Whale watching was a relatively new concept when John Fish's grandfather started giving tours. "We kind of originated it," Mr. Fish says. "Thirty years ago we were the only ones doing whale watching." As the company became more successful over the years, additional captains were brought on to cover the demand. Today, these crews continue to ferry groups into the habitats of several whale species, including humpback whales and sperm whales. Though the whales seen along Cap'n Fish's Whale Watch's journeys still breach and refuse to sign autographs, other things have changed over the years. Below deck, the current fleet's engines work to reduce emissions and provide a fume-free experience. Above deck, 360-degree viewing decks and modern technology help bring whales into sight. Onboard computers display large maps of where the aquatic mammals are known to swim, and GPS systems reroute boats around mermen constructing new reefs. In addition to illuminating the behavior of whales for passengers, the crew's wildlife experts point passengers toward other animals they spot along the way, such as white-sided dolphins and harbor seals. Though some variables are beyond their control, the crew members almost always spot whales and boasted a 98% success rate in 2009.
At each bowling center, balls hurtle down smooth, polished lanes as LCD screens keep track of scores and shimmering party lights illuminate the faces of determined bowlers. After lacing up some slide-enabling shoes and clearing the gutters of deciduous pins, bowlers set their sights on toppling 10-pin clusters. Carpets bedecked with psychedelic swirls lead to shelves stocked with neon-colored balls, which proffer their pin-busting talents to bowlers of various sizes. Fingers can warm up by mashing buttons in an arcade full of entrancing video games or bench-pressing french fries at the onsite grill and pub.
Frisbees zoom toward metal baskets as players await the rattling of chains that signifies their disc has hit its target. This scene plays out year-round at Dragon Field Disc Golf's three Maine locations, each of which challenges disc slingers of all abilities with 18 or more holes.
Home to Maine's largest Professional Disc Golf Association tournament, the Dragan Field course unfurls an 18-hole layout for disc golfers of all stripes. The holes range from 170 to 479 feet in length, giving players an opportunity to flaunt their precision and long-tossing skills. At Enman Field's 18-hole Beast course, disc golfers test their mettle against a challenging layout that includes two holes that measure longer than 600 feet. On the same site, the Beauty course plots a more beginner-friendly, 27-hole path. Rounding out Dragon Field's trio of courses, Topsham Fair rolls out an 18-hole layout of tee-to-basket fun. At each site, Dragon Field rents out discs and offers private and group lessons.
With its whitewashed siding, green roof, and porch fronted by six pillars, the Colonial–style clubhouse at Wawenock Golf Club recalls a bygone era of gentility. Its old-fashioned character extends to the Club's nine-hole course, where golfers hunt birdies amid fairways intersected by ribbons of mature trees—some of which have been there since the course was built in 1928.
The fourth hole, a par 5, is a gem that will test golfers of all handicaps. A river cuts across the fairway, making the initial drive a maddening one. But it's the second shot that tends to determine your fate on this hole, as it bends around a pond that hugs the fairway and extends close to the green. To create a distinct front- and back-nine experience, Wawenock offers two pairs of tees and golf carts that reverse their steering functions after the first nine holes.
Freeport Theater of Awesome's name says it all. After taking over the Freeport Factory Stage, a pair of Maine natives with three White House gigs under their metaphoric belt, and pants under their actual belts, re-named the theater and re-branded its programming to fit their high-energy, genre-bending style. This was Matt and Jason Tardy, brothers aiming to fill what they felt was a void left in the wake of Oddfellow Theater's closing. So the Tardys started stocking the Awesome calendar with magic-and-comedy performances and their own high tech comedy and music shows, reestablishing a go-to venue for family-friendly entertainment.
It may not seem like the deep blue, but when you lean closer to one of Maine State Aquarium's tanks, you're seeing into an entire aquatic world. The aquarium exhibits the same plants and animals found in the nearby ocean, including colorful anemones and wolffish with long, sharp teeth. Local fishermen bring in everything from 17-pound lobsters, while tide-pooling classes take kids down to explore the rocky shore. Back inside, a touch tank allows guests to handle horseshoe crabs, sea stars, and sand dollars as staff help direct and answer questions about the creatures.