One rewarding way to spend a vacation is to learn a new outdoor skill or add to your knowledge. Maine especially lends itself to outdoorsy adventures that combine fresh air and exercise with Mother Nature as your instructor in Maine's vast, beautiful classroom. You can find plenty of options in Maine, ranging from formal weeklong classes to 1-day workshops. Here are a couple of the most popular:
Fly-fishing in Maine. What says Maine more than L.L.Bean? The world-famous outdoors-store's educational offerings are growing by leaps and bounds, and are highly recommended by travelers of all ages. Among the many options, the intriguing fly-fishing outings are worth a look. There's a good catalog available by mail or at the flagship store (open 24 hours a day) on Main Street in Freeport. L.L.Bean also offers a number of shorter workshops on various outdoor skills through its Outdoor Discovery Program (www.llbean.com/adventures; tel. 888/552-3261).
All About Birds. Budding and experienced naturalists can expand their understanding of marine wildlife while residing on 333-acre Hog Island in Maine's wild and scenic Muscongus Bay through the Maine Audubon Society. You're brought by boat, then stay on the island for 5 nights; see the web site hogisland.audubon.org for more details. (Famed birder Roger Tory Peterson once taught birding classes here.) I can personally vouch for Maine Audubon's other outdoors and educational programs, too. Call or visit their lovely headquarters at 20 Gilsland Farm Road in Falmouth (www.maineaudubon.org; tel. 207/781-2330), 10 minutes north of Portland.
For Those Who Love Historic Homes
Historic New England is a nonprofit foundation that owns and operates 36 historic properties around New England, ranging from places built in the 17th century to the present, including a number of properties profiled in this book. Members get into all of the organization’s properties for free, and receive a number of other benefits including a subscription to Historic New England magazine; a guide to the group’s properties; and invitations to members-only events and other perks. Memberships cost $50 per year for individuals, $60 for households. For more information on Historic New England and its properties, visit the group’s website at www.historicnewengland.org, or call the organization’s Boston headquarters at tel. 617/277-3956.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.