Midcoast Maine isn’t just for grown-ups: children love vacationing here too!
What’s a kid to do? Well, this area offers several small playgrounds, most notably at the Montessori School in Camden and at the Penobscot Bay Area YMCA in Rockport. There’s a great children’s room at the Camden Public Library; some kid-friendly swimming spots, including the shallow water of Barrett’s Cove on Lake Megunticook off Route 52; and fun stores like Camden’s venerable Smiling Cow for spending allowance money.
There’s miniature golf at Golfers Crossing on Route One, on the Camden/Rockport town line; bowling alleys in Northport and Rockport; movie theatres in Rockland, Thomaston, and Belfast; and an indoor pool, walking track, and climbing wall at the local YMCA. The Coastal Children’s Museum in Rockland even has a sea creature touch tank, among its other fun and educational diversions.
But the Camden area also offers up some one-of-a-kind activities that appeal to kids of all ages. Here are some of our favorite things to do with children that will hopefully inspire lasting vacation memories for your whole family and have the kids looking forward to their next trip to Maine:
Take your imagination for a ride at the Owls Head Transportation Museum. This museum has offered a world-class collection of pre-1940s vehicles and aircraft for more than 40 years. It showcases funky old cars, air shows featuring biplanes, Model T rides, vintage motorcycles, truck meets, historical exhibits, and more. Visit their website to find out about upcoming shows and special events. Kids under 18 get in free.
Visit the Belties of Aldermere Farm, not your ordinary cows! Owned for years by the Chatfield family and now by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Aldermere Farm in Rockport was one of the first in the country to import Belted Galloway cattle from Scotland. The famous “Oreo cows” quickly became a local landmark. A walk along scenic, tree-shaded Russell Avenue to watch the cows is a popular outing. Friday Farm Tours run through the summer. And don’t miss nearby Children’s Chapel, described here.
Haul a lobster trap from the briny deep. Discover the Maine you can only see from the water on the classic wooden lobster boat Lively Lady. Camden Harbor Cruises offers short (from one- to three-hour) outings each day departing from Camden Harbor. These include the Lobstering & Lighthouse Cruise; a wildlife eco-tour; the Sunday Lighthouse Cruise; and a daily Sunset Cruise. You’ll see area lighthouses, traditional sailboats, visiting yachts, the scenic rocky coastline, and, potentially, seals, porpoises, bald eagles, ospreys, guillemots (a cousin to the puffin), and working lobster boats. Kids can help steer the boat and pull up a lobster trap; parents can sit back and have a beer at the on-board bar. Find schedule and cost here.
Enjoy panoramic views from a mountain tower. Rising 780’ above Camden Harbor, Mount Battie is a distinctive feature of the local landscape. The stone tower at its summit was erected as a WW I memorial in 1921 on the site of a former hotel in what is now Camden Hills State Park. You can hike to the tower via several trails, including a short (1/2-mile) but sometimes steep scramble within walking distance of downtown Camden (#15 on the map available via download below), or drive up via the auto road from the main park entrance on Route One (fee charged). Kids love to climb the tower’s spiral steps for a sweeping view of Penobscot Bay and the surrounding mountains. If you choose to hike up, keep an eye out for delicious trail-side wild blueberries in summer! Download a trail map for the park here; trails 15 and 12/13 are the easiest options to reach the summit/tower on foot. PLEASE NOTE: IN 2016 THE TOWER ITSELF IS CLOSED FOR REPAIRS FROM JUNE 10 – AUGUST 10.
For other hikes with young people, we also highly recommend the trail up Beech Hill in Rockport, described in an earlier blog post. To encourage his 4-year-old to keep going to the top, a friend of ours told her that a fairy princess lived up there. It’s certainly easy to imagine fairies living in the magical stone hut at the top with flowers growing on its roof!