3 Maine Family Vacation Ideas in the Outdoors
Mid-week at Northern Outdoors is MADE for families, with half price rafting for kids under 18 ALL SUMMER LONG. The Adventure Resort in The Forks and Katahdin Adventure Base Camp near Baxter State Park are the perfect home base for your Maine family vacation, with a huge selection of adventures for families of all ages, interests, and styles! Plus, Northern Outdoors Forks location is only 2 hours north of Portland, Maine, so if you’re visiting the city (or the ocean) it’s just a little trek north to complete your Maine experience!
Family Vacation Idea #1: Glamp & Raft
Located 4 hours north of Boston, our Adventure Resort in The Forks is home to whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River, the Kennebec River Pub & Brewery, a riverside campground with campsites and cabin tents (Maine woods glamping), and an abundance of indoor accommodations including 10 logdominium units and 15 free standing cabins. This 2-night trip is the most popular Maine family vacation, with one full day spent whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River and two nights in a riverside cabin tent. It gives your kids (and you!) a taste of outdoor adventuring and camping, without being too remote or missing out on all the amenities of a relaxing vacation. Want to sleep indoors? No problem, take this trip and switch out the cabin tent for a cabin or a logdominium and you’re set!
Day 1: Arrive, Hang at the Lodge
On your way to The Forks, be sure to swing into Hannaford in Skowhegan (40 miles south), or Jimmy’s in Bingham (18 miles south) to pick up some food and other essentials. Although we have many essentials (toothpaste, sun block, etc) and a small a convenience store located 5.5 miles north (Berry’s General Store), there are no grocery stores nearby. We recommend stocking up on all the goods when you’re in the “big city”, so when you arrive at Northern Outdoors you’re free to relax!
Check in is at 4pm, but if you arrive early you’re sure to find things to do. Take the afternoon to hang on the deck and watch your kids splash in the pool— or get a family volleyball match going! There’s an arcade/game room, a hot tub, a restaurant, and wi-fi for checking in with family or friends back home.
Retreat back to your cabin tent for some unplugged family fun around the campfire! Cabin tents, a wooden frame with canvas overlay and 2 to 4 cots inside, let you dip your toes into camping without the full commitment to camping. Many of our cabin tents are riverside, so the view out your front door is incredible. But it’s bare bones in there, with just cots and 1 light, so bring your own sleeping bag/pillow and come ready to spend your time outdoors!
Day 2: Kennebec River & Hike into Moxie Falls
The Kennebec River is a deep, high-volume, scheduled-release river, so we know you’re sure to have BIG waves and BIG fun Every. Single. Day. The minimum age for this river is 8 years old, and a minimum of 10 years old to go through the class III-IV section. But 8 and 9 year olds can rest assured— they don’t miss too much! Kiddos under 10 hop back on the bus with our bus driver (with or without parent, you decide) and wait for us at the stairs. They miss about 4 miles, or 1.5 hours of the trip, but join you for the riverside lunch and the whole rest of the river, including a long and fun class III rapid, as well as tons of time on the lower river for swimming and exploring in inflatable kayaks!
Kids have a lot of energy though, right? So the day’s not over! Once you’re done watching the slideshow and video from your day on the river, hop in the car for a quick drive 10 minutes north to the trailhead of Moxie Falls! Moxie Falls is a stunning, 90 ft waterfall with just a 3/4 mile hike in, taking approximately 45 minutes. There is a great swimming hole, too, so bring your suit— and stay far away from the top of the falls, of course!
Day 3: Breakfast, Departure
Not every vacation can last a week- sometimes you just have a couple of days, but you still want to get away! Check out at the front desk, fill on up at our restaurant for breakfast, grab some gifts for those who couldn’t make it at the retail store, and venture off — safe travels!
Idea #2: Adventure A la Carte!
Maybe you’re bringing a big group, from kids, to parents, to grandparents, and you want some options for all the different ages and interests. Visit the Adventure Resort in The Forks, where there are a wide selection of indoor and outdoor accommodations (private cabins to riverside campsites) as well as a huge array of adventure activities, including hiking, fishing, ATVing, whitewater rafting, lazy river-floating — plus a resort center with a hot tub, pool, deck seating, game room, full-service restaurant and…on-site brewery (that’s for you, parents).
There are lots of combos that work for families, but here’s one popular 3 night trip:
Day One: Arrival, Afternoon Float Trip
Remember- there aren’t much for stores in The Forks, so stock up on essentials before you come! Arrive at noon and grab some lunch at the Kennebec River Pub & Brewery, located onsite at Northern Outdoors with a large menu selection of sandwiches, burgers and more, then get ready to meet one of our staff at 1:00pm for an afternoon float trip. This is a great introduction to the river, with a leisurely self-guided trip in an inflatable kayak down the class I lower portion of the Kennebec River (think: wide, slow current, little waves).
