Life on the Boothbay peninsula kicks into overdrive each summer and the focus shifts straight to the water, Windjammer Days and what to do with the kids during those long, lazy days of summer.

Well, visitors are in luck, as the Boothbay region is blessed with an abundance of things to do day and night from A (art galleries) to Z (zip lines).

There are galleries and gardens to tour, and fine dining and festivals to experience. Youngsters will enjoy a romp through the children’s garden at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, mini golf, ice cream parlors, movies and more. Art lovers will appreciate live concerts, theater, galleries and other performances that keep the area humming all season long. And the downtown bustles with shopping opportunities where visitors seek to find the perfect souvenir of a trip to be remembered.

But the event that signals the official start of summer is the Windjammer Days celebration, which now marks its 56th year. The weeklong event runs from June 24-30, and is jam-packed with activities. In addition to the highly anticipated arrival of the windjammer fleet, there is an endless supply of family fun, much of it free of charge.

There is an antique boat parade, cod fish relay race, live pirate invasion, blessing of the fleet, oyster shucking contest and tug of war across the harbor. Visitors enjoy an artist’s alley, lobster eating contest, puppet shows, live music, children’s tent, tug of war, clambake, Coast Guard Station tours and the popular lighted boat parade which wraps up the week’s festivities.

All eyes will turn to the harbor the moment the Windjammer fleet arrives at 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 27. Whale Park is the place to be all afternoon with fun and games until the parade hits the streets at 4 p.m., followed by live music, food, roaming pirates, historical tours and more. All this leads up to the fireworks over the harbor at 9:15 p.m. The windjammers depart Boothbay Harbor the next morning. But the fun continues for several days with a golf tournament, concerts, road race and more.
For a full schedule, visit boothbayharborwindjammerdays.org.

Once Windjammer Days are over, the fun continues with Boothbay Railway Village offering a full slate of events just off Route 27 in Boothbay. Train and antique auto buffs will enjoy the museum which boasts a collection of antique cars, trains and memorabilia. Staff and volunteers offer locomotive rides, there are historic buildings to tour on the campus, as well as children’s activities and special events.

On the slate of activities for the summer is an Antique Engine Meet 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 7. On July 14, the museum will host its 14th annual Books in Boothbay event with more than 35 Maine authors taking part in the summer book fair.

The 54th annual Antique Auto Days event will take place July 21-22 on the village green with an auto parts swap meet and flea market, cruise in, prizes, food court, parade and more.

The “Rails, Tails & Ales: Midcoast Craft Beer Festival” will be July 21, noon to 4 p.m. Attendees will enjoy live music, tour the museum grounds, receive a wristband and sample a wide variety of 4-ounce beer tastings at this event.

For a full schedule of summer events, visit railwayvillage.org.

For those looking for inspiration for the home garden, or just to get out and walk in a beautiful place, a trip to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay will be a day to remember.

With sculpture strategically placed along lovely walking paths, this 250-acre property is just a mile off Route 27 but feels a world away from everything. Trails lead down to scenic water views, and there is a children’s garden, sensory garden, Kitchen Garden Cafe, gift shop and more.

Adult visitors will enjoy art installations, architectural elements, and the fact that everything is labelled for the benefit of the home gardener. Children will enjoy puppet shows, story times, arts and crafts, feeding live chickens, pumping water with a hand pump, playing in the fairytale playhouse, and hunting for the frogs, turtles and butterflies that beautify the gardens.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens has been voted “best garden” on TripAdvisor’s Website. They offer boat tours and cart tours and visitors may arrive by boat. For details, visit mainegardens.org.

Adventurous types might want to try sport fishing with one of the charters or boat rental companies or try zip-lining and the ropes course at Monkey C Monkey Do in neighboring Wiscasset. Located just down Route 1 beyond Wiscasset Village, this recreation center recommends reserving a “tree time” to climb, because summer gets busy.
The aerial adventure park has 60 obstacles in the ropes course, along with zip lines and other challenges that change to keep regulars on their toes. They invite the public to “monkey around” and see how far they can go. Staff recommend bringing a climbing partner and requires appropriate footwear. They also offer laser tag in four outdoor arenas and have an ice cream stand. Visit monkeycmonkeydo.com for details.

While in Wiscasset, Judi’s Country Store and Maine Heritage Village on Route 1 is just down the road. There are fresh baked goods, toys, gifts and souvenirs, along with penny candy and a playground for the kids, a “lighthouse” restaurant and more.

Fort Edgecomb on Davis Island offers a well-preserved blockhouse that is open to the public. Finished in 1809, it is part of an historic state park that offers views of the Sheepscot River.

Visitors can get guided tours and special activities are planned in the summer. Guests can get a view of the river from the musket ports and tour the grounds, which include picnic tables and restrooms. A fee is charged. Visit maine.gov for details.

In West Boothbay Harbor at McKown Point, the state operates the Maine State Aquarium. This small local facility gives visitors an opportunity to interact with marine life in a touch tank and even try petting small sharks.

It has a jaw-dropping water-view picnic area just outside the door. There are interactive exhibits for children, hands-on craft activities, tanks filled with local sea creatures and a small gift shop for souvenirs.

Displays explain how lobster traps, buoys, boats and fishermen work together to catch lobster. For more information, visit maine.gov/dmr/education/aquarium/visitors.html.
Unique dining experiences abound, such as the Tugboat Inn Restaurant, located in part within an old working tug. At Robinson’s Wharf in nearby Southport, hungry customers can arrive by sea and grab a “Lobster bake to Go.” There is fresh seafood galore throughout the area, as well as fine Chinese cuisine, Italian food and a collection of sports bars and taverns.

The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor always feature a full calendar of live talent in the summertime, and this summer will include swing, blues, jazz, humorist Tim Sample, and a slate of award-winning talent. For details and ticket information, visit boothbayoperahouse.com.

Looking for dinner and a show? Live matinees and dinner theater with enthusiastic young talent is on the menu at Carousel Music Theater with four summer shows on tap. Guests receive a meal with dessert, served by the cast, along with a live show. This year’s schedule includes the musicals “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “100 Years of Broadway,” “Hollywood Time Machine” and “All Hands on Deck.” For more, visit carouselmusictheater.org.

For a complete calendar of events and dining information for the Boothbay Region, visit the Chamber of Commerce website at boothbayharbor.com.

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