Mainly Fun – an Overview of Family Places to Visit in Maine

Genie Davis February 18, 2011 1 Comment

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Maine is mainly just – fun. Part of the pleasure of visiting this north eastern state is the variety of activities and scenery it offers. Beaches and resorts, forests, farms, the rugged White Mountains, art colonies and fishing fleets, organic growers and lobster-men. There’s the beautiful wilderness of Arcadia National Park, an under-visited beauty that stretches over thirty five thousand acres including rocky coast line, quiet ponds and seemingly untouched islands. The park also includes a carriage path built in 1915 and stretching over thirty miles. You won’t want to trek that far with a child in tow, but whatever part of these paths you chose to explore, you’ll find an easy walk through lovely forest and seascape.

Rangley Maine

We love relaxing near or on a lake – near Rangely, Maine

In other words, there’s a lot to love in Maine. Here’s what we love: the windswept ocean beaches, picture perfect light houses, moose wandering in the woods, autumn leaves changing colorfully, wooden bridges, fresh fish at roadside stands, sail boats in the harbor and – small towns. We love Kennebunkport‘s St. Anthony monastery with its peaceful ground and lovely chapel. The walking paths through woods and fields are the perfect pastoral experience for small children. We also loved touring the ornate Wedding Cake House also in Kennebunkport, said to be the most photographed house in the state. The front hall and stairway house a beautiful mural, the pink parlor fascinated the kids, and the owner even let my daughter, a musician, run her hands over the keys.

Maybe we love the small towns most of all, or maybe, despite the grandeur of the ocean coasts, we love the lakes the best. Quiet, family vacation destinations that lead to bucolic row boat trips and sunning on old wooden docks. Skipping stones. Watching deer. Wading along a pebbly coast line. Spending some time in Maine makes you feel as if there’s plenty of time to spend. The mad rush of urban life or even the moderate pace of a resort scene are nowhere to be found.

We have several favorites in the small towns both by sea and by lake category. Inland, we love the little town of Rangely. The book store, Books, Lines, and Thinkers has a great children’s section and many regional selections to browse. There’s a small, old fashioned movie theater that keeps most of its offerings to PG, and just outside of town there’s the First Farm, where you can buy probably the most delicious organic strawberries you’ve ever tasted. There’s strawberry rhubarb pie, too. We bought two and ate them in lieu of lunch. I think we walked off all those tasty calories though.

We’re also unduly fond of North Haven, an island town on bright blue Penobscot Bay, easy to access via ferry. From here you’ll get a view of other islands, looking like larger versions of the stones your kids – and you – will want to skip across the water. Here you go beach coming for rocks not shells, and spread your picnic out on flat, warm rocks.

Ready to relax yet? Then stay awhile. We loved our experience at the old fashioned but elegant  Colony Hotel, where a broad green lawn leads down to a beach that offers a picturesque mix of ocean water and the fresh from the Kennebunk River. The salt water pool is fun too, and heated, blissfully heated. There are also a full array of kids activities that include croquet and boccie. Coast-side in Kennebunkport, Maine – admittedly more of a vacationers paradise than an authentically rural small town – this is a wonderful place to spend a week. The beach is private and kid friendly, and Kennebunkport is a beautiful village with art galleries to browse and easy nature trails to stroll. The hotel is on the national historic register and the staff is welcoming and proud of the ambiance. Let the kids roll down the soft lawn – no one will mind!

In town, check out Cape Porpoise, a fishing village with many long wharfs to stroll and scenic harbor views. We loved the chowder at the Wayfarer here, rich and creamy with plenty of potatoes. For a look at a time when Kennebunkport itself was known more for fish than tourism, check out The History Center of Kennebunkport which offers excellent walking tours of historic homes and other sites around town.

Mt. Katahdin Lake View Maine

Another beautiful lake view – we love seeing Mt. Katahdin.

Another good choice is the Oakland House Seaside Resort – cabins and cottages near
Penobscot Bay. You can rent a canoe or a row boat, or take the little ones out to the tide pools and stroll the shore. Families come here repeatedly, and it’s easy for kids to make friends with other families, too. In the sweet small town of Blue Hill there’s a library with a wonderful reading hour for kids, and steel band street concerts in a pretty gazebo. Also near by is the Blue Hill fair which runs labor day weekend. The fair was immortalized in Charlotte’s Web – even if you don’t make it for the fair itself, this is the place to read that story aloud, under the shady pines.

For a more isolated and adventurous experience, check out the Chesuncook Lake House. You can only reach this destination by float plate, boat or a hike too long – four miles – for little feet. A small inn with five cabins for rent or four rooms in the main building, the dining room is lit by gas lanterns and kids under ten are – free. Nearby you’ll find a bird sanctuary where we saw loons, eagles, and herons. In the woods we also spotted moose, deer, and a raccoon.

The food is surprisingly wonderful and served family style at long trestle tables. The owners bake their own breads and muffins every day and make good use of the produce grown in their organic garden. Our kids also picked blackberries on the property and these were cheerfully washed and served up with breakfast. Meat eaters are treated to range fed beef and chicken raised on the property.

We loved the broad lawns that stretched all the way down to the lake for which the house is named, with its view of  Mt. Katahdin. And we loved just sitting on the porch, sipping iced tea and lemonade while the kids did cart wheels across the lawn.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

Tags: Tips and Hints, Travel Excursions
One Comments to “Mainly Fun – an Overview of Family Places to Visit in Maine”
  1. avatar San Mateo Coast Road Trip: Santa Cruz to San Francisco says:

    [...] is the quaint town of Pescadero. The small town looks as if it could have been transported from Maine, with its white wooden houses and clapboard church. If you’re visiting in the summer, take a [...]