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Family Friendly Learning Activities

Whether you are home-schooling the kids or just looking for family-friendly activities, here are some socially distanced/active learning opportunities in Maine to explore together this fall.

HISTORY

Castine Historical Society – Castine

10 am Wed-Sat; 2 pm Sundays through Oct. 11, 2020

Walking tour takes approximately one hour and will give an overview of Castine’s history, identify buildings of architectural significance, show several beautiful Elm trees, and point out Fort George, the earthworks of a Revolutionary War British fortification.

Fort Knox – Bucksport

Open from 9 am to sunset from May 1 through Oct. 31

Fort Knox was established in 1844 to protect the Penobscot River Valley against a possible future British naval incursion and is one of the best-preserved military fortifications on the New England seacoast.

Fort McClary – Kittery

Open 10 am to sunset daily from Memorial Day to Indigenous People's Day.

For more than 275 years, a fort has stood to protect the approaches to the Piscataqua River at the southern gateway to Kittery, Maine. The buildings presently on the site represent several different periods of construction as the fort was upgraded and modified to meet the area's defensive needs.

Fort Popham – Phippsburg

Open 9 am to sunset daily from April 15 to Oct. 30

Fort Popham is a semi-circular granite fort that was never completed, though construction began in 1862 for use during the Civil War. Modifications were made and the fort was used again in the Spanish American War and in World War I.

St. John Valley Cultural Byway – Hamlin (Rt. 1A/1) to Dickey (Rt. 161)

The St. John Valley Cultural Byway, also known as the Parcours culturel de la Valle, is rich with Maine's Acadian heritage and culture. The byway travels a total of 92 miles along the northern border of Maine and through the St. John Valley.

INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE

Maine Maritime Museum – Bath

Open from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily

Experience Maine’s rich seafaring history from watercraft and lobstering, to shipbuilding and sea trade, with indoor and outdoor exhibits at the museum campus on the banks of the Kennebec River.

Maine Forest and Logging Museum (Leonard’s Mills) – Bradley

Grounds open daily, dawn to dusk

Leonard’s Mills is at the actual site of an early pioneer settlement, identified by remains of a stone dam and foundations of several houses. Today, Leonard’s Mills is “alive” once again represented by an authentic reconstruction of a logging and milling community of the 1790s.

Museum LA – Lewiston

Open Thurs - Sat, 10 am – 3 pm

Learn about Lewiston/Auburn’s mill town heritage. The collection consists of both modern and vintage locally produced textiles, machinery involved in local production, shoe shop artifacts, personal items and tools owned by the mill workers, and photographs of mill work and social life.

Patten Lumbermen’s Museum – Patten

Tues – Sun, 10 am – 4 pm through Oct. 12

Learn all about Maine logging history, including the use of bateaux on waterways to transport supplies, the stories of the fearless river drivers, what life was like inside a remote logging camp, and even the role of bean hole beans. The museum houses replicas of an 1820’s ‘single’ camp and a ‘double’ camp typical of later years which visitors can explore.

Owls Head Transportation Museum – Rockland

Open Wed – Sun; Morning (10 am - 12:30 pm) or Afternoon (1:30 - 4 pm) reservation required

The Owls Head Transportation Museum features more than 150 antique automobiles, aircraft, motorcycles, bicycles, engines and more.

SCIENCE

Natural Environment

Acadia National Park – Mount Desert Island

Acadia National Park protects the natural beauty of the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline of the United States, an abundance of habitats, and a rich cultural heritage. Visitors enjoy 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens – Boothbay Harbor

Open daily 9 am – 5 pm through Oct. 12

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is located on 295 tidal acres along the MidCoast. Attractions include a story-book themed children’s garden and a Butterfly House with surrounding gardens of native host and nectar plants. Learn about some of our favorite winged pollinators and witness transformation firsthand—egg to caterpillar, cocoon or chrysalis to moth or butterfly.

Cape Elizabeth Land Trust – Cape Elizabeth

Trails open dawn to dusk

Within Cape Elizabeth’s 9,000 acres, you will find a remarkable variety of natural habitats including tidal saltwater marshes, old-growth forest, bold ocean promontories, sandy beaches, dense coniferous woods, and open fields.

