Cooling off is part of summer fun, whether you’re running through a sprinkler, jumping into a pond or spending an afternoon watching a movie in the chill of an air-conditioned theater.

But sometimes, as we’ve seen during spates of high temperatures this summer, cooling off is a necessity, especially here in Maine, where many of us don’t have air conditioning, either on principle or just because we don’t feel we need it that often.

There’s still time left this year for cooling off in fun ways, and also time for more heat waves to hit us. So plan ahead for how to beat the heat with these ideas.

Sebago Lake State Park is one of several state parks where you can go for a cooling swim. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer


Jumping in the cold water is an obvious way to cool down. If you think an ocean dip might be too cold – or you just saw “Jaws” and have been reading about Maine shark sightings – maybe you want a quiet lake or pond spot. Maine has lots of state parks with very nice lake or pond swimming areas, and you can find ones close to you by searching the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry website. A few of those within a couple hours or so of Greater Portland include Sebago Lake State Park in Casco, Swan Lake State Park in Swanville, Range Pond State Park in Poland, and Damariscotta Lake State Park in Jefferson. On a smaller scale, these swimming holes are also options for cooling off by taking a dip.

The Deering Oaks Ravine, with its splash pad play area, is a popular Portland spot to cool off for kids. Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer



The city of Portland offers free splash pads – basically little water playgrounds – at parks and other locations around town. The Deering Oaks Ravine is the largest of the city’s water playgrounds for kids. Located at Deering Oaks park on Park Avenue, it’s a wading pool, plus it has water features that spray or sprinkle water into the air. Other splash pads – with various sprinkling, spraying or bubbling water features – are located at Payson Park on Baxter Boulevard, Peppermint Park on Cumberland Avenue and on Stone Street, near the corner of Oxford Street. For more information and locations of Portland’s splash pads, go to  For a map of splash pad locations, go to the Portland Park Finder on Google maps.


Water parks were basically invented to merge the concepts of cooling off and having fun. Luckily for people in southern Maine, there are a few very nearby, including two in Saco. One is Aquaboggan Water Park, which has slides with ominous monikers like the Yankee Ripper, Turbo Drop and Stealth 5. There are also more placid areas like the Giant Wave Pool, Todder Splash & Play and Bumpin’ Boats. For more information, go to 

Funtown Splashtown USA is also in Saco. The Splashtown part of the complex has the water slides, with edgy names like Corkscrew, Liquid Lightning, Mammoth and Poseidon’s Plunge. There are also more passive watery play areas like Family Fun Lagoon and Pirates Paradise Aquaplay. For more information, go to

It’s a slippery slope – and that’s the whole point – at Funtown Splashtown USA in Saco. Photo by Jelena Duvancic

Just over the Maine line, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is Water Country. Its website has all the info you need to plan a visit, including an interactive section that lets you search out rides and attractions based on their intensity, the ages they are recommended for and height requirements. For all the info, go to

Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg is a good place to cool off, not just because of the ocean water but because Midcoast Maine’s peninsulas are often the coolest areas of the state in summer, according to the National Weather Service. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer



It’s probably pretty obvious to people in Maine that it’s cooler on the coast and at higher elevations, say in the western Mountains. But what does the hard science tell us? Donny Dumont, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Gray, says that the lowest average temperatures in Maine on a hot summer day “by far” are found on the Midcoast, specifically on the end of its peninsulas and its islands. Temperatures at Land’s End on Bailey Island, Pemaquid Point or Vinalhaven can be up to 20 degrees cooler than temperatures inland, in towns stretching from Augusta and Bangor, for instance, Dumont said.

Even in Portland, it’s always cooler by the coast. On a hot afternoon last week, Dumont said that the temperature on the Maine State Pier on Portland’s waterfront was 73 degrees, while it was 81 at the Portland International Jetport, about 5 miles away.


Spending two or three hours in an air-conditioned movie theater is a tried-and-true way to beat summer heat. Plus, it’s fun and you can cool off with a giant soft drink. But exactly how cold are the movie theaters? Management for the Smitty’s Cinema locations in Sanford, Topsham and Windham said they try to keep the temperature between 68 and 70 degrees. At the Nickelodeon Cinemas in downtown Portland, it’s usually around 69 to 71 degrees, according to management there. For fun, maybe you should try several movie theaters and see how cool they feel.


Grocery stores, convenience stores or any place that sells perishable foods are usually pretty chilly, out of necessity. So if it’s a really hot day and you still have to work and get chores done, consider just spending an extra-long time doing the groceries. Linger in produce, by frozen foods or in the beer aisle, perhaps. Better yet, step into one of the giant beer coolers or “beer caves” some stores have to store their beer and other cold beverages. On a hot day, you might spend a few extra minutes picking out your beer. According to Hannaford supermarkets, their stores in Mechanic Falls and Waterboro both have beer caves. So does the Big Apple store on Cottage Road (a favorite chilly refuge of this reporter).

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