Before I go any further, perhaps I should explain that if you non-Northern New Englanders are thinking of planning a trip to Maine, some times of year are better to come than others. For example, unless you are a skier, snowmobiler, snowshoer or other winter enthusiast, you should come in August or September. Maybe early October or late July, otherwise you're pushing it. Winter usually arrives no later than mid-November and lasts through April, when the slush and the mud combine for extra-exciting driving. Then the rain and the bugs (blackflies first, mosquitoes next) start up right away and can carry through June. I'm only exaggerating slightly. (Our summer vacation in July this year had an average temperature of 55 degrees F.) Maine can have glorious weather but those days are very few and you cannot count on them - which makes them all the more treasured when they do show up.
Now that that's out of the way, come on up and explore this state! Although there's a wealth of things to do in the greater Portland area what with the eating and drinking and shopping and lighthouses and beaches and ferry boat rides among the islands, there's a whole lot more to Maine.
The coast is what everyone thinks of first, of course, and it's gorgeous for sure: Camden, Bar Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, Monhegan Island, Northport, Blue Hill, Winter Harbor, Penobscot Bay ... all incredible. I grew up in the Bath area, right on Route 1. Bath has come a long way in recent years - the cute little downtown has been restored and revitalized and is chockful of great restaurants, coffee shops, bars and stores. If you're driving up Rte. 1, stop in for a visit. There's also a fantastic museum, the Maine Maritime Museum, that's well worth your time.
There's plenty to see and do inland too, though - it ain't all lobsters up here. For hiking, camping, touring, swimming, drinking good beer, exploring, golfing, fishing, bicycling (roads can be sketchy, be advised) antiquing, there's Hallowell, the Belgrade Lakes, Moosehead Lake region, Baxter State Park, the Bridgton area, Bethel. If you like to ski, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Saddleback are the big ones (dress for cold and be prepared to use your edges. A lot.).
One of Mr. Mouse's and my favorite things, and one we're going to have to miss this year because of our departure date, is the Fryeburg Fair. It's the last fair of the season - this year October 4-11 - and is the closest thing Maine has to a state fair. There are tons of animals (I loooooove the animals and try to pat each one if I can ... except for the poultry - blick) and competitions and exhibits and fair food. There's draft oxen- and horse-pulling and harness racing and sheepdog exhibitions and a firemen's muster and a parade and a carnival and Christmas trees for sale. It's really a lot of fun and I'm sorry we'll miss it this year.
Ooh: the Common Ground Country Fair is going on right this weekend! It's a great fair too, but totally different: it's full of hippies and is all organic, natural fiber, back-to-the-landers, a green fair before green got all cool.
Come on, Mainers, what have I forgotten? Surely that's not all there is to do here?
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