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Maine Best Bargains 2012

Maine Best Bargains 2012
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BEST VEGETARIAN LUNCH
Little Lad’s, Portland
Yes, it’s vegan, but with hearty choices that might include mac-and-cheese, chili, or eggplant cacciatore, you won’t miss the meat. The spread always includes soup, salad bar, bread, vegetables, and Entrée. Just $4.99 covers all you can fit on a tray. Still hungry? Load up again for $1. Hint: Go early for the most choices. 482 Congress St. 207-871-1636; littlelads.com

BEST SHOPPING ADVENTURE

Reny’s
Find everything from Tom’s of Maine toothpaste to Woolrich shirts, jigsaw puzzles to cookware, at this small Maine chain of discount department stores. Locations: Bath, Belfast, Bridgton, Camden, Damariscotta, Dexter, Ellsworth, Farmington, Gardiner, Madison, Pittsfield, Portland, Saco, Topsham, Wells. renys.com

BEST REASON TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL

Bowdoin College, Brunswick
Two stellar museums, the Museum of Art and the Peary-MacMillan Museum, are free; some of the concerts, lectures, and demonstrations presented on campus by the topnotch Bowdoin International Music Festival are free or by donation, and the Maine State Music Theatre often offers pay-what-you-can rush tickets for Friday performances. 5000 College Station, 207-725-3000, bowdoin.edu; 207-725-3895, bowdoinfestival.org; 207-725-3375, msmt.org

BEST ISLAND FLAVOR
Flash in the Pans Concerts, Blue Hill Peninsula
The Flash in the Pans community steel pan band performs outdoor concerts on Monday nights in locations throughout the Blue Hill Peninsula and beyond. Most are donate-what-you-can benefits for local causes or nonprofits. The music is infectious, and everyone goes. 207-374-5583, 207-649-8782; flashinthepans.org

BEST CHANCE TO STRIKE GOLD
Coos Canyon, Byron
For a whopping $3 (plus $5 deposit), rent a pan, screen, and trowel from Coos Canyon Rock & Gift Shop; then pad across the street to try your luck panning for gold in the Swift River. 472 Swift River Road (Route 17). 207-364-4900; cooscanyonrockandgift.com

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