Thursday April 24th 2014

Maine summer bucket list: Do this stuff now (before summer ends!)

By: Shannon Bryan

It’s August. Just let that sink in for a second.

It’s August, which means the seasonal blessing we know as summer is coming to an end (not tomorrow, but certainly sooner than we’d like). We can mourn summer’s passing in September. But right now, we embrace it. Have you done all the summery things you wanted to do this year? Have you rope-swinged and dozed off in the car at a drive-in? Have you gotten your fill of pier fries and beach sand? No? Well get on it, my friend. The summer loves you, but it isn’t going to wait around forever. Your mission: Make this summer the most memorable summer ever. Let our summer bucket list help:

Beach sand + willing participant = summer burial. Shannon Bryan/ photo

1. Bury someone you love in the sand

It’s essential: When you go to the beach, you must bury someone in sand (preferably someone you know who’s awake and willing to be buried, and preferably only up to his or her chin). Beaches have plenty of sand for this purpose, so once you have a person to bury, you’ll need to find a beach:

Find a beach: The Maine Beaches via

Nothing like a night game. Gabe Souza/Press Herald file photo

2. Take yourself out to a Sea Dogs game

Baseball and summer go together like ice cream and chocolate chip cookies (which, for the record, you can get together at Hadlock Field. It’s the Sea Dog Biscuit, and it’s delicious). Going to at least one Sea Dogs game is a summer requirement for many, although I know some folks who’ve never been. How? How is this?!

See the Sea Dogs: Check the Sea Dogs schedule via

Load them up with salt and vinegar! Press Herald file photo

3. Eat Pier Fries in Old Orchard Beach

For me, summer officially arrives in Maine on the day I eat my first pier fries of the season. Admittedly, that’s usually in April, when Pier French Fries At Old Orchard Beach opens up on weekends. I love summer, can you blame me for being impatient? These fries can be loaded up with salt and vinegar and ketchup and devoured in front of the Atlantic. Two warnings: You will long for them come February. And please, eat your pier fries after you hit the rides at Palace Playland.

Ripe for the picking. Press Herald file photo

4. Pick your own blueberries

Maybe you planned on picking your own strawberries this year but, like every year, strawberry season came and went in a flash. It happens. But late summer is when blueberry season hits, which means you can stop kicking yourself for missing out. I’m pretty sure that blueberries you’ve picked yourself taste better, too. Libby & Sons U-Picks in Limerick is my personal favorite (do not leave before stocking up on their amazing blueberry donuts. I tend to eat at least three just on the drive back to Portland). But you can’t lose wherever you go:

Find a blueberry farm: Maine U-Pick farms and orchards via

A 2013 concert at L.L. Bean. Sarah Morrill/ photo

5. See an outdoor concert

Live music, outside, because it’s beautiful out there and Mother Nature has amazing acoustics. There are a host of free outdoor concerts around Southern Maine. You bring the blanket, some snacks, and someone you really like to share the evening with.

Alive at Five | 5 pm Thursdays through August 8 | Monument Square, Portland |
LL Bean Free Summer Concerts | 7:30 pm Saturdays thought August 31 | Freeport |
Music on the Mall | 6 pm Wednesdays through August 28 | Town Mall, Brunswick |
Free concerts at Fort Sumner | 7 pm Thursdays through August 29 | Eastern Prom, Portland |
Sunset Folk Series | 7:45 or 7:30 pm Wednesdays through August 14 | Western Prom Park , Portland |

Lobster, fresh from the shack. Gregory Rec/Press Herald file photo

6. Eat lobster. At a lobster shack

Sure, sure. Lobster doesn’t seem like such a fleeting summer thing when you live in Maine year-round. But the opporunity to crack one of those puppies open at a lobster shack, while sitting on a picnic table, with the sea sitting idly nearby and two dozen gulls taking turns diving for your fries…well, that’s a summer-only sort of experience. The Lobster Shack at Two Lights is a popular spot near Portland, but there’s no shortage of shacks up and down the coast.

Find a shack near you: Maine Lobster Shacks (and similar spots) compiled by Brewster House Bed & Breakfast

Some shack recomendations: The 10 Best Lobster Shacks in Maine via Travel + Leisure

A rope swing over Cobbossee Stream in Gardiner. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Jounal file photo

7. Fling yourself from a rope swing

Thank heavens for people who tie ropes to sturdy tree branches that hang over Maine’s rivers, lakes, and ponds. Who are these magical folks who so generously offer rope swings to the world? We may never know – but we can say “thank you” by grabbing hold of those ropes, taking a leap, and flinging ourselves into the water with flair. (Rope swinging tips: Let GO. Don’t procrastinate! Else you risk swinging back…possibly into tree, pile of rocks, or something likewise painful. Also: Steer clear of the back or belly flop. Those hurt like mad!)

