Rain check

When bad weather strikes, just go indoors!
By ANDREW STEINBEISER  |  June 16, 2010

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WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS Allagash Brewing.

You've got a week off, and you're staying home. You've decided to do all the stuff you tell everyone else about when they ask why you live in Maine. Lighthouse tours, window-shopping, and long walks on beaches round out your thoroughly L.L. Bean-inspired schedule. But wouldn't you know it? It's raining. It's not even a light rain that can make the coast more mystical, but one of those pissing downpours you just can't wait to get out of. Your best-laid plans are screwed. Lucky for you, we have just the thing to cure your summer-vacation blues: Maine, from the inside.

Roll with the homies

Toss out the preconceived notions of the typically gaudy, neon-infested galactic bowling alley, and replace that image with clean hardwood floors and ruddy brick walls. Throw in a performance stage for good measure and, voila, you have Bayside Bowl. A bowling alley with class, it just opened in the former space of Skillful Vending on Alder Street. With a fully equipped stage (not to mention bar) BB can turn aside from the lanes and serve as a bright new music venue. Just last weekend, local rockers Marie Stella debuted their new EP, Trust, along with Dead Man's Clothes (this year's Bimpy winner for Best New Act) and the Art of Shooting. While primarily a bowling alley, it's also a full restaurant (good if your plans didn't involve a rained-out lobster bake). You can even get served at the lanes, to nosh while waiting your turn.

Bayside Bowl | 58 Alder St, Portland | 207.791.2695 | baysidebowl.com


Meet the (non-)local wildlife

Not every museum greets its guests with an eight-foot-tall Bigfoot replica. Guarding the entry of the bizarrely offbeat exhibit, Bigfoot is just one of the dozens of "cryptids" showcased at the International Cryptozoology Museum. (For the uninitiated, cryptozoology is the study of hidden, semi-mythical animals that have yet to be officially discovered and documented.) Alongside Bigfoot, the museum has displays on other famous cryptids, chief among them the Chupacabra and the Loch Ness Monster. Loren Coleman, Maine's leading cryptozoologist, has crammed the kitchen-sized space with more than 1200 items collected over the last 50-odd years. The author of more than 30 books on unusual and unexpected creatures, Coleman can tailor tours to visitors, personalizing the experience to your background and interests. There are one-of-a-kind movie props, and even casts of cryptid footprints (shown to "serious" cryptozoologists). Even the toys, like a Bigfoot action figure, take on new significance, as evidence of cryptids' influence on popular culture.

International Cryptozoology Museum | 661 Congress St, Portland | 207.518.9496 | cryptozoologymuseum.com

Be the canvas

Even if the weather hides the scenery, take heart: the Maine coast, as depicted at the Portland Museum of Art, is always in clear view. This summer, the "Winslow Homer and the Poetics of Place" exhibit shows 28 pieces of scenic, 19th-century oil paintings from the revered Maine artist. But the museum stays modern too, with "Division and Discovery: Recent Work by Frederick Lynch," a unique series of painted geometrical patterns that sprawl over pieces of painted pinewood that should be your first stop when you arrive. The museum has guided tours and self-guided audio tours on iPods available for lending. When you're done walking the four floors of galleries, grab a seat in the auditorium for the weekly "Movies at the Museum" art-house film experience. Foreign and independent films, documentaries, dramas, and classic films will keep you entertained inside until long after the downpour subsides.

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