Sporting three floors of exhibits on science, art, music, and more, the Maine Discovery Museum welcomes knowledge-hungry visitors with hands-on learning and family-friendly fun. Kids of all ages can ascend a two-story tree house and visit with live snakes and turtles at Nature Trails, then venture inside a giant human body in the Body Journey, where they can pump the heart, floss the teeth, and tickle the inner child with a mammoth moustache. The sound studio at Sounds Abound transforms kids into burgeoning Beatles and Beethovens as they create music videos and beatbox to different versions of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
Shaking hands with a starfish, choreographing a puppet show, and drafting a system of roads and bridges in a single day no longer requires a college degree or being a Nickelodeon executive's son. At Children’s Discovery Museum, hands-on, informative exhibits engage kids' bodies and minds, meting out a palpable understanding of the world under the guise of role playing and interactive fun.
Children can introduce themselves to their coastal counterparts in the Touch Tank for Kids, where crabs scuttle and sea cucumbers swim away from predatory pickle jars. A bona fide Maine campground, equipped by L.L.Bean with tents, backpacks, and live animals, makes a great stomping ground for active legs and imparts the importance of conservation. A functional theater provides a venue for young directors to stage puppet shows and musicals, and bank counters and restaurant kitchens spark imaginative scenarios as kids learn the basics of counting change, preparing healthy meals, and coercing ketchup out of glass jars.
During the course of its more than 50-year history, the Maine Maritime Museum has amassed a collection of more than 21,000 artifacts, including 140 small watercraft. Knowledgeable docents unveil this collection on tours, as well as guided walks through two shipyards and a Victorian-era shipbuilder's house. In warmer weather, guides also dispense nautical trivia during cruises down the Kennebec River. A series of rotating exhibits have focused on naval architecture, examined mariners' relationships with weather, and traced the history of nautical humor.
Biplane Rides Over Atlanta, Inc.'s practiced pilots leap into the air in fully restored antique aircraft to grant passengers a glimpse of natural and manmade majesties from above. In the open-air cockpit of a classic antique biplane, adventurers can taste the whipping winds of high altitudes over Downtown Atlanta, glimpsing Turner Field, the Georgia Dome, and Centennial Olympic Park, where the Farmer's Almanacs of previous eras are put out to pasture. Alternately, they can surmount the igneous crown of Stone Mountain and soar above the Mississippi riverboats that dot the surrounding lakes, or gently flit over the cityscape bathed in a golden aura during a romantic sunset flight.
Though he was fed and cared for, the lion didn't have much room to roam aboard his owner's yacht. The owner didn't know what to do with the creature, which had grown too close to humans to socialize with other lions. So the owner reached out through a friend to Acadia Zoological Park, who took the lion in and gave him his own piece of land. Though the park's name has since changed to Kisma Preserve, the lion still lives on its grounds, alongside a host of other exotic animals that the three staff members have taken in from rehabilitation programs, zoos, and private owners. They care for a motley and majestic group of wolves, big cats, reptiles, birds, and primates in outdoor enclosures year-round.
The three guides—who also are handlers, feeders, and administrators—lead group tours among these habitats. During tours, they teach visitors the proper way to behave around the creatures and divulge details about the creatures' lives in the wild, as well as what brought them to the preserve. On animal encounters, zookeepers let visitors watch wolves during their daily socializing or feed and hold hands with gibbons, lemurs, and capuchin monkeys.
They can also grant visitors a closer look via private tours, in which guests experience one-on-one time with wolves, tortoises, alligators, and other animals. Though they love all the animals on their preserve, the guides are particularly proud of their tigers—a group of royal white and standard tigers, as well as one of only 50 known golden tabby tigers left in the world. Through each tour and encounter, the dedicated staff aims to engender the respect they have for these animals in others. To most visitors, that should come easily: as director Heather says about the tigers, "It's hard to stand in the presence of one and not feel something."
Staff Size: 1 person
Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours
Brands Used: P&H, Epic, NDK, Necky, Werner, Kokatat, NRS, Sea to Summit
Parking: Free street parking
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Full-day excursions
Recommended Age Group: Adults
Pro Tip: Dress appropriately for the weather
Apart from your business's main attraction, do you offer any "hidden" services or activities that visitors are always delighted to learn about?
We have a skills-based Quickstart Kayaking workshop for beginners and intermediate paddlers, as well as weekly sunset and sunrise excursions. We offer Epic Kayak workshops where you can try out your sea kayaking skills in these innovatively designed boats. We also provide comfy overnight accommodations.
What is one fun, unusual fact about your business?
We like to think that most folks can learn to paddle all day without getting tired, so firstly we'll provide you with an ultra-light carbon-fiber paddle, which is easy on the wrists and arms, and then we'll teach you some of the energy-efficient techniques you can use to help you get the most out of your paddling.
I'm a first-timer. How do you get me ready for the experience?
At the beginning of each excursion, we will plan the day's excursion using a nautical chart and have comprehensive on-the-water training in paddling technique and safety procedures. We also review what to do in an emergency situation. The planning and safety talk will take about an hour.