Archive for the Category »Maine «

Aug
29th
  A Quintessential East Coast Outing Fantastic For Kids This Labor Day

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What could be more representative of the state of Maine than lighthouses and lobsters?

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Throw in a few pairs of latex gloves, an engaging captain, and a little lobster education and you have yourself a fun afternoon lobster fishing on the waters of Maine.

It is still lobster season on the East Coast, where the waters are cold. The season runs until the very end of October. It is BIG business in Maine – in 2012 alone, fishermen caught 123 million lbs of lobster and there are some 3 million traps in Maine’s waters. Applying for a trap is difficult because one has to wait until traps are given up – some stay in the family for years.

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If you ever find yourself looking for something authentic and interesting  to do with your kids in Maine, I recommend hopping aboard “The Lucky Catch,” or another lobster boat offering tours. I took my kids recently, and it was a hands on experience for sure.

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The Lucky Catch is docked in the cute town of Portland, Maine. The boat gives tours May-October.

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Captain Tom is a wonderful teacher along the way – after donning our appropriate lobster fishing duds, we learned about Maine’s lobster industry.

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Captain Tom let the kids bait the traps, and throw them down into the murky waters.

We learned interesting tidbits about harvesting lobster – how the fishermen are required to practice some conservation. If they catch a female with eggs, they have to throw her back.

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While the kids are hard at work setting the traps, adults can simultaneously enjoy the picturesque scenery. Lighthouses, rocky beaches, and traditional New England homes dot the shoreline.

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When it is time to pull up a trap or two, the kids are welcomed right in the action.

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Then, because our little fishermen are THAT good, passengers can buy the lobsters, for a  mere $5.00 each!!! What a deal.

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After our adventure and purchase of one fine lobster, Captain Tom recommended that we walk on over to the Portland Lobster Co. ….Animal lovers – read no further.  The chef will then cook your lobster for you right there, on the spot, and serve it up with corn on the cob and other sides.

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I was sort of excited about  fishing for my own food. However, my kids and I found that shelling and cleaning the lobster is not so easy… and it is much more appetizing to order it in a restaurant where they clean and crack the shell for you!

Overall though, a great family experience.

Some lobster tours in Maine:

Lucky Catch Cruises, Portland, Maine  www.luckycatch.com

Connemara Bay Fishing Charters, Cape Ann, Maine  www.cbcharters.com

Rugosa Lobster Tours, Kennebunkport, Maine  www.rugosalobstertours.com

 
Apr
20th
  Hotel of the Week: Earth Day and How Resorts are Getting Green

Portland, Maine

I was in Portland Maine recently …cute little town…progressive…still lots of mom and pop establishments surviving and very few chains downtown. That strong-willed spirit carried over to the nearby resort where I stayed: Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth.

Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth, Maine

I was impressed by the care the hotel went to in it’s recent renovation to be eco-friendly.

Perhaps it is the beautiful environment that motivated the green growth…. it is set right near the water, walking distance from a cute private beach.

But here are some of the advancements made by the hotel:

Solar panels, recycled sheet rock walls, recycled cork floors, recycled rubber floors, dual flush toilets, heating with bio fuels, preferred hybrid parking, sheet and towel reuse programs & purchasing renewable electricity are just a few of the green initiatives and design features which helped the Inn by the Sea achieve a SILVER LEED® and Maine’s Green Lodging certifications.

And I loved the fact that when I ate in the beautiful dining room or on the deck, I knew the seafood on my plate was locally caught…the produce was from local farms..and even some cheese I tasted at an event in the lobby was made by a local farm. You could tell – it was all fresh and delicious, and sustainable.

I am starting to see a lot of hotels offering linen re-use options, local and organic cooking, green lighting and construction. The one EASY thing I don’t see often is in-room recycling, But the hotels below go above the bare minimum to be green:

Hotel Terra, Jackson Hole

Hotel Terra Jackson Hole, Teton Village, Wyoming – Average Nightly Rate: $371

Eco-friendly elements abound in the Hotel Terra, literally from floor (environmentally-friendly carpets) to ceiling (recycled roof shingles). And the design is still fantastic.

Organic linens, low-flow toilets and solar-powered faucets can also be found in guest rooms, and even relaxation is green here, with organic spa products, and 100 percent natural mattresses made from recycled and organic materials.

Green doesn’t have to mean roughing it – this is an example of eco-luxury.

