Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party

Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party

The Eastport Arts Center will again offer its popular Gingerbread House-Decorating Party from 3-5 pm, Wednesday, December 5. Participants young and young-at-heart are welcome to come decorate a house, whether as family teams or individuals. Young builders should come accompanied by a grownup helper; solo adults are also welcome to join the party. Materials fee is $5 per house; in addition, participants are asked to bring a bag of decorations (candy or other edible materials) to share. Space is limited, and preregistration is required; please contact Chris Grannis at chris@eastportartscenter.org or (207) 853-4650 to sign up. The Eastport Arts Center is at 36 Washington Street, Eastport, and is handicapped-accessible. For more information, please visit www.eastportartscenter.org.

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Sixteen awesome things to do with the kids in Down East Maine

Sixteen awesome things to do with the kids in Down East Maine

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.

Maine Vacation Rental1) 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

 

 

 

 

 

Sea salt Maine Vacation Rental2) 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.  

 

 

 

 

 

downeast puffin tour3) 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 August  to 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.   

 

 

 

Bad Little Falls Park Machias4) 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:

Mill Memorial Park, East Machias

Bad Little Falls Park, Machias

Middle River Park, Machias

Fort O’Brien State Historic Site, Machiasport

 

Roque Bluffs State Park5) 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. 

 

 

 

 

Mustard Maine Vacation Rental6) 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.  

 

 

 

 

 

Minion Maine Vacation Rentals7) 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Ropes course Maine Vacation Rental8) 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. 

 

Maine Vacation Rental9) 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).

 

 

 

Chainsaw Maine Vacation Rental
StockSnap / Pixabay

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.   

 

 

 

Child swimming Maine Vacation Rental12) 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

biking on the downeast sunrise trail14) 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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milbridge Outdoor Theater15) 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Four reasons not to book your vacation rental through VRBO or AirBnB

Where in Maine
Once upon a time in Vacationland…

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 questions  through 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? 

airbnb service fee for vacation rentals vrbo service fee for vacation rentals tripadvisor service fee for vacation rentals

*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.

 

renting a vacation rental

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Where in Maine

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

seedy motel maine vacation rentals

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. 

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Reversing Falls in Pembroke, Maine

Pembroke Maine Reversing Falls

The oh-so-interesting phenomenon of reversing falls can be seen in the narrows between Dennys Bay and Cobscook Bay in Pembroke, Maine.

Because the tides in the area are among the worlds highest tides, that, combined with the large rock ledge, makes the falls appear to reverse several times per day.

Fun Falls Facts:

*Reversing Falls is a town park.
*Historically it was a farmstead.
*The cemetery remains (on the right side).
*Opposing currents create reverse waterfall at low tide.
*There are strong currents at all sides.
*There is an old shipwreck on the left hand shore.
*Check the tide table to be there at low tide.

From Machias, it is about a 45 minute drive north on Route 1 to Pembroke.

It is a right hand turn off of the highway just before the post office (if you pass it, turn around at the gas station).

After turning right off route 1 north, go to the end of the road, turn right then a quick left onto Leighton Point Road where there is a sign (well, sometimes not) that says “Reversing Falls”.

Go 3 3/10 mile up that road and take the right onto Clarkside Road. There is also a sign that says “Reversing Falls & Cobscook Trails” (high up on a telephone pole).

Follow that to the end and take a left at the intersection.

Follow that to the end (about 1 1/2 miles on a dirt road).

Follow the trail through the fragrant forest.

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A Great Walk With A Dog in DownEast Maine

A Great Walk With A Dog in DownEast Maine

Downeast Sunrise Trail.

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.

REMEMBER TO CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR PET.

 

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3 Great Places You Must Take Your Camera in DownEast Maine

3 Great Places You Must Take Your Camera in DownEast Maine
  1. Machiasport Town Pier in Bucks Harbor.

  1. Route 182 Frankin to Cherryfield in autumn

Franklin Maine

 

  1. Campobello Island

Campobello Island

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I Found The Best Bakery in DownEast Maine

Maine Vacation Rental

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.  I am ALWAYS the person to try out a new bakery and make it my mission in life to try to stop at every bakery that I pass on every roadtrip that I take.  There are so many wonderful little shops that have tasty goodies, it’s hard to pin down just one.  Luckily, we don’t have to, do we?   We can just narrow it down to area or town.

So what is my favorite bakery in DownEast Maine?  I would have to say Moose Island Bakery in Eastport.  Located right on the main street – Water Street – you’ll see it in one of the historic old buildings.  Walk in and you’ll think you died and went to sugar heaven — the windowed counter is fully of sweet confections .  They have breads and cakes and cupcakes and scones.  Settle in with the local newspaper or the free wifi, some coffee and enjoy a breakfast pastry or savory croissant.  On clear days, enjoy the waterfront deck and views to Campobello Island and maybe even a whale or two!

Just see if you can resist sweet confections called Snowballs, Chocoholic’s Choice, French Creme Puffs and, of course, the Maine traditional Whoopie Pie.  Their motto is “Life is short; eat dessert first.”

When you visit the website, make sure to make note of their webcam — check out the weather, the views, the birds out over the ocean.

The drive to Eastport is about an hour drive from Machias and 90 minutes from Milbridge. They are Monday through Saturday from 6:30am to 4pm and Sunday from 8am to 2pm. They are closed for inclement weather.

Some Google reviews are:
I go here a lot. Very friendly. I especially love drinking coffee on their deck on a summer day. My husband says they have the best cinammon rolls he’s ever eaten. Believe me, he’s eaten lots of them!

Some of the yummiest macaroons, peanut butter brownies I have had in a long time

Great customer service and great selection. Highly recommend this place!

Delicious baked goods, but go early in the day as things do sell out.

We always stop for cafe and treat… It has become a tradition for its great bakery. And a plus if you are sitting out and you spot a whale!

 

 

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Raye’s Mustard Mill – Eastport, Maine

Maine Vacation Rental Cottage

Winner of the Maine Tourism Association’s Down East and Acadia Regional Tourism Award!

TOUR THE RAYE’S MUSTARD MILL

Fourth-generation owners Kevin and Karen Raye and their friendly staff are happy to provide tours of The Mill and invite visitors to sample each of the small batch crafted mustard flavors. For those who visit when The Mill is not in operation, a video allows visitors to get a glimpse of the mustard-making process.

RAYE’S PANTRY STORE
A GENERAL STORE FULL OF GIFTS AND MORE

The Pantry Store, located at the front of the mill, is a well-stocked gift shop featuring the full range of Raye’s internationally acclaimed yellow and brown mustards, as well as Maine-made food products, gifts and locally-produced arts and crafts. Both The Mill and Pantry Store are popular tourist attractions and are open year-round – visitors are always welcome!

https://rayesmustard.com/

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McCurdy Smokehouse Museum – Lubec, Maine

McCurdy Smokehouse Museum – Lubec, Maine

Please check the website for more information…http://lubeclandmarks.org/index.html
The McCurdy Smokehouse, located in Lubec Maine, was the last traditional smoked-herring facility in the United States when it closed its doors in 1991. On July 15, 1993, the McCurdy Smokehouse complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Lubec Landmarks, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was incorporated in 1995 and obtained the McCurdy Smokehouse complex the same year. Today, Lubec Landmarks maintains the property and has developed a museum about the fishing industry in the skinning/packing shed and is working to preserve the other buildings.

Gallery, Gift Shop and Smokehouse Museum hours:
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily

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