If ever there was a year to take a Maine staycation, this is it.

With pandemic restrictions still in place in many states, it won’t be quite as easy to take a trip outside of Maine this summer. And maybe after months of seeing COVID-19 spread across the country, you might feel a little safer closer to home.

Thunder Hole, one of the main attractions at Acadia National Park, might be a little easier to see this year. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Plus, there are several built-in advantages right now for Mainers who want to vacation in Maine, either with day trips or overnight stays. Some hotels and lodgings are offering discounts to Mainers, and places that are usually crowded with tourists in the summer will probably be easier to get to this year. People from most other states – except New Hampshire and Vermont – have to self-quarantine for 14 days when visiting Maine right now.  Beginning July 1, people can skip the quarantine if they have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arriving in Maine.

Here are some ideas for Maine staycations this summer. Before planning a visit to any attraction or hotel, make sure to check for any restrictions or rules relating to COVID-19.

PLAY TOURIST

There are certain places Mainers just won’t go in the summer, because they’re too crowded with tourists. That probably won’t be the case this year. The scenic loop road at Acadia National Park is open and should have fewer cars this year, and the park’s famed carriage roads are open for pedestrians only. So you won’t have to share the paths with bikes or horses. The beaches of Ogunquit also usually attract big summer crowds. Maybe this is the year you finally can stroll along the dramatic vistas of Ogunquit’s Marginal Way, if you never have before. The midcoast town of Camden, with its picturesque harbor and quaint downtown, is known for traffic jams on Route 1 in summer. So maybe this is the year Mainers will have an easier time exploring it themselves.

GO PARKING

Visiting Sebago Lake State Park, or camping there, could be part of a Maine staycation. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Here’s an idea for spending your summer: Pick a different Maine state park to see every week. All state parks, including ones with beaches and campgrounds, are open, though some have restrictions on parking or restrooms, and the state recommends you bring a mask and your own hand sanitizer. Park fees for adults range from about $3 a person for Grafton Notch in the western mountains to $6 at the very popular Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg. Or you can get a yearly park pass for $105 per vehicle, good at most of the state’s 48 parks.

Seeking out state parks is a great way to explore the state’s geographic diversity. There are parks at lakes (Sebago Lake, Damariscotta Lake, Rangeley Lake), at mountains (Bradbury Mountain, Mount Blue) and of course on the ocean (Crescent Beach and Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth.) There are also several historic sites that are parks, including Fort William Henry in Bristol and Fort Edgecomb.

BACK TO THE LAND

Has staying home for three months made you appreciate a slower pace of life? Maybe a camping vacation in Maine would be the thing to do this summer. You could just take some of your economic stimulus money and buy some gear at L.L. Bean and camp right in the backyard. Or you could seek out a campground, either at a state park or a privately-owned one. The website of the Maine Campground Owners Association, which represents 185 campgrounds, lets you search campgrounds in regions all over the state, from the south coastal areas to Down East and Aroostook County. Some are currently offering discounts to Maine residents.

The Hippie Bus on Westport Island is a different kind of Maine staycation option. Photo courtesy of Cary and Huggy Huggins

LIVE IT UP

This summer might be a good time stay at a fancy Maine hotel or cottage colony, the kind of place you thought was only for tourists.

The Kennebunkport Resort Collection is offering a Love Our Locals discount through June 30 to three of its lodging establishments: The Cottages at Cabot Cove, The Boathouse Waterfront Hotel and the Yachtsman Hotel & Marina Club. The discount is 30 percent off per room – which usually start at $172 to $210 at the three hotels – plus a $25 dining credit at the Boathouse Restaurant.

The offer extends to people from Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.  The Dunes on the Waterfront, a classic cottage colony in Ogunquit, is offering a 30 percent discount on stays through June. Before the discount, June prices for cottages are $330 to $490 a night, and for rooms the range is $175 to $210.

BE DIFFERENT

Or maybe after months in isolation you just need something different. Well, there’s a fairly unusual lodging destination on Westport Island, in the midcoast, where owners Cary and Huggy Huggins let you stay in a “hippie bus” or a tiny house or in their cozy log home. There are nightly campfires and alpacas to feed.

Rates start at $65 a night, with fees waived in June for Mainers and a 20 percent discount in July for the first 10 families to book. For more information, email [email protected] or check out the Facebook pages Hippie Bus Maine Groovy Lodging Adventures.


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