Sundance Vacations asked… “Why you would prefer an all-expense paid vacation to Nickquenum near Sebago Lake, Maine rather than an all-expense paid vacation to Ocean City, Maryland this year?”  These are the  National Travel and Tourism Week essay contest entries we received. We hope you find them as inspiring as we did.


Day Dreaming of my Vacation….

Today I woke up and after a long evening of pondering where my precious days of summer vacation would be spent…the Beach…the Mountains…and when Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.  My thoughts became more specific on two locations Ocean City, MD or Nickquenum Standish, ME.     Now management has provided us a full all expense paid vacation to our location of choice.

However, ladies and gentlemen, truth be told there is no comparison between them.  After all what can one do in Ocean City, MD.  Well let’s see, as I am Goggling “Things To Do” in Maryland.  The Beach of course is their first option and events like Cinco De Mayo Tequila Tasting, music concerts like the American Sweethearts. Kind of old fashioned for me.  Deep sea fishing off the coast sounds like fun. They have water sports …but I don’t think so.  So I continued to plan b viewing Maine “Things to Do”.

Stop The Press!  Take a look at this.  The Songo River Queen II a themed river cruise with Reggae Music and not to mention the striped beer.  Mmmm… sounds tasty and a need to check out evening.  Now this is more my speed look who’s playing at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, concerts for Whitesnake, Melissa Etheridge and The Dave Matthew’s Band.  Totally my style!  Let’s face it no matter which location you go you can go fishing…but ice fishing on Sebago Lake sounds like something new I should do this winter.

Check out this Spring and Summer Festival List!  WHOA!!   This Old Portland Festival sounds Amazing, it’s 43 yrs old and counting.  The parade looks like Marti Gras, clowns on stilts and masked walking works of art.  Old folklore craft stands, carnival rides and a live sound system and performers.  It’s only 40 minutes away from where I’d be staying at a Sundance Vacations Property!

Never expected the Arts and Culture in Maine like this.  The Portland Museum of Art and the MECA (Maine College of Art), you can actually participate in their classes for scheduled events!  This sounds interesting “Art in Exodus Exhibition”, storytelling project through refugee artists. I thought Maine was all moose and timber with some good harbor and beach areas.

Well my mind’s made up Nickquenum Standish, ME it is, all year round they have activities and fun filled evenings to look forward too.  Just like the name Nickquenum  means  “I am going Home.”


Did you know that “Nickquenum” is a Native word that means “I am going home”?

“Nickquenum” is also the name of a wonderful two bedroom, one bath house with a lovely views of Sebago Lake, which is the deepest and 2nd largest lake in the state of Maine. Located in Standish, Maine this inviting lake home sleeps 4 and comes equipped with a kitchen, grill, gas fireplace, cable and internet. It is just perfect for a two couple getaway so we will ask my cousin and her husband to join us for the week. My cousin and her husband are avid anglers and love to go salmon fishing. So we already promised if they do the all catching, we’ll do all the cooking!

Although the closest airport to Standish, Maine is only 16 miles away at the Portland International Jetport I think we would drive and stop in Boston, MA for one evening on the way there and then one evening in Mystic, CT on the way back. Boston is only two hours away from the historic city of Portland, ME. And the seaport city of Mystic is just about half way point on the way home.

I am so excited that in instead of fighting the bumper to bumper traffic again getting to the busy and over-crowded beaches in Ocean City, MD, our Sebago Lake adventure is going to be a fabulous vacation spot. We are looking forward to relaxing in the peaceful natural surroundings amid the rural beauty of about 50 square miles of mountains, lakes and ponds where we can enjoy a variety of activities such as swimming, hiking, and fishing. Plus, Seacoast Adventure Park and Funtown Splashtown USA are nearby.

There is a lot to do all within walking distance and close by there are discount stores and antique shops to stroll in and out. We are also going to visit some of the museums for a quick history tour. And, just in case the fish aren’t biting there are plenty of surrounding restaurants famous for land-locked salmon. We’ll be sure to stop at the Maine Street Grill for a glass of wine and we’ll also visit the welcoming Black Bear Café for an ice cold beer. Some other attractions within driving distance include the White Mountains of New Hampshire, LL Bean, and whale watching cruises.

