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-   -   Toying with Maine/Vermont road trip (https://www.fodors.com/community/road-trips/toying-with-maine-vermont-road-trip-1208845/)

marvelousmouse Feb 28th, 2017 07:41 PM

Toying with Maine/Vermont road trip
 
I know, I know...you're probably probably thinking "why another thread"....

So. I was going to the Grand Canyon. But my friend has had a financial crisis...or flaked out. Difficult to tell. But she was the one tied to July, and given the choice, I would rather not travel in July, and I'm not really in the mood to drive that far.

And helping my other friend plan for Maine made me want to go there even more. So: back to debating the trip I'd really like. And one of the options is flying to NYC or Boston or maybe somewhere I haven't thought of- and rent a car and sightsee in Maine and Vermont. Probably for 2-3 weeks.

Would after Labor Day save me some money? Or is that still pretty much high season? Is there an insect season...like biting flies or something? I'm thinking 4 nights south coast, four nights midcoast, 4 nights Bar Harbor. Vermont is a side thing- really I wanted to see some covered bridges and the shelbourne museum. So I don't have any firm ideas about that yet.

I could do motels, but I'm thinking of doing what I did last year and flying with my camping equipment. I really enjoyed doing that last year.

So...any suggestions or information about that time of year would be great. Festivals to avoid or attend? Favorite spots? Best/worst airport to drive out of? I have driven in San Francisco, LA, Seattle. So I'm used to traffic but have never driven on the east coast.

Mostly interested in hiking, cute towns, history, great regional museums, scenery. LOVE food. Have been to cape cod, Boston, New York. So nothing focused on those areas, although keep in mind wherever I fly into will probably somewhere I'll stay for at least two nights to adjust to the time difference.

The time period is pretty much the Saturday before Labor Day until September 18. 18th is a firm deadline. I could still go in July, or August, but I'm a little worried about reservations this late.

dfrostnh Feb 28th, 2017 10:23 PM

If you're interested in lobster shack dining, someof the nest are weekendsonly after labor Day. Portland is great destination for restaurant lovers. Portland should be easy airport. Manchester NH is easy. I won't drive oit of Logan, preferring bus service.

Got a rustic VRBO cottage two weeks ago for foir nights 4th of July week. Bath Heritage Days inclide great parade. You just avoid big tourist towns like Boothbay Harbor during peak vacation times. If tenting look at searsport and/or Chewonky (Wiscasset). Check weekend schedule at Owl's Head Transportation Museum for special events like when they have antique airplanes flying. My favorite is Common Ground Fair but it's third weekend in September. All about organic living and lots of people camp. You should comsider an overnight on Monhegan Island.

If you include VT, it's a long rural drive from Bar Harbor across NH. I would drop southern ME and add some hiking in NH's White Moutains. Get Delorme Atlas for VT. It lists location of covered bridges, waterfalls amd seasonal roads. Then work your schedule to spend a saturday morning at Norwich Vt farmers market. Buy some goodies to take home. It's convenient to I89 then I93 if flying MHT. Maine has some good markets too but Norwich is great. Heard Burlington was good. In Shelburne area i think you can include Pizza on Earth but check their schedule.

Festivals are too crowded for us but the church ladies sell slices of pie at Bath Heritage Days so worth standing in line. If you visit Maine in August you'll see trucks along rt 1 mid-coast area selling blueberries. We loved Cole Transportation Museum in Bangor ME but Shelburne is really best.

marvelousmouse Feb 28th, 2017 10:51 PM

Monhegan was on my list when I was mulling over this last time. It is really tempting.

It does sound like before Labor Day would be better... but if things like lobster trucks are shut down, will I still have seafood options? I can't go anywhere during the last week of August, and I really thing I'd rather do after that than before if possible.

Ok. So say I fly into Portland (which is looking like the best option, because tax on the car is so much lower). How many nights in Portland do you recommend? Is Salem MA a possible day trip? I've been to Salem before, but there's a special exhibit at the PEM I'd really like to see.