Try Buxton’s Pleasant Point Park to find a series of river rocks perfect for leaping, as well as at least one rope swing.

Trickey Pond in Naples has a couple of rope swings, too. One low-hanging swing is located on a small island near the pond’s north end. Another – much, much higher – rope swing is situated on the pond’s western shore.

A group gathers at a swimming hole at Pleasant Point Park in Buxton. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Press Herald file photo

8. Swim & splash in a swimmin’ hole

Spending an afternoon cooling off in a local swimming hole is a summer staple. And while it’s sometimes hard to know where the best ones are (some folks understandably want to keep their favorite spots a secret), there are a few popular water spots we’re comfotable sharing. Where there’s a rope swing (see spots mentioned above), there’s a swimming hole. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive. A couple more:

In Kingfield, just north of Farmington, there’s a rocky swimming hole on the other side of the falls. Swimmers can park behind Longfellow’s Restaurant.

Also in Western Maine lies Coos Canyon, Byron’s Happy Gorge conveniently set off the road to Rangeley (Route 17). There are three natural swimming holes in front of the park, and waterfalls above and below that. Cliff jumping is common, and snorkeling a favorite.

More swimming holes: The Best Swimming Holes in Maine via Yahoo

Cars file into the Saco Drive-In. Pouya Dianat/Press Herald file photo

9. Catch a movie at the drive-in

Classic. That’s what drive-ins are. Netflix and Hulu are fine for winter or those night when you can’t sleep until you’ve watched the entire season of Master Chef. But the drive-in is the best summer movie-watching experience. Try the Saco Drive-In, Bridgton Twin Drive-In, and Skowhegan Drive-In

To the drive-in! Check theaters and showtimes via

An easy-going ride around Peaks Island. Shannon Bryan/ photo

10. Ride a bike on Peaks Island

A summer bike ride anywhere in Maine is a good idea (except on I-95. Don’t ride your bike there). But a pedal-driven cruise around Peaks Island is one of those annual summer excursions I always make sure to squeeze in. You can BYOBike or rent one on the island from Brad’s Bike Rental and Repair on Island Ave. (just bang a left on Island Ave. after getting off the ferry). It’s an easy and scenic coastal ride made even better with stops at the military battery on the Island’s east side (look for the sign amid the foliage) and plenty of time spent climbing on the rocks. Don’t worry, the bike won’t mind waiting. And if you have time to grab a drink at the Cockeyed Gull, The Peaks Island House or The Inn on Peaks Island, then do!

We all scream! Gordon Chibroski/Press Herald file photo

11. Eat Ice Cream. Lots of it.

This doesn’t really require much explanation, does it. It’s summer. Eat ice cream. And lots of it. If you’re feeling ice cream adventurous, check out our roundup for interesting new flavors available in Portland:

Ice cream season: 8 new tasty Maine flavors to try!

Find some ice cream Maine Ice Cream & Dessert Shops via urbanspoon

The ferry at sunset. Doug Jones/Press Herald file photo

12. Ride the Casco Bay Lines ferry

Destinations are nice. But taking the Casco Bay Lines ferry for no reason other than to ride the Casco Bay Lines ferry is equally swell. The ferry is a budget-friendly way to get onto Casco Bay. Bring some friends, some snacks, something to drink, and recline back on the red bench seats. Your destination? Who cares! Cruises include the Sunset Run , which departs nightly at 5:45 pm. The equally scenic Mailboat Run takes to the waters at 10 am and 2:15 pm through Sept. 2. And early birds will appreciate the 5:05 am Sunrise on the Bay run. Check out the music cruises, too.

Bagheera, a cruise schooner from Portland Schooner Company, cruises off Peaks Island. Gordon Chibroski/Press Herald file photo

13. Climb aboard for a summer sail

You know those gorgeous sailboats you often spot catching the wind in Casco Bay? Pretty, right? But have you been on one this summer? Is it even summer if you haven’t? Check out Portland Schooner Company’s day sails aboard Bagheera or Wendameen. Or how about taking a wine class on a sailboat? Or a sunset acoustic sail with local musicians? Check out the special events with Maine Sailing Adventures aboard Francis. Both Portland Schooner Company and Maine Sailing Adventures operate from Maine State Pier.

