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Maine Attractions 2009

Maine Attractions 2009
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by in May 2009

Best Historical Detour:
FORT KNOX/PENOBSCOT NARROWS OBSERVATORY, Prospect
On a clear day, the head-swiveling views from the glass-walled observatory topping the Penobscot Narrows Bridge extend from Katahdin to Mount Desert. The building rises out of Fort Knox, a sprawling granite fort constructed in 1844 and named for America’s first secretary of war, Henry Knox. Among the fort’s many historical treasures are two complete Rodman canons. It’s a great place for a riverfront picnic, and the underground passageways are a big hit with kids. Route 174. 207-469-7719; fortknox.maineguide.com

Best Nontraditional Entertainment:
DIVE-IN THEATER BOAT CRUISE, Bar Harbor
When deep-sea diver Ed Monat plunges overboard, he takes a video camera and microphone so that he can communicate with visitors aboard the boat as he guides them around the depths of Frenchman Bay. When he resurfaces, he brings back a selection of sea critters that you can touch and examine, before returning them to the sea. Fascinating for the whole family. Opens mid- to late June this year. College of the Atlantic Pier. 207-288-3483; divered.com

Best Birdwatching Guide:
DOWN EAST NATURE TOURS, Bar Harbor
Biologist and Maine Guide Michael Good is simply batty about birds, and he shares his knowledge with avian addicts and neophytes alike. Whether you’re pining to see warblers, falcons, eagles, and hawks or seeking to add a Nelson’s sharptailed sparrow to your life list, Good’s your man. He supplies local transportation and a spotting scope. 150 Knox Road. 207-288-8128; downeastnaturetours.com

Best Island Tour:
ISLAND CRUISES, Bass Harbor
You won’t find a better source of local heritage and lore than Captain Kim Strauss, who’s not only been sailing the waters of Blue Hill Bay for nearly 60 years, but also built the R. L. Gott. During the three-and-a-half-hour lunch cruise to Frenchboro, he points out Bass Harbor Light, abandoned granite-quarrying sites, and wildlife–he even hauls a trap or two. On the island, order a lobster at Lunt’s Dockside Deli. Little Island Way (off Shore Road). 207-244-5785; bassharborcruises.com

Best Small-Town Celebration:
GRAND LAKE STREAM FOLK ART FESTIVAL, Grand Lake Stream
Way, way Down East, in a town renowned for fishing, this family favorite reels in shoppers with more than 50 talented artisans, as well as nonstop music, exhibitions of quilts and canoes, craft demonstrations, and food. Complementing it are lakeside lobster and chicken barbecues and a contra dance. July 25-26 this year, at the town basefall field. 207-796-8199; glsfaf.org

Best Nature Vacation:
MAINE SPORTING CAMPS, Millinocket Lake/Munsungan Lake
Suffering from nature deficit disorder? Take the waters at a traditional Maine sporting camp, such as Libby’s on Millinocket Lake or Bradford on Munsungan Lake. You’ll be lulled to sleep in a lakeside cabin by the lapping waters, dine on hearty homestyle meals, and in between have unlimited opportunities to reconnect and experience nature. Exhaust yourself hiking, boating, swimming, wildlife watching, and stargazing at night. No phones. No WiFi. No TV. Heaven! Libby Camps, 207-435-8274; libbycamps.com. Bradford Camps, 207-746-7777 summer, 207-439-6364 winter; bradfordcamps.com

Best Little Town in the Big Woods:
Monson
Don’t blink or you’ll miss this little lakeside treasure, south of Greenville, with a main street peppered with antiques and craft shops and a fabulous barbecue joint. It’s the last vestige of civilization before northbound Appalachian Trail hikers enter the 100-Mile Wilderness on the final push to Katahdin. Routes 6/15. kynd.com/~monson

Best Church Art:
SOUTH SOLON MEETING HOUSE, South Solon
The exterior is classic New England meeting house, but step inside this 1842 white-clapboard church, and wow: Practically all areas of the ceiling and walls are covered with colorful frescoes depicting interdenominational religious scenes. Saved from ruin in the 1930s by one of the founders of the nearby, nationally renowned Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, fresco artists competed in the early 1950s to have a go at the interior. Between 1952 and 1957, the winning artists strutted their stuff, and the results may still be seen today. Meeting House Road; 207-643-2555, 207-643-2721

Best One-Stop Shopping:
HUSSEY’S GENERAL STORE, Windsor
The sign in front sums up the merchandise range quite succinctly: “Guns, Wedding Gowns, Cold Beer.” Really, what more could you possibly need or want? Let the party begin. 510 Ridge Road. 207-445-2511; husseysgeneralstore.com

Best Indoor Playground:
ANTI-GRAVITY CENTER, Carrabassett Valley
When rain puts a damper on hiking or paddling plans, cure cabin fever at this partnership between Sugarloaf Resort, the town, and Carrabassett Valley Academy. Inside are an indoor skate park, full fitness center, gymnasium with track, and one of New England’s highest climbing walls. Route 27. 207-237-5566; carrabassettvalley.org/content/4022/Anti_Gravity_Complex

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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