Young and old will love the rarely seen competition of log rolling and other forestry arts. Host Timber Tina Scheer invites guests to come explore the competitive edge of lumberjacking with daily shows at 7 p.m. through August 29 in 2021.
Wines, Good Times, Occasional Foolery
Hill peninsula, Serving the Blue Hill peninsula, Blue Hill Wine Shop at 123 Main Street in Blue Hill says it offers, and we quote: “cracking good (if occasionally oddball) wines; thoughtfully selected Cheeses, pates, and cured meats; grocery items, local and imported beers and ciders; coffees and teas of quality and tobacco items…” along with good times, occasional music, and assorted foolery.” How could you not pay a visit? Open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 207-374 2161
Off, Off, Off the Beaten Path
If you love the outdoors, quiet, and little to no commerce, plan a day trip to Swan’s Island, a half-hour ferry ride from Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island. The island has three tiny villages, a very small population, and no amenities. Day visitors can enjoy walking or bicycling, swimming in a quarry, and exploring the rocky shore. Remote and restful.
See Down East Like the Old “Rusticators” Did
Down East Scenic Railroad
at 245 Main Street in Ellsworth can take you on a 90-minute train ride that travels the route used by vacationers from New York and Philadelphia who fled to the northern woods for the summer back in the 1880s. These “rusticators” – an early word for tourists -- were treated to the finest the Pennsylvania and Maine Central Railroads had to offer. Today’s 10-mile excursion happens twice daily on Saturdays and Sundays from May 28 to mid-October. While jostling along and enjoying the Maine woodlands, watch for osprey, blue herons, bald eagles, moose, deer, snapping turtles, fox, beavers…and bears! 866-449-RAIL (7245).
Abbe Museum Displays Culture of Maine Natives
The Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor interprets the history and lives of the Wabanaki Indian tribe. The museum hosts exhibitions, events, archaeology field schools, and craft workshops. The museum has two locations. The Abbe Museum and Gift Shop Downtown is at 26 Mount Desert Street (Route 3) in Bar Harbor. This facility is open in the summer if 2021. The Abbe Museum at Sieur de Monts Spring is off Route 3, at the Sieur de Mont Springs entrance to Acadia National Park. This building is closed for the 2021 season. 207-288-3519.
Fine Wine and Intriguing Rum
Bartlett Maine Estate Winery at 161 Chicken Mill Pond Road in Gouldsboro is a small detour off the fabled road to Acadia National Park. At Bartlett’s, prize-winning wines are pressed onsite from native fruits. A relatively new offering is Rusticator rum, with flavors of vanilla, toffee, lime and banana. The tasting room, halfway between Ellsworth and the Petit Manon Wildlife Refuge, is housed in a hand-wrought stone building. Tasting room is from June to October or by appointment. 207- 546-2408.