By Joe Hebert
01 Reversing Falls, West Pembroke
Spread your blanket, unpack your cheese and Pellegrino, and wait for the incredible phenomenon that is Reversing Falls. As the tide turns, the once calm water turns loud and powerful, swirling into a crescendo of white rapids. When it’s over, the water level drops more than 20 feet and you will find yourself, once again, basking in the silence.
02 Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary, Lewiston
This sanctuary, tucked amid the urban sprawl of Lewiston, is an oasis of forested trails and scenic picnic spots. Open from dawn to dusk, you’re free to explore the grounds on your own or sign up for a guided nature walk. Have your lunch with the birds, beneath rustling leaves and flickering tines of afternoon light. No dogs allowed unfortunately, but that leaves plenty of time for quiet bird watching, hiking, skating, and nature photography.
03 Eastern Promenade, Portland
During the summer months, Congress Street, which winds through the city’s center, is filled with gaggles of pedestrians making their way to “the Prom.” Find a bench, unwrap the crinkly paper of your oily Italian, and watch as it unfolds around you—the kites, the games of Frisbee, the somersaults, the grass-stained knees. In the distance, the panoramic view of Casco Bay provides a stunning backdrop.
04 The Giant’s Stairs, Bailey Island, Harpswell
Beach roses and tidal pools line the trail to the Giant’s Stairs—a cluster of lofty ledges right above the ocean. Pick a warm rock, take a deep breath, and watch a fleet of lobster boats head out to sea. Have your picnic in the company of Harpswell’s ospreys, ducks, and seals. On your way home, slow down when you cross the Cribstone Bridge and take in the distinctly Maine panorama.
05 Footbridge Beach, Ogunquit
Follow the worn wooden planks, over blond dunes and tidal flats, to the warm sands of Footbridge Beach. The pastel colors and long horizon lines will make your picnic feel as if it belongs in a painting. After lunch, let the rhythm of the surf lull you into an afternoon nap. See if you can find a few smooth, flat stones along the shore to skip in the Ogunquit River on your trek back.
06 Smalls Falls, Rangeley
Located just south of Rangeley, Smalls Falls is great for visitors looking for a bit more than a stretch of the legs. Its beautiful waterfall, gorge, and swimming holes welcome visitors from all over New England. The easy five-minute hike to the falls is a great adventure for kids who may tire more easily. Reward yourself with a nice picnic overlooking the water afterwards. And dogs are allowed, too!