Eagle Island was the summer home of famed Arctic explorer and Portland native Robert E. Peary, who claimed in 1909 to be the first person to reach the North Pole. In 1904 Peary built a simple home on a remote, 17-acre island at the edge of Casco Bay -- perhaps he wanted to preserve that polar feel of having no neighbors? Later he added flourishes in the form of two low stone towers. After Peary's death in 1920, his family kept up the home and later donated it to the state of Maine, which now manages it as a state park. The home is open to the public, maintained much as it was when Peary lived here, but you can get here only by taking your own boat or a charter boat. Portland Discovery, a local outfit offering various tours of Portland and the vicinity, sends a boat out from Portland's Long Wharf (the one with the boat-shaped restaurant) five times per week in summer; the 4-hour excursion includes a 1 1/2-hour stopover on the island, which is lovely in and of itself. Bring a picnic.
- Brian Kevin