Where for the white mountains? Is that the same area as Franconia Notch SP? (A place on my previous list as well- I enjoy neat state parks).

Thank you for the tip about Delorme Atlas! Super helpful!

marvelousmouse Feb 28th, 2017 11:09 PM

Maybe something like:

September
3, 4, 5, Portland (5th would be day trip to Salem)
6, 7, 8, 9: midcoast (1 night Monhegan, 3 nights searsport)
10, 11, 12: Acadia
13, 14: white Mountains
15, 16, 17: vermont (16 is Norwich farmers market!
Fly home from Portland either 18th or 19th

dfrostnh Mar 1st, 2017 03:45 AM

It's some of the rustic lobster shacks that are weekends only after Labor Day. According to website, our favorite, McLoon's is open until Columbus Day but I would double-check when they open for the season. I remember our first visit was in September and possibly a Thursday before we attended the Common Ground Fair. The shacks have outdoor picnic tables and school kid help is back in school plus without insulation, they have to close down their buildings when it gets cold. There are tons of other places to get seafood year round but the lobster shacks are usually on the water with some terrific views.

Salem MA is do-able, in fact, I was surprised that google maps said approx. 1 hr 45 minutes via mostly I95. There are stops along the way if you want to break up the drive.

Yes, Franconia Notch is in the White Mountains. I93 goes right through.

If you're ready for a nice old inn, Norwich Inn is very nice. If you bake, King Arthur Flour is very close to Norwich Farmers Market. You're also an easy drive to St. Gaudens in Cornish NH (and a very long covered bridge). But some people like to spend 2 days at Shelburne which is on the other side of the state.

When you go west/east across VT, take Lincoln Gap in Bristol VT to find popular swimming hole with waterfall. Or google Vermont swimming holes to find other places.

On your return to Portland from VT, you could take different route east. If you aim for Meredith NH, it's a beautiful town on Lake Winnipesaukee. From there, Center Sandwich, Tamworth and then Rt 16 north to Conway and then across Maine to Portland. Or, check times for pontoon boat tour of Squam Lake to see loons. It's very close to Meredith/Center Sandwich area.

We have enjoyed mailboat cruise of Casco Bay/Portland but never get off at any of the islands. A friend says we would love Peak's Island but we haven't gone yet. Bite into Maine lobster roll truck might still be parked in Fort Williams Park. Fantastic view of Casco Bay from there.

There are any number of places to stop when you go from Portland to mid-coast esp since Searsport is getting up there. You'll want to do something besides drive. Easy hike to Owl's Head light, Giant Steps in Harpswell, etc. Last year we spent a little time in Rockport which is next to Rockland. Very pretty harbor.

Maybe Ackislander will suggest some hikes for you.

elberko Mar 1st, 2017 05:51 AM

I've always gone to Maine after Labor Day--I think it's the best time weather-wise, and it's less crowded. There might be some places that aren't open, but it's never been an issue.

elberko Mar 1st, 2017 06:47 AM

BTW...
Hiking in Acadia is glorious--ocean views are almost constant.
Here's a report with some reviews.
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...park-hikes.cfm

bachslunch Mar 1st, 2017 02:58 PM

Two days is a good amount of time for Portland. The art museum is fine, and there are a couple nice historic houses to tour (Victoria Mansion, Longfellow House). The Eastern Promenade (and Western Promenade for that matter) contain nice old houses to walk past, and the Portland Observatory is an okay pop-in near the former. Portland Head Light is an iconic lighthouse south of downtown, and one can take mailboat cruises to the nearby islands (haven't done either of these).

If you do a day trip to Salem, avoid Monday, when the Peabody Essex Museum is closed. It's a must. Also tour the House of Seven Gables and the buildings at the Maritime National Historic Park. Stroll nearby Pickering Wharf and check out Salem Willows -- the latter is about the only place one can get a chow mein sandwich anymore, if you're game. Alternately, you could spend a day in Southern Maine in Ogunquit, The Kennebunks, or York, all of which have attractions of interest.

