Lib’s Dairy Treats in Portland is among the many places for fun and relaxation that opened recently in time for spring. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

If you’re the kind of person who longs to go out for a beer in public again or play a game of tennis with friends after a long winter or perhaps see a concert in person, we may have an opening for you.

In fact, we have dozens.

We’re not talking about a job opening, we’re talking about all the places for fun and relaxation that are opening up around Maine now that it’s just about spring. Among the spots that have opened recently – some for the first time since the pandemic shut the world down a year ago – are ice cream stands, public tennis courts, brewery tasting rooms and bars, libraries, music venues and museums. And more are opening soon.

Here are some suggestions for where you can now have fun, have a beer, have a treat, see a show or finally just relax outside your home.

TASTE THE DIFFERENCE

We all know Maine is filled with great craft beers and spirits you can enjoy at home. But there’s something a little freeing about going out for a drink. Bars and tasting rooms were allowed by the state to reopen for the first time in over a year on March 26, though not all did. Those that are open are spacing people out and taking other safety measures so things don’t get too crowded.

Hidden Cove Brewing Co. in Wells has opened for the first time in 53 weeks and is also offering outdoor seating in a heated beer garden. Island Dog Brewing in South Portland opened its tasting room to 50 percent capacity and also has an expanded dog-friendly patio space. Other Maine brewers that have reopened tasting rooms with limited capacity recently include SoMe Brewing Company and York Beach Beer Co. in York, Belleflower Brewing Company in Portland and XOTA Brewing in Waterboro. For your beer-planning calendar, you may want to note that Allagash Brewing Company in Portland plans to reopen its tasting room for outdoor seating on May 1. Check the website or Facebook page of each brewery or tasting room for more info.

Belleflower Brewing in Portland is one of the bars and tasting rooms that re-opened since late March. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

TUNE TIME

Indoor live music came to a grinding halt last March, but there are a few venues with upcoming shows and more are likely on the way. All of these spots require masks and have safety protocols in place.

The Camden Opera House is presenting a pair of shows at the end of April: Camden folk singer-songwriter Gordon Bok on April 23 and Dave Gutter of Rustic Overtones, Armies and Paranoid Social Club, for a solo acoustic show on April 30. Bok’s discography dates back to the mid-’60s and includes upwards of 30 albums. Expect a variety of songs and stories from Bok, who is 81 and still going strong. Gutter will playing tunes from all three of his acts, as well as some new material and tracks he’s written for other artists. Tickets are available at camdenoperahouse.com. The shows will also be livestreamed on the venue’s Facebook page.

Jonathan’s in Ogunquit has been presenting limited-capacity indoor shows off and on for most of the pandemic. On April 16, you can catch tribute act The Elton John Experience and, a week later, an Allman Brothers tribute band called The Peacheaters. The tributes continue on May 1 with Confounded Bridge playing the music of Led Zeppelin. Then on May 9, catch Maine’s own Don Campbell Band. Get tickets at jonathansogunquit.com.

Cadenza in Freeport also has been presenting live performances, which are also streamed on their Facebook page, to small, in-person audiences. On Friday night, catch The Strangely Possibles, followed by Sean Menchers on Saturday. Also on the schedule in April: Dave Rowe, Anni Clark, Country Roads and The Jessica Rabbits. Find the full schedule along with ticket info, at cadenzafreeport.com.

Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield has recently announced some limited-capacity shows, starting with Celia Woodsmith (of Della Mae) with violinist Jason Anick on April 16. On the 23rd, it’s Ward Hayden & The Outliers; The Clements Brothers take the stage on April 30; and the Heather Pierson Acoustic Trio will be there May 14. For all dates, reservations are available for a pre-show gourmet meal. For tickets and details, go to stonemountainartscenter.com.

Dave Gutter will play the Camden Opera House on April 30. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

GET OUT! IN A GOOD WAY

People can get outside whenever they want, but it takes a little help from your local parks department to get outside and really swing. Thankfully, the people who run the city of Portland’s parks and playgrounds have been busy the last couple of weeks setting up tennis nets and pickleball courts all over the city, including at Deering Oaks Park, Payson Park and the Eastern Promenade. Portland parks staff say that water fountains in parks will likely be turned on during the third week of April, and the big water fountain in the middle of the Deering Oaks pond will spring to life in early May. See a full list of Portland’s park, playground and trail offerings at portlandmaine.gov. 