Being able to get around comfortably in our own car will definitely be more enjoyable than playing human “Frogger” trying to cross Ocean Blvd. or getting stuck sitting next to a group of intoxicated people on the hot and smelly “drunk bus” in OCMD.

We are going to have such an amazing time being able to leisurely relax as we spend some family time without the hectic hustle bustle of overcrowded beaches, busy boardwalks, treacherous traffic, and bad buffets.

I am looking forward to this new experience so much that even before we get there, I am already wondering what is the Native word for “I am never going home!”


Ocean City is fun and we do a family vacation there every year.  I would definitely prefer an all expense paid trip to Nickquenum simply because when my friends and family ask where were you at, they again would say where?  Besides it not being easy to pronounce you can imagine all the hidden treasures there.  Such as Sebago Lake which is the deepest and cleanest lake in Maine.  I don’t know about you, but when you tell me its the cleanest lake in Maine that would be the one I drove to.  Sebago Lake is made of granite and was carved by ancient rivers and cut by ice age glaciers.  Call me corny, I call that cool.

I would take a trip to Maine any day over Ocean City, Md.  I prefer Lobster over crab too, Maryland is known for crab and Maine for Lobster since it is all expense paid trip I will be enjoying Lobster eggs, Lobster soup for Lunch and Lobster stuffed with Lobster for dinner.

When your in Ocean City at the beach the sun is brutal however at Sebago Lake wooded areas offer a respite from the sun and activity on the beaches. I personally love hikes and backpacking in the mountains, Nickquenum offers that and much more.

Now that I am in my mid 40’s I want to too go to new places, places I have never been before. Ocean city, MD , don’t get me wrong is fun but if your up for something other than a beach and boardwalk then here I come Nickquenum as a matter of fact I will be venturing here sometime in the near future since I have been checking it out from doing this essay.



Planning a getaway can sometimes become routine.  Going to the same places, doing the same things, year after year.  At least for my family anyways.  Since meeting my husband in 1987 and marrying in 1991, 90% of our vacations have been spent on the Eastern Shore; mainly Chincoteague, Virginia.  Day trips would be made to OCMD or we would drive down Rte. 13 over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel into Virginia Beach.  Chincoteague was our ‘go to’ spot.  Spending the time on the beach.  Hitting our favorite restaurants for some fresh caught seafood.  Going crabbing.  And don’t forget going out on the jet skis and out fishing in the boat.  Evenings would be spent on the boardwalk, playing some miniature golf or a the local ice cream shop.  Nice but routine.

I was so excited when it was announced that Sundance Vacations had a new property near Sebago Lake in Maine.  I immediately looked into the area and things to do.  It sounded just like the place we had lived in when we first met those many years ago.  I thought to myself, ‘what a great place to take Mike for our 25th Anniversary’.  We are celebrating it this year; June 4th to be exact.  Wow!, It seems like just yesterday.  The year, 1991, when things were much simpler.  No cell phones, social media and much less responsibility.  Two twenty-somethings, with few concerns except making each other happy and taking time to enjoy life.  Me, a lifeguard supervisor at the local state park and Mike an Assistant Manager/Cook/DJ at the local camping resort next door.  Always taking time for ourselves.  How life has changed.  Twenty five years later, a son entering his senior year in college at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.  Typical forty-somethings, a house and all the responsibilities that it entails. Car payments and trying our best to be responsible adults/parents.

I would relish the idea of vacationing in the Lake Sebago area rather than OCMD just for the fact of it being something new.  HOW EXCITING!  A road trip – A new adventure.  Jamming out to our favorites from ‘the good ole days’ – Alabama, The Steve Miller Band, Ozzy, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles; with some new favs thrown into the mix as well – Tool, Disturbed, Eminem, Imagine Dragons (just to name a few).  An opportunity to rejuvenate ourselves and de-stress from our day to day existence.  There would be so much I would want to fit in.  Walks along the lake, boating/kayaking, shopping, fishing in the lake, hiking, whale watching, deep sea fishing, swimming, visiting the local lighthouses like the one on Frye Island (I love lighthouses), the local restaurants and pubs … oh my so, so, much to see and do.

