On any warm, sunny summer day in Vacationland, the ocean water in the southern part of the state is a frigid 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Anyone interested in a swim? That’s OK if you aren’t ready to dive in. Grab a chair and soak up the sun at the beach or embark on a family adventure, the kind of adventure that you can only get in Portland, Maine.
Maine has a magnificent coast which offers learning experiences for active and curious teenagers during the summer months. Portland is the best place to stay for these trips because it is easy to get to by train and plane—the Amtrak Downeaster comes up from Boston and the Portland International Jetport is less than 10 minutes away. Portland has the most comprehensive array of accommodations in Southern Maine aside from the bed and breakfasts in sleepy Kennebunkport. So do you know where to take your next family vacation yet?
Get some grub and see some history
Portland is one of the top destinations in the United States for great food as it ranks among the top U.S. cities in restaurants and bars per capita—so the choices are endless. Start your trip by exploring all of the little cobblestone streets in the Old Port with your teenager—or send them out on their own to investigate. Enjoy the salty sea air while you discover the abundance of little boutique shops that fill this beautiful area of Portland. Here you will find beanie baby lobsters and moose, artist studios, locally crafted handmade pottery and more.
When you are ready to get out and see the rugged Maine coast, start in Portland’s Old Port and rent mountain bikes or join a tour and take off for a trip on the trails overlooking Casco Bay. You will venture up to the charming coastal towns—Falmouth and Yarmouth—to the north of Portland on your trip. If you are feeling energetic, you can also hike these routes and stop for a picnic. The perfect place for a picnic, however, is Portland Headlight in Cape Elizabeth. What would a trip to Maine be if you didn’t see a lighthouse up close and personal?
Paddle out into nature
For a unique learning experience that teens will soak up on your family vacation, hook up with the Maine Island Kayaking Company for an eco-adventure tour that will rock your world. They offer tours in Mexico, Alaska, Belize, Bolivia and Nova Scotia as well, but in Maine you will have a great geology lesson as you learn about how Maine’s coast was formed as glaciers receded during the last ice age. A history lesson might be in store as well as you and your teen paddle past islands which house old military forts. These forgotten fortresses were used as early as the War of 1812 and as late as World War II to protect and defend Portland. Today some of the forts can still be discovered by tourists. Keep your eyes open while paddling out in the bay; you never know when a curious seal will pop up to check you out!