10 Incredible Family Adventures to Try in Maine

By Ivan PetrenkoJun 12, 2024 08:00 AMNews
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Portland Headlight at Dusk
Portland Headlight at Dusk. Source: unsplash

With miles of coastline and thousands of islands, lakes, and rivers, Maine is an outdoor playground ideal for family exploration. Here are 10 experiences that reveal the New England state’s natural and wild wonders.

1. Road Trip in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park, the nation’s easternmost national park, offers stunning views from Cadillac Mountain, one of the first places in the United States to see the sunrise. A drive along the Park Loop Road weaves through forested areas, rugged shorelines, lakes, and ponds, culminating at the 1,350-foot-high Cadillac Mountain. Plan to arrive early to avoid crowds and consider a moderate family hike on the Gorham Mountain Loop. Enjoy tea and popovers at the Jordan Pond House, and take advantage of the park's accessibility features.

2. Find Garden Trolls in Boothbay

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay span over 300 acres, featuring specialty gardens and woodlands inhabited by five giant trolls created by Thomas Dambo from recycled wood. These trolls teach lessons about conservation and biodiversity. Ask for a troll map at the front desk and allow time to explore the central gardens, including interactive children’s and sensory gardens.

3. Catch Lobsters in Casco Bay

Join Tom Martin of Lucky Catch Lobster Tours for a hands-on experience in lobster fishing. Cruises in Casco Bay offer views of lighthouses, islands, forts, seals, and seabirds. Passengers can help pull and bait traps and learn about lobsters. Any caught lobsters can be cooked at a nearby lobster shack for a nominal fee after the tour.

4. See the Wild Things at the Maine Wildlife Park

Located 35 minutes north of Portland, the Maine Wildlife Park is a refuge for orphaned or injured wildlife, including moose, black bears, bald eagles, and bobcats. Families can feed brook trout, learn about local trees on the Tree Trail, and find hidden animal cutouts along the Game Trail. The park is wheelchair accessible.

5. Explore a Civil War Fort

Fort Knox, one of New England’s best-preserved coastal fortifications, never saw battle but is an architectural marvel with granite walls, spiral stairs, and massive Rodman cannons. Bring a flashlight to explore the fort’s rooms and passageways. Nearby, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge features a 42-floor observatory offering panoramic views.

6. Cruise Aboard a "Dive-In Theater" in Bar Harbor

Join Diver Ed and his wife, Captain Evil, on the Starfish Enterprise Dive-In Theater boat. Watch Diver Ed’s undersea adventures on a movie screen as he and his toy sidekick, Mini Ed, explore the ocean floor. The marine life they collect is brought aboard for kids to examine before being returned to the sea.

7. Go on a Moose Safari

Maine is home to more moose than any state except Alaska. Greenville offers moose safaris led by professional guides from Northwoods Outfitters. Tours are available by canoe, kayak, or van, increasing your chances of spotting these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

8. Island Hop on a Mail Boat

Casco Bay Lines' wheelchair-accessible mail boat cruises between five Casco Bay islands, delivering passengers, mail, and freight. The narrated three-hour tour offers views of forts, lighthouses, seals, and seabirds. Bring snacks and sunscreen for a comfortable journey.

9. Paddle a Lazy River

The gentle Saco River in Fryeburg is perfect for a leisurely paddle. Rent canoes or kayaks from Saco River Canoe & Kayak and enjoy a serene float through woodlands and farmlands, with opportunities for picnicking and swimming along the way.

10. Pedal to Lighthouses

The paved 1.6-mile Spring Point Shoreway in South Portland offers stunning views of the harbor and Casco Bay’s islands. Start at Portland Breakwater Light (Bug Light) and follow the trail past marinas, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, and sandy Willard Beach. Lighthouse Bikes offers rentals and guided tours for a fun family outing.

These adventures in Maine promise unforgettable experiences, whether you're exploring historic sites, engaging in outdoor activities, or discovering local wildlife.

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