Kayaking in Sebago Lake State Park taking in the view of the White Mountains sounds so relaxing to me.  Since we don’t have our own we would have to rent them at the Sebago Kayak Company.  It would be absolutely amazing if we could visit the area during the Steins and Veins Lobsterfest.  Who doesn’t love a Lobsterfest?  Seafood is a definite staple on our family vacations.  We can’t get enough of it.  Of course, I prefer catching my own.  From trout, to crabs, to lobsters.  Love, love, love doing this with Mike.  How rewarding is cooking what you worked hard for.  So that would be another must do for us – fishing.  Obviously, the area has other things to do as well.  Numerous water parks, the York Wild Kingdom; a zoo featuring Maine’s only White Bengal Tiger, and the Playland and Pier at Old Orchard Beach.  And don’t forget shopping.  You can’t forget to visit LL Bean when you’re in Maine.

In all reality, there is so much that I would want to do and see but all that matters is being able to spend the time together.   Get back to basics.  Appreciate the time we have with one another.  Get to know each other all over again.  Appreciate nature, its beauty and all it has to offer us.

The perfect 25th Anniversary I could ask for would just being with the man I fell in love with 29 years ago.  The man I love, my husband Mike.  Whether we go hiking, boating, lobstering, whale watching or do absolutely nothing, all that matters is that we do it TOGETHER!

Side note:  I would love to do all this with my three Great Danes (Onyx, Granite and Emery) also since I hate gong anywhere without them and they would thoroughly enjoy the area as well.  I would have to refrain however, from bringing them the first visit to Sebago Lake but we would definitely include them on our return trip!  But this is OUR YEAR!

Happy 25th Anniversary Mike and SUNDANCE VACATIONS as well!


This week my team here at the QAR department had the opportunity to learn a little more about Nickquenum because we were picked for the Thursday Nickquenum presentation. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised when I was researching the property that this is a very relaxing location. The property sits right off of Sebago Lake and sleeps about 4 people in a 2 bedroom home which sounds just about right for this kind of vacation. In my research this week I found that there whale watching cruises, Lobster everywhere, which Maine harvests most of the lobsters in the whole USA so thats right up my ally. HAHA! Camping, fishing and hunting, whale watching cruises, hiking, skiing and snowboarding, museums, galleries and antique shops create some of the natural highs in the area for families every year. I would totally take a road trip to Maine since im already here on the east coast and the scenery I hear is beautiful, we have a coworker who has already been to the area also. Nickquenum, Sundance’s property, is a native word which means “I am going home” I am also a very homey person so now a days relaxing and easy going activities are my kind of thing. I would take my son, my mom and little sister on this vacation, I think they would appriciate the outdoors and relaxation. I think what would make it most memorable would be the fact that its not at the beach and we can just kick back and relax by the lake which is something I personally have not done in a while because the beach and sandy vacations have been the hype for the past few years. This place is on my list of to-go locations!!


Sun-burnt, sand behind the ears, and exhausted I return every year from the beach.  Thirty one years of sandy ears, I’m ready to shake things up.  While it’s clear Ocean City would be my fail safe choice, now that I have a fiancé and three kids between the both of us, I realize it’s time for change.  The choice of vacationing is like buying a slushy.  Though you love the cool, crunchy, hardness, sometimes you’re in the mood for a smoothie.  This time around, I want a “smoothie” for a vacation.  Let’s go to Nickquenum near Sebago Lake Maine!

I’ve heard of this place called Dicks Sporting Goods.  It’s different than a Macey’s department store. I need supplys! First I’ll trade my stilettos for cute steel toe hiking boots.  I’m replacing my blow up raft, and bringing a purple canoe.  The kids need fishing vests, shiny new fishing poles, binoculars, and bug repellent.

