Are you trying to control costs this summer yet yearning for a vacation? Consider a staycation–the trendy term for vacationing at home and doing all the things you tell visiting friends and relatives to do. Millions of folks travel to Maine ever summer because there’s so much here, yet few of us play in our backyards.
Let’s start with the freebies. Here are a few ideas to get your brain cooking:
• Preserves and sanctuaries are tucked in all corners of the state. Search for Maine Audubon and Nature Conservancy properties, local land trusts and town parks. Go hiking, mountain biking, paddling, swimming, walking, picnicking. Many often have free educational programs, too, such as guided walks or talks. Another plus: Getting the kids outside is a cure for nature-deficit disorder.
• Bike a rail trail or join an organized ride. (yes, that means go into the cellar, barn or garage and find the bike, clean it up, pump up the tires, maybe get it checked at a local shop…)
• Find out what’s in the community’s attic. Local historical society museums or small, quirky museums are often free or nearly so, and they’re usually staffed by volunteers who are passionate about the collections. Maine Museums has links to most.
• Maine college campuses are home to free museums and activities. At Bowdoin, visit the Museum of Art and Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum; at Colby, visit the Art Museum; at UMO, visit the Hudson Museum and Page Farm.
• The Farnsworth Museum, in Rockland, is free on Sundays from 10 a.m.¬1 p.m.
• The Portland Museum of Art is free on Friday nights.
• Bangor’s free, three-day American Folk Festival is jam-packed with entertainment and exhibits; Aug. 22-24.
• Poland Spring Preservation Park is free: tour the museum in the original bottling plant, the Maine State Building and the All Souls Chapel
• Try rock hounding in the Oxford Hills or panning for gold in Coos Canyon.
• Visit a farm or farmers’ market.
• Explore a rail trail.
• Maine residents have free daytime use of Baxter State Park.
• Walk the Rockland breakwater or walk through history in Castine or an art walk
Willing to spend a few bucks?
• Take advantage of Maine’s state parks. (fees $2 to $5 pp; $60 pass covers a carload).
• Go to Acadia National Park ($20 per vehicle for a week-long pass) for the Mount Desert Island section of the park. The Schoodic section does’t require a pass.
Ready for a cost-controlled splurge?
• Sail for three-days or longer on a Maine windjammer
• Hike into Poplar Falls for an overnight, with dinner and breakfast, at the first hut on the new Maine Huts and Trails system.
Okay, that should be enough to get you started… Now share your ideas.