Posted: September 1, 2017
From haunted spots to photo ops, a guide to guided tours
Written by: Mary Ruoff
Up Next: Take a road trip to these Maine breweries
Fall is a great time for a guided tour that gets you outdoors, even for a bit (and, yes, hopping on and off a beer bus counts). This isn’t just because you’re less likely to get beaten by the sun. With summer’s tourist onslaught past, this is often when guides try out new tours. Some of these made our roundup of guided Maine tours, including a five-day photo excursion. We excluded boat trips, a category unto itself, but a beer cruise managed to get a mention.
The New England Outdoor Center offers moose tours in the Katahdin region. Photo courtesy of New England Outdoor Center
New England Outdoor Center Moose Tours
Katahdin region, neoc.com, 723-5438
Fall is a prime time for moose-watching. It's breeding season, and bull moose antlers are growing to completion. The New England Outdoor Center has three-hour morning and evening tours ($53 adults, $43 ages 12 and under) and seven-hour day trips ($149 per person). Travel is by pontoon boat or van – perhaps both on the longer excursions – depending on the weather and your guide. One of Maine's top outfitters, the outdoor center has lots of options for overnight getaways. The company's year-round Twin Pine base on Millinocket Lake, several miles from Baxter State Park, has small and large cabins: some older and traditional, others new and modern. River Driver's Restaurant & Pub looks out on the lake. The outdoor center's campground near the park is open until at least mid-October.
Pemaquid Point Lighthouse is one of the picturesque destinations of the Coastal Maine Photo Tours. Staff photo by John Patriquin
Coastal Maine Photo Tours
Midcoast, coastalmainephototours.com, 594-1224
Let Dee Peppe, an assistant photography professor at the University of Maine, guide you through Maine's scenic spots and help you get the best shots. Vinalhaven Island Excursion lasts a full day and is the most of popular of the tours, which run into October. Coming and going by ferry, participants photograph island-dotted waters and wildlife. Photographing the sunset is the focus on trips to Pemaquid Point Lighthouse in New Harbor (usually 1-9 p.m.). All tours, including the shorter Photo Walks, provide photography instruction. The last Photo Walk of the season, on Oct. 8, wends through Rockport Harbor to shoot fall foliage. A five-day trip is being offered Oct. 9-14, photographing western Maine's foliage, covered bridges and waterfalls. Full-day tours are $125-$165, and photo walks are $39, with lower rates for teens and free for young children. The overnight is trip $850, not including lodging and most meals.
The big green Maine Brew Bus will bring you to southern Maine's best breweries. Photo courtesy of Maine Office of Tourism
Maine Brew Bus
Portland and southern Maine, themainebrewbus.com
Hop on a green school bus and explore Maine's hopping craft beer industry. The Portland-based fleet takes beer buffs to breweries throughout Greater Portland and southern Maine. On at least one stop, standard tours always get past the tasting room to check out a production facility – tour-goers may get their hands on some barley. Maine Brew Bus runs about 15 trips; some hit distilleries and wineries (mead, anyone?). Bottled water and a savory hand pie are included. You can buy products to take home or even a pour after sampling. Tours run daily through October and Thursday through Sunday in the slow season (November through mid-May). This year's final Saturday Brews Cruise is Sept. 30. Most tours cost $65.
Maine Foodie Tours on a lobster roll stop at the Porthole in Portland. Photo courtesy of Maine Foodie Tours
Maine Foodie Tours
Portland, Kennebunkport, Bar Harbor and Rockland, mainefoodietours.com, 233-7485
With the harvest in and cooler temps making it easier to layer, fall is the perfect time for a Maine Foodie walking tour, said owner Pam Laskey. She's been heating up Portland's foodie scene since 2009 and is rolling out a tour that will pour attention on coffee shops and breweries along Washington Avenue. The company has a few food-themed boat excursions out of Portland and may launch one in Camden this fall. Most of its dozen-plus tours end in October, including those in other coastal towns. The flagship three-hour Old Port Culinary Walking Tour runs year-round, serving up Maine foods like lobster mac and cheese and truffles made with Aroostook County potatoes. Thursday evening "progressive" dinners also continue through the winter. The company is always eager to put together custom tours. Most tours cost $59 to $69.
"Look for the Blue Lantern" is the cry of Bar Harbor Ghost Tours: one is always in hand when a guide in Victorian-era garb sets out on one of the evening guided walks. Photo courtesy of Bar Harbor Ghost Tour
Bar Harbor Ghost Tours
A guide in Victorian-era black garb leads these hour-and-a-half tours, blue lantern in hand. They run through Oct. 30, departing at 8 p.m. from downtown Bar Harbor's Abbe Museum, which tells the story of Maine's Wabanaki nations. During the tours, spirit tales from these Native Americans are woven into stops at haunted locales. Micmac tribe member and company owner Jennifer Pictou served as the spirit guide on a recent fall-like summer night for a tour that began at Ledgelawn, a former summer "cottage" manse haunted by a jilted bride (and others) who hung herself with her veil on the third floor. Tours dip into art deco Criterion Theater and stop outside seaside Bar Harbor Inn. Tours cost $15, $10 ages 6 to 12, younger free. The company also offers historic home and Prohibition tours.
The Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk offers walking tours in the area. Staff photo by Gregory Rec
Brick Store Museum Walking Tours
Kennebunk, brickstoremuseum.org, 985-4802
Mother's Beach tours take in 11 homes and elaborate on early 20th-century "beach life." For $10, they're held at 2 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 5, from Trinity Chapel on Woodland Avenue. Kennebunk's maritime heyday is spotlighted on tours of the Kennebunk Historic District, replete with grand homes in architecture styles from colonial to Italianate. Those tours are $5 and held at 11 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 27, starting at the museum at 117 Main St.