OK, so we’ve had an ice storm and a nor’easter in the past couple weeks. But it’s still spring, so let’s act like it.

On days when the snow has melted, April is a great time to get a jump on spring activities and get a feel for what it’s like to be outdoors in Maine again. There will be ice cream stands and clam shacks open, places to hike or walk or play pickleball again.

Here are some ideas on ways to jumpstart your spring and get in the proper frame of mind. Of course, check the weather and make sure places are open if you’re planning a spring outing in Maine.


Several of southern Maine’s iconic ice cream stands open as early as they can, weather permitting, to let us all get an earlier taste of spring. Red’s Dairy Freeze, a 72-year-old landmark on Cottage Road in South Portland, opened for the season on March 9. When the weather is agreeable, it’s a great place to get a soft-serve cone then stroll down to Mill Creek Park or take a walk along Portland Harbor on the Greenbelt walkway. Lib’s Dairy Treats, another local soft-serve institution, on Auburn Street in Portland’s North Deering neighborhood, also opened for the season on March 9. It’s been in business since 1969.

People line up for the first day of the 2002 season at Red’s Dairy Freeze in South Portland. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

If you want to make Maine-made ice cream part of a spring drive, consider visiting one of the Gifford’s ice cream stands in central Maine. Their stand in Bangor opened March 15, the Waterville location opened March 22 and Skowhegan was scheduled to open April 5. Gifford’s is well-known for it’s hard ice cream and innovative flavors. You can get it in most supermarkets, but why not taste it in a cone from a takeout window, the way ice cream is meant to be.



No matter what court you like to play on, the city of Portland has you covered. The city maintains 26 tennis courts, 12 pickleball courts and 48 basketball hoops. All the nets and hoops were scheduled to be in place by this week, according to the city. Some of the spots where you can find a variety of courts include Deering Oaks park (six pickleball, eight tennis, two volleyball and four basketball), Payson Park (two pickleball, four tennis and two basketball) and the Eastern Prom (two pickleball, three tennis and two basketball). For locations and more information on Portland’s parks and recreation areas, go to portlandmaine.gov.

The pickleball courts at Deering Oaks Park in Portland are open for players this month. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


Getting out to the first baseball game of the year is right of spring. The Portland Sea Dogs, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, will be home at Hadlock Field in Portland for a six-game home stand against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Tuesday,  April 16, through April 21. Three of those games – on April 18, 20 and 21 – are afternoon starts, so you’re more likely to sit in warm sunshine. The Sea Dogs’ spring roster includes the top three prospects in the Red Sox system – shortstop Marcelo Mayer, center fielder Roman Anthony and catcher Kyle Teel. So you’re likely to see some pretty good early season baseball. For more information and tickets, go to seadogs.com.

Jason Cooke, head groundskeeper at Hadlock Field, works to get the playing field in shape on April 2. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer


Disc golf courses are not nearly as dependent on the weather as regular golf courses – what with that grass and all – so you’re likely to find some open all year long and certainly in the spring. To play, you just simply throw your disc across the landscape as many times as it takes you to land it in a giant metal and chain basket contraption. The Minuteman 18-hole disc course at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester is open year round. It costs $8 for a round or $10 for all day, and $3 to rent a set of discs. You can even play after hours by putting your money in an honesty box. For more information, go to pinelandfarms.org.


Pleasant Hill Disc Golf in Scarborough, with an 18-hole course on 43 acres, is also open now, weather permitting. It features groomed fairways, trees and ponds. (But keep out of the ponds!) It’s open 9 a.m. to sunset and you can schedule a tee time online, for $9 per person. For more information and videos of each hole, go to philldiscgolf.com.


You might want to take advantage of spring’s longer days by taking a nice, scenic hike. The trouble with that is, April is mud season in Maine, if not snow season. So you would do well to choose a hike or walking trail that is paved or maybe has a wooden boardwalk, something that can dry out quickly. The Greenbelt Walkway in South Portland is a 5.6-mile, paved path that goes from Bug Light Park on Casco Bay, follows Portland Harbor to Ferry Village, then travels along the city’s lesser-known waterfront areas off Broadway, through some wooded areas and ends up at the Wainwright Athletic fields.

The Beth Condon Pathway in Royal River Park in Yarmouth is part of a 2.6-mile paved path that allows you to walk through the park. The path winds through trees and grass and along the river. The Androscoggin River Bike & Pedestrian Path is a 2.6-mile paved path along the river and through trees, and provides a pedestrian and bike connection between downtown Brunswick and the town’s Cook’s Corner area. For more info on these trails and to search for others near you, go to mainetrailfinder.com.

People walk along the trail at Royal River Park in Yarmouth. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer


We know summer is getting closer when the state’s great seasonal restaurants start opening, usually in the spring. One with perhaps the most scenic view in Greater Portland is The Lobster Shack at Two Lights, with picnic tables overlooking incredibly dramatic rocky coastline in Cape Elizabeth. The restaurant was scheduled to open for the season on April 6. This is a good time of year to enjoy the lobster rolls and scallop plates there, because it’s not usually too crowded.

Ken’s Place Seafood Restaurant on Pine Point Road in Scarborough has been in business since 1927 and opened for the season in late March, with indoor and outdoor seating. Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, the state’s nationally known lobster roll stand, usually opens by mid-April. Management posted on the Red’s Facebook page April 2 that the date would be announced “as soon as possible.”

Customers line up to order at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset last summer. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

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