If you are looking for family friendly fun for all ages, consider Route 26 stretching from Bethel to Gray. It takes a bit more than an hour to travel, but the stops along the way are well worth it for a day’s adventure.

Newry: Sunday River

Start the day with an array of off-season activities at the famed ski resort’s Adventure Park. There’s mountain biking, zipline tours, disc golf and an outdoor climbing wall. Pick from an array of classes and adventures from the L.L.Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools based at the Grand Summit Hotel.


Here you’ll find the home of Big Adventure Center with a waterslide and indoor laser tag along with an indoor climbing wall and mini golf. Individuals can enjoy the adventures, but many groups like to visit for special occasions or corporate retreats.



The town of Bethel’s Village Common is located in the heart of this western Maine town near the grounds of the Bethel Inn. Depending on the season, you will find art shows, craft fairs or musical presentations at this lovely location. If there are no events, just take a moment to enjoy the charming town square of a place that defines Maine and New England.


The birthplace of Leon Leonwood Bean (L.L. himself) is also home to Maine Line Products Factory Outlet. While it offers a host of Maine-made products for souvenirs and gift giving, a favorite for youngsters is filling a gift bag or treasure chest with gemstones. And don’t forget to visit the fudge and candy counter.


Maine Mineral Adventures gives visitors a chance to visit local mines or to screen materials from those mines to see what “gems” they may be able to find. Fun and educational at the same time, Maine Mineral Adventures is located next door to the Mollyockett Motel.

West Paris:


Who wouldn’t want to visit Santa’s reindeer? At Deer Meadow Elk Farm, you can. Actually, caribou are reindeer and only cousins to elk. Just don’t tell the kids. Stop and feed the elk or take their photos. You can get up close and personal to these magnificent creatures when they are out in the fenced-in yard and not sheltered in the adjoining barns.


Snow Falls is a roadside stop where older children can hike. You’ll find a scenic waterfall cascading to a gorge and a bridge across the falls to provide good vantage points for taking photos or taking in the scenery. Stop here after an extended period of rain and you’ll see the flowing force of Mother Nature in action. This is a great spot for a brief visit or extended picnic.


Long before ebooks and audio books, there were printed books stacked row after row just waiting to be taken off the shelves of bookstores. The Maine Bookhouse offers over 14,000 new, used and out-of-print books in the space of a quaint homestead on a busy section of Route 26 a bit south of the Oxford County Fairgrounds. You never know what treasures you will find here. Be sure to visit the outdoor book tent that offers books for only $1 each. Here’s a great chance to fill an actual book shelf and not just the electronic kind.



Oxford Plains Speedway has been the home of Maine’s racing scene since 1950 and boasts the largest spectator seating of any venue in the state — it seats 14,000. While many experience racing on television, there is nothing like seeing a live event. Most events are held on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday evenings but check their site for the latest schedule. Races have individual ticket pricing for adults and youngsters but many have cost savings with family pass tickets.

Poland Spring:

Everybody knows about Poland Spring water. Beginning in 1845, Maine settlers and respective dignitaries flocked to Poland Spring for its restorative spring waters and picturesque setting. In the early 1900s a state-of-the-art bottling facility and spring house were constructed using Spanish architectural elements. The original bottling facility and spring house is now the Poland Spring Museum and Environmental Education Center, housing a unique look at the history and growth of Poland Spring natural spring water. You’ll also find the oldest resort golf course in America at Poland Spring where tee times are available to the public. With advanced reservations, you can schedule golf lessons for all members of the family. If you want a casual pace to golfing, there is a 330-yard driving range, a miniature golf course with replicas of Poland Spring landmarks and a nine-hole disc golf course that trails through nearby woods.


Many of the animals at the Maine Wildlife Park were brought here because they were injured or orphaned, or because they were human dependent — raised, sometimes illegally, in captivity. The Park serves as a permanent home for wildlife that cannot survive in the wild. All kinds of animals are here for their protection and healing. The Park offers the opportunity to view more than 30 species of wildlife native to Maine. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a leisurely tour that will amaze all ages.

Go to the following websites for more information on these family-oriented stops on Route 26 in Maine.











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