From communing with turning leaves to the plink of coins in slot machines, the crack of baseballs to some of the great performance stages in the country, there are many recreational opportunities within a couple hours of Lewiston-Auburn, and lots of folks believe the best way to access them is to let others do the navigating, logistical connecting and driving. Sure, many of our neighbors still spend winters in Florida (although many of them may well wish they had chosen to stay here this year, instead). And as the massive ships that alter the Portland skyline throughout the summer and fall will attest, plenty of people still opt for the comparative adventure or luxury of cruising.
But a number of local-area operators – including Alpine Adventure Tours, Dube Cruise and Travel, Hewins Travel and Northeast Charter, to name just a few – meet the more limited needs for wanderlust experienced by those with less time or fewer resources; those who just want to have some fun, for a few hours or a few days. Transportation is by “luxury motorcoach,” a far cry from the rickety, stifling old buses that were used to haul many of us to summer camp. Today’s vehicles, temperature controlled with ample leg room, comfy reclining seats, also have dvd screens scattered about and often free Wi-Fi (so bring your own wireless devices).
Casinos: Bangor, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun – lots of places to try your luck, all perfectly accessible from local motorcoach departures, and with incentives such as casino tokens and meal vouchers, such trips are virtually free. Leaving Lewiston at 6:30 a.m. on a weekday will enable you to have six hours or so of gaming fun at Mohegan, for instance, before the bus returns to get you home by 9:45 p.m. the same evening. The more adventuresome, or those with more time and resources, can venture as far as Atlantic City or even Las Vegas, and travel is usually complete with transportation, lodging and casino incentives.
Baseball: See the Red Sox in Boston, or follow them to New York or Baltimore. Modest round-trip bus fare, often in the $150-$200 range, includes ballpark tickets – and access to tickets, especially at Fenway Park and the new Yankee Stadium can be difficult without being part of a travel package.
American heritage: Not just transportation, but escorted tours back to the nation’s origins – Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. Touring the mansions of Newport, R.I. is a popular option for locals, as are visits to New York city, for tours of the city or for trips to Broadway.
And there are lots of opportunities to wander beyond Broadway for entertainment, too: There is regular service between the L-A area and destinations such as Branson, Missouri; Graceland; New Orleans. Even the other L-A.
One of the most novel excursions planned by local vendors this year is Hewins’ expedition to the Wild, Wild West, with stops in Jackson, MT; Yellowstone; Cody, WY; the Black Hills of South Dakota and even the town of Deadwood, made legendary by the recent HBO series of the same name.