Luckily everything, including kids, will fit in my fiancés Chevy Traverse.  Radio blazing, we will make the 7 ½ hour drive to Nickquenum. On our way there we are going to make a pit stop in Portland Maine the next town up from our destination.  We will go to a local deli to get meats, cheeses, and necessities.  When we arrive at our new home away from home we’d admire the awesome quaint accommodations.  Fiancé would start the fire in the fireplace.  Kids would chase each other in the yard and play badminton.  Me….well I’d be on the sun porch sipping a tea reading a People magazine.  After unpacked, we’d enjoy an awesome BBQ dinner.

The kids would barely sleep knowing there is a 12 mile long lake just a skip away. The next day we would be dedicated to enjoying Maine’s second largest lake.  The clarity of the lake water is so clear you can see the bottom at depths up to 45 feet!  The kids would get to use their new poles and hope to catch one of the 28 species of fish that can be found.  The fiancé would rent something with an engine and take the kids water tubbing. Me…well I’d be in my purple canoe.

In the middle of the week we would take a short drive to two really popular excursions.  My family loves rides, thrills, and adventures and we’d find it at the Seacoast Adventure Park located only miles from Nickquenum.   There we could all be kids and enjoy a go kart race, play mini golf, and talk fiancé into a 100 ft sky swing.

On the hottest day we would visit Funtown Spashtown USA.  It’s a family owned amusement park. There are two parks in one, with major slides and pools.  It was quoted as the best park in Maine. After the day at Spashtown, I’d surprise the kids by taking them to one of the nine natural sand beaches near Sebago Lake. This will feel much different than the usual beach sand behind our ears.

I’ll admit, inside the red food cooler I snuck a pair of stilettos.  A girl can’t help but want to go somewhere great to eat at night all dressed up! One night we would go to Fisherman’s Catch, which has been serving fresh Maine seafood for over 30 years!  We would also check out Krista’s Restaurant for breakfast and Black Bear Café for lunch.  We can’t leave Main without tasting the legendary cuisine.

The last two must sees of our journey would be Sebago Lake State Park and Frye’s Island.  Sebago Lake State Park is open year round and has two public boat launches and hiking and biking trails (of which we will use their easy rental system).  Then, what is cooler to be on than an island!  Frye Island is a seasonally occupied town that is on an island in the lake.  This island is accessed via by public car ferry or private boat.

Reality would call and eventually our vacation would end.  We would pack up our belongings and souvenirs not with sad hearts; for it is a place we would vacation again to.  Nickquenum Maine would have given us fun, excitement, great food, and  an abundance of family cherished experiences. Thinking of all the hussel and bussel in our everyday lives, I’m so thrilled I chose the “smoothie” vacation, and will return rested, happy, and rejuvenated. Now my fiancé has a purple canoe to store back home. Thanks Nickquenem!



I was fortunate enough to NOT have grown up visiting Ocean City, MD, like most others that reside here in Northeast Pennsylvania.   I honestly though for years that I was missing out on something, so when I was about 30 years old, I finally made the trip and went to Ocean City for a week.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I did have a good time, I made memories that will last a lifetime.  I enjoyed crabbing and clamming with my son and having drinks with friends.  I stayed the TAN property, Tiburon, which was a really awesome 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo, with a full kitchen, beautiful patio, and pool access.   Although I did enjoy Ocean City, it has never appealed to me enough to want to go back and do it again.  I have traveled enough to know that there much more worthwhile places to visit.  There was one thing in particular that I noticed while on the boardwalk in Ocean City that was slightly disturbing.  I’ve noticed that most of the people didn’t even look happy.  They roam the boardwalk looking angry, chasing and screaming at their children.    Then they go down to the very grimy Jolly Roger and spend tons of money on rides that seem to be falling apart.  And before retiring for the night they sit at a seafood buffet that should probably be shut down from the health inspector.

