Monday, June 17, 2013

Maine Monday: Time to Smell the Daisies

Congratulations to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden in Boothbay Harbor for being named top public garden in the US, according to Trip Advisor! We certainly agree that the 250 acres on Maine's beautiful coast are a must see this summer for locals and visitors alike. I reviewed the gardens way back in March, right before Mother Nature dumped three feet of snow on us and it seemed like we'd never see green grass again. But the blooms are back and it's on our list to visit this week.

Both of the little C&Gs love exploring the gardens, there's plenty of open green spaces for them to run around and lots of trails to follow. Walk into the children's garden and you'll be greeted by whale sculptures spouting water, perfect for cooling off on a hot afternoon. There's a labyrinth to follow, vegetable gardens to examine, a story barn filled with books, and plenty of other things to entertain the kiddos. Little C&Gs favorite part of the gardens is the Burpee kitchen gardens, near the entrance. I need to keep an eye on him when he wanders over to the "pizza wall", where oregano, basil and other Italian herbs grow together in vertical beds. I know if he asks for pesto that night he's made off with a few bunches of basil.

Make the downhill hike past the meditation garden and you'll come to the fairy forest. With so many natural materials available the fairies have never had such palatial palaces! And if your kiddos are too tired to hike back up the hill, a golf cart shuttle will be by to bring you back up to the main house. Every Friday in July and August the gardens are hosting Fairy Fridays, with special programming and activities in the children's garden for boys and girls.

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are an hour north of Portland, and they have lots of family programs going on all summer. The story barn in the children's garden is home to several of the daily activities, including a story hour at 10:00, puppet theater at 11:00, chicken feeding at 12:30, and nature investigations at 2:00. The gardens are open daily from 9:00 to 5:00, admission for adults is $14, and for kids 3-17 it's $6. Family memberships are $90, and get you free admission to over 270 gardens throughout the US and Canada. Great if you're doing some traveling this summer!

We usually stop for lunch or snacks along the way in the college town of Brunswick. The British pub Lion's Pride is a favorite, and the C&G Grandparents raved about lunch at Scarlet Begonias recently. If you're looking for a quick slice of pizza, the owners of my favorite funky Mexican restaurant El Camino also own Flipside on Maine Street. They use local and organic ingredients for the pizzas they bake up all day. A few scoops of gelato at Gelato Fiasco, also on Maine Street, is the perfect way to start (or end) our adventure along the Maine coast.

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