State elections are two days away, but the important results are already in.

We already know, for example — from extensive vote analysis — that Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco is one of the best places for family fun in Maine. We also have solid data confirming the summer fun value of the Lobster Shack restaurant on the ocean in Cape Elizabeth, of Beal’s Ice Cream, and of a live show at Port City Music Hall in Portland.

We culled all this from our 24th Annual Audience Readers’ Poll. It’s long been a trusty gauge of what Mainers like best in the areas of fun, food and frolic. But this year, it was revamped with a focus on summer.

Summer in Maine only lasts about three days, so you’ve got to grab it fast. Don’t waste time. Read the full results of this poll, find out what other Mainers do with their three days (maybe it’s a little longer some years), and then start planning your summer now.

More than 500 people voted in our poll — online and by paper ballot — and we’ve printed the top two vote-getters in each of the categories. This provides some interesting choices for you.

The top vote-getter in best outdoor dining was the Lobster Shack in Cape Elizabeth, with its gorgeous rocky coast and crashing surf. There, you look out to sea. But the next-highest vote-getter, Saltwater Grille in South Portland, looks back across Portland Harbor at downtown Portland. It’s a different view, and especially lovely at night.

In the category of best place for family entertainment, number one was Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco. No surprise there — after all, it’s a full-scale amusement park PLUS a water park. What else would you want?

The surprise in the category was that after just one season in Portland , the Maine Red Claws basketball team tied for second with the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team, an affiliate of the much loved/hated Boston Red Sox. So it just proves Mainers love their minor league sports, and that minor league sports are by and large great family entertainment.

But wait, there’s more. Our poll had categories for coffee shops, bakeries, bars, beaches, live music, fishing, swimming, trails, historic sites and art.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected] 

BEST TAKE-OUT RESTAURANT

1. AMATO’S, VARIOUS LOCATIONS

2. THE BUTTERED BISCUIT, SOUTH PORTLAND

Amato’s is a Maine institution founded in 1902 in Portland and known for the classic Maine version of an Italian sandwich (ham, veggies and cheese on a soft white roll). With more than two dozen Maine locations, you can get a lot of food for under $5 in a lot of places. But if you’re more into getting pan-seared salmon or pulled pork for a take-out, sit-down meal at home, the Buttered Biscuit on Cottage Road in South Portland is for you.

BEST DINE-IN RESTAURANT

1. FORE STREET, PORTLAND

2. STREET & CO., PORTLAND

Fore Street, on Fore Street in the Old Port (naturally), with its brick-walled charm and top-rated dishes, is often mentioned in national food magazines. It was ranked No. 16 on Gourmet magazine’s 2002 list of the 50 best restaurants in the nation.

Street & Co., also in the Old Port, is known for creative gourmet seafood. And we’re not talking fried clams, although we’re sure they could come up with a take on that dish too.

BEST OUTDOOR DINING

1. THE LOBSTER SHACK AT TWO LIGHTS, CAPE ELIZABETH

2. THE SALTWATER GRILLE, SOUTH PORTLAND

The Lobster Shack could win “best outdoor anything.” The location near Two Lights State Park sits on top of some of the most dramatic rocky coast and crashing surf in all of southern Maine. Plus, you can bring your own beer!

And while a lot of outdoor dining places have an ocean view, Saltwater Grille has a wonderful view of the ocean and downtown Portland. It’s especially lovely at night.

BEST ICE CREAM SHOP

1. BEAL’S, VARIOUS LOCATIONS

2. THE GELATO FIASCO, BRUNSWICK

Close race here, in a battle of old-school and new-school. Beal’s is a gourmet ice cream maker that sells from ice cream stand-type locations around Greater Portland. They’re sometimes right in a residential neighborhood, like the one on Meeting House Hill in South Portland. Gelato Fiasco does Italian-style ice cream made with milk instead of cream, and serves up its sweets at gourmet food shops and markets as well. Might as well get a scoop of each.