The Ambrose Hotel, Santa Monica, California – Average Nightly Rate: $242

Ambrose Hotel, Santa Monica

The first hotel in the U.S. to receive the United States Green Building Council’s LEED Silver Certification, the Ambrose Hotel has put green practices in place all over the property, including composting, cleaning guest rooms with eco-friendly products, and recycling.

Ambrose Hotel

Alaska’s Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge, Homer, Alaska – Average Nightly Rate: $300

Sadie Cove WIlderness Lodge, Alaska

If you go to Alaska, try to stay in a wilderness lodge – cruises aren’t the only way to see the splendors of the Last Frontier. Sadie Cove Wilderness Lodge is only accessible by boat, floatplane, or helicopter. It is  built from local and reused materials.  Water to the lodge comes from a mountain stream, and along with the usual  recycling and energy-efficient lighting, the lodge gets cute and creative by planting a tree for each guest to offset carbon emissions.

Trust me when I say you will be up close and personal with the Alaska wilderness here.

Hotel Monaco Seattle – a Kimpton Hotel, Seattle, Washington – Average Nightly Rate: $344

Hotel Monaco, Seattle

The Hotel Monaco brings green to an urban setting with a variety of eco-friendly programs, such as donating unused toiletry bottles to local charities rather than throwing them away, and using recycled paper at the hotel. In your guest room you will find  recycling bins,which is refreshing – that is so easy to do – why  don’t more hotels do it?? There are also  low-flow toilets, faucets and showers, and organic coffee and snacks.

Like most Kimpton hotels, there are special touches  – Great design …and travelers can feel closer to nature with a pet goldfish available for free from the hotel for the duration of their stay.

 
Oct
21st
  Hotel of the Week: Laid Back, Old Fashioned, Family Retreat where Lighthouses and Lobster Abound.

Inn By Th Sea, Portland, Maine

This hotel is off-the-beaten-path, but still has won accolades from travel magazines… and anyone who knows of it. It is “The Inn by the Sea,” in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. I had always wanted to visit the coast of Maine, and this hotel won me over by it’s non-pompous attitude, and location: on the stunning coastline, but just a 10 minute drive into quaint Portland, Maine – the state’s largest city.

I did mention non-pompous didn’t I? When you pull up to this truly grand resort, it has a humble but pretty curb appeal.. and no valet parking. As a matter of fact, the parking is free. How often do you visit an upscale establishment offering that?

The lobby is inviting… and in the bar area there are daily drinks put out – coffee for guests in the morning… tea in the afternoon… and you can have a glass of wine into early evening by the cozy fireplace.

But what captivated my family the most when visiting is the huge grass field in the back, where we spent much time playing soccer and volleyball. The Adirondack chairs dotting the lawn made it feel tranquil… you could sit there to rest and enjoy the view and the sound of children’s laughter.

The games don’t end there – the bocce court is a nice touch – a game everyone can enjoy.

There is a pool near the grass yard – but beware – this is New England, so the solar heating isn’t always generating warm pool water. So when you look at the website thinking you can rest by the pool all day while your kids swim, make sure you visit during a sunny heatwave! On the other hand, the beautiful beach is just a short walk down a path.

The dining room is lovely and the food is gourmet and local fare… can you say blueberry martinis? (Blueberries are big in Maine!)

We did venture out to Portland for dinner it was so close and is a very cute town. If you visit, you really should get out to Portland. Very clean and charming, with unique boutiques and not many chain stores.

Breakfast, well – when you have kids you don’t have as many options – to drive to Portland right when you wake up doesn’t sound to leisurely, and with hungry kids, impractical. We ate breakfast at the hotel on the lovely veranda. It is a beautiful setting – we only wished there was a children’s menu so you don’ t have to pay $7 for a bagel for them.

The service is stellar – some of the nicest and most helpful people work there. My camera lens broke and I wanted to get it fixed, so they looked into it and got me the info. We needed to switch hotels in our next destination when we were there, and the director of publicity researched some options that may be good for our family before I even had an opportunity to think of something.

Overall, staying at the Inn by the Sea is a relaxing experience but there are activities nearby if you want to partake – kayaking, whale watching, lobster fishing are all “so” Maine. The only thing I would have liked to have done is have a clam bake… but that just gives me a good reason to go back. :)

What to do in Maine:

Summer and Spring: all sorts of outdoor activities. L.L. Bean can hook you up with guides for kayaking, birdwatching, etc..There’s also lobster fishing, and hanging out on a beach.

Winter: winter carnivals, snowmobiling,  and ice fishing

Fall: leaf peeping of course!

www.innbythesea.com