Desert of Maine – Freeport

Open daily 9 am – 5 pm through Oct. 12

How did sand dunes end up in the middle of a forest? Learn the natural history the Desert of Maine. Take a self-guided walking tour referencing the tour map and museum-quality signs that show the history and science in words and pictures.

Maine Wildlife Park – Gray

Open daily 9:30 am - 3:30 pm through Nov. 11, reservations required

The park is home to over 30 species of Maine wildlife that cannot be returned to their natural habitats. Some are there because they were injured or orphaned, and others because they are human dependent – raised, sometimes illegally, in captivity. You’re guaranteed to see moose and more animals in a day than you could ever spot in the wild.

Hardy Boat Coastal Seal and Nature Cruises – New Harbor

Daily through Oct. 12, reservations suggested

As we approach Webber’s Dry Ledge, summer home to the harbor seals, they are either sunning themselves on the rocks or frolicking in the water around the ledges. The history and biology of the resident population of seals is explained in an entertaining and enjoyable way.

Viles Arboretum – Augusta

Open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week

Viles Arboretum is a free, easily accessible, botanical garden with six miles of trails, several botanical collections, and local art (all marked and signed), on 224 acres. Trail maps are available at the trailhead kiosk. Dogs are allowed on the trails, on a leash at all times. Pet owners must pick up after their dogs.

Wells Reserve at Laudholm – Wells

Trails are open every day — 7 am to sunset

The coastal lands comprising the Wells Reserve include upland fields and forests, freshwater and estuarine wetlands, and a beach-and-dune system. Our protected area reaches from the Little River (at the Kennebunk line) to the Ogunquit River.

Geology

Maine Mineral and Gem Museum – Bethel

Open Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm (closed Tuesdays); Sunday 11 am – 5 pm

Explore a collection of gemstones celebrating Maine’s gem, mineral and mining history, and the world’s largest collection of moonrocks and meteorites.

Coos Canyon Rock and Gift - Byron

Open daily through Oct. 31

Coos Canyon is a natural gorge along the Swift River known as one of the best places to pan for gold in Maine. Get a free demonstration to learn how to pan for gold with the equipment you need available to buy or rent. Pan in the on-premises panning pool or along the Swift River and its tributaries.

Astronomy

Maine Solar System Model – Presque Isle to Houlton

Aroostook County, in Northern Maine, is home to a 40-mile long scale model of the solar system, at a scale of 1 mile equaling the distance from the earth to the sun. The model extends along Rt. 1 between the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus and the Houlton Information Center at the end of I-95.

ARTS

Farnsworth Art Museum – Rockland

Wednesday through Monday, 10 am - 4 pm, reservations required

The Farnsworth Art Museum offers a nationally recognized collection of works from many of America’s greatest artists, with 20,000 square feet of gallery space and over 15,000 works in the collection. It has one of the largest public collections of works by sculptor Louise Nevelson, while its Wyeth collection features works of N.C., Andrew and Jamie Wyeth.

Langlais Sculpture Preserve – Cushing

Open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week

The Langlais Sculpture Preserve is open to the public for day-use only. Twelve large wooden sculptures were restored on site. In addition to an ADA-accessible trail around the sculptures, a .5-mile trail takes visitors inland into the wooded portion of the property.

Nervous Nellie’s “Nellieville” – Deer Isle

Open Tues – Sat 11 am – 5 pm through October 10th

The grounds of Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies in Deer Isle are comprised of meadow and woods filled with sculptures made by Peter Beerits from discarded metal, locally-milled lumber, and dump-foraged material. A Western town - jail, lawyer's office, fortune teller, hotel, saloon, Chinese laundry - sits shoulder to shoulder with a Delta-style juke joint, a Deer Isle general store, a church, a Grail castle, wizard's tower, 50's garage complete with jam session, all comprise Nellieville, a lifelong work in progress.

Portland Museum of Art – Portland

Open Wed, Sat and Sun –12 noon – 6 pm, Thurs and Fri 12 noon – 8 pm, reservations required

The PMA welcomes families and makes it easy for parents, grandparents, and children of all ages to experience the museum and explore art together. They have activities and amenities for families of all sizes, including family museum guides, gallery activities, and a whole variety of kid-centric events.

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