Leftovers: Cue the summer fun

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Maine’s state of emergency will be a memory by the end of the month. Along with the sharp decline of itchy blue mask sales will come fun things to do, music to hear, sights to see, food to eat, and people to watch.

After lightly touching on the topic last week, I’ve come across a few more things slightly out of the mainstream spotlight. Here are a few that caught my attention:

• Woof: Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room is teaming up with Tito’s Vodka for a monthly dog-centric happy-hour party you and your tail-wagging BFF will want not to miss. Hilary, my human BFF, can tag along but Mellie, the Portland Phoenix office dog, will be sniffing out the goings-on. From 4-6 p.m. every third Wednesday, beginning June 16 and through September, both decks at Boone’s will be serving $6 Tito’s call drinks (to humans only).

• You may remember the stunning home at 163 Danforth St. in Portland as the Danforth Inn. Now part of Lark Hotels, it’s called Blind Tiger and is spreading the Pride love above and beyond with “Elopement Day” on Saturday, June 19, when the innkeeper will officiate short ceremonies in the outdoor garden where LGTBTQIA2+ couples can exchange vows. Couples may bring two witnesses and a Maine marriage certificate is required. Time slots are limited; see blindtigerportland.com for details. And, no it’s not too late to find that perfect dress.

• The Maine Wildlife Park, operated in Gray by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, is home to more than 30 species of wild animals that find themselves there for safety and healing after being orphaned, injured, or inappropriately raised in captivity. With picnic shelters and volunteer-guided tours, the park is a great place to spend the day. Making it extra fun are Late Evening & Food Truck events on June 17 and 18, and July 22 and 23, when the park will remain open until 8 p.m. and the Shut Up n’ Eat It food truck will be on site. Just 30 minutes outside of Portland, the park is a wonderful use of our tax dollars. FMI: https://bit.ly/3cDwPPi.

Unable to wait for happy hour, a canine tourist poses with a bone-chilling Tito’s martini on the deck at Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room in Portland. (Portland Phoenix/Natalie Ladd)

• On Thursday, June 24, I’ll be tempted to grab my eye patch and peg leg, head to the Maine State Pier, and hop aboard a two-hour full-moon Portland Pirate Cruise on The Frances. The ship is a 74-foot replica of working British pilot cutters that sailed the waters of Maine in the early 1800s. There’s an open beer and wine bar, oysters from Lady Shuckers, and comfortable seating for 37 guests. At $100-125 a pop, it’s a queen’s ransom, but 1 percent of all ticket sales will be donated to the Maine Brewshed Alliance, a coalition of brewers and the Natural Resources Council of Maine committed to protecting our waterways. To join the swarthy gang and learn about other collaborative Full Moon Beer & Oyster cruises visit feelgoodportland.eventbrite.com.

• About 30 minutes northwest of Portland is Seacoast Adventure on Route 302 in Windham, where the Seacoast Adventure Car Show benefiting Make-A-Wish Maine will be held on July 10. Seacoast Adventure has a water park, mini-golf, go-karts, the Deck House Sports Tavern, and a 100-foot sky-swing. All of that is solid entertainment for kids, but the antique autos and enhanced muscle cars add something extra.  

• The best ever old-school cheap date is back: Nickelodeon Cinemas on Temple Street in Portland is bringing us A-list movies for just $5 a ticket on Tuesdays. The seats aren’t as cushy as some of the bigger movie-theater operations that folded during the pandemic but remember, parking on the street is free after 6 p.m. Start the night off with happy hour bargains like haddock bites with jalapeno aioli and gorgonzola-adorned tater tots (each $8) from DiMillo’s. Or, seek out my favorite hidden patio – The Backyard behind Timber on Exchange Street – where they’ve brought back $1.50 oysters and top-shelf wines for $6 a glass. 

• Everything’s better when we help others. No matter how little time you have to spare and share, there’s an opportunity to do better with volunteermatch.org. Whether it’s a one-shot deal or an ongoing effort, the website aggregates the needs of local organizations and services. 

• Want to spend the day in Old Orchard Beach but loathe the thought of parking and driving home after a day in the sun and a night on The Pier? Take one of four scheduled trips on the Downeaster for $3 each way – it’s the ultimate daycation. But guard your fries; the seagulls have missed us as little as we’ve missed them.

As summer unfolds I’ll be revisiting this out-of-the-mainstream list. I’m open to your suggestions, secret fun spots, and unbeatable deals. Masks may be off, but let’s stay safe, and as always, enjoy your meal.

Natalie Ladd is a Portland restaurant veteran, freelance writer, and connoisseur of all things Bruce Springsteen. She loves Boston sports, chewy red wine, and has never sampled a cheese she didn’t like. She can be reached at [email protected].

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