According to the calendar, summer may still be nearly a month away. But any real Mainer knows that summer unofficially starts Memorial Day weekend, when tourists flock north, the weather gets warmer and the sun stays out longer.
That being said, this spring hasn’t provided us with the nicest weather so far. So if you’re not yet amped about the fact that summer in Vacationland is just around the corner, let us remind you why you should be. If you start planning now, 2019 can be your best summer yet.
Lacing up your running shoes
–A beautiful summer day isn’t a prerequisite for most runners. But it sure does make a run a lot more enjoyable. This time of year you’ll find plenty of people pounding the pavement on recreation paths throughout the state, such as the Eastern Promenade in Portland and the Waterfront Trail in Bangor. If you’re looking for a softer trail, there are miles of running possibilities in places such as Pineland Farms in New Gloucester. And once you’re in fighting shape, be sure to hit up one of the numerous road races throughout the state.
Going out to the ballgame
–Not everyone can make it down to Boston to take in a Red Sox game, but luckily Mainers have their own shot at seeing some of the team’s stars right here. Eat a Sea Dog biscuit and watch the baseball stars of the future play at Hadlock Field. And, if you’re lucky, you might even catch some big names as players make rehab appearances; this weekend, Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt and Brian Johnson are all in town.
Taking your yoga practice outdoors
–All winter long you’ve likely been practicing yoga indoors (but hey, at least it was heated!). Summer is the time to take it outside — to the beach, the park or even the sea. Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook offers goat yoga; Acadia Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Portland Paddle both offer SUP yoga; and every summer Wednesday you can take part in Yoga On The Point at Thompson’s Point in Portland.
Eating ice cream. Lots of it.
–There’s an ice cream stand nearly everywhere you look in Maine during the summertime, so take advantage and stop at as many of them as possible! Stop for an ice cream on your way back from a hike, grab a cone after dinner, get a dish after a little league game, splurge on a weekend sundae — indulge yourself. Some of the best-known shops throughout the state include Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream, Shain’s of Maine and Mount Desert Island Ice Cream, but we have a soft spot for the hole-in-the-wall stands on less-trafficked roads. Here are some of the more interesting flavors you might come across this summer.
Getting your camp on
–Whether you’re car camping or pitching a tent on the trail during a multi-day hike, there are few better ways to embrace Maine’s outdoors. Gather around the campfire, make some s’mores, curl up in your sleeping bags and fall asleep to the sounds of the great outdoors.
Hitting up your local amusement park
–Embrace your inner kid: Ride the rollercoaster, go down the waterslide, eat the cotton candy. There are only a few Maine amusement parks that remain today, including Wild Acadia Fun Park in Trenton, which offers water slides, a ropes course, Go-Karts and other attractions, and parks in southern Maine such as Funtown Splashtown USA and Aquaboggin, both in Saco, Seacoast Adventure Park in Windham, Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach, and York’s Wild Kingdom in York Beach.
Stuffing your face with lobster
–People come from all around the world to eat Maine’s lobster. And even though you can get lobster year-round, there’s nothing quite like getting that first lobster roll of the summer from your favorite seasonal shack or stand. The argument of which place serves the best lobster roll in Maine, however, may never be settled.
Picking up your paddles
–There’s no shortage of ponds, rivers, lakes and coastline in Maine, so grab your canoe or kayak and take to the water. Some of our favorite spots include Graham Lake in Ellsworth, the Saco River and the Back Cove in Portland.
Attending a festival
–No matter your taste, there’s a festival for everyone in Maine this summer. There’s the American Folk Festival, the Yarmouth Clam Festival, the Maine Lobster Festival, the Camden Windjammer Festival, the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival, the Moxie Festival, the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival and (the final) Old Port Festival in Portland. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Scoping out the coolest spots in town
–Sometimes in the summer, it gets hot. Really hot. So it’s important to know where you can go to cool off when things get desperate. Some of our top choices include the movie theater (which last year clocked in at 70 degrees on a 94 degree day in Portland), the public library (75 degrees) and the beer cave at a local convenience store (a chilly 44 degrees).
Picking blueberries, and turning them into something delicious
–There are about 200,000 acres of blueberry barrens in Maine, not to mention all the bushes you’re likely to come across while exploring Maine’s wilderness. When you hit the trails from late July to mid August, be sure to bring a container with you to pick any blueberries you find — and then use your bounty to whip up one of these blueberry desserts.
…and one reason not to be excited about summer
–We can’t talk up the joys of summer and spending time in the great outdoors without issuing one warning: be careful of ticks! Be diligent about checking yourself and your friends throughout the day, use repellant to keep mosquitoes at bay and cover up with pants and long-sleeve shirts when possible. You can also use this trick to get an idea of how many ticks are seeking refuge in your yard.