BEST COFFEE SHOP

1. COFFEE BY DESIGN, PORTLAND AND FREEPORT

2. DUNKIN’ DONUTS, VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Coffee Design is a Portland-based coffee house chain — three locations in Portland and one in Freeport — with local art on the wall and a cool vibe. Dunkin’ Donuts, we cannot dispute, is truly the joe America runs on. It’s good old American-style coffee without any of the “deep, rich flavor” (read: burnt) of some newer coffee chains.

BEST BAKERY

1. SCRATCH BAKING CO., SOUTH PORTLAND

2. STANDARD BAKING CO., PORTLAND

Scratch Baking Co. is over by Willard Beach in South Portland, on Preble Street, and has become the meeting spot of that neighborhood. It sells cookies, cakes, breads and lots of treats you can carry to the beach. Standard Baking Co. on Commercial Street supplies sweet treats to restaurants all over Greater Portland, and they’re especially good with sticky rolls.

BEST BAR

1. GRITTY MCDUFF’S, PORTLAND, FREEPORT AND AUBURN

2. NOVARE RES BIER CAFE, PORTLAND

Gritty’s was Portland’s first microbrewery in the late 1980s, and it’s very easy to find, what with three locations and its beer in supermarkets across the state. Novare Res is like some secret club: The name is hard to pronounce, and it’s hard to find (look for an alley off Exchange Street by the Key Bank sign).

BEST LOCAL BREWERY

1. SHIPYARD, PORTLAND

2. GRITTY MCDUFF’S, PORTLAND, FREEPORT AND AUBURN

Shipyard is in a big old factory building on Newbury Street, so it fits the classic definition of a brewery. There are tours, and the place looks like Laverne and Shirley could have worked there.

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE

1. PORT CITY MUSIC HALL, PORTLAND

2. MERRILL AUDITORIUM, PORTLAND

Port City Music Hall has only been open since January 2009, but the Congress Street club has become a musical mecca for national touring acts, from Grace Potter, Duncan Sheik and Peter Wolf to Edwin McCain, the English Beat and Enter the Haggis. Merrill Auditorium has big-name pop acts (Willy Nelson is coming!) plus the Portland Symphony Orchestra, touring shows and opera.

BEST BEACH: MIDCOAST

1. POPHAM BEACH, PHIPPSBURG

2. REID STATE PARK, GEORGETOWN

Popham is sort of the textbook idea of a Maine beach: majestic, secluded, wind-swept, big waves, etc. There is a state park, but there are also stores and other places where you can pay $5 or so to park. There are great tide pools for children to play in at low tide.

Reid State Park is also in the midcoast, just one peninsula over from Popham, with a snack shack, a children’s lagoon area, and some great dunes and waves. Here’s some party trivia for you: Reid was the first state-owned saltwater beach, in 1946.

BEST BEACH: SOUTHERN COAST

1. OLD ORCHARD BEACH

2. PINE POINT BEACH, SCARBOROUGH

Old Orchard and Pine Point actually run together, creating miles and miles of white sand. Old Orchard is where all the action is, from music clubs and amusement parks to fried dough and fortune tellers. Pine Point is a little quieter, with just a few restaurants and lots of sand.

BEST BEACH: CASCO BAY

1. CRESCENT BEACH STATE PARK, CAPE ELIZABETH

2. WILLARD BEACH, SOUTH PORTLAND

Crescent Beach is a great family place. There are no big waves to speak of, so it’s great for kids. Plus it’s huge, with a massive parking lot that doesn’t fill up easily. There is a fee: $4.50 per adults, less for children.

Willard Beach is a neighborhood beach located at the end of a walking trail that meanders around Spring Point. There’s a playground and a snack shack, but limited parking.

BEST FISHING SPOT

1. SEBAGO LAKE

2. THAT’S A SECRET/ARE YOU KIDDING?

Sebago Lake is big, it’s in many towns, everyone knows where is it is. So it’s no wonder people named it.

