From canopied forest where the light sparkles through the tree tops as chickadees and nuthatches bounce from limb to limb, to open marshland where beaver, heron, turtles, and moose might be seen, the restored section of the Calais Branch Lines gives passengers a view not seen since the wealthy “rusticators” traveled from the cities to their summer homes on the Line.
You’ll travel over bridges, roll past schools and houses, hear the clack of the rails muffle on the thick woodland moss, and delight in the sound of the horn at the crossing. Watch as the powerful engine moves from the front to the back of the train to take you to Washington Junction rail yard where you’ll see the heavy equipment that keeps the rail running, and pass train components and cars currently being restored for use on the Downeast Scenic Railroad before coming back to the Ellsworth depot. On the way be sure to look for the nests of the giant osprey, and the big beaver hutches in the wetlands! In addition to exceptional views of wetland marshes, glacial erratica including massive boulders, river and stream crossings, while traveling and working on this stretch of the line we have observed many forms of wildlife including osprey, blue herons, bald eagles, moose, deer, snapping turtles, beavers…and bears!
The current traveling time is roughly 90 minutes, and traverses a 13-mile section of the restored railroad. Water and light snacks are available for purchase, and you are welcome to bring your own picnic lunch.*
At the core of the Downeast Scenic Railroad Project is the rehabilitation of the Washington Junction/Ellsworth to Green Lake section of the Calais Branch Line to create a 24-mile round- trip excursion ride. Other project components include construction of storage/repair facility at Washington Junction.
There is an alternative to hiking or biking in order to take in the splendor of Acadia National Park. One option that you may not have thought of is to take a guided tour of the park.
Operating from mid-May through the end of October, Acadia National Park Tours are fully narrated, three hour excursions featuring three stops within the park. Each stop has restrooms.
This is an excellent option if you cannot hike due to health or mobility issues, as the amount of walking needed is very limited. They can even accommodate walkers and folding wheelchairs.
They describe their tours as:
Our fully narrated bus tour will satisfy even the most info-hungry passenger. Featuring three stops within Acadia National Park, guests will learn about the history of Bar Harbor and Acadia, the geology, the wildlife, and much more, all while taking in in the stunning ocean and mountain views. Tour stops include the summit of Cadillac Mountain (the highest point on the eastern seaboard), Thunder Hole (an oceanside stop), and either Sieur De Monts Spring (Wild Gardens of Acadia) or the Jordan Pond House.
All tours take place on comfortable buses with an amplified PA system. The amount of walking is limited and at the passenger’s discretion. Restrooms are available at our ticket office and each stop within the park.
They open for the season on May 11th and tickets and more information can be found on their website.
Meet at and explore Frazer Point in Winter Harbor to witness the return of songbirds and warblers. Learn identification tips, discuss conservation issues, and have fun in pursuit of as many species as we can find. Join Seth Benz, Schoodic Institute’s Bird Ecology Program Director and enter the fray! Cost per date / per person is $15.00.
Please call Michelle at 207-288-1356 to register and reserve your spot today!
Birding Field Trip dates: May 17, 23, and 29. Choose one, two or multiple trips!
We ask that should you need to cancel, please call us.
These events fill quickly – Interested birders may be able to fill a vacancy.
Refunds will only be given in the event Schoodic Institute must cancel the trip.
Check our website for cancellation in case of inclement weather. Meet at Frazer Point on the Schoodic Peninsula in Winter Harbor. Dress for the weather. Bring Binoculars.
The Atlantic Brewing Company began as Acadia Brewing in 1990. At first the brewery was located inside the Lompoc Cafe in downtown Bar Harbor and had a maximum capacity of just one barrel at a time. Within a few years the demand for our beers had grown so much that we moved the brewery two doors down from the restaurant and increased our capacity to seven-barrel batches. However, by 1998, we had outgrown that facility as well and so we moved again – this time to our current location on the Knox Road. Our estate brewery was built on the grounds of a 19th century Maine farmstead, that employs native vegetation and local stonework.
They have several locations in and around the Bar Harbor area and offer tours and tastings. Here’s what you need to know:
The have three tours daily from Memorial Day through mid-October. Reservations are not required, but they can only accommodate 25 people per tour. The tours are approximately 20 minutes long, followed by a tasting. Children are allowed on the tour, but obviously not the tasting.