Oddly enough, I’m actually really traveling to Maine this summer.   So, it’s fitting for me that the question should surface about preference between visiting Maine, and visiting Ocean City, Md.   I have been to Maine twice in my lifetime, always leaving with full intentions of returning again someday.   The locals are always super friendly, welcoming, and genuinely happy to have the visitors.   The drive is absolutely beautiful.  Wildlife is abundant.  And the general peace and quiet is something that just doesn’t even compare to elsewhere, Maryland included.

Here at Sebago Lake, we won’t have to fight tourists for space at the beach like we would in Maryland.  We also won’t have to worry about losing our bathing suites in the raging waves of the ocean.  Sebago is the second largest lake in Maine so there’s plenty of room for those that are willing to drive the extra few hours to get here.   Standish is a 7 hour drive for me and Maryland is 4 hours, so this is pretty much a no brainer.   We can stay at one of our properties, Nickquenum, on Wards Cove Rd, in Standish.  There are two bedrooms, so my son and I would both have our own space.   The house actually sleeps 4, so with only 2 of us, we will have plenty of space.  Nickquenum is a great choice because it has a kitchen and grill for when we don’t feel like eating out or just want a snack of sorts.  The gas fireplace will be excellent if it were to get a little chilly at night, and the cable and internet will make my teenager not go over the deep end from technology withdrawal.

The southern part of the state is easiest accessed and therefore most visited.   If you find yourself in Maine missing the ole hustle and bustle that Ocean City offers, it’s only a half hour drive to Old Orchard Beach, where you can partake in boardwalk sytle activities like rides, games, minigolf, and of course visiting the pier.

I plan on venturing a little further on into the state.  I am becoming a National Park enthusiast and am planning on checking Acadia off my list this year.  Visiting Cadillac Mountin is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.    My son will enjoy lots of fishing, and I will enjoy some reading or photography while he fishes.

In Maine we will have an overabundance of genuinely good food.  Leave behind the overrated seafood buffet and opt instead for a lobster shack on the shore, featuring some of the freshest lobster you will ever have, and some great ocean views to go with.  Another great idea is to do some blueberry picking.  The wild blueberry is Maine’s official fruit, with many Maine toans claining to be the blueberry capital of the world.  Maine also claims, along with Pennsylvania, to be the birthplace of the Whoopie Pie!

I would highly encourage anyone who has been stuck in the Ocean City trap to get out there in the world and try something new.   Go somewhere where you can feel like a local instead of a tourist. Learn about people and areas.  Try new foods and new things. You’ve got one life, blaze a new trail!


Most people dream of a tropical vacation, sand between their toes, the ocean waves crashing on shore, relaxing on the beach while breathing in what I call thick saltwater air. Unlike most, my serenity is on a boat in the middle of a calm body of water with a mountain view; an array of wildlife all around, breathing in the clean, crisp fresh air, while taking in the beautiful landscape that surrounds me.

I have been to Ocean City, Maryland multiple times as well as many other beaches up and down the East Coast as these seem to be the most aspired vacation spots for most people in our area or visiting the East Coast. However, many do not realize the beauty that lies inland with the many lakes and rivers boasting numerous state parks and wildlife retreats, hiking, canoeing and bike riding. Now, I know what you are thinking….. Relaxation vs. strenuous activity, but I am all for the exercise! Besides, I don’t think I have gone to the shore once, and came back relaxed because I tend to be on the move no matter where I go.  I do, however, have a better chance relaxing on a boat on Sebago Lake without the hustle and bustle around me.

