If you’re looking to spend a day or two off the beaten path, the nearby towns of Gray, New Gloucester and Poland have lots to offer the whole family. Less than 45 minutes from Portland, you’ll be amazed at the wide open spaces of this quiet countryside where recreational opportunities abound.
Get an up close look at over 25 species of wildlife at the Maine Wildlife Park
on Rt. 26 in Gray, open mid-April through Veteran’s Day. The park gives a permanent home to wildlife that can’t survive in the wild due to injury or earlier captivity. Moose, lynx, black bears, mountain lions, kestrels, barred and great horned owls are some of the residents you’ll meet as you tour the park. An exciting program of activities takes place on Saturdays throughout the season and the Visitor’s Center offers displays and hands-on activities.
Many years ago, world-renowned Poland Spring Water transformed a scenic western Maine town into a state and national landmark. At the Poland Spring Preservation Park
, visitors can tour the original Poland Spring bottling facility and springhouse, now an informative museum open to the public on weekends from Memorial Day to Columbus Day (and to groups of 10+ by appointment). Two more historic structures reside on the grounds: the All Souls Chapel and the Maine State Building, one of only two buildings remaining from the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair, which now houses an art gallery and museum of regional exhibits. The park also contains several miles of groomed trails open dawn to dusk year-round for hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing.
Located in New Gloucester, 5,000-acre Pineland Farms
is a recreational and educational destination that is not-to-be-missed. Visit for the day or stay overnight in one of six beautifully appointed guest houses, ideal for groups of friends or family. The premises house a working farm and creamery, educational programs and a world-class equestrian center. In addition to walking, running and mountain biking, Pineland’s 25 km of well-designed trails are groomed daily for both classic and skate Nordic skiing and a 4.5 km trail designed for snowshoeing. Pineland Farms is a great venue in which to enjoy the outdoors, especially in winter when ponds are kept clear for ice-skating and sleds race down hills. In spring, summer and fall, stroll through the perennial, herb and vegetable garden, play tennis on one of three courts which are free to the public, and explore Pineland’s fields and forests with backpack kits filled with materials to help you identify what you see and learn about the natural environment.
Golfers will want to spend an afternoon on the links at beautiful Spring Meadows
in Gray, the course that Golf Digest cited as a "venue worth the drive.” In autumn, the course is ablaze with fiery foliage.
For an affordable homestyle meal, look no further than across the street from Spring Meadows on Rt. 100 to Cole Farms, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Favorite menu items include Maine crab rolls, fried shrimp and an extensive list of homemade desserts and ice creams. With a playground for the kids, Cole Farms is a great spot for family dining.