Planning a trip to coastal Washington County, Maine with kids this year? Or maybe you live in the area, but have never ‘played tourist’ with your kids? The Bold Coast region of Maine is known as the place where one goes to escape throngs of tourists. You won’t find go-carts and mini-golf every mile. Instead, you’ll be able to unplug and reconnect with nature. Especially now, when kids are hooked on technology (face it, we all are), it is a good opportunity for families to get outside and just…well… to be cliche… commune with nature. Always check an event calendar for the area — almost every month there is some festival or celebration weekend in some part of the county.
Here is a list of 16 things to do with kiddos — some/most are seasonal, with the season opening for most places sometime in May, so always check ahead if you’re visit is during a shoulder or off-season.
1) Head to Machiasport’s Jasper Beach for the ultimate in beach combing.Jasper Beach is one of the most unique beaches in the world — instead of sand dunes, you will need to climb dunes made of ocean-smoothed rocks.Listen to the singing of the waves as they gently crash, tumbling the rocks.It’s a great place for every age for beach combing. Learn more about Jasper Beach HERE
2)Learn how they get salt from the ocean to the jar at a fascinating free tour of the Maine Sea Salt Company.Have you ever thought about how salt gets from the sea to your salt shaker?Learn the answer here in a free tour of the factory where salt is made.It’s sourced locally, from Bucks Harbor in Machiasport and then evaporated in greenhouses.Free tours are offered May through December.
3)Hop aboard the Kandi Leigh and take a sightseeing trip to see the cutest little animals on the planet.One of the highlights of any trip to Down East Maine is a boat trip to see the puffins.The three hour boat tour is available May through Augustto Petit Manan Island to see Puffin and other shorebirds.These tours often fill up months in advance so plan early.Robertsons Sea Tours also offer whale watch and other scenic tours as well.
4)Take a picnic lunch to any of the charming little pocket parks in the area.This corner of Maine is beautiful and there are so many little parks tucked here and there, most will views and lawns — great places for picnics and romping.Here are just a few in the area:
5)Spend the day strolling and dipping your toes in the mighty Atlantic ocean at Roque Bluffs State Park.At the end of one of the fingers that reaches into the Atlantic ocean is one of Maine’s most beautiful state parks.There is a wide stretch of sandy beach — one of the very few sand beaches in this part of the world.Across the lane, there is a fresh water pond.The park also has restroom facilities and 182 miles of walking trails.
6)Tour a historic stone mill and see where mustard is made at Rayes Mustard Factory in Eastport. Visit a shop and mill that has been around for four generations.Sample different flavors of mustard and pick up some of the tasty condiments at their general store.
7)Pack up a lawn chair and enjoy one of Machias’ free outdoor movies for children at the Boxcar.Every other Friday in July and August, the Machias Bay Chamber of Commerce offers free movies at their visitor center/boxcar.Bring a blanket, chairs, bug spray and popcorn.
8)Take a day trip to Wild Acadia Fun Park in Bar Harbor.Enjoy the afternoon at this family fun park which includes an aerial park, zip lines, a water park, go carts, mini golf and more.The Wild Acadia Fun Park is located on the road to Bar Harbor, just south of Ellsworth.It’s open from June until Labor Day.
If you are visiting the area a little earlier or later in the season, Pirate’s Cove Mini Golf in Bar Harbor is open from mid-April through October.
9)Learn about sea life at the Mount Desert Oceanarium in Bar Harbor. Open from mid-May until late October, the Oceanarium is a lobster museum and hatchery.While you are there, take the Marsh Walk to learn basic and important ecological principles.
10) Visit a local farm and learn to farm. Pet a goat.Many farms in the area welcome visitors to learn about the farm.Some through Open Farm Day, usually held in July.Others with advance reservations.Two nearby farms are Tide Mill Organic Farm in Edmunds and Hatch Knoll Farm and Garden Side Dairy in Jonesboro. (As a side note, both sell products that are unbelievably delicious — head to their websites to see where you can purchase some yummy organic food).
11)See a show with Ray Murphy, the Chainsaw artist in Hancock, Maine.Chainsaw Ray performs his show in the world’s first Sawyer Art Theater building. The audiance can not hear the noise from the chainsaws. Instead, they only hear gentle music.Chainsaw Ray performs one of the most unique shows in the world and has been performing for over 50 years.Shows start at 7pm nightly from Late June until the end of September.
