If you believe what you read, many Americans are planning to stick close to home this summer. Closer is kinder to the wallet, so folks are replacing their vacations with “staycations” to reduce their travel expenses.
My family is no exception. My husband’s company cut employees’ vacation time this year to save costs, which leaves us with less time for summer fun. But it occurred to me that living as we do in Maine (AKA “Vacationland”) we should be able to come up with plenty of entertainment for our own Summer Staycation. Here are a few of the things we can do right in our own backyard. And hey, if you venture to Midcoast Maine this summer, maybe you’ll find something fun on our list, too!
The Maine State Music Theatre celebrated its 50th anniversary last year in Brunswick, Maine. This professional musical theatre features Broadway performers as well as extraordinary local talent in four musicals which run from early June through late August. Each year the selections are different…this year Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs for the last two weeks of July. (I might need to get tickets for that one!)
Brunswick is also the home of Bowdoin College, and as with any campus, there are plenty of educational opportunities. (Thinking ahead to those rainy days…) The Bowdoin College Museum of Art has collections of ancient art, as well as Renaissance, Colonial, and Contemporary works. It’s housed in the Walker Art Building, which was designed by the same firm responsible for the Brooklyn Museum and the Boston Public Library. My kids used to enjoy the lions on the terrace outside the museum, which were modeled after the lion sculpture in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, Italy. (See the photo for Bronwyn’s roar!) Check the schedule for upcoming exhibitions.
My kids are obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records, so we will probably spend one rainy afternoon at DeLorme in Yarmouth, visiting the “World’s Largest Revolving/Rotating Globe”. Eartha was given this honor in 1999, and is quite impressive. Check here for directions and hours.
Not too far from DeLorme is Freeport, and a visit to Freeport is not complete without seeing L.L. Bean. The retail magnet draws thousands each year, and the 200 other retail shops (what we used to call the “sprouts”) all around Bean’s make it an amazing shopping experience. In addition to the shopping, L.L. Bean offers a calendar of events including free evening concerts. Patty Loveless will perform on the Fourth of July, and The Wallflowers on August 15th; the concerts run through early September.
Freeport also boasts a real desert. This product of topsoil erosion is called the Desert of Maine and is a unique destination in our otherwise mostly-wooded state. I admit I’ve never been to the Desert of Maine, but it’s so close that I’m tempted to visit this summer.
One place we have visited in Freeport is Wolfe Neck Woods State Park. There are lots of wooded trails, some of which wind by the shore where you can see an osprey nest and watch these birds of prey as they fish. It’s a beautiful park for a picnic or a walk (or geocaching…see my kids on their treasure hunt).
Another place we’ve hiked and picnicked is a stone’s throw from Freeport in Pownal. Bradbury Mountain has gorgeous views and lots of trails. My family has snowshoed there, but I think we’ll enjoy it more this summer when we can linger for a picnic lunch.
Of course when you’re on vacation you should never cook, and I think a staycation should have the same rule. Bombay Mahal always ranks near the top for restaurants in Brunswick on TripAdvisor. Located at 99 Maine Street, this Indian restaurant boasts our favorite dal shorba. Wish I could figure out how to make mine half as good. I guess we’ll just have to keep going back!
How about you? Do you have a favorite spot in Midcoast Maine? Please share your ideas for staycation activities here!