SEASIDE HOTEL DEBUTS WITH STYLISH UPGRADE
The Bluebird Ocean Point Inn hotel has officially opened in East Boothbay Harbor, the newest addition to the growing portfolio of Bluebird by Lark properties composed of redesigned hotels, motels, and ski lodges. The first Bluebird property in Maine, this 61-room reimagined coastal hotel boasts interiors — designed by Elder & Ash — of neutral tones paired with light wood that take inspiration from summer on this rocky shoreline, where the air is filled with scents of salt spray and the surrounding pines. A variety of accommodations are available for families, groups, and solo travelers, including king and double queen rooms in nine cottages, as well as suites and multi-bedroom suites all updated with plush beds and décor that is a sleek and modern take on New England motel design.
The onsite Ocean Point Kitchen offers casual and classic New England fare in a renovated dining room and bar overlooking the sea. Think local mussels steamed in pilsner, lobster rolls, fish tacos, Maine scallops and seafood, and a lobster bake with littleneck clams and corn. Or chow down on a smash burger with Parmesan fries. Amenities include a retail store with curated essentials; picnic tables along the oceanfront; and lawn games. When not relaxing by the hotel’s heated, saltwater outdoor pool, the midcoast Boothbay Harbor area boasts seafaring and hiking activities, beaches, working waterfronts, and small villages with crafts, breweries, and historic sites to explore. Rates from $239. 207-633-4200, www.bluebirdhotels.com/hotels/ocean-point.
BALLOON FESTIVAL LIGHTS THE SKY
Think you need to visit the American Southwest for a premier hot-air balloon experience? Think again. The New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning (July 28-30) celebrates its 40th year as “the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America.” With almost 100 balloons ascending five times over the weekend, there’s plenty of chances to sign up for the wonders of floating among the clouds. The festival is held at Solberg Airport in rural Readington, N.J., about 50 miles west of New York City. The colorful balloons make their mass ascension early in the morning and again in the late afternoon, when winds are at their lightest. The signature festival event is the “Balloon Glow.” Beginning at sundown, during the Saturday evening headliner concert, the pilots blast propane burners at predetermined times to release a burst of fire into the balloons which then “glow” like immense fireflies, creating a magical light show. (Rides $275-$350 per person.)
In addition to balloons, the festival offers live music, including headliners KC and the Sunshine Band, Everclear, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Parth Oza and Team saaZ. During the day, tribute bands perform works of Bruno Mars, the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, and more. Stroll the grounds to peruse the work of hundreds of arts and crafts vendors, and taste foods from around the world. Family entertainment includes fireworks, amusement rides, a kids’ concert, and multiple performances of the Fearless Flores Thrill Show, with high-wire aerialists, a “motorcycle raceway in the sky,” and motorcycle stunts in a circular cage. General admission: Adults $32; ages 4-12 $12; under 3 free. balloonfestival.com
HIT THE TRAILS WITH THE ULTIMATE BACKPACK
Is it time to ditch your old backpack? If so, it might be time to upgrade to the Max Backpack by Able Carry. Designed with 30 liters of space for travel, work, and play, the pack uses durable materials with solid construction such as X-Pac shell for lightweight strength, a 1000D Cordura nylon base, 420D ripstop lining, YKK racquet coil, bartack stitching, and DWR coating. Hikers will appreciate the well-padded shoulder straps, ventilated back panel, handy magnetic sternum strap, and A-frame support to make hauling gear more enjoyable. Additional features include a protective laptop sleeve (fits up to 17-inch devices); spacious main compartment; hanger hook; luggage pass-through (to secure backpack to a carry-on handle); lockable zippers; and multiple external and internal organizer pockets. Available in three colors: Ocean Blue, Earth Green, and Tarmac Black. $278. ablecarry.com/products/max
Necee Regis can be reached at email@example.com.