Road Trip: Portland, Maine

October 26, 2010 4:20 PM

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(credit: Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Portland)

(credit: Convention & Visitors Bureau of Greater Portland)

The Ram Island Ledge Lighthouse on Casco Bay. This lighthouse is not access able to the public, but is best seen from the Portland Head Light./ AP

(credit: AP)

Traveling only a few hours north will reveal a fantastic getaway for you and the family. On this trip, you will lay in the sun at a beautiful and family-friendly beach, catch a baseball game featuring future Red Sox stars, watch a play while dining out and even walk through desert sands — all while never leaving New England.

Welcome to Portland, Maine.

Most everyone loves to go shopping, visit museums and go on trolley rides while on vacation, but with the summer starting to wrap up, why not take a trip that is a little different?

Portland does have all of the regular vacation attractions many seek, but peppered in with them are several little adventures you can take that will make your vacation even more entertaining — and memorable.

Getting There

Miles from Boston (roundtrip): About 224
Travel Time: About 4 hours

Desert Of Maine

Maine is usually known for its breathtaking landscapes filled with trees, ponds and tranquil scenery, but did you know that there is also a desert sitting right in Portland? Well, it’s not really a desert, but it sure look like one.

The “desert” used to be a 300 acre farm in the late 1700s that eventually turned to sand. After seasons of poor farming, the land began to change, and the soil started to erode — revealing the sand that covers the area today.

Geologists say the sand is the result of a glacier that slid through the area 11,000 years ago. That glacier apparently left sand and mineral deposits that make up the Desert of Maine. The attraction is known by many all over the world and has even been featured by Ripley’s “Believe It or Not.”

Visitors to the Desert of Maine can take a guided tour, or even explore on their own along the land’s natural trails. Children ages 12 and younger can even take part in a gem stone hunt.

While at the desert, visitors can also pay a visit to the Farm Museum, which is housed in the land’s original barn.

Admission to the desert is very affordable, adults $10.50; teens $7.75; children $6.75. So be sure to pay a visit and feast your eyes on the vast valley of sand. For more info visit www.desertofmaine.com

Anthony’s Dinner Theater

Why just go out to dinner when you can go grab something to eat, and see a show at the same time? Anthony’s Dinner Theater in Portland does just that.

Anthony’s Dinner Theater features creative performances that change monthly. Just like the shows, the dinner theater’s menu also changes every month. For $40, each dinner guest enjoys a homemade, five course meal made from old family recipes. You can check Anthony’s website to see what is being offered.

You do have to call in advance to make a reservation, and depending on the month, some shows tend to sell out quickly, so be sure to plan ahead.

If you can’t make your reservation for the dinner theater, or your vacation plans have changed, be sure to call well in advance. The dinner theater has a very strict cancellation policy.

Shipyard Brewing Company

And to cap off your trip, head to the Shipyard Brewing Company for a tour and some locally-made beer.

The Shipyard Brewing Company was founded by master brewer Alan Pugsley and entrepreneur Fred Forsley. In 1992, Shipyard was a company operated out of the Federal Jack’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in Kennebunk, Maine. But high demand for the beer soon made it’s creators realize their operation needed to expand to meet the needs of their customers.

The company has been operating out of its Portland facility since 1994 and prides itself on producing fine, hand-crafted beers that range in style and taste.

Shipyard is Maine’s largest brewery and currently brews 13 award-winning ales and seven flavors of soda. Just last year, Shipyard was ranked the 16th craft beer company in the country.

Visitors can go on a free tour of brewery and then cap off their trip with a complimentary tasting of Shipyard’s ales. (You do have to be 21-years-old to be a part of the tasting.) For more info visit www.shipyard.com

Baseball

sea dogs Road Trip: Portland, Maine

(Photo Credit: Portland Sea Dogs)

Fenway ticket prices too expensive for your taste? How about checking out some Red Sox stars in the making. Visitors can head to Hadlock Field, home of the Red Sox minor league AA team, the Portland Sea Dogs. Tickets are only a few bucks per person ($9 for box seats, $7 for general admission seats)!

Here are some more great places to visit while Portland:

Portland is an fantastic place to take your family on vacation. The New England charm and beautiful atmosphere will make you feel like you are thousands of miles away from your crazy, and hectic everyday life. So, before you start your back to school preparations, make sure you pack up the kids and head to Portland, Maine for a last-minute getaway you will not forget.

Willard Beach, Portland, Maine (Kid-Friendly)

- Shopping In Downtown Portland

- Take a ferry to the Casco Bay Islands or enjoy a scenic cruise.

- Visit Portland’s Historic Waterfront District

- Portland’s Breakwater Lighthouse

- Take a walking tour of Portland.

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