This fall, there are at least 10 different ways that you and your family can enjoy the beautiful foliage and the changing season.
Get your bearings: First up, con-sult an autumn foliage map, such as that provided online by the Maine Department of Conservation (http://www.maine.gov/doc/foliage/). Given how changeable the turning of the leaves can be from one week to the next, this Web site is a great resource for families eager to get the most out of the season. Sign up to receive regu-lar foliage reports by email.
Take the family for a scenic drive: Once you know the state’s foliage conditions, why not set off on a road trip and take advantage of one of Maine’s many scenic byways? Towns that some of us are more familiar with as special destinations for summertime activities — places like Wiscasset, Blue Hill, Rangeley, and Bar Harbor — are especially beautiful during this time of year.
Don’t forget about other views: We often hear so much about Maine’s scenic drives that it can be easy to forget how breathtaking fall views can be with a change in perspective from the water or by air.
The entire coastal length of Route 1, including stops like Boothbay Har-bor and Acadia National Park, obvi-ously afford many opportunities for water views through various local outfitters offering kayak and canoe rentals. However, inland destinations like Moosehead Lake — all too often visited by out-of-state tourists rather than Mainers — are home to several companies that offer seaplane tours of the region.
Hike a trail: A walk through the Maine woods during autumn will offer glimpses into spectacular foliage, native wildlife foraging for the long winter, and local bird life migrating south to warmer parts.
Several well-worn trails exist in ar-eas like Camden Hills State Park and Acadia National Park, but don’t dis-count highlights within your immediate local area, including the serene Essex Woods and City Forest, both just minutes from downtown Bangor, and both offering easy, but scenic strolls.
Fall photography: These days, digital cameras make taking photos easier than ever. With adult guidance, teaching children how to take digital photographs can make for a worth-while, fun project.
Take a “time lapse” photograph of a tree in your yard each week during the season. Later, track the changes in the tree’s foliage with the family once you’ve downloaded the photos onto a computer or printed them out.
Explore Maine’s community festivals and Halloween traditions: At this time of year, the region is rich with annual festivals that provide a great insight into the local foods, arts, and seasonal customs, as well as Hal-loween holiday traditions of Maine.
Local farms get in on the fun too, so stay posted for announcements in your newspaper or online announcing activities like farm mazes, hay rides, and the chance to go pumpkin-patch picking.
Fall harvest and Halloween decorations: Many community fairs, festivals, and craft shows are a great place for the family to pick up unique, handcrafted home decorations with which to adorn the home during the season.
Not only do these decorations make a welcome break from the often generic decorations sold in stores, but they also provide a boost to local ar-tisans, crafters, and businesses.
Get under the Friday Night Lights: Support your local high school football team! For many, the arrival of autumn means it’s time for football and, in particular, the renewal of dec-ades-old high school football rivalries. The spirited community atmosphere of a crisp fall night replete with the sound of school cheers and the clash of helmets makes for a fun and affordable outing for the whole family.
Keep a fall journal: In the months and years to come, a journal that has been maintained by the family throughout an autumn season will become a cherished keepsake and reminder of years past.
Use the journal to keep records of family outings that you have taken to hike a trail or visit a local farm. Fill the journal with photographs, leaf etchings, and other items like ticket stubs from a corn maze or museum to make it a complete record of your time spent together.
Take a dive in the leaves: At the end of the day, for many, nothing brings back memories of youth in the fall more than the sensation of taking a joyous leap into a massive pile of raked leaves. It may well provide for plenty of laughs, but any wise parent knows that it also offers up a great way by which to unite the family in the task of cleaning up a messy autumn yard!