Kayaking the Webhannet River — Photo courtesy of Mark PechenikLocated just a half hour south of Portland, Wells has deservedly gained a strong reputation for being one of the prime beach communities in Maine. This, of course, is the main attraction for a day trip with children to Wells. However, there are other activities in Wells that are just as kid friendly.
First, let’s consider the beaches. There are three main beaches in Wells – Wells Beach, located at the end of Mile Road off of Route 1; Drake’s Island Beach, located at the end of Drake’s Island Road (also off of Route 1); and Moody Beach which is shared by Wells and the neighboring town of Moody, which can also be found on Mile Road. While perhaps the most scenic of the three beaches, Moody Beach does not feature lifeguards. Wells Beach, which has free and paid parking, is perhaps most frequented by families. Drake’s Island, which is close to the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge, is less busy.
Plenty of sand and surf in Wells — Photo courtesy of Town of Wells, MaineAll three of these beaches feature long, wide expanses of smooth, inviting sand – perfect for building sand castles. The surf is moderate with just enough wave activity to please youngsters and adults alike. The water averages about 65 degrees at the height of summer, not bad considering Maine’s well-known status for having frigid sea water.
If your children get tired of the beach, how about some kayaking? You can introduce your youngsters to this beloved summer water activity thanks to Wells Kayaking or, as it is better known, Webhannet River Kayak Rentals. Here, you can be outfitted with a kayak appropriate for children or adults. The fine folks at this shop also offer lessons and guidance for kayaking the Webhannet River, located just yards from their front door. Access to the river is available by way of the public boat launch. This kayaking journey is a wonderful way to introduce the young ones to the wonders of nature that abound along the Wells shoreline, from birds to otters and clay sediments shaped by nature’s winds and surf.
Along the boardwalk at the Wells Reserve — Photo courtesy of The Wells ReserveAnother lovely introduction to nature can be found at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. This former farm property has been transformed into a learning and adventure center for exploring the ecological systems of Maine’s southern coast. It's operated by the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve which features a boardwalk that courses throughout the scenic wetlands bordering the Atlantic shoreline. Children often marvel at the abundance of greenery, insects and wildlife viewed from the boardwalk. Interpretive signs provide fun facts and information about the natural beauty of this Wells gem. There is also a small museum and science center featuring exhibits which highlight ongoing research into Maine’s coastal environment.
A Stanley Steamer from the Wells Auto Museum. — Photo courtesy of Wells Auto MuseumAnother sure bet for kids (and a good fallback activity in case of rain) is the Wells Auto Museum, located on Route 1. Housed in an old warehouse, this destination features more than 80 antique and classic automobiles on public display. Many pieces in this collection feature rare cars, including several Stanley Steamer automobiles (this company was founded by the Stanley brothers of Kingfield in Western Maine). Boys and girls also get a kick out of the nickelodeons, vintage games and music boxes that are also on display.
So there you have it. Choices for a full day – or two – of fun and games in Wells. Enjoy!