August 2017 — This is the month when the Maine summer slowly gives way to the first indicators of fall, when the first red maple leaves appear and cooler nights occur mid-month. It’s a great month to be among the first to visit AMC’s new lodge, check out Maine’s most acclaimed painter at a world class exhibition, or book a windjammer cruise. Adventurous diners can head away from the coast and look to the western reaches of the state for what’s new on the dining scene. This is a time of year to plan a fall family fair excursion, think about a foliage drive or consider an autumn fishing trip to one of the state’s classic sporting camps. For writers, editors and bloggers looking for short-lead news, you’ll find immediate details under Happening Now. Those in search of longer lead news can scroll down to the Looking Ahead section.
Theme cruises on the Grace Bailey and J&E Riggin
Given the slow pace and intimate quarters of vintage sailing ships, a windjammer cruise can really lend itself to a theme cruise. The 24-passenger J&E Riggin offers “Slow Sewing & Quilting on the Maine Coast” in September, led by Rhea Butler of Alewives Fabrics. The ship also offers “Maine Knitting Cruises” throughout the summer season, as well as a “Photography Cruise” led by photographer and photojournalist Ben Krebs in September. The 29-passenger Mercantile offers fall foliage cruises while the 29-passenger Grace Bailey offers the ultimate theme cruise – a wedding cruise, which could be a reception sail or a quiet sunrise/sunset ceremony.
AMC Medawisla Reopens
For those who love the Appalachian Mountain Club lodges, the good news is that AMC’s Medawisla Lodge & Cabins reopened in July after being completely rebuilt. Medawisla (the Abenaki word for loon) is the newest destination in AMC’s Maine Wilderness Lodges network and an ideal spot for exploring the famed 100-Mile Wilderness. Truly off the grid, it’s situated by the shore of Second Roach Pond, on 70,000 acres of forestland permanently conserved by AMC as part of its Maine Woods Initiative. Located seven miles from Kokadjo and northeast of Greenville, Medawisla offers hiking, paddling, fly fishing, canoe camping, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. For those who already love the winter and summer activities at nearby Little Lyford Lodge & Cabins and Gorman Chairback Lodge & Cabins, it’s another amazing opportunity to explore the Maine woods.
Marsden Hartley’s Maine at Colby Museum of Art
Marsden Hartley was one of Maine’s best-loved painters and the exhibition celebrates his work and highlights the American artist’s lifelong artistic engagement with his home state of Maine. After a highly- acclaimed three-month run at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Met Breuer Galleries in New York City, Marsden Hartley’s Maine is now home. The exhibition is on display at the Colby Museum of Art at Colby College through November 12, 2017, a landmark show that is inspiring visitors to experience Maine this summer and retrace Hartley’s footsteps for themselves. At VisitMaine.com, a map traces the locations throughout the state that inspired Hartley along with suggested itineraries and sightseeing, lodging and dining recommendations.
Five Off-the-Beaten-Path Restaurants
Dining spots along the coast of Maine get a lot attention, but the interior has some wonderful gems calling out to foodies. The Coplin Dinner House in the Carrabassett Valley town of Stratton has been serving guests in a converted farmhouse since 2013, drawing skiers from Sugarloaf. Owners Tony Rossi and Heidi Donovan raise their own pigs, goats and chickens, source locally and change the menu daily. At Thistle Pig in South Berwick, “New England Comfort Food” holds sway, with local farms providing pork and produce. Then there’s Spring Creek Bar B-Q in Monson, where baby back ribs, pulled pork and mac n’ cheese have been on offer for 17 years. A converted gas station in the heart of Bridgton is home to Standard Gastropub, where 200 crafts beers, wine and sake are served alongside Belgian-style fries, smoked corn on the cob, veggie burgers and chicken wings. Finally there’s Fish Bones American Grill in Lewiston, where oysters, Pineland Farm burgers, wild caught haddock and vegetarian risotto have raised the dining bar in this city.
Best Foliage Drives in the State
Planning a fall foliage drive? Rangeley Lakes National Scenic Byway follows Routes 17 and 4, close to the Appalachian Trail and through a landscape of rolling hills and mountains. The dramatic Height of Land on Route 17 is the centerpiece of this scenic excursion, offering breathtaking views of Mooselookmeguntic and Upper Richardson Lakes. Or take a midcoast ramble from coastal Brunswick and head Downeast along Route 1. There are countless possibilities for detours down the “fingers” of coastline, taking visitors to Boothbay Harbor, bucolic Pemaquid Point and its famous lighthouse or head down the scenic harbor at Friendship or to Wyeth country in Cushing. The Acadia Byway travels through Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island. With the summer crowds gone, this is an especially good time of year to visit the park and then head for the shops, galleries and waterfront restaurants in Bar Harbor, the commercial hub of the island. Finally, consider a western Maine Loop from Fryeburg in western Maine, and head north past working farms along Route 113, through spectacular Evans Notch and the less-visited Maine portion of the White Mountain National Forest and end up in the resort town of Bethel, then through the Waterfords, through Bridgton and back to Fryeburg.
Fall Festivals for Families
The Maine Pumpkin Trail covers 50 miles of the Maine coast from Labor Day through October, a chance to celebrate the arts, history and pumpkins with the Maine Maritime Museum, Farnsworth Art Museum, Boothbay Railway Village and Damariscotta Pumpkinfest and Regatta. The Fall Festival Weekend at Sunday River in Newry offers a family-friendly celebration of the end of summer with live music and the legendary North American Wife Carrying Championship. Family Harvest Days at the Boothbay Railway Village invites families to celebrate the bounty of autumn at an old-fashioned, family-friendly festival from September 30 to October 1. The Gardiner Swine & Stein Oktoberfest is a family-friendly event on October 7, the Kennebunk HarvestFest on October 14 is a free family event while the OgunquitFest Fall Festival in Ogunquit, from October 20-22, features a craft show, scarecrow contest, Halloween-themed events, classic car show, ghostly tours, kids events, pumpkin decorating, obstacle course on the beach and ghostly tours.
Maine Sporting Camps for Fall Fishing
The best time to spend a few days or a week at classic Maine sporting camp? Many would say the fall, when fishing for trout and landlocked salmon are at their seasonal peak. There are some 40-plus members of the Maine Sporting Camp Association scattered across the northern half of the state, offering comfortable cabins and hearty meals in remote locations, along with some of the best fishing in the Northeast. Some are only accesible by canoe or float plane, but all of them offer a classic Maine woods experience.