Now that I've lived in Maine for over 10 years, there's one thing I've noticed, and it seems to happen every summer: EVERYBODY wants to come visit us! I like to think it's because my friends and family can't get enough of my sparkling wit and charming personality. My wife, a native Mainer, says, "No, genius...it's because they want to come see Maine, but they don't want to pay for a hotel!"
Fair enough. All friends and family are welcome! But this means I've got to think of things to do and places to go to keep these people entertained for a whole weekend (or however long they're staying). And not just any old things...people have certain expectations when they come to Maine, especially for the first time. So I want to make sure we hit all the quintessential "Maine" hot spots, but I also want them to go home feeling like they've experienced a little bit of what makes Maine such a great place to live.
With that in mind, I've come up with a list of sure-fire, can't fail places to go and things to do with out of town visitors that always seem to elicit enthusiastic "ooohhhs" and "aaahhhhs" from all of my
mooching brothers and sisters wonderful family and friends:
First up: Portland Head Light
The beautiful lighthouse...the waves crashing against the rocky shore...the smell of the salt in the air...you can even get a lobster roll here. Heck, this place couldn't be any more "Maine" if a moose crawled out of the water wearing LL Bean duck boots! This is the perfect starting point for the first time Maine visitor. And let's face it...half the fun of going on vacation these days is bragging about it on social media. Trust me, your friends and family will fall all over themselves taking picture after picture here and frantically updating their Facebook pages.
With the gorgeous scenery taken care of, time for some grub:
No shortage of options if your guests want lobster. Personally, I've always liked The Lobster Shack At Two Lights. The views from the outdoor dining area are fantastic, and the food is excellent. You can get lobster done a number of ways here, from a full lobster dinner to a classic lobster roll. They also have other options like burgers, chicken and hot dogs if you've got some picky eaters in the group, or people with seafood allergies. The desserts are amazing, many made with native Maine blueberries. And speaking of dessert...
It's sort of an unwritten rule that you have to shove at least one whoopie pie into your friends and family's faces when they come to Maine. They may like them so much, they'll want to take a dozen of 'em home. In that case, take them to Wicked Whoopies in Freeport. They've got a bunch of different flavors, from the classic whoopie to banana, red velvet, peanut butter and everything in between. And let's face it...you're going to be in Freeport anyway, becaue your guests will almost certainly want to go here:
Yup, no trip to Maine would be complete without a trip to LL Bean's Flagship store in Freeport. Other than lobster, it's the one thing that lots of out-of-towners think of when they think of our home state. I had an aunt visit from the midwest a few years ago, and she had a giant shopping list from friends back home who simply HAD to have something from LL Bean. And the store itself never fails to impress, especially the fish pond and stuffed game displays. Just try not to act too annoyed when your guests insist on taking that goofy "Help! I'm being stepped on by the big boot!" photo.
So let's recap...so far, we've seen a lighthouse, eaten some lobster, sampled a whoopie pie and shopped at LL Bean. Have we covered all the Maine bases? Feels like we're forgetting something...Oh, right! This guy:
Odds are, unless you're headed way up north, your guests aren't going to see a moose just hanging out by the side of the road. Your best bet is to take them to Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. Yes, they have a moose! They also have plenty of other Maine species too, from raccoons and porcupines to lynx and black bears. Great little trip if you've got kiddos visiting.
OK, time for a drink! And if it's summertime in Maine, you'll want to have that drink outside somewhere, preferably on a deck by the water.
Lots of options in Portland's Old Port, but I've always liked The Porthole Restaurant and Pub. Good beer selection, decent food, and, depending on the night and the crowd, some of the best people watching in Portland!
Anyway, those are just some of my go-to places when I'm entertaining friends and family "from away." Tons of other options too, including taking in a Seadogs game, skee ball and pier fries down at Old Orchard Beach, or maybe even a seperate day trip up to Bar Harbor. The list is endless.
What are some of your favorite places to take your visiting friends and family?