If you are summer dreaming, it’s time to make plans! Here are some of our favorite getaways and adventures — enough to keep you very busy this summer, right here in Maine.


An outing that includes both Shaker Village in New Gloucester and the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, within 10 miles of each other, offers something of interest for all members of your family. Step back in time at the fascinating home of the Shakers, and then step forward into the wonderland of our state’s most interesting wild critters.

The 3rd Annual Craft Beer Event is scheduled for July 13 at Portland’s Maine State Pier, with themed food by Sebago Brewing Company. This is a fundraiser for the Maine Beer Guild, and all of the state’s fabulous brewing companies will be there with samples of their best beers. We attended this event last summer in Boothbay Harbor and it was really fun.

For the third summer, we’ll be attending the Artisan Bread Festival at the Skowhegan Fairgrounds, scheduled for July 27. The fair features local grains, artisan breads, wonderful food, demonstrations and music — and it’s free!

For the adventurous, try rafting with another favorite of ours, Northern Outdoors in the Forks, with very nice cabins and their own brewery and pub.


Another wonderful adventure awaits with a ride on the Maine Eastern Railroad that travels between Brunswick and Rockland Wednesdays through Saturdays beginning in late June. Both communities have wonderful shops and restaurants.

The best place to listen to music in Maine is Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield (way over on the western border). Stone Mountain’s Carol Noonan even hosts some free concerts. The summer schedule is full of great musicians and concerts.

And speaking of music, we never miss the American Folk Festival in Bangor, the punctuation mark at the end of another fabulous Maine summer. Admission is free although donations are sought. Take a chair, set it in front of one of the venues and enjoy amazing music from all over the world. The dates are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 23-15. We stay within walking distance at the Fireside Inn, an inexpensive inn with nice rooms, lots of amenities and great service. Plus, it’s in the same building as a favorite pub — Geoghan’s!


We’ve scheduled our annual trip to Bar Harbor, where we enjoy the wonderful hospitality of Jim Ash at the Blue Nose Inn and the creative and tasty food of Chef Arturo Montes at the inn’s Looking Glass restaurant.

We’ll also spend some time this summer at our camp tucked just outside the northwest corner of Baxter State Park — a place you should always have on your summer schedule. If you are not into camping, the New England Outdoor Center 10 miles west of Millinocket has a range of accommodations, some in a set of renovated sporting camps and others in astonishing new environmentally friendly houses. And their River Driver’s Restaurant is the best in the region. When passing through Millinocket, we always pick up the best-in-the-state Italian sandwiches at Orvietto.


Regular readers of this column know that our favorite way-down-east destination is Lubec. You can get a wonderful cabin right on the ocean — and big enough for the grandkids — at Island Chalet on Campobello. Be sure to reserve for “Tea with Eleanor Roosevelt” at the Roosevelt cottage on Campobello, and visit West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec. Campobello’s International Park and Lubec’s Bold Coast offer amazing hikes, beaches and picnic spots.

Rockland and the nearby St. George Peninsula can keep you busy for an entire week. We favor the Berry Manor Inn and Limerock Inn, two historic inns with wonderful hosts. Belfast is a new top-destination, having transformed itself into one of the state’s finest small towns full of art galleries and interesting shops. We stay at the Ocean’s Edge Inn. The town’s First Friday art walks are just one excuse to spend some time here.

You will be renewed with a visit to the Inn at Bath and a very special dinner at one of Maine’s finest restaurants, Solo Bistro. Or get yourself to Rangeley or Bethel where everything awaits you including great restaurants and inns and a host of outdoor activities.

A very special getaway would include a spa room at the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth and dinner at the Sea Glass restaurant where Chef Mitchell Kaldrovich’s serves food to remember. His weekly wine dinners — usually served outside on the lawn overlooking Crescent Beach and the ocean — are unforgettable experiences.

If you find yourself in one of these small communities, don’t miss the chance to eat at Vittles in Pittsfield, Front Porch Café in Dixfield, Calzolaio in Wilton and the Olde Post Office Café in Mount Vernon — all great places to linger on a summer day.



If you love lighthouses, and spend time each summer visiting them, please pick up a copy of the book “From Guiding Lights to Beacons for Business: The Many Lives of Maine’s Lighthouses.”

Edited by Richard Cheek, published by Historic New England and distributed by Tilbury House in Gardiner, this is a beautifully designed, chock-full-of-amazing photos and drawings, fascinating look at everything that makes lighthouses special, from an exceptional group of writers including Olympia Snowe and Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., our state’s top historian.

Perhaps I am biased because my great grandfather kept the light for more than 30 years at the most beautiful spot in Maine — West Quoddy Head in Lubec — but our state’s historic lighthouses fascinate me. I imagined Great Grampy Ephraim Johnson in every one of the stories in Timothy Harrison’s chapter “All Alone and Ever Ready: The Lives and Legends of the Keepers.”

There is a lot packed into this book. W.H. Bunting’s opening chapter of shipwrecks is gripping, and Cheek’s chapter of “Stories of Danger and Rescue at Sea” is not to be missed. David Richards describes how lighthouses became “Maine’s greatest tourist attraction” — take that, lobsters and moose!

The final chapter about how our lighthouses have been preserved will inspire you to visit more of them. But my favorite chapter is Shettleworth’s — a history of lighthouse photography, starting with an 1858 view of the Venerable Cunner Association at Portland Head Light. Its all-men, most of them bearded and none of them smiling.

But this book, and a visit soon to a Maine lighthouse, will make you smile. I guarantee it.



You’ll find lots more information about all of these places and events on their websites. Just Google their names for website addresses.

We also urge you to pick up a copy of “Maine’s Museums, Art, Oddities & Artifacts,” by Janet Mendelsohn. You can spend the rest of your life and never get to all of these places. The book is organized by regions. Ever been to the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan? It’s free and fascinating.

Do you like the coast and our islands? Christina Tree and Nancy English have a great explorer’s guide for you — “Maine Coast & Islands.” We’ve used this guide quite a bit.

Do you like to eat out? Boy, so do we! “Chow Maine,” by Nancy English, is a good guide to good eats.

When we were kids, our parents would load us into the car for a Sunday drive. John Gibson’s “Maine’s Most Scenic Roads” offer 25 routes off the beaten path. We have now tried most of them. Pack a picnic and make a day of it. Or stop at one of the many restaurants we’ve alerted you to for a great lunch.


You will also find information on our website: georgesmithmaine.com, in the “Best of Maine” category. Click on “Best of Maine,” select the town from the list, click on “Apply” and all the columns we’ve written about restaurants, inns and activities in that town will pop up.


While you are enjoying some of these summer get-a-ways and adventures, we’ll be looking for new places to tell you about as the summer progresses. Don’t miss the chance to see and enjoy all that Maine offers this summer. We are, after all, vacationland!

Visit George’s website: www.georgesmithmaine.com for travel tips, book reviews,

outdoor news and more.

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