Mark and Nichole Stevens have always loved craft beer. Mark began homebrewing in his Mr. Coffee during college, and Nichole spent several years slinging drinks behind the bar. After spending a vacation in search of northern New England breweries that offered tours, the couple decided to create Maine Beer Tours to give guests a behind-the-scenes look at the burgeoning craft-beer industry.
Maine Beer Tours’ palatable expeditions explore the ins and outs of the brewing process and the Maine brewing industry. Groups sightsee at several well-known breweries that employ diverse brewing styles and ingredients, including the well-known Allagash Brewing Company, Shipyard Brewing Company, and Urban Farm Fermentory, which doubles as a food-fermentation center and bee yard. To help expand guests' knowledge and pique interest in new types of beer, breweries give guests samples of their toothsome porters, ales, and witches' brews.
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.
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.
With thousands of flight hours under his belt, experienced pilot Keith Deschambeault of Acadian Seaplanes chauffeurs nature-bound groups over breathtaking treetops and seascapes in a single-engine plane specially designed for water landings. Maine's illustrious coastline unfolds below as the small, sturdy planes soar on specialized air tours that seek out moose, remote mountain lakes, or destination fishing for trout, bass, and Maine's native aquamoose.
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.