Does the sight of Halloween candy at the grocery store have you feeling like summer’s over before it got started? We’re here to remind you that there’s still plenty of time to squeeze in a ton of seasonal fun – and to help you do it.

Summer in Maine always feels painfully short, but with this year’s weather-related false starts, it’s been particularly crunched. So it’s understandable if you still haven’t gotten to the beach, stuffed your face with seafood, or taken in a ball game. But it’s not too late.

If you’re feeling frozen in the face of all you want to fit in before fall, we put together a handy checklist of the season’s essential activities to help get you on your way to having a complete Maine summer experience in a hurry.

Beach-goers bask in the sunshine at Old Orchard Beach. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

1. HIT THE BEACH

Beach days have been few and far between this summer, so if you were busy on the few sunbathing-worthy weekends, you might have yet to spend a day lounging on the sand. And if it’s going be your one shot, you better make it worth it. Peruse our online guide of southern Maine beaches to find one that suits your beach-going style, whether you want to people-watch in Old Orchard, surf in Scarborough, or stroll along the coast in Kennebunk.

2. GO TO A WATER PARK

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Notice how we didn’t mention swimming in that last one? Even this late in the summer, the ocean is reserved for a select crew, which is likely diminishing with every shark sighting. But there’s a less frigid – and frightening – way to get your splash on; that is, if you can get yourself to Route 1 in Saco. There, you’ll find not one but two water parks that can both cool you off and provide hours of thrilling fun. But you’ll have to do it this weekend; both parks close after Labor Day.

Aquaboggan Water Park, 980 Portland Road, Saco. Open Thursday through Monday.  $30, $23 for under 48 inches tall, $20 seniors 60 and over, $6 toddlers. aquaboggan.com

Splashtown Water Park, 774 Portland Road, Saco. Open Friday through Monday. $46, $41 seniors over 60 and kids under 48″ tall. funtownsplashtownusa

Cruising by Great Diamond Island on Casco Bay while on the Sunset Run boat ride. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

3. TAKE A BOAT RIDE

But you don’t have to get wet to enjoy the water. And you don’t have to own a boat, or make friends that do either, for the opportunity to take in the salt air, postcard-perfect scenery and maybe a seal or puffin sighting. Casco Bay Lines has a robust schedule of rides, but the Sunset Run is a favorite. It’s between 2.5 and 3 hours and stops at several islands while the sun goes down.

Casco Bay Sunset Run, Casco Bay Lines, Commercial Street, Portland. 6 p.m. daily. $17, $14.50 seniors, $8.50 kids. cascobaylines.com

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Or climb aboard the Merrymeeting and take a one-hour cruise on the Kennebec River, where you’ll get a look at Bath Iron Works and the museum’s shipyard, as well as Doubling Point Light and the Kennebec Range Lights.

Shipyards & Lighthouse Cruise. Maine Maritime Museum, 243 Washington St., Bath. Noon and 2 p.m. daily. $40, $21 for 6-17 years old, $6 for under 6. Tickets include admission to the museum. mainemaritimemuseum.org

Mountain Lions are a featured attraction at Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

4. HAVE AN ANIMAL ENCOUNTER

Maine is known for a wide variety of wildlife, aside from lobsters. But you don’t have to leave it to a chance encounter to see for yourself. The Maine Wildlife Park is home to all sorts of animals that are native to the state but, for a variety of reasons, wouldn’t survive in their natural habitat, including moose, cougars, deer and bears.

Maine Wildlife Park, 56 Game Farm Road, Gray. Entry is 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, 9:30 until 6 p.m. on Friday; $5 to $10 (cash or checks only). maine.gov

For a more exotic experience, head to York’s Wild Kingdom, where – along with an amusement park (separate admission) – you’ll find Bengal tigers, grivet monkeys, lemurs, kangaroos, prairie dogs, potbelly pigs and more.