But the real bit of useful info here is answer number two, which shows Maine anglers would rather use plastic night crawlers than reveal their best fishing spots.

BEST SWIMMING HOLE

1. SEBAGO LAKE

2. SACO RIVER

Sebago Lake is a pretty big swimming hole, but there are lots of good public spots, like Sebago Lake State Park. The Saco River, especially up in the western mountains around Fryeburg, has the feel of a stream and some great spots for canoeing, camping and swimming.

BEST GOLF COURSE

1. DUNEGRASS COUNTRY CLUB, OLD ORCHARD BEACH

2. VAL HALLA GOLF & RECREATION CENTER, CUMBERLAND

Here are your choices: Golf at Dunegrass and then go for a swim in the ocean, or golf out in the country at Val Halla and go for a walk in the woods.

BEST TRAIL FOR WALKING, HIKING OR BIKING

1. BACK COVE/BAXTER BOULEVARD, PORTLAND

2. BRADBURY MOUNTAIN STATE PARK, POWNAL

Back Cove Trail, which follows Baxter Boulevard for part of its 3.5-mile loop, has got to be one of the great urban trails in Maine. You see downtown Portland, the ocean, Munjoy Hill, wildlife, neighborhoods — everything Portland has to offer.

Bradbury Mountain is just 500 feet or so, but it sort of juts up abruptly. So in a short walk, maybe 20 minutes, you can have a pretty nice view of the surrounding area.

BEST HISTORIC SITE

1. FORT WILLIAMS, CAPE ELIZABETH

2. PORTLAND HEAD LIGHT, CAPE ELIZABETH

Two for the price of one, because Portland Head Light is in Fort Williams, a town-owned park on the ocean. The fort was built in 1899 and added to over the years, so you can still see old brick buildings and World War II gun batteries as well as playgrounds, fields, walking trails and lots of ocean. One of the best things about the place is it’s free, or has been. Town officials approved a $5 parking fee in February, and the issue is going to a non-binding, townwide referendum this week. So stay tuned. The Head Light is Maine’s oldest lighthouse, first lit in 1791, and the most-photograhed lighthouse in the state. There is a museum attached.

BEST ART GALLERY

1. PORTLAND MUSEUM OF ART

2. GREENHUT GALLERIES, PORTLAND

Portland Museum of Art is a no-brainer — it’s the place for art in Portland, including your big names (Home, Wyeth, etc.). Among galleries, Peggy Greenhut Golden’s Greenhut Galleries on Middle Street in the Old Port has been a local institution since 1977.

BEST SUMMER FESTIVAL

1. YARMOUTH CLAM FESTIVAL

2. OLD PORT FESTIVAL, PORTLAND

The Yarmouth Clam Festival, scheduled for July 16-18 this year, is like the Maine summer smashed into a three-day period. There’s a parade, lots of fried fish and treats, music, crafts and wacky events like a race for crawling babies. Often, national TV shows like “Jeopardy!” show up to audition contestants. It’s been going strong for 45 years. The Old Port Festival, scheduled for June 13 this year, has a big focus on music at multiple stages throughout the Old Port,plus food and lots of activities for children and families.

BEST PLACE FOR FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT

1. FUNTOWN SPLASHTOWN USA, SACO

2. TIE — PORTLAND SEA DOGS;

MAINE RED CLAWS, PORTLAND

Funtown Splashtown has got to be one of the best-named places anywhere. It’s fun, it lets you splash, and it’s all in one town — Saco, specifically. For $35, you can ride all the rides and splash all the water stuff all day long. The Red Claws, Portland’s NBA development league team affiliated with the Boston Celtics and the Charlotte Bobcats, just started this past season.

But people were excited to see basketball, and the team regularly filled the Portland Expo. The Sea Dogs, the AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, are always a good option for families looking for summer fun.