Canoeists make their way through the Scarborough Marsh during a sunset trip from the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Press Herald file photo

14. Rent a canoe or kayak. Paddle somewhere wonderful

Who doesn’t love a good paddle? Even if you don’t have the luxury of owning your own canoe or kayak, there are plenty of places to rent one. Then you can paddle ’til your heart’s content. Or, you know, until your time runs out and you need to bring back the boat. The Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center (on Pine Point Road in Scarborough) rents canoes and kayaks for easy-going paddles along the winding marsh waters. They also do guided tours during the day and under the full moon.

More canoe/kayak rentals

Rings Marine, Freeport
Seaspray Kayaking, Brunswick
Tidal Transit Kayak, Boothbay Harbor
Midcoast Kayak, Damariscotta
Coastal Maine Kayak and Bike, Kennebunkport
Kayak Excursions, Kennebunkport
Sunrise Canoe and Kayak, Machias
Sebago Kayak Co., Naples
Maine Kayak, New Harbor
Maine Island Kayak, Peaks Island
Portland Paddle, Portland

Slip, slide, and away at Aquaboggin Water Park in Saco. Doug Jones/Press Herald file photo

15. Waterslide at the water park

The ocean is a great place to go for a dip. But you know what the ocean doesn’t have? A Liquid Lightning continuous water slide. Water parks offer the cooling-off pleasures of water with the glee-inspiring addition of slides, tubes, and ginormous overhead buckets that spill over at regular intervals. And no worries about sharks! Close to Portland, check out Aquaboggin Water Park and Funtown Splashtown, both in Saco.

The wonderfully colorful patio at Silly’s in Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Press Herald file photo

16. Hit the patio & drink outside

Cocktails, beer, wine, what-have-you. One of summer’s perks is outdoor drinking (responsibly, of course! Don’t be an idiot!). From beachside patios to outdoor seating that’s perfect for people-watching, Maine has plenty of places to imbibe outside:

Find a patio: Patio season! 50 outdoor decks to drink in the sun via

A crowd in Deering Oaks Park, awaiting the start of Fenix Theatre Co.’s outdoor performance. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Press Herald file photo

17. Hang out in a park

Because picnic! Frisbee! Blanket lounging! Grass! We’re often lured to sandy areas in the summer, but a carpet of green and the shade of a tree make good companions on hot days, too. Pack a picnic lunch and rope in a friend for some down time in a local park any time. There are some great events going on in some of those parks, too, like Fenix Theatre’s free Shakespeare in Deering Oaks Park, Portland, or Bath Shakespeare Festival’s events in Library Park, Bath.

A few more parks:

Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth
Mill Creek Park, South Portland
Royal River Park, Yarmouth

A fairy house, made entirely by grownups, on Mackworth Island. Shannon Bryan/ photo

18. Build a fairy house on Mackworth Island

Building a fairy house sounds like a kid thing. And it absolutely is. Kids get a kick out of building a fairy-sized house for a miniature friend they can’t see. But it’s cool for adults, too. Go ahead, scavange for sticks, shells, leaves, and pine needles and see what you can construct. Think you’re a better builder than a fifth grader? Head out to Mackworth Island in Falmouth(the road to the island is just off Route 1) and show the fairies what you’re made of.

More about it: Mackworth Island permanent Fairy Houses Village via

“How’d I miss that!?!” Rich Beauchesne/AP photo

19. Putt it up with a round of mini golf

Golfers start golfing as soon as a flick of green is visible beneath the melting snow. The rest of us? We’ll pick up a mini-round when the weather’s perfect. The great thing about miniature golf – aside from the neon balls, entertaining obstacles, and heightened hole-in-one potential – is the fact that you won’t spend half your afternoon hunting a lost ball in the woods. True, there aren’t any fun golf carts, but there is usually ice cream nearby!

Find a mini golf course: Swing, toss, putt: Great Maine spots for mini golf, disc golf & batting cages via

A new surfer gets a push from Nanci Boutet, surfing instructor and owner of Aquaholics in Kennebunkport. Derek Davis/Press Herald file photo

20. Learn something new

Surfing, rock climbing, sailing, fly fishing. If you’re already a master of everything, then kudos to you. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, summer’s the time. Take a wind surfing lesson or learn to skeet shoot while the weather’s good! Besides, you don’t really want “fell asleep in the full sun for 12 hours” to be your only summer accomplishment.

Find something to learn! Warm-weather education: 16 cool things to learn via