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.
Baby goats and calves lounge on straw in a petting zoo while wolves and black bears frolic just yards away. It's not a radical experiment in natural selection, though; it's just part of the varied attractions at Charmingfare Farm. After taking in the entire zoo—from pigs to camels—guests can avail themselves of such diversions as trail rides atop one of the farm's friendly horses. Horse-drawn hayrides and sleigh ride socials culminate in a stop at a roaring bonfire where guests can cook all the hotdogs and 'smores they've captured in the wild.
A maze of megalithic chambers and hallways made by man more than 4,000 years ago nestles into the snow- or moss-covered woods at America’s Stonehenge. Guests meander along a trail, marveling at one of the oldest constructions in the United States, complete with inscriptions, eating areas, and evidence of prehistoric art classes. Explorers delve into Stonehenge's history, learning about its use as an accurately aligned astronomical calendar, its role in the Underground Railroad, and the theories about who actually built it. Nearby, eight fuzz balls graze in the alpaca habitat, offering up skeins of yarn spun from their fluffy locks. Winter months coat the site's 105 sprawling acres with crunchy layers of snow, perfect for adventurous snowshoe outings or piggybacking on a snowman.
Named Best Family Destination (Indoor) by Northshore magazine in 2010, Imajine That diverts the minds of children with a 12,000-square-foot interactive, educational playspace. Pint-size imaginations roam free in 12 Imajination stations, where miniature post offices, grocery stores, and mortgage brokers let little ones mirror their grown-up wranglers. Kids can leap and bound through the dragon bouncy house and giant Jurassic climbing structure, or color canvases at the arts and crafts station. Membership includes monthly passes for one child and two adults (a $20 value) or two children and two adults (a $30 value), which allow unlimited play throughout the month, and kids can be brought in by babysitters, family members, and other childproof adults.
It's a tough job, but somebody has to search the globe for little-known destinations for discerning travelers. For the past 35 years, Mike Thiel has been happy to oblige. He's climbed aboard all manner of transportation—from hot-air balloons to vintage steam trains to dogsleds—in order to curate upscale and exotic vacation experiences. As the son of a United States Diplomatic Corps officer who became a consultant for the oil and gas industry, Thiel has long been globetrotting and seeking respite from overcrowded beaches and tourist-filled hot spots. He founded Hideaways International, Inc. to share what he knows about luxury travel with everyday people. As his company has grown over the years, Thiel has advised high-profile media outlets such as Forbes.com on how to get away from it all, with a 2007 article about the world's best private beaches and a 2008 feature on avoiding spring-break crowds.
Thiel and his team of travel specialists guide people to high-end cruises, breathtaking Italian villas, and vacation-home rentals in the Caribbean. They even help clients rent a private island to feel like a celebrity or test out a dinosaur-DNA cloning project. Members of the Hideaways Aficionado Club also receive exclusive perks and discounts with participating partners.