Giant trolls will be on view at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens beginning May 29. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Something is always happening around Boothbay Harbor, what with a lively restaurant and bar scene, family attractions and scenic wonders.

But this there’s even a bigger reason than usually to visit the area – giant in fact.

An exhibit of giant wooden trolls built among the trees at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay called “Guardians of the Seeds” will open to the public Saturday. It features five wooden trolls built by artist Thomas Dambo, from Denmark, and scattered around the gardens’ 323 acres. Some are in plain sight while others are deeper in the woods. They range from 15 to 30 feet high. Their mission is to protect the seeds of the forest and teach people about sustainability.

The trolls can be seen as part of the regular admission to the gardens. Advanced tickets are required for specific arrival times. Admission prices range from $10 to $22. The gardens’ staff says seeing all the trolls in one visit requires about three miles of hiking and at least two and a half hours. The story of the trolls and a map of their locations will be available at the visitor’s center. The botanical gardens’ season lasts through Oct. 17. For more information about the trolls exhibit, go to mainegardens.org.

But if you’re spending a day, a weekend or longer in the Boothbay region – which includes the lively tourist town of Boothbay Harbor – there are plenty of summer activities to choose from when you’re not strolling among the trolls and gardens. Below are a few ideas. Though the state has lifted all restrictions on crowd capacities and vaccinated people are allowed to go maskless anywhere, it’s a good idea to check business websites for any site-specific COVID-related restrictions or guidelines.

This troll is meant to represent tree leaves. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

FILL UP

All that hiking for trolls will probably make you thirsty, and hungry. Footbridge Brewery in Boothbay Harbor makes small batches of craft beer in a wide range of styles, from pale ales and IPAs to wheat, pilsner, stout, Kolsh and more. Boothbay Craft Brewery, in the town of Boothbay, serves up wood-fired pizzas with the beer. Several of the brews are named for local people or places, like the Route 27 lager or the Southporter vanilla bean smooth porter (for the nearby town of Southport). Or you can keep the garden theme going with its popular juicy IPA Thirsty Botantist.

If you want eat and drink where the locals go, even in winter, try Boothbay Harbor’s rustic Thistle Inn. The pub fare menu has included a meatloaf stack sandwich and loaded tater tots. Or you can seek out McSeagull’s on the waterfront in Boothbay Harbor. One of its sometimes-bartenders is pretty well known, former Gov. Paul LePage, who worked there in the summer of 2019.

Footbridge Brewery in Boothbay Harbor is a place to quench your thirst after hunting for trolls. Photo by Carla Jean Lauter

TAKE A LOAD OFF

After hiking through the woods in search of trolls, you may want to sit for a while. So why not take a ride at the Boothbay Railway Village and Museum, which opens for the season June 20, Father’s Day. Vintage trains travel past period structures that look like small-town Maine anywhere from 50 to 150 years ago. You can also stroll around the village and visit the town hall, chapel, hardware store, toy shop, blacksmith and filling station, among others. There’s also an antique auto museum. Trains depart on the hour 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is $8 to $15. For more information, go to railwayvillage.org.

The Boothbay Railway Village and Museum will open June 20. Photo by Bob Crink

JUST KEEP WALKING

You might also want to keep with the theme of walking in nature while in Boothbay. The Boothbay Region Land Trust manages more than a dozen nature preserves in the area, which are free to the public. They include nature areas with trails in the woods, on ponds and near the ocean. The Porter Preserve on Barters Island offers panoramic views of the Sheepscot River and a sheltered cove with a small beach, as well as access to wharf. There’s a 1-mile trail through heavy woods, with benches placed at scenic spots. Oak Point Farm, where the land trust headquarters is based, has easy trails that provide views of Hodgdon Cove as well as wildlife in a freshwater pond. For more information and a list of all the Boothbay Region Land Trust properties, go to bbrlt.org.

Porter Preserve on Barters Island is one of several free nature areas maintained by the Boothbay Region Land Trust. Photo by E. Frank Johnson

KIDDING AROUND

Looking for something to do with kids? Or something that makes you feel like a kid? You might try the Dolphin Mini Golf in Boothbay. Besides an 18-hole miniature golf course with a nautical theme – lighthouses and the like – there’s also an ice cream hut, arcade and a shell museum. The place hosted the 2008 U.S. Open, of mini golf, that is. For information, go to Dolphin Mini Golf on Facebook.

TUNE IN

Music fans can catch a concert when in the Boothbay region, since The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor has more than two dozen shows scheduled through the summer and early fall. The renovated 1894 opera house has played host to actors and musicians from around the world and has community events as well.

Concerts scheduled include folk/rock musician Ellis Paul (a Maine native) on June 13, pianist Jim Brickman on June 26, singer songwriter Susan Werner on July 8, multi-instrumentalist Matt Nakoa on July 15, folk legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliott on July 30 and contemporary folk musician John Gorka on Aug. 20. For more information and a complete schedule, to go boothbayoperahouse.com.

Jim Brickman is among the musicians playing at The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor in June. Photo courtesy of The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor


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