Portland’s eastern prom can be for driving by, not just walking by. Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The old-timers speak of a thing called a Sunday drive. You’d just get in your car and drive, not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything.

You’d see what you saw on the way, and that was it.

With so many things still closed, and not everyone wanting to mix and mingle with others at public parks and beaches, it’s a pretty good time to re-discover the charms of the Sunday drive. Since most of us have time on our hands, we can take that drive any day of the week.

There are all sorts of interesting things to see within an hour or so of wherever you are in Maine. You might want to stick to that one-hour rule, since right now you can’t be sure that public bathrooms, or the businesses that have them, are open.

Here then are some suggestions of places in southern Maine to take a leisurely scenic drive to any day of the week, including several recommend by Patrick Moody at AAA Northern New England in Portland.

SEBAGO LAKE

Driving all the way around Sebago Lake from Portland is easy and offers lots of water views. One highlight is a new scenic overlook in Standish, just opened in the past year or so. It’s a parking spot on Route 35 about five miles south of the junction with Route 302 in Windham. About a mile from there is another scenic spot, Sebago Station Boat Launch. From there, you can head back north to 302 and take it west into Naples, with its scenic causeway and boats. The take Route 114 back toward Portland on the western shore of the lake.

The new Sebago Overlook on Route 35 in Standish. Photo courtesy of AAA Northern New England

COUSINS AND LITTLEJOHN

Unless you have friends or relatives there, there’s little reason for most people to go to Cousins and Littlejohn islands, which are connected to Yarmouth. From Yarmouth, you can go south on Route 88 and turn left on Gilman Road, which brings you past Casco Bay views onto Cousins Island. There are only a few roads, but water views and charming homes are all around. There’s a causeway to the smaller Littlejohn Island, with views of nearby Chebeague Island. You can only drive on Littlejohn for a few minutes before running out of road and having to turn around, but then y0u get beautiful water views all the way back to Yarmouth. Though these islands are just 15 or 20 minutes from Portland, they feel like they’re in the midcoast.

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge, links Prospect and Verona, near Bucksport. Photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

THE PROMS

For those of us who don’t live in Portland, it’s been some months perhaps since we’ve seen the city’s gracious waterfront neighborhoods along the Eastern and Western promenades. You could start on Congress Street near City Hall and go east up Munjoy Hill, past the stately Portland Observatory. Then, turn right on the Eastern Promenade and look at the stately homes, before turning around in Fort Allen Park. Then go the opposite direction on the prom with water on your right.  You can do a similar thing on the Western Promenade, following it from Maine Medical Center to Danforth Street and back again, looking at homes on one side and views of Mount Washington on the other.

PENOBSCOT NARROWS

The spectacular Penobscot Narrows Bridge near Bucksport is more than 2 hours from Portland, but closer to people who live in the midcoast. Plus, its historic neighbor, Fort Knox, is open and has bathrooms! Just follow Route 1 north of Belfast, and it takes you over the bridge, which rises 135 feet above the Penobscot River and spans about 2,120 feet. The adjacent observatory, 420 feet high, is sadly closed until at least June 1. But Fort Knox, a grand mid-1800s fortress on the river, is open with social distancing in place and has restrooms.

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