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Need advice on coastal Maine trip

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This is our first time to go to New England and very excited. I have most of our trip planned out with reservations made but we have now decided to go ahead a few days early and do the coast of Maine. We are flying into Providence RI and will spend one night on Cape Cod. and head up the coast for 2 more nights before heading to see the fall foliage. I have read some wonderful suggestions on the board but I now think that I am overthinking where we need to go. First we are in our late 50's and do not mind being in the car for long periods but love to stop when we see something we want to look at. We are not shoppers (except for local art) but we do love to eat! I have looked at all the different places to stay on the coast but I don't want to see the same thing over at each stop.
So my question is what 2 places would you stay for 2 nights on the coast of Maine and why?
Thank you in advance for your help.
Courtney

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    Portsmouth, NH (Maine is just across the river) and Brunswick, Maine, a college town in the Casco Bay area near everything from LL Bean to rocky coastlines to lighthouses and lobsters.

    You may decide to spend a good bit of day 2 on Cape Cod before driving to Portsmouth. There is lots to see, especially along route 6A. If not, consider stopping at Newburyport, MA on your way to Portsmouth, then driving up Rte 1A, along the New Hampshire beaches rather than taking I-95 or US 1.

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    DH hates cities but I love Portland and have gone on the food tour with friends. DH did like the Casco Bay mailboat cruise you can take from Portland. Portland is considered the foodiest city in the US. You can find lots of recommendations on chowhound.com northern New England.

    Camden is considered by Yankee Magazine to be the best for fall foliage. The view from the top of Mt Battie is stupendous overlooking the harbor (hike or take the auto road) but Camden is a little too crowded and upscale for us. We usually stay in the Wiscasset area but this year stayed in Bath which made lobster hunting excursions out to the Harpswells and up to Rockland to be fun. Harpswells are very rural and make sure restaurants are open that you want to visit. A lot of lobster shacks are open weekends only in Sept/Oct and close after labor day. There are still plenty of restaurants but not the kind where you sit outside at picnic tables. If you check the tourist info there are also at least 5 conservation areas that are open to the public. One is Giant Steps which is a nice walk along a cliff. Not as high or as long as Ogunquit in southern ME but far less people. Another was a hike thru the woods to a secluded ocean front. We could see a couple of kayakers but not much else. If the tide had been right there was a tiny island we could have walked out to. We also found a secluded beach. You'll know it's the same one if you read the warning that your car needs to have some clearance. We were in a 4x4 pickup so not a problem. I would be very careful in a subcompact rental car. We like to find places like that where we can put out our bag chairs, watch the water, do some reading, have a picnic. From Bath you can do a loop to Rockland and visit several wineries. One place that was more inland put us on the right road for Morse's European Deli. Their famous for their sauerkraut. It's in the middle of a rural area. We visited several farmers markets and thought Bath's was the best. (Previously Brunswick got my vote.) Nice selection of cheeses and local yogurt. Bring an insulated bag with you so you can pick up stuff like this for your own happy hour back at your lodging. Rockland also has the Farnsworth Museum which features Maine artists although my husband prefers the Owls Head Transportation Museum. Nice nearby hike to Owls Head Light. Easy with great views once you get there. We usually go to casual restaurants but I have read some rave reviews for Primo in Rockland.

    I've been wanting to get back to the Belfast area but that's probably for another year. We also stay on the look out for used bookstores. There's a good one in the Wells area but the really good one is the Chicken Barn (antiques on the first floor) that's on the way to Ellsworth via Rt 1.

    The Kittery ME Outlet area is going to be congested with traffic on the weekend but you might want to brave the area for the Stonewall Kitchen store (they also hold cooking classes) and the When Pigs Fly bakery outlet. Both have lots of food samples. This area is just over the Maine/NH border.

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    I agree with dfrostnh. Portland is a wonderful small city. I love the Harpswell area and it definitely worth a visit, but it can be very quiet Rockland is a really nice town -- it has the Farnsworth Museum and u can easily drive out to Port Clyde. Watermans for lobster and pie can't be beat. I fail to see the charm of Camden -- Mt Battie is nice, but the town itself is a bunch of shops and filled with tourists. It's one of my least favorite towns on the coast.

