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Sarah O'Malley

Sarah O’Malley is a fourth-year Journalism student from Boston, MA who has since moved to Orono, ME to study at the University of Maine. She is a staff writer for the Culture section and enjoys attending events, meeting new people, and learning more about UMaine and its students. In her free time she enjoys hiking, cooking, watching documentaries, and playing with dogs.

With the semester beginning to wrap up and summer fast approaching, it’s time to start getting psyched for all the wonderful opportunities that abound for those who will reside in Orono for the summer. Whether you stick around for work, summer classes or just for fun, there are countless ways to make the most out of a summer spent in Maine.

Firstly, hiking is a must. Maine is famous for its remarkable natural beauty in the summer, and there are plenty of options as to where you should go. Baxter State Park is nearby with Mount Katahdin boasting a plethora of crazy beautiful trails with a range of different hiking abilities. Chick Hill in Clifton is another great option, and if you’re willing to make the drive, Acadia National Park is definitely something to check off the bucket list. Enlist some friends, pack a bag, make a day of it.

Enjoy some good ol’ fashioned ice cream at Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream in Bangor. You can go as small as kiddy or as big as a pint, and there are 25 incredible flavors to choose from. Some of my personal favorites include Caramel Cookie-crunch, Maine Wild Blueberry, Toasted Coconut, Moose Tracks and Sugarloaf Mint Chip. Taste for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

Float down the Stillwater River. It’s refreshing, relaxing and a University of Maine tradition. The water doesn’t get comfortably warm until later in the summer, but when it does it’s a memorable experience. Splurge a little on a float, grab some brews (if you are of age) and jump in. I recommend getting in around the Steam Plant Lot and letting the current carry you down past the fraternities.

Road trip around Maine. Unless you grew up in Maine, there’s a lot to see around here to experience a true Maine summer. Rockport, Camden, Ogunquit, Blue Hill and Castine are just a few great towns to explore. Set aside a Saturday to roll down the windows and appreciate the exhilaration you’ll feel going 70 mph on the highway.

Spend a day hammocking. You might have to splurge a little, or borrow from a friend. But there are great locations on and off campus around Orono to nap outdoors in a hammock. Truly one of the most relaxing ways to value the outdoors.

Purchase local produce at the Orono Farmers’ Market. Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon and every Tuesday from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., the Steam Plant Lot hosts a beautiful array of local produce, plants, treats and more. Prices are cheap and people are friendly. My favorite stands are the crepe truck and the Vietnamese delicacies.

See a live concert. One of the best things about summer is the option of outdoor music venues and, if you purchase in advance, tickets can be pretty cheap. While Maine doesn’t host many big ticket musicians, there’s something to be said for seeing a band that you’ve never heard of before.

Spend a day at the beach. Bar Harbor is a world-renowned beach location, and it’s only an hour and a half drive from the UMaine campus. Make a day of it to spend some time soaking up the rays and swimming.

Lounge around in Webster’s Park. Nestled right on the Stillwater River by the bridge from downtown Orono, this little park is perfect for a picnic.

Stop and smell the roses at the Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trail Garden. April showers bring May flowers, and who are you not to appreciate them for all they’re worth? The garden is one of the most underrated hangout spots on campus, and there’s a lot to explore in there. Check it out for yourself.

These are just a few ways to capitalize on a summer spent in Vacationland, but the opportunities are endless. With no pressure from college life, I would recommend enjoying the great outdoors as much as possible, and making memories that will last a lifetime.