We're kicking off New England Vacation Week by checking out some great spots in Maine.
1. Maine Wildlife Park, Gray: This park is the one place in Maine you're guaranteed to see a moose! The park has 30 native-to-Maine species, including black bears, a bald eagle, lynx, mountain lions, a beaver and more. Every animal in the park was rescued, rehabilitated, or determined to be unable to return to the wild. From fish to fowl, the whole family will have fun learning about Maine's diverse wildlife. Learn more here.
2. The Lucky Catch, Portland: If you came to Maine for lobster, you can hop on this cruise and learn how to catch one! The captain of this working lobster boat has years of experience lobstering in Portand's Casco Bay. Passengers become participants, helping to fill bait bags and haul traps. You will learn how to measure lobsters and determine which are legal to keep. If you're lucky, you'll catch enough to take one off the boat, and get it steamed for a lobster dinner at the nearby Portland Lobster Company, at a discounted price. Learn more here.
3. Maine Brew Bus, Portland: Explore Maine's hopping craft beer scene by getting on board a bright green bus. Let experienced guides drive you to multiple breweries during a 4 hour tour, and learn why Portland has become the nation's craft brewing capital. Each tour grants you special access to brewers and owners, who can give you the inside story about their business and brews. Learn more here.
4. Portland Paddle, Portland: Explore Portland's Casco Bay by paddle. Get a guided tour, take lessons, or simply rent a sea kayak or paddle boat on Portland's Eastern Prom, next to the East End Beach. You'll see islands, lighthouses, boats, secluded beaches, and wildlife. Guides offer everything from 2 hour tours, to day trips, and overnight camping excursions on nearby islands. Learn more here.
5. Eventide Oyster Co., Portland: You've never had a lobster roll like this. The chefs at Eventide just won the distinguished James Beard Award for best chef in the northeast, and their brown butter lobster roll is a big reason why. Served on a steamed Asian bun, it's a twist on a Maine staple that will leave your mouth watering. Eventide is also known for its oyster selection, locally-sourced and served with unique sauces like kimchi and pickled red onion. Learn more here.
6. Maine Foodie Tours, Portland/Rockland/Camden/Bar Harbor/Kennebunkport: Can't decide where to go for dinner? Why choose one - when you can sample several of Maine's best restaurants? A guide will take you on a walking tour for samples from several eateries. Maine Foodie Tours has a variety of locations and types of tours -- including a "Happy Hour Appey" itinerary in Bar Harbor, and a dog-friendly tour in Kennebunkport. Learn more here.
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7. Moose Safari, Bingham: The North Country Rivers camp in Central Maine has a variety of outdoor adventures, including white water rafting and ATV riding. If your dream is to see a Maine moose in the wild, let the Moose Safari tour take you there. You will spot wildlife along the way -- and if you're lucky -- multiple moose in their natural environment. Learn more here.
8. Maine Bay Cycle, Portland: Take a boat ride around Portland Harbor, powered by your feet. It's the only cruise of its kind on the East Coast. Passengers use bicycle pedals, and work together to get the boat moving. Bring your own snacks and BYOB. They call it the only pedal-powered-party boat in New England. Learn more here.
9. Axe Pit, Westbrook: Channel your inner lumberjack and learn how to throw an ax New England's only ax throwing range. It's an emerging sport in Canada, and the Maine Warrior Gym in Westbrook wanted to be on the cutting edge--introducing ax throwing to the state that claims Paul Bunyan as a native. "Axe-perts" can give you a private lesson. They also say it's great way to get out extra energy or aggression on date nights or coworker outings. Learn more here.
10. Pineland Farms, New Gloucester: The entire family can easily spend a day at this five-thousand acre working farm. Kids can explore the Family Farmyard, and learn about farm animals and agriculture. Pineland Farms has 30 kilometers of professionally designed trails, where you can run, walk, bike, and explore. Rent equipment from fat bikes to frisbees at the rec center, and play a round of disc golf. Enjoy lunch at the cafe, and shop for Maine-made goods at the market. Learn more here.
11. Pick-Your-Own Blueberries, Limerick: There's nothing like the sweet, yet tart taste of a fresh, Maine blueberry. Pick your own at Libby & Son U-Picks in Limerick. Depending on the season, you'll find acres of berries, apples, and peaches. Don't leave without sampling the hot and fresh blueberry donuts, apple cider donuts, and fruit smoothies. Learn more here.
12. Gelato Fiasco, Portland/Brunswick: They claim it's the next-best thing to a gelato in Italy. Some may say Gelato Fiasco is even better! Between two locations, this gelato shop has thousands of recipes on rotation -- offering everything from traditional flavors like strawberry sorbet and dark chocolate, to unique Maine recipes like Allen's Coffee Brandy gelato and Big County Brownie. Learn more here.