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York’s Wild Kingdom, 1 Animal Park Road, York. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. $17.50, $11 for kids, $1 for infants 2 and under. yorkswildkingdom.com

A large-scale troll, created by Danish artist Thomas Dembo, sits on the forest floor at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

5. TOUR THE COASTAL MAINE BOTANICAL GARDENS

This place is a Midcoast paradise just waiting for you to explore its many acres. From the gigantic wooden trolls to the butterflies, waterfalls, flowers and plants as far as the eye can see, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a crowd-pleasing spot. Kids will love the fairy house village, and you’ll love the Vayo meditation garden.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, 105 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. $24, $20 seniors and veterans, $15 students 18 and over, $10 for kids 3-17, under 3 free, $56 families (two adults, two kids). mainegardens.org

Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

6. GO TO A SEA DOGS GAME

If you haven’t been to Hadlock Field, make it a point to see our beloved Portland Sea Dogs do their thing while you nosh on Sea Dog Biscuits and hot dogs washed down with a cold beer, from Bud Light to Bissell Brothers. It’s all the more entertaining to go on a special promotional night like ’90s Throwback Night on Thursday or Fan Appreciation Day, featuring a “Field of Dreams” cornfield theme, on Sept. 16. The regular season runs through Sept. 17, but they’re in the running for a playoff spot.

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Hadlock Field, 271 Park Ave., Portland. $8 to $32. milb.com/portland

Movie-goers watch “Grease” on the big screen on the second-to-last night of movies playing at the Skowhegan Drive-In in Skowhegan last year. Michael G. Seamans/Staff Photographer

7. SEE A DRIVE-IN MOVIE

Drive-in movies are a summer tradition that dates back decades, and although the number of them nationwide are dwindling, there are five traditional drive-in theaters in Maine, as well as one in Farmington that doubles as a concert amphitheater. Check the showtimes and take your pick.

Prides Corner Drive-In, 651 Bridgton Road, Westbrook; $20 for one or two people, $30 for three to five. Schedule and info on Facebook.

The Saco Drive-In, 980 Portland Road, Saco; $25 per vehicle. Schedule and info at thesacodrivein.com.

Bridgton Twin Drive-In, 383 Portland Road, Bridgton; $23 for one or two people, $28 for three to six. Schedule and info on Facebook.

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Skowhegan Drive-In Theater, 201 Waterville Road, Skowhegan; $10 per person for 12 and over, $5 for under 12. Schedule and info on Facebook.

Skylite Drive-In, 304 11th Ave, Madawaska; $11 per person, $4 under 12, free under 5. Schedule and info on Facebook.

Narrow Gauge Drive-In, 12 Narrow Gauge Square, Farmington; $20 per car load includes a medium popcorn and two medium drinks. Schedule and info at narrowgaugecinema.net.

An overflowing lobster roll from Red’s Eats in Wiscasset. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

8. EAT A LOBSTER ROLL

Fresh seafood is an obligation if you’re visiting Maine, and always a treat if you live here. The entire state is dotted with hundreds of spots to enjoy lobster rolls, whole lobsters, clams and other freshly caught fare from the sea. Here are two particularly iconic ones. At Red’s, you may have to stand in line for a while, and at Two Lights, you’ll need to keep an eye on your food, because the oceanside gulls will be gunning for it, but the view is spectacular.

Red’s Eats, 41 Water St., Wiscasset; 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. redseatsmaine.com

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The Lobster Shack, 225 Two Lights Road, Cape Elizabeth; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. lobstershackmaine.com

9. GO OUT FOR ICE CREAM

If you haven’t had a proper ice cream this summer, you may want to have someone take your pulse. Several steps need to be taken to execute an ice cream outing, and it all starts with someone declaring, “I want ice cream.” Next comes the excited piling into the car as it practically drives itself to your favorite ice cream spot. Standing in an often shockingly long line is also part of the ritual. From getting bit by mosquitoes to happily petting unknown dogs while chatting with a co-worker or pal you just ran into, the line is an essential step. All the while, you’re craning your neck and scanning the list of flavors. Will it be a traditional one like Oreo cookie or maple walnut? Or will you be more adventurous with a multi-ingredient creation? Heck, you may even kick it old school with a dish of sherbet or a soft-serve chocolate and vanilla swirl. Maybe you’ll dig into a sundae made with Zach’s Brownie Light from Martel’s in Saco or a scoop of Horchata Rum Cake from Rococo in Kennebunk. Regardless of what you end up with, nothing beats that first taste. You owe it to yourself to make that happen. Hit up our guide online for ideas, and enjoy.