If you’re looking for organized outdoor activities, those are beginning to open up too, including outdoor exercise groups and yoga. There’s a program called Fresh Air Yoga in Payson Park in Portland on Wednesday evenings at 5:30 p.m., which was scheduled to begin April 7. The outdoor classes allow for lots of space for social distancing. Classes are $7.50 to $10. For more information, email [email protected] or check pressherald.com/calendar.

Get back in the swing of things, now that municipal tennis courts are ready for spring. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal  Buy this Photo

ART ON VIEW

Museums across Maine are open and reopening. At the Portland Museum of Art, the statewide juried exhibition “Untitled, 2020: Art in Maine in a _____ Time” is on view through May 31 with work from 25 artists across the state who responded to the tumultuous year in a variety of ways. There are colorful banners used in protests, large-scale abstract paintings that convey chaos, and soft, elegant sculpture that invite calm. Advance tickets are required. portlandmuseum.org

In Rockland, the Farnsworth Art Museum will open “Women of Vision” on April 17, celebrating 13 women: photographer Berenice Abbott; businesswoman Linda Bean; painter Katherine Bradford; philanthropist Edith Dixon; museum founder Lucy Farnsworth; photographer Cig Harvey; poet Edna St. Vincent Millay; sculptor Louise Nevelson; philanthropist Elizabeth Noyce; basket maker and Passamaquoddy civic leader Molly Neptune Parker; women’s advocate and philanthropist Maurine Rothschild; arts and education champion Phyllis Wyeth; and artist Marguerite Zorach. They will receive the 2021 Maine in America Award in July. Also in Rockland, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art is showing its Biennial through May 2. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art will open May 1.

“Together apart” by Anna Dibble is part of the exhibition “Untitled 2020” at the Portland Museum of Art. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

THE SHOW GOES ON, AFTER ALL

Theater directors understand people are trepidatious about coming back to a show, so they are keeping the fare light and funny. Portland Stage opens its next show, the comedy “Bad Dates” by playwright Theresa Rebeck, on April 16. It will run live on stage through May 2 and will be available for streaming beginning April 28.

It’s a one-woman, 90-minute show, with no intermission, about the perilous world of dating, told from the perspective of divorcee (played by Annie Henk), who realizes that “maybe it’s been too long” since she’s been on a date when finds herself attracted to someone she refers to as “bug guy,” whose interest in insects has less to do with entomology and more with him just being kind of weird. In-person tickets range from $26 to $63; portlandstage.org.

At the Footlights Theatre in Falmouth, the comedy “Wrong Turn at Romance” by Alice Horton is on stage from Thursday through April 24. In this love story, opposites attract and chaos reigns. It’s an 80-minute show with no intermission, and all seats are $20; thefootlightstheatre.com

Susan C. Allen browses through the new fiction section at the Portland Public Library on their first day back open March 31. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

LET THE BROWSING BEGIN

One simple pleasure wiped out by the pandemic has been browsing books at your local library. Most have had books to lend, but had not been allowing people inside, among the stacks. But some libraries are starting to open up for limited browsing or use of computers, so you may want to check with the one you favor.

The Portland Public Library opened March 31 for 30-minute visits, limited to 12 people at a time. Patrons can use computers and browse the front of the first floor, where new books are. The South Portland Public library is planning to reopen in some capacity on May 24. Check southportlandlibrary.com for details as they’re available. The Scarborough Public Library opened for browsing in early March, allowing a limited number of people at a time and asking patrons to limit visits to 15 minutes. The library’s computer area is open by appointment, to anyone, and the library has Wi-Fi people can access from the parking lot 24 hours a day. For more information, go to scarboroughlibrary.org or to make an appointment call 396-6271.

Red’s Dairy Freeze in South Portland, and other ice cream stands, are open now or will open soon. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

WE ALL SCREAM

Many area ice cream stands were open last summer during the pandemic, but were shut down by the coming of a Maine winter. Now, they’re opening back up again. A few that opened in March include Red’s Dairy Freeze in South Portland, Lib’s Dairy Treats in Portland and Beal’s Famous Old Fashioned Ice Cream in Gorham. Willard Scoops, near Willard Beach in South Portland, plans to open May 1 but usually does pop-ups on sunny April weekends, announced on Facebook. Kettle Cove Creamery and Shack in Cape Elizabeth plans to open May 7 and Witch Spring Hill Ice Cream in West Bath will open May 8.

Staff Writers Aimsel Ponti and Bob Keyes contributed to this story.

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