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    Thank you for all your replies (this is Tapper2 but Fodors has decided to change my name to Cort). Your help has really helped in making alot of our plans. We are now adding a 3rd night to our Maine coastal trip and I have a couple of more questions. He is thinking we need to go to Bar Harbor but as my first post asked would we be seeing alot of the same thing? We are not touristy people so I am pushing for Belfast. We have booked so far (since this trip has JUST come up and places are already booked up)Kennebunk and Boothbay Harbor. We really would not have alot of time in Bar Harbor but wondered what everyone thought about going there.
    Again thank you for your help.
    Courtney

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    Not sure what you mean by "alot of the same thing." What are you expecting or wanting to see? You will be driving along the Maine coast and its all beautiful with small towns and harbors, lighthouses, so yes that is what you will be seeing pretty much in those parts of Maine. Each town is a bit different than the next, but they are basically small towns in Maine. The coast is rocky and very pretty, but its the coast of Maine. MDI is great, but as dfrostnh says, its a lot of driving for so few days. If you want to do alot of hiking MDI is a good place to head for. SWHarbor is a bit quieter that Bar Harbor so I would choose to stay there. But I think you will have a great trip focusing on the South and mid-coast and do more time exploring and less driving than if you go to MDI.

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    Here are some thoughts - we are starting in Bar Harbor, then Boothbay Harbor, Then Portland, then Ogunquit. Since your time is limited, maybe something here will help?

    Boothbay Harbor: popular destination and a great place for kayaking, whale watching, sport fishing or puffin tours. Boothbay Railway Village or the magnificent Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Carousel Music Theatre. Drive to East Boothbay and around Ocean Point - really charming. Boat to enchanting Monhegan Island, beloved for it dramatic vistas and artistic heritage. Hit the hiking trails and artist studios.

    "Cabbage Island is by far one of the best experiences in New England! I read about the Cabbage Island Clam and Lobster Bake on our very own TripAdvisor and made a reservation right away. I am glad I did. It was amazing. I actually went twice during my trip. Tickets get you a wonderful 45 minute boat ride to the...

    Lodging recommendation: TOPSIDE Inn, 60 McKown Street Boothbay Harbor, Maine

    Mid-Coast cities: Bath is the perfect place to explore the region’s boatbuilding heritage. Visit the Maine Maritime Museum. See what’s happening at the Chocolate Church Arts Center. And head down the Phippsburg Peninsula to spectacular Popham Beach and historic Fort Popham.

    Arrowsic and Georgetown are picturesque villages along Route 127 where you’ll find scenic salt marshes, art galleries and pottery studios. Picnic at Reid State Park, with sweeping views of islands and lighthouses. Stop for fresh-caught Maine lobster at Five Islands.

    Brunswick, home to Bowdoin College, is Maine’s oldest college town. Browse the many shops, restaurants and galleries along Maine Street and visit the outstanding Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Catch music on the mall Wednesday evenings during the summer. And hop on the Androscoggin River Bike Path.

    FREEPORT and you're at the home of L.L. Bean. Take some free time to shop at Bean's flagship store and more than 100 brand name outlets throughout the community. Flagship LL Bean Store - and down the street the LL Bean Outlet. When you are driving from the Boothbay Harbor area to Portland, that's the time to stop in Freeport at L.L. Bean - it's huge with many buildings! I wouldn't spend a lot of time there. It works better if you know what you're shopping for. Forget the rest of the outlets in town.

    PORTLAND - Shores of Casco Bay- Maine's largest metro area. City Tour. Childhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, famous poet, historic Portland Headlight lighthouse commissioned by George Washington. Haven's Candies in Westbrook. Historic downtown Old Port waterfront district, cultural activities at playhouses, theaters and museums, including the popular Portland Children's Museum. Allagash Brewery, Victoria Mansion, Maine Historical Society

    MAINE BEACHES
    Maine’s southern coast has quintessential beach communities and 30 miles of dazzling white sand. Lighthouses dot the shore; luxury resorts and inns share stunning views with beachfront cottages and lobster shacks.

