Fall Preview: Get out...and play

By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  September 15, 2010

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Go Fly a Kite
FORT WILLIAMS PARK in Cape Elizabeth and BUG LIGHT PARK in South Portland have among the steadiest local breezes for kite-flying. Pine Point Beach in Scarborough can be another good place. Bring a one-string kite and see how high you can fly it while eating a fall-flavored picnic. Or bring a two- (or four-!) line kite and show off your moves. Talented local amateurs can be found at all those places and are always happy to help newcomers to flying get their bearings. If you’re looking for nostalgic indoor fun, there’s always BAYSIDE BOWL (58 Alder St, Portland; 207.791.BOWL; baysidebowl.com) or BIG 20 BOWLING CENTER (82 US Route One, Scarborough; 207.883.2131; big20bowling.com), which celebrates 50 years of candlepin bowling this fall.

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Water Sports
If it’s a warm, sunny day, heading out on the water can be a great way to feel like it’s still summer, though with a nice seasonal twist. Take a chartered harbor sail, or kayak or canoe Portland harbor (MAINE ISLAND KAYAK COMPANY on Peaks Island rents boats and all the gear) or your favorite lake or pond to see the foliage from a new perspective. If you’re missing summer mermaid mode, check out the aquatics programs at the RIVERTON (1600 Forest Ave, Portland; 207.874.8456) and REICHE (166 Brackett St, Portland; 207.874.8456) Community Center pools. For reasonable rates (a 12-swim punch card is $50), you can enjoy the refreshing flow of a swim — without being a polar bear. Check the schedule here: portlandmaine.gov/rec/azparks.pdf.

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Pumpkinhead
Perhaps you fancy yourself a fine enough navigator to find your way by pure instinct. Or maybe you’ll require the aid of a “passport” — directional assistance in the form of multiple-choice trivia questions. Either way, you’ll have fun in the five-acre CORN MAZE at Pumpkin Valley Farm in Dayton ($8; PumpkinValleyFarm.com). There’s a new design (and therefore, new twists and turns) every year, and afterward, kids of all ages can pick their own pumpkins (40 cents a pound). On October 22 and 29, the Corn Maze will be open from 6-9 pm for extra-spooky nighttime navigation — bring a flashlight, or just go by the light of the moon. Warning: There’s no alcohol allowed at the Corn Maze. But rest assured that local breweries and beer halls will be happy to serve you some PUMPKINHEAD (Shipyard) or HALLOWEEN (Gritty McDuff’s) or PUMPKIN (Smuttynose) ales to celebrate your successful emergence on the other side.

Scream-worthy
Looking to get in the holiday spirit around October 31? Here are three options:
-- The HAUNTED HAYRIDES next to Scarborough Downs ($13; 207.885.5935; HauntedHayridesMaine.com), where Spider Soda and Poisonous Popcorn sustain you through “acres of horrors.”
-- DESTINATION HAUNT in Lebanon ($20; 207.351.5443; DestinationHaunt.com), where a “top-secret project . . . simply called, ‘Black Wire,’ went horribly wrong [in 1968].” Now, the 70-acre expanse is plagued by “beings and phenomen[a] both horrific and supernatural.”
-- The HAUNTED HAYRIDE at York Animal Kingdom (207.363.4911; YorkZoo.com).

We probably won’t see you there — the Phoenix staff is comprised of a whole lot of scaredy-cats — but we’ve heard these attractions are intense, complete with chainsaw-wielding killers. Shudder. We’ll stick to bucolic apple-picking, thankyouverymuch.

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