I have experienced the best of both worlds visiting Lake Michigan. This tremendously beautiful body of water has many “sandy” beaches to visit and, yes, the water even crashes upon the shore with a backdrop of pine trees and grassy nulls. Now that’s the life for me! Although Sebago Lake is on a much smaller scale, I have not had the opportunity to visit Maine. It’s still amazing to me how small our country seems, having the freedom to go where we want, when we want, and yet I have not explored the majority of it.  My Sundance story and where my passion comes from stems from my childhood. My parents could not afford to travel so I grew up watching my Mom and Dad trying to be content and thankful for what we had while I explored every wooded area nearby trying to find the beauty beyond my back yard. I guess that’s why I still have a passion for the outdoors today.  I worked from the time I was 13, graduated high school, got married and had children putting myself in the same situation as my parents. Exploring the world seemed to be an idea that was just fading away.  Anyway, as the story goes, I joined Sundance Vacations, won my first vacation after 3 months of service to Shawnee Resort in the Poconos! It was the best vacation ever because I was able to watch my children have the time of their lives beyond our back yard.  It gave us a ton of memories and opened so many future doors for me and my family. My last, most recent “family” vacation was to Hilton Head, S.C. which was my mom’s last.  And let me tell you, it was the vacation of her lifetime as she spoke about it often during her last year with us.  So it goes to show you that you don’t have to travel far to find the hidden treasures within the United States.

I believe I would drive to Nickquenum, as it is only about 7 hours away and there would be many things to admire along the way. Who goes along would depend on timing; however, I would love to take my two nephews so they could experience something more than that usual Jersey or Maryland shore vacation. I am sure someday they will experience Disney and visit the shore many more times. I would like to show them that there is so much to appreciate in the world without technology or over the top parks.  Casting a fishing pole, sitting by the lake skipping rocks, venturing out on some trails really can teach children to understand what nature can offer.

We would certainly rent a boat and explore Lake Sebago. We may even jump in and do some swimming!  Lake Sebago State Park offers many well marked hiking trails.  We would venture out along the Songo River and the North Shore of Sebago Lake in the hopes of seeing a Bald Eagle which are often encountered in this area.  June is noted as a great outdoors month for Maine.  Many other nearby state parks offer sailboats as well as paddle boats that everyone can enjoy! Another trail that would be a “must do” is the Maine Island Trail.  It is a water trail spanning wild islands and coastal sites along the entire Maine coast. There are nearly 200 islands along the trail to explore!

Beyond the outdoors, Maine offers a cultural and historic array of art museums, covered bridges, historical buildings and much more. I know I am ready to explore and as always, my goal is to give others the opportunity. I hope that opportunity awaits my two nephews so I can see the joy and excitement I experienced so many years ago with my own children.


Sebago Lake is one of my dream destinations!  I’ve been to OCMD many times and I really love it there, but I’d much rather a quiet trip to Maine this year.  I would, without a doubt take my parents and boyfriend with me for a lovely getaway.  Driving would be my choice, with so much exotic beauty in the New England states, who wouldn’t want to drive!  Mid July would be my ultimate time to go with 2016 marking the 21st consecutive year of the Source to Sea!  The Androscoggin served as the best location for the 1972 Clean Water Act.  Every year they celebrate by coasting down 170 miles of river to celebrate and doing that as a family would make the most epic of all memories.  Sitting by the serene lakeside with my family, listening to a cracking fire, watching the golden sunset would be a nightly event to unwind from our fun filled days of hiking, playing mini golf and visiting one of the numerous shops and wineries.  We have always had splendid family fun in Maryland, but having a relaxing, quiet trip to Nickquenum would take the cake as the most well deserved, TRUE definition of what a vacation really is!  Family, peaceful surroundings, precious sights and laid back lake fun is the only way to go this time around . . .

Step away from the craziness and do a unique getaway is a fabulous motto to live by!  The smell of the fresh air could do nothing but revitalize and rejuvenate my mind, body and soul, Maine style.  Besides all our wonderful activities, one thing we can’t forget it food!  O. Dan’s is a quaint lil restaurant with some rockin’ Irish food and a stellar beer selection no one could pass by without trying!  Now, just a short hour and a half drive away, in Cape Elizabeth, can’t ignore The Lobster Shack, which boasts some of the tastiest seafood in Maine!  Set above the rocks, this lobster and fried seafood shanty has breathtaking ocean and lighthouse views you just can’t resist!  What a perfect way to spend your last night of vacation, with an exhilarating stop for food and laughs with your family enjoying an unforgettable view!

The perfect family vacation!


Sundance Vacations