    OLD ORCHARD BEACH - has seven miles of sandy beach, Palace Playland oceanfront amusement park, a century-old Pier, weekly reworks and nightly entertainment. Add shopping, dining, golf, fishing, campgrounds and saltwater marsh canoeing.

    SACO - Biddeford and Saco are sister cities. Dyer Library/Saco Museum. Shop along Main Street and visit the brewpub on Saco Island. Canoe the Saco River or discover the beaches at Biddeford Pool, Fortunes Rocks, Camp Ellis and Ferry Beach State Park. Pumpkin Harvest Festival - Saco – October

    The Kennebunks—Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Arundel and Cape Porpoise—arts, entertainment and pristine beaches. Historic homes like the Nott House. Bush presidential retreat at Walker’s Point, summer home off Ocean Avenue? Shop, dine and gallery hop in Dock Square. KENNEBUNKPORT - dozens of specialty shops,lunch on your own. Historic trolley at the Seashore Trolley Museum for a ride along their three-and-a-half mile track. Collection of trolleys from throughout the world.

    … top lobster roll purveyors gathered in NYC for a battle royale, crustacean style. annual Lobster Roll Rumble,, featured eateries like The John Dory, The Mermaid Inn (both NYC), Island Creek Oyster Bar (Boston), The Thames Street Oyster House (Baltimore) and Waterbar (San Francisco) Begged the question - how many lobster rolls can one eat in a few hours? Winner of the event was The Clam Shack of Kennebunkport, ME, bragged that lobster was harvested at 6 AM that very day.

    PORTLAND - great food!

    Duckfat 43 Middle St, Portland, ME is a small sandwich shop that has it all: classic Belgian fries made with local Maine potatoes fried in duck fat, panini, soups, salads, charcuterie, sodas and milkshakes all made in house. Add a killer beer and wine list and you have Duckfat, a fun and unique dining destination in Portland, Maine

    Dinner Ideas:
    Footbridge Lobster 100 Perkins Cover Road, Ogunquit, ME : Cute little shack in Perkins Cove, featuring lobsters caught that morning by the owner, or so they say. Manned by teenagers. A couple of seats. I had a delicious, overstuffed lobster roll on an excellent, perfectly-grilled bun. Potato salad -- not great. But it's just an afterthought. Take the roll, leave the potatoes, and stroll around P.C. A great Maine "shack"...

    Five-O Shore Road Restaurant 50 Shore Rd, Ogunquit, ME 03907
    A good place to eat is Barnacle Billy's facing the harbor - the one across from the parking lot with valet parking. They have a great lobster roll and blueberry pie. If the weather's nice, you can sit on the deck overlooking the harbor. We were there a few years ago and had a table right beside Barbara and George Bush and their grandchildren - they were all eating hot dogs.

    OGUNQUIT - an early 20th-century art colony, is a year-round resort town. Stroll along Marginal Way, visit the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, enjoy the boutiques, galleries and cafes in Perkins Cove, and along Shore Road and Main Street, and relax on Ogunquit Beach, named “best beach in New England” by New England Cable News. Marginal Way 1.5 mile Oceanside cliffwalk.

    YORK - America’s oldest chartered city. Miles of beautiful beaches, food, shopping and outdoor fun. Museums of Old York and the Old Gaol—the nation’s oldest jailhouse, picturesque Cape Neddick “Nubble” Light. Start your tour at the Old York Historical Society in York where you may visit seven historical buildings dating back to the mid-1700s. Costumed interpreters provide period programming to help you learn about 18th Century life. Your next stop is Stonewall Kitchen in York where you can view the production facility for these Maine specialty foods.

    Ogunquit Parsons Post House

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    I never knew York was America's oldest chartered city. I don't even know what that means!

    Love Duck Fat. We often order fries and a Duck confit panini with a side of duck gravy and picnic on the water front.

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