Whether leading visitors along the historic streets of Old Port or along the craggy coast near Portland's harbor in a trolley, the guides at Maine Foodie Tours regale visitors with background on the area's artisan cuisine. Each of them partners with local culinary artisans to uncover historical tidbits about dishes or reminiscences about the days when whoopie pies were still carved out of wood. On walking tours, they explain how fish houses, canneries, and textile mills have given way to coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants, stopping for samples of fish, cheese, and microbrews to illustrate each point. On chocolate tours, they may explore the history of the cocoa bean by leading guests to confectioneries that craft cupcakes, ice cream, fudge, and truffles. In the spring, summer, and fall, Maine Foodie Tours offers other excursions, such as trolley and bike tours.
Nestled along the sandy shores of a spring-fed lake, Peters Pond RV Resort keeps campers comfortable with well-maintained campsites trumpeting a slew of amenities. Campers stow the bungalow-on-wheels or pop a tent at one of the resort’s many sites, keeping creature comforts flowing with hook-ups for necessities, including water, electricity, and fondue. Occupy sunshine-drenched days fishing the stocked lake, hiking nearby trails, or parading about the two beaches, or settle vacation quarrels with old-fashioned rounds of bocce ball, badminton, or horseshoes. Wash away the musk of strenuous hikes or the memories of losing at hot potato with the resort’s hot showers and laundry machines. The modern facilities also anchor campers to civilization, with cable hookups, a free WiFi hotspot, and hourly news updates beamed to each mind via the camp’s resident medium.
Astride their trusty snowmobiles, the knowledgeable guides at Jay Snowmobile Adventures help visiting adventurers conquer the winter landscape during tours of picturesque Vermont snowscapes. One- and two-person tour packages begin at the outfitter’s home base, located 3 miles from the entrance of Jay Peak Resort. From there, groups wind through the wilderness of Jay, Vermont and parts of Westfield for up to two hours, exploring the snowy nooks and frost-covered crannies of Jay State Forest and the nearby countryside. They rarely make the trip alone, though; moose and white-tailed deer often dot the secluded paths, ready to pose for snapshots in their most photogenic outfits.
In late December, Ice Castles’ creator, Brent Christensen, and a team of ice artists will finish transforming more than 12,000 tons of ice into full-fledged castles. With multiple large towers and ice walls, visitors are totally surrounded by the organic shapes of shimmering ice as they explore tunnels, courtyards, and caverns. In daytime, the castles glimmer in the sun; come nightfall, thousands of LED lights create an ethereal glow from within.
Today, the castles delight visitors of all ages, but the idea came from Brent Christensen’s winter playtimes with his kids. They had already made ice rinks, ice caves, and other chilly creations when Brent decided to build a fort entirely out of ice, using icicles as the base structure. The kids dubbed the structure an “ice castle”—and it started to look more and more like one as Brent added a cave, tunnels, and a slide that spilled onto an ice-skating rink. Eventually, cars started detouring to their block to drive past the creation, and local snowmen inquired about home prices. But the idea truly took off when a local resort asked him to build a larger ice castle for them. He’s built ice castles every winter since, including one in the winter of 2010–2011 that was featured in the Denver Post and called “a frosty, fairy-tale-like landscape” by the Los Angeles Times.
Adventurers glide past pine and deciduous trees, navigating branches at 200 feet above the ground. As they reach a treetop platform, guides wave them along onto a bridge that swings high above the forest floor. This nerve-racking scene is the norm at Alpine Adventures, where professionals have led guests soaring through the woodlands of New Hampshire's White Mountains since 2006. Today, in addition to leading guests on three distinct canopy tours, each testing adventurers' courage with swinging bridges and fast speeds, they captain off-road adventures in six-wheeled Swiss Pinzgauers. Up to 11 passengers sit protected by seat harnesses and an overhead roll cage as guides narrate and charge through fall foliage, winter flurries, or summer volleyball games. An aerial park invites thrill seekers to explore cargo nets, rope ladders, ziplines, a treehouse, a climbing tower, and many other elevated obstacles.
Customers choose their own adventures when renting a kayak from Sebago Trails Paddling Co. Father-and-daughter team Bill and Katelyn Allen and their friend and business partner Virginia Arsenault use more than 30 years of business, kayaking, and local knowledge to suggest more than 30 adventures within 12 miles of the kayak rental site. Life-jacket-adorned paddlers explore a historic hand-operated lock from the 1830s, venture through the historic ruins of Gambo Mills, or head to one of the various beaches as their colorful kayak glides through the water, slicing the gentle waves with its bright red nose.