An ideal campsite on the shore of Broad Cove at Cobscook Bay State Park. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

10. GO CAMPING

With a little bit of gear and a whole bunch of enthusiasm, camping in Maine can be a magnificent experience. Spend a few days hiking, swimming and telling stories around the campfire while making s’mores. Choose something in your own neck of the woods or plan for a longer road trip. Cobscook Bay State Park in Edmunds Township offers camping all year long. Or maybe head to Lamoine State Park in Frenchman’s Bay. Think of the campground as the gold at the end of the rainbow. If you don’t have the gear or truly can’t make the time, we’ll give you half credit for taking a day trip to one Maine’s many state parks.

Moose Mountain Mini Golf in Richmond. Ashley Allen/Staff Photographer

11. PLAY MINI GOLF

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Admit it, you love mini golf, and you’ll go to great lengths to impress your friends with a rogue hole-in-one or a miracle birdie. Maine has plenty of courses to choose from, including the new Moose Mountain Mini Golf in Richmond and the recently overhauled Schooner Mini Golf in Saco (where you can now putt with a beer in hand). Moose Mountain is open Wednesday to Sunday and will stay open as far into the fall as the weather allows. Schooner will be open on Saturdays and Sundays only after Labor Day weekend and will stay open until the weekend before Halloween. Moose Mountain will be open Wednesday to Sunday for as long as the weather permits and is also open on Labor Day. So go hit the mini greens and have huge fun.

 

12. SEE A CONCERT OUTSIDE

There’s still time to enjoy live music outside, from major concert tours coming through our outdoor venues to local acts playing on waterfront decks. Here are three places of varying sizes that are hosting upcoming shows.

  • The L.L. Bean summer concerts series in Discovery Park (Freeport) winds down with a free show from country musician Scotty McCreery on Saturday night at 7 p.m. Info at llbean.com.
  • The Maine Savings Amphitheater in Bangor plays host to Pantera on Sept. 7, Shinedown on Sept. 21., Dropkick Murphys on Sept. 27 and Goo Goo Dolls on Sept. 29. Tickets and info on all shows at waterfrontconcerts.com.
  • Portland Lobster Company on Commercial Street has a huge deck and plenty of live, local music scheduled. You can hear tunes seven days a week, often twice a day, through Sept. 23.

13. GO TO A SUMMER THEATER

There are still a handful of places where you can see live theater this summer, including comedies, dramas and musicals.

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Ogunquit Playhouse is presenting the nationwide premiere of “The Da Vinci Code,” a play based on author Dan Brown’s bestselling novel. The adventure with professor Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu runs through Sept. 23. Tickets and info at ogunquitplayhouse.org.

Deertrees Theatre in Harrison presents the Lord Chamberlain’s Other Men production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Sept. 8 and 9. Tickets and info at deertrees-theater.org.

Lakewood Theater in Madison will thrill with the dark and murderously funny musical comedy “Anatomies” through Sept. 9. Tickets and info at lakewoodtheater.org.

The Porthole Restaurant and Pub in Portland. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

14. HAVE A DRINK ON A DECK

Before the frost settles in and the snow flies, there’s still time to sit outside with a cold beer or fancy cocktail. There’s a bounty of breweries and plenty of bars and restaurants with rooftops and decks where you can perch yourself. The palatial deck at Casco Bay-abutting Porthole is a sweet spot to while away the hours, conferring with tourists and locals while noshing on burgers and sloshing beers. The Brunswick in Old Orchard Beach is another spot with ample amounts of seaside seating. Catch a sunset, maybe hear some tunes and pair a Peach on the Beach cocktail with a plate of nachos or some poutine.

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