Maine’s Top Five Budget-Friendly Wonders to See This Spring
By Kelly Thomas | April 20, 2017, 6:34 EDT
By New England standards, spring is here. The thermometer is reliably staying above 50 degrees during the day (the night will catch up, we’re sure), and the region’s more daring birds have ventured back up to their northern perches.
So, as we throw off our coats – or at least downgrade from our thermal parkas – and consider the possibility of leaving our warm homes for reasons other than work or emergencies, here is a helpful list of fun, free (or nearly free), and family-friendly activities in Maine designed to help ease you out of hibernation…
Is there anything more “Maine” than a lighthouse? Probably not. This one is not only one of the nation’s most recognizable lighthouses, ideal for quintessential coastline photos, but it comes with over two centuries of history, dating back to the Revolutionary War years, when the town’s residents voted to post guards at the Head to keep watch for the British. A decade later construction began on the lighthouse, and its lanterns were first lit in 1791.
Now a popular tourist destination, Portland Head Light sits on the 90-acre Fort Williams Park, which is free to the public. Pack a picnic, and some sweatshirts to ward off the windchill, and enjoy one of Maine’s most scenic views. If you get tired of staring out at the open ocean, or scrambling along the rocks at the water’s edge, try exploring some of the ruins of the nearby Goddard Mansion, built for a Civil War colonel, and Battery Blair. Fort Williams is always stunning, but if you can, be sure to delay your departure until sunset. Nothing beats a lighthouse against the backdrop of a coastal Maine sunset.
For those with an eye for art, Portland offers free self-guided tour of the city’s arts district. The tours are held, as the name suggests, the first Friday of every month, from 5 to 8 pm. The tours are free and self-guided, allowing attendees to wander in and out of galleries and museums at will, admiring the work of Portland’s vibrant artist community. This walk isn’t just for art lovers either, local food vendors come to set up stalls along the way, offering a wide variety of artisan foods from around the city. After taking it all in, be sure to duck into one of the Old Port’s quaint coffee shops and discuss your favorite exhibits.
If the weather is still a little chilly for a stroll through the Old Port or a picnic on the coast, try going to catch a movie at Portland’s Nickelodeon Cinema. Although they charge a little more than a nickel, they still offer the best prices in town, with tickets starting at only $6.75. On Tuesdays, they sweeten the deal by making tickets, regardless of age or showtime, an even $5. It’s the perfect way to take the whole family to see that latest flick without breaking the bank.
4. Peaks Island
Walks on the beach are great, but for the more adventurous among you, it may not be quite enough to stay on the mainland. Fortunately, for the price of an inexpensive ticket, you can hop on the ferry and head out to Peaks Island, situated in Portland’s Casco Bay, a short boat ride from the city’s harbor. Once on the island, you can either explore the picturesque island town on foot, or rent a bike and ride along the ocean trails, taking in the stunning scenery. Peaks Island also has its fair share of history, so be sure to stop the old WWII bunkers, or the regiment headquarters dating back to the Civil War. After taking in the sights of the island, either stay ashore and tuck in to dinner at one of its wonderful eateries, or re-board the ferry and head back to Portland’s mainland.
Maine is known for its majestic coastline; however, the state’s inland offers extraordinary natural beauty as well. If you’re hankering to stretch your legs, pack up the car and head to the Rangeley Lakes area. There, nestled in the woods, is Maine’s tallest waterfall, Angel Falls. It’s an easy and fairly short hike to the Falls, though hikers should wear waterproof shoes as it involves crossing a few streams. The journey is well worth it, and manageable for even the most novice hiker. For the more brave – or overheated- among you, there is an icy pool to plunge into at the bottom of the falls. It’s shaded by a massive boulder so it maintains its glacial temperatures throughout the year. Be advised, that swim may want to wait for some warmer weather.