12)Splash around in the indoor pool at the University of Maine Machias.I remember when my kids were small — we lived surrounded by the ocean but all they wanted to do was go to the pool.Daily passes to the pool at UMM can be purchased for $5.Currently the pool is open for kid visitors on weekends from 10-2 on Saturdays and 10-3 on Sundays.During the week, the open pool is shared with lap swimmers.
13) Really enjoy learning about nature.I have two vacation rental homes in Machiasport and I have both scavenger hunts and bird and wildlife identification books in both homes.The scavenger hunts were easily printed from online hunts and I stapled the lists to brown paper lunch bags.I have two different hunts for two age groups – kids can hunt from everything from “dispose of a piece of trash” to “listen to the sound of wind through the trees”.Besides looking right in your own yard or neighborhood, there are so, so many good places to hike in the area.The Bold Coast Trail in Cutler is breathtaking for older kids.For younger kids, there are fantastic walking trails that surround the campus of the University (UMM).Other great places to walk are can be found at mainetrailfinder.com/trails– an invaluable resource for looking for outdoor adventures – where you can input location, degree of difficulty, etc.
14) Bike on the Downeast Sunrise Trail.The Downeast Sunrise Trail connects Pembroke, Maine (almost to the border of Canada) to Ellsworth (and the Appalachian Trail beyond). The trail is multi-use, so you might see walkers, horses, ATV’s, snowmobiles and dogsleds on the path, but no automobiles.The trail is usually closed during ‘mud’ season in the spring but reopens sometime in May.Check their website for maps and updated news.
15) Head to Milbridge every Friday evening.The Milbridge Theater has a ton of great, family friendly entertainment every Friday in summer.These performances range from puppet shows to live music to game show nights (interspersed with kid-friendly outdoor movies).The evenings kick off at 5:30 and rain dates are on Sundays.
16) Back to that scavenger hunt theme, what about geocaching? Geocaching is something that can be done no matter where you are (my kids were interested in it and I was amazed that there were several hidden within a block from my house in Massachusetts). Go to the website and sign up for a free account. From there you can enter whatever destination that you want and it will give you a list of all of the locations in the area. Find a geocache box, sign in and record your finding. By this summer, there may be a few additional locations in the downeast area…wink, wink.
Feel free to email me or make a comment with other fun things to do with kids!
Susie had a killer vacation home in Machiasport, Maine.Because she wanted to offset some bills,Susie decided to make it available as a vacation rental.Since she loved her home and area, she was excited that she could play ‘virtual tour guide and innkeeper’ to the guests who stayed in her home. She paid upfront for an ad on a major online vacation rental listing site and happily answered questions about her home and many questions about the area from potential guests via phone and email. When the guest was ready to book, she made payment arrangements, usually through a check or credit card payment.
Once upon a time, Bobby wanted to go on vacation in down east Maine.He logged into a major online vacation rental site and clicked on the region – DownEast Maine.He was given a list of about 200 properties in the area.Bobby was able to narrow down with filters exactly what he was looking for —- and decided to choose Susie’s home in Machiasport.He had some questions about Puffin Tours and possibly ordering a custom cake for his wife’s birthday.He was able to contact Susie and she provided him with the information that he was asking for — phone numbers and websites of tour companies and local bakeries.She also gave Bobby information on how to pay the deposit and he mailed her a check.
Today in Vacationland…
Susie wants to offset some bills so she decides to make her wonderful vacation home available on an online vacation rental listing site (now known as an OTA for Online Travel Agency).Instead of buying an ad outright, she must now agree to pay a commission on every reservation (at a much higher rate than she used to pay for her ad). She must also agree that she will use only the OTA’s payment processing system for all reservations.
Bobby wants to take a vacation to down east Maine.He logs onto an OTA and starts his search.There are no regions in Maine and, in his first search attempt, he sees properties from Kennebunk to Houlton to Calais – thousands and thousands of them – vacation homes, rooms in people’s home, motel rooms and more.
So he decides to input just one town into his search – Machiasport.The results seem more manageable and he looks at a property and thinks it looks perfect.As he plans his trip and dates, he notices something odd.There is mention of a passport needed for Americans.At closer look, he sees that the property he is interested in is not in Machiasport at all, but in New Brunswick, Canada!