A day trip or overnight to Monhegan Island is enjoyable. Food's lousy, though. The museum makes a good visit, and reportedly the hiking trails are worthwhile (didn't have time for this). You can reach this via ferry from Boothbay, New Harbor (down Pemaquid Peninsula), or Port Clyde (south of Rockland).

You could spend a day each in midcoast Maine seeing Wiscasset (good historic houses to tour), Rockland (good museums dedicated to art, transportation, and lighthouses), and Camden (no real attractions, but a lovely town to explore).

Three days in Bar Harbor is a good amount of time. Acadia is wonderful, worth a couple days exploration, and there are a couple decent museums in Bar Harbor.

Franconia Notch in NH is very nice. The Flume is excellent, and there's plenty of good hiking in the area.

The Shelburne Museum is wonderful, either taking one full day or two leisurely days. Will also second the St. Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish -- and as long as you're there, you could pop into the American Precision Museum across the river in West Windsor, which is full of vintage large mill type machinery.

suze Mar 1st, 2017 04:01 PM

Vermont is my #1 favorite state.

marvelousmouse Mar 1st, 2017 06:18 PM

Yes, thanks for the bit about the PEM being closed Monday's. But they are open holiday Mondays, oddly, so I can go Labor Day! It's probably my favorite museum anywhere and there's a special exhibit on ocean liners then that looks fascinating.

So tentative itinerary:

Harborside (Marblehead): sept. 2, 3
The 8th Maine peaks island; 4, 5 (have not called them yet, open to other lodging ideas in Portland.)
Monhegan Inn: 6
Searsport: 7, 8
Acadia (9, 10, 11, 12)
Franconia notch: 13, 14
Warren vt: 15, 16, 17
Drive back to Boston September 18, flight back to Bellingham

Comments? Ideas?

dfrostnh Mar 2nd, 2017 03:42 AM

why Warren?

marvelousmouse Mar 2nd, 2017 07:03 AM

Hostel in Warren- the Tevere. If I don't find any camping that I want to do, I'll probably go for the hostel

EYWandBTV Mar 2nd, 2017 07:25 AM

For good camping just a few miles from Warren, check out the Little River State Park. Located a few miles from exit 10 of I-89, it borders a big reservoir--good swimming and rental canoes. It's on the edge of the Green Mountain range. Forested camp sites and lean-tos.

It also has a fascinating history trail through the forest, past farms of the early 19th century, now covered with mature trees--trees growing through the stone foundations, stone walls weaving in and out of thick stands of trees and brush. Very Robert Frost-y. Makes one wonder how in the world did people scratch a living up on this hillside in 1823? There are several historical markers on the edge of the ruined houses and barns describing the families who lived there.

Here's the web site for the state park, full of helpful information, a pdf map file, and photos of each campsite:
http://www.vtstateparks.com/htm/littleriver.htm

If you do camp there, or if you stay in Warren, do have lunch in Waterbury (just up the road from Warren) at the Prohibition Pig and have their awesome bbq brisket sandwich with one of their home brews. Yum.

tomfuller Mar 2nd, 2017 07:38 AM

DW and I are going on a mission through these states in late May. I will soon post my own thread but here is the outline:
May 20 get off the train in Erie PA. Rent a car (Enterprise booked). Drive to a geocaching event at Alegany SP western NY. Spending the night near Olean. Visit friends and famiy near Rochester Sunday and Monday. Tuesday we leave and go through southern VT finding a geocache or two. Find a geocache (or 2) in NH and then spend the night in York ME.
Wednesday find our Maine caches and then south to find caches in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Spend the night in New London CT. Find caches in New London and then drive to western CT and find a few more. Friday we drive from western CT to Wellsboro PA. Saturday night is my 50th HS reunion.
Memorial day we are in central PA. Where I worked for over 35 years. Tuesday late we drop off the car in Erie. and ride the train back to Chicago and beyond.

marvelousmouse Mar 2nd, 2017 07:55 AM

Eywandbtv- oooh, little River looks like exactly what I was looking for! And they have cabins. Thank you! And the prohibition pig is right up my alley too!


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