This trip takes just a couple of hours, with an easy float right back to our main lodge! Once you’re back, come on in and chill— we have a large outdoor deck with food service, a hot tub, pool, corn hole boards, along with the game room and brewery inside. Kick back and relax for an hour or two before heading back to your cabin or campsite to cook dinner. Or, take it easy and grab your dinner right here at the lodge!
Day Two: Whitewater Rafting on the Kennebec River
Whitewater rafting on the Kennebec River is the most popular choice for folks staying at our Forks Adventure Resort, with big rollercoaster waves fun for ages 10 and up, and a relaxing lower river float for ages 8 and up.
Kids and parents alike love whitewater rafting, but there could be someone in your crew that is simply does not want to get on the river! Book a half or full day fly fishing trip with one of our expert fishing guides — they will take you through the Kennebec Gorge or to another top secret fishing area to catch salmon, brook trout, and bass…talk about a beautiful morning!
Day Three: ATVing, Hiking, or Whatever Floats your Boat!
Head home…OR, stick around for another day of fun! There are tons of incredible hikes in the area, from the short but beautiful Moxie Falls (approx 2 hours round trip) to the bigger Pleasant Pond Mountain. Check out our hiking page for some ideas, or if you’re more of a last minute planner, just grab the hiking handout from the front desk when you check in! There are also a few sweet swim spots, including a guide-favorite at Caratunk Boat Launch. Bring along a float and a picnic – it’s the perfect place to relax!
Want other ideas? Well, here goes:
–Rent ATVs! Half and full day rentals, and there are tons of rental options including a 4-seaters!
–Afternoon float trip (if you didn’t do it the first day)
-Drive to Greenville!
This list doesn’t cover it all, but it should give you some good ideas! More thoughts of things to do in our blog, or feel free to give our awesome staff a call at (207) 663-4466 and they can help you out!
Day Four: Departure
The time has come. Grab a full breakfast at our on-site restaurant, pick up some gifts in the retail shop, and head on home. The last day of vacation is always kind of a bummer…so start making your plans for next year!
Idea #3: Hike & Raft – for the BIG Adventurers!
You have teenagers. You’re cool sometimes (when you have money, or drive them places they want to go) but otherwise it’s way cooler for you to keep your distance. Bring ‘em on over to the Penobscot River to give them an adrenaline-pumping awe-inspiring fun time, along with INCREDIBLE scenery where you can all totally unplug for a few days. You can do just the river, or you can really tucker ‘em out with a half or full day hike the day before! This one tops the charts as one of the most unique and epic Maine family vacations!
Day One: Stock up, Arrive, and Settle In
From all points south, take i95 north until Exit 244 for Medway, Maine. You’ve (almost) made it! Pick up your last supplies in Millinocket, and then head out on the Baxter State Rd (like you’re heading to the park) to your home base. You’ll put your feet up in style at the Big Moose Inn – with wifi and two restaurants in the main Inn along with lots of Inn rooms/suites and cabins on their base! For those looking to really unplug, grab a wooded campsite and set up the tent. S’mores anyone?
Day Two: Hike
Rise and shine- it’s time to hike! If your fam is up for the big mama of all hikes, you’ll be heading bright and early to Katahdin. For all the info on hiking Katahdin, visit the State park page. If you’re looking for a more leisurely day, stroll into Blueberry Ledges for some waterfall slides and jumping into the stream. Or check out the Park’s list of different hikes, from 2-4 hours in length.
Not into hiking? Visit Big Moose Inn for some other options, including kayak and SUP rentals, pontoon boat moose tours, or even a scenic float plane ride!
Day Three: Whitewater Rafting on the Penobscot River
The next day, your legs will need a break- so work those arm muscles on the Penobscot River! With the perfect mix of intense whitewater and relaxing floats, the Penobscot will be a beautiful way to spend the day. The kids will be able to crush into Exterminator, drop a 12’ waterfall, and slide down a natural waterslide and float in the river. Added bonus? No cell service all day. Honestly, I’m pretty sure they won’t even think about the cell phone, except for wanting to take pictures of the awesome time they’re having…WITH THEIR FAMILY!
Day Four: Departure— or stick around for more exploring!
Vacation is over…or is it? If you’re sticking around, you’er sure to find something to explore like the Debsconeaug Ice Caves or tubing on the Penobscot River. If it is in fact over— today is your travel day home. But don’t forget to swing into the AT Cafe in downtown Millinocket for a delicious breakfast!
Want to raft the Penobscot? Visit the Penobscot River page to learn more, and give us a call at (207) 663-4466 to book your rafting and lodging at Big Moose Inn and Campground!
What ever adventure you choose, your family is sure to have a seriously awesome time exploring the beautiful woods of Maine. If this is your first trip with Northern Outdoors, there’s a good chance it’s going to be part of your family tradition for years to come… happy adventuring!