A closer look at his list of Machiasport rentals shows properties in Cutler, Addison and Blue Hill mixed in with Machiasport homes.So now Bobby has to start his search again and take a close look at just where exactly the property is located. Now he knows that a search for a property in Machiasport does not necessarily actually show properties just in Machiasport.But he perseveres. He comes across Susie’s listing which looks perfect.But he has some questions about puffin tours and bakeries.He looks for Susie’s contact info but there is no phone number and no email, but he can send a message through the OTA, which he does.
Susie is happy to answer Bobby’s questions.She knows a fantastic tour company to visit the puffins and knows of an excellent bakery to bake the birthday cake.But she doesn’t know Bobby’s phone number or email or even his last name.She can only respond to his questionsthrough the OTA system.So she takes the time to write about the fabulous things to do in the area and passes along the info that Bobby has asked for.
Bobby received the reply from Susie.Unfortunately it looks like this…
You can get more info about the company that provides puffin tours at their website: XXXXXXXX. The phone number to the bakery is XXXXXXX.
Unfortunately, the OTA system blocks out any and all identifying information.So Susie is forced to try again, with a cryptic message –
If you do a google search for Robertson Sea Tours their website should pop up. The phone number to the bakery is 2 zero 7 five 5/5 ninety one o 6.
Susie feels awful because she knows presenting information in this manner is just lousy customer service but it’s the only way that she can get the info to the traveler.Bobby decides to book her home.He must pay the rent via credit card through the OTA and is very surprised when there is an additional $250 fee added to the total amount.That, Susie, explains, is the service fee that the OTA tacks on to the traveler’s total.Unfortunately, that pushes Bobby’s vacation over budget, so he must keep looking for a less expensive house.(Overall, Bobby has spent about four hours on this rental search so far and still has no rental).
So what can Bobby do to make his travel less frustrating?
Book directly from an owner or small management or listing company!
Here are my four reasons to #bookdirect rather than through VRBO or AirBnB:
1) No Service Fees.Did you know that all of the major online travel agencies add on a service fee to the traveler?
*fees and terms subject to change – check the individual sites for the most up-to-date information.
That’s a heck of a lot of lobster and ice cream you’re giving up in order to stay at your rental house.And often, these fees are non-refundable if your plans change — even if the homeowner is willing to refund some of the rent, good luck getting that service fee back.Instead of searching on the big sites, look to smaller regional sites who usually don’t charge extra traveler fees or try to find the owner directly.
2) Communication between the guest and the owner.Traditionally, sites like HomeAway and VRBO and others were a way to connect owners with travelers who wanted to rent.It was an advertising platform — nothing more.Today, on virtually all of the OTA’s, all phone numbers, emails, websites and all identifying information is masked and direct communication between owners and guests is impossible.
3) Avoid Geographical nightmares. At one time, vacation areas were broken up into popular regions.Now, the geographic region has more to do with the secret algorithm of the OTA (reading between the lines — which homes and regions will bring them more money).The actual home location may be in very small print on the listing and a potential traveler may be looking at a home miles from where he may actually want to be.Again — look to regional sites to simplify your search.
4) Know that it’s really a home.The newest change to the listing sites are the addition of hotels, motels and B&Bs and inns to all of the listing sites (in addition to advertising spare rooms in occupied homes on AirBnB). Just to confuse your search more, there may be dozens of listings for motels and hotels on a site that claims to be “Vacation Homes By Owner”.You may see a photo of a beautiful pool and think you’re going to stay in a luxury home.Surprise!You just booked a room at a chain motel.
Access to the Downeast Sunrise Trail is just minutes away from most of our properties. It is a multi-use corridor connecting eastern Maine and the head of the East Coast Greenway
from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. It is part of the ‘ice age’ trail.
That’s right. You could feasibly take the pup for a walk down the entire eastern seaboard.
The trail has a website and facebook page where they update trail conditions — very important with winter snows and spring muds.
One of their newest features is an app where one can enhance the appreciation of the ice age. This is what is written on the app’s website:
The Ice Age had a profound effect on the Maine landscape. This effect is very pronounced in the Down East region, where a vast sheet of glacial ice sculpted Cadillac and surrounding mountains, carved out the Sommes Sound fjord, and left spectacular sand barrens.
The Ice Age Trail is comprised of the finest and most accessible of these features. It follows the margins of the last great North American continental ice sheet and coincides with many Down East tourist attractions.
