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Maine Attractions 2009

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; Bradford Camps, 207-746-7777 summer, 207-439-6364 winter;

Best Little Town in the Big Woods:
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.

Best Church Art:
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:
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;

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;

Best Walk in the Woods:
MAINE HUTS & TRAILS SYSTEM, Carrabasset Valley
When completed, this easygoing, 180-mile corridor through the wilderness will stretch from Newry to Rockwood, with 12 full-service huts along the way. So far, hikers, mountain bikers, and even paddlers (and in winter, skiers and snowshoers) can stay at two finished huts, Poplar Stream Falls and Flagstaff Lake, and savor hot meals, hot showers, and comfy bunks. 207-265-2400;

Best Hidden Arts Center: STONE MOUNTAIN ARTS CENTER, Brownfield
What a find! Singer/songwriter Carol Noonan brings national talent, such as Paula Poundstone and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to a 200-seat performing-arts center on her hilltop farm. 695 Dug Way Road. 866-227-6523;

Best Place to Meet the Natives:
This state-operated refuge and education facility houses wildlife that are either being rehabilitated or are unable to return to the wild, including deer, moose, black bear, and bald eagle are among the 25 or so species on view. Interactive displays and exhibits, special programs, and nature trails round out the offerings. Route 26A. 207-657-4977;

Best Interplanetary Travel:
University of Maine at Presque Isle geology professor Kevin McCartney is the genius behind this 3D 93-million-to-one scale model along Route 1, from Topsfield to Presque Isle. Originally it included the sun, nine planets, and seven moons, but with the reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf planet, McCarty and students are adding others, such as Ceres and Eris. Northern Maine Museum of Science, 207-768-9482;

Please Note: This information 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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Updated Thursday, May 28th, 2009

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