5 Uniquely Maine Summer Day Trips

Mainers don’t have to leave the state to find adventures that will make friends envious. These trips are simply a work-free day away.

For Mainers, adventure lives in our own backyard. We can take a single day off from work and have an amazing adventure just a short drive away. Thrill seekers can rock climb on the coast or island hop in a kayak. Beer lovers can spend the day visiting breweries by bicycle. Art lovers will find inspiration through guided hikes and paddles to create their own artwork. Or maybe it’s time to be a nosey neighbor and visit some historical homes to see how times have changed. So seize the weekend or take a day off from work and enjoy Maine like a tourist. Here’s a small sampling of adventures to experience this spring and summer:

Photo courtesy of Equinox Guiding Service

Thrill seekers:
Rock Climbing with Equinox

Spice up your summer with a challenge. Maybe you’ve done some indoor rock climbing but never tried an outdoor climb. Or maybe it’s your first time climbing anything. Equinox Guiding Service offers half-day adventures (for those who want to just get a taste of the activity) to full-day adventures on the rock in and around Camden Hills State Park. Beginners are welcome and all equipment for the climb is provided. For those with more experience who want to hone their skills in setting up a top rope, or maybe develop skills to build their own anchors, Equinox Guiding Service offers adventures for all levels. (camdenclimbing.biz/rock-climbing)

WHERE: Equinox Guiding Service, Camden; Climbing is in Camden Hills State Park
WHEN: Various, contact for details
HOW MUCH: Half-day trips range from $85–160 for one to four people; Full-day trips are $130–265.

Water adventurers:
Island hopping kayak tours with Portland Paddle

Photo courtesy of Portland Paddle

Paddling your way through Casco Bay offers a unique opportunity to experience the islands in a different light. Fort Gorges, a Civil War-era fort, can only be accessed by private boat and is a doable trip for beginning paddlers with Portland Paddle. There are lighthouse and other fort tours as well as island-hopping trips for half- or full-day adventures. (The sunset tours are great fun for folks who get a late start on their “day trip.”) Private guided tours are also available. (portlandpaddle.net/tours)

WHERE: Portland Paddle, East End Beach, Portland
WHEN: Varies, contact for details
HOW MUCH: Half-day adventures are $55–65; full-day adventures include lunch at $120.

Beer and bike lovers unite:
Bike tour of Portland’s local brew scene

Photo by Shannon Bryan

Take a guided bike tour with Summer Feet to learn about the 25-plus craft breweries in Portland. You’ll get to meet the brewers and learn about what was happening in Portland from Prohibition to the Rum Riots—and what’s going on in Portland’s brewing scene these days. If you’d rather explore on your own, rent a bike from the Portland EnCYCLEpedia on Commercial Street and pick up a map to find your own adventure. The touring company also offers guided lighthouse and island bike tours. (summerfeet.net/bicycle-trips/portland-bike-tour/bikes-and-brews-tour)

WHERE: Visitor’s Center, 14 Ocean Gateway Pier, Portland
WHEN: 3 p.m. daily (except Sundays) through Columbus Day
HOW MUCH: $69, includes bike and helmet, guide and three tastings

Art lovers:
Outdoor Adventures in Art with North Star

North Star Adventures offers excursions perfect for the outdoor-loving artist. A woodworking skills workshop begins with a canoe paddle to explore the wetlands of Unity Pond (it includes an organic lunch) in July. In August, the adventure features a hike before learning the technique of “touch draw.” Get outside and find inspiration for art this summer with the North Star team in Unity. (northstaradventures.me/events/category/adventures-in-art)

WHERE: North Star Adventures, Unity
WHEN: Canoeing and woodworking, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 18; Hiking and Touch Drawing, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 5.
HOW MUCH: $110 per adventure

History influencers:
Tour Portland’s historical homes

Photo courtesy of Maine Historical Society

Sometimes it’s fun to visit other people’s houses and there’s no better place to satisfy your curiosity than the historic homes in the greater Portland area. Get a glimpse into another era to see how today’s kitchens and house furnishings were influenced by homes of the past. There are three homes within a short distance from one another to make a day of it (these houses are open seasonally, generally through October). Start your day at the Tate House, a 1750s home of a Senior Mast Agent for the British Royal Navy, located in the Stroudwater area of Portland. Then make your way downtown to see the 1850s-style Victoria Mansion on Danforth Street. Wrap up at the Longfellow House, where renowned literary figure Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and three generations of his family grew up. It is only a couple of blocks away on Congress Street and since it’s open until 5 p.m., it’s a good last stop on your tour.

WHERE: Tate House, 1267 Westbrook St., Portland. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday; 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. $12 adults (tatehouse.org)

Victoria Mansion, 104 Danforth St., Portland, 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. $16 adults (victoriamansion.org)

Longfellow House and Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Portland, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday. $8 adults (mainehistory.org)

Wendy Almeida is a freelance writer from Standish.

Author profile