We invite you to use this interactive trail map and guide to enhance your appreciation of the Maine landscape during your next visit or to take a virtual tour. In either case, we hope the time you spend here will be both informative and enjoyable for you.
The Seal Cove Auto Museum fosters joyful experiences for people of all ages and interests. Our collection features some of the earliest automobiles and motorcycles, as well as clothing and accessories, from 1895 through the early 1920s. Antique auto enthusiasts, history buffs, as well as anyone who simply loves stories or wants to experience something entirely different, will delight in this unique collection.
Inspired by over 50 vehicles, the Museum shares exciting stories about this transformational time in American history. Stories about invention and innovation, art, design, women’s rights, and social and economic changes can be traced through the early automobile, when inventors were experimenting with steam, electricity, and gas-powered engines. The Seal Cove Auto Museum shares these stories — the innovation, ingenuity, and the power of imagination — that created these vehicles and transformed life in America.
The current exhibit, Auto Wars: Then & Now, explores the debate a century ago over whether or not to allow cars on Mount Desert Island, and how the ultimate decision in 1916 forever changed the nature of MDI. The exhibit is presented in a “choose your own adventure” style, allowing YOU to decide whether you are for or against cars, and follow either the pro- or anti-auto arguments to explore the impact of community decisions on the landscape.
The Museum hosts many programs and events throughout the year including demonstration days, Cars & Coffees, dances, dinners, kids’ activities, and more. Visit our website for more information.
Lulu Lobster Boat
Welcome aboard the Lulu! Our wildly popular tour is consistently one of the top-rated boat cruises in the region. We are the only lobster boat tour in Bar Harbor hosted on a traditional Downeast-style lobster boat. Lulu’s two-hour tour offers the most exclusive, personal and unique cruise in Bar Harbor. Sailing from the heart of the Bar Harbor waterfront at the beautiful Harborside Hotel & Marina. Come experience what is sure to be a highlight of your time in Maine!
During your cruise on Lulu, experience a sample of the life and work of the Maine lobsterman (or lobsterwoman!). Watch a demonstration of how lobster traps are hauled. We’ll describe all the parts of a lobster trap and how the lobsters (and many other sea creatures) find their way to the bait inside. Learn all about the anatomy and life cycle of the Maine lobster. For example, did you know that lobsters smell with their leg hairs?
In the mid-1980s, when Dave Geary sold his first pints of Geary’s Pale Ale, there were only 13 craft breweries in the entire United States. Today, Maine has around 50 breweries crafting hundreds of unique beers. Yes, it’s a competitive field, but it’s also a close-knit and friendly one. Maybe it’s our coastal location, but they’ve all got a “rising tide raises all boats” philosophy. It’s in that spirit that the Maine Brewers Guild was founded.
GRAB YOUR PASSPORT
That spirit, and Maine’s very distinctive hospitality, combined in 2009 with the creation of the Maine Beer Trail. It connects nearly 50 craft breweries, both inland and on the coast. Visit Rocky Coast Brewing in Ogunquit or Kennebec River Pub & Brewery in The Forks, Black Bear Microbrew in Orono or The Bag and Kettle Brewpub at the top of Sugarloaf. Be sure to grab a Maine Beer Trail Passport when you hit the road. Visit 10 breweries, and you’ll be rewarded with a Brewers’ Guild hat; 20 breweries gets you a t-shirt.
You can enjoy the Maine Beer Trail even if no one in your party is willing to make the noble sacrifice of being the designated driver. Take a guided tour with The Maine Brew Bus, complete with beer, snacks, tours and, yes, beer trivia. Or just stick to Portland. There are nearly a dozen breweries just a short walk or cab ride apart, including Shipyard Brewing Co, Sebago and—note the name—Rising Tide Brewing Company.
WHATEVER YOUR THIRST
Maine’s breweries are located all over the map, not just literally, but figuratively as well. At Friars’ Brewhouse in Bucksport, Brother Donald Paul of the Franciscan Brothers of St. Elizabeth of Hungary brews his trademark Whoopie Pie Porter. Penobscot Bay Brewery in Winterport uses the beer they brew to make their signature beer-flavored ice cream. And in a rustic space on Portland’s waterfront, In’finiti Fermentation & Distillation not only brews beer, but distills their own vodka, whiskey and rum.
Maine may have a crazily diverse selection of breweries, but they all share one common theme: They’re serious about making an absolutely great product.