You’ll want to check this book out. Literally. Of the “50 Things To Do In Maine Before You Die,” a wonderful book by Nancy Griffin, I’ve checked off 40.

Illuminate your life with lighthouses. Check. Climb Katahdin. Many checks (I’ve climbed all the trails, some more than once). Spot a moose. Lots of checks. Canoe the Allagash. Check. Make maple syrup. Check. Visit the Shakers. Check. Eat bean hole beans. Yummy check. Make the most of Monhegan. Lots of checks. Get off the grid at a sporting camp. Check. Walk in the Botanical Gardens. Check.

Enjoy whoopie pies. Check, check, check — I helped convince the Legislature to name the whoopie pie our state dessert.

As you might imagine, some of my 50 things would be different than Griffin’s. For example, her list includes visiting Acadia National Park. Mine would be a much less crowded but just as spectacular place, Lubec. She suggests panning for gold. My list would include picking wild blueberries, cranberries, and mushrooms.

Griffin’s list includes running the Beach to Beacon race. Mine would be taking 10 hikes on the great trails provided by Maine’s land trusts.

If you want to experience the real Maine, the Maine we all love, you’d have to spend time in a local café, visiting with friends. Griffin includes eating at Moody’s Diner. Yup, that’s a popular place. But that’s not where you find Maine.

Instead of driving Route 1 from Kittery to Fort Kent, as Griffin suggests, I would recommend driving the Golden Road from Millinocket west. A visit to our great north woods must be on your life’s list. And while everyone is focused on climbing Mt. Katahdin, I often recommend other mountains in Baxter Park, including my favorite, Mt. Coe.

Griffin includes drinking Moxie, but it’s not even made in Maine. My life’s list would include trying the great microbrews at 10 Maine breweries. Fun!

For events, the Maine Harvest Festival in Bangor should be on the list, as should shopping at a farmer’s market (and growing some of your own vegetables). More shopping must be done at Reny’s and Marden’s — or perhaps all shopping!

Of course, on my list would be hunting for deer and fishing for our beautiful native brook trout.

And really, to enjoy all of Maine, you must visit all of Maine. Linda and I have been blessed for the last seven years to be able to travel the state, enjoying our many fine inns and restaurants, and telling you about them. If you are going to do 50 things before you die, visiting all of Maine must be on the list. And you don’t have to be travel writers to do that.

Now I could include testifying at a legislative hearing on my list, but that would be mean and cruel. I do think you should get involved in government, somehow and someplace, because that’s the only way it will be responsive to us.

Another must do thing would be get involved in a charity, to help those in need. There are many ways to do this, and you will feel so good when you do it.

Griffin’s book includes lots of great photographs of the special places and things in our state. She reports that Maine has 4,523 square miles of water, putting us at number 12 of all the states, and 5,200 miles of coastline. I didn’t realize it but more than half of us live within 25 miles of the coast.

Exploring our state could take a lifetime, and what a great way to spend your life. Linda and I have always enjoyed traveling out of state, but it’s always great to get home to Maine. If we’re away longer than two weeks, we get really homesick.

Nancy says her 50 suggestions must be done if you want the full Maine experience covering all our seasons. “Complete ’em all and you’re a real Mainer,” she writes, before correcting herself by noting, “nah, just foolin’; the only way to be true Mainer is to have been born here. But this is a close as you can get.”

There’s some truth in that. You don’t have to be a Mainer to love and enjoy our state. In fact, I’ve found folks who move here are often more appreciative of our state than we native Mainers are.

So sit down today and make up your own list of 50 things to do in Maine before you die. And then get going to make sure you enjoy them all.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at

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