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Charming side trip within 2 hour drive of Cape Elizabeth

Charming side trip within 2 hour drive of Cape Elizabeth

Old Mar 17th, 2013, 05:59 PM
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Charming side trip within 2 hour drive of Cape Elizabeth

We are spending a week in Maine in midJuly with good friends who live just outside of Portland. We would like to take a sidetrip (2 days and 1 night away) someplace rural and charming, with hiking close by within a 2 hour drive of Cape Elizabeth, probably but not necessarily near the ocean, hopefully giving us more of a sense of the beauty and character of the state.

We have tentative reservations for 2 nights near Acadia National Park, but are not sure we want to do that much driving (we will be flying from San Francisco, so already have relatively long journey for short vacation) and have heard that Acadia can be painfully crowded in the summer. We ourselves never go to Yosemite Valley between Memorial Day and Labor Day, stay 3 nights when we do go, but would recommend a two night stay in the summer in a minute to someone who would otherwise not have a chance to see it. Of course, we know the park really well and exactly how to avoid crowds. So I guess our other question is "Is Acadia a DON'T MISS?

Thanks for all ideas and thoughts.
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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 01:18 AM
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"Is Acadia a DON'T MISS?" Not for me. I have lived in NE since 1977 and haven't been to Acadia and don't plan to go. Your mileage may vary.

Have you thought about going inland to the White Mountains?
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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 01:30 AM
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I like that suggestion.

We visit Maine a lot but haven't been to Acadia since 1997. I like the view from the top of Mt Battie overlooking Camden harbor better. I think mid-coast Maine is a lot different from Portland and south so it's hard to make a suggestion. As long as you stay away from the popular tourist spots, you shouldn't find crowds. We hardly saw another soul when we visited several hiking/walking areas in the Harpswells. Maybe a trip over to Monhegan?
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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 03:53 AM
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I like Acadia and cannot say if it is a do not miss place for YOU.

The White Mtns are also wonderful IMO and trust me, depending on when you are there you could easily see a LOT of other people.

I think dfrostnh may have given you an idea worth pursuing. However, do you think Yosemite is a do not miss place? If so then Acadia may BE worth it to you who may not be there again in a long time. Be aware it is not the same as the Yosemite area; some would say not nearly as majestic.
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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 05:06 AM
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I think it's a don't miss...especially since you mentioned hiking.

~Liz
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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 06:46 AM
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Yosemite for me is magic. The Valley is unique. When I first hitchhiked there at 23, I said to my friend that I would return there for the rest of my life and 40 years later, I have. That said, we either go in April or (more often) in early November. I hate crowds and know how to avoid them there.

I am more of a mountain person than an ocean person, but because we live in San Francisco, we spend more time on the sea, and I love the rocky Sonoma coast and the beautiful area around Big Sur. I both would like a taste of the essence of Maine (whatever that is) and am concerned that,beautiful as Maine is, the coast could be very similar to ours here in California.

It may not be important, but we will have just returned from 12 days in June fulfilling my Italian husband's lifelong dream of the South Pacific.

The white mountains sound interesting. Do they extend into Maine or would we be going down into New Hampshire? I wish that we had 2 weeks, but we don't. This visit is mostly to see our friends, who will be taking us on daytrips, but we want to take 2-3 days on our own and to give them a break from guesets
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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 07:04 AM
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cmstraf,

I've been to Yosemite, and agree it's magic. I also think Acadia is magic...the ocean and mountain combination is unbeatable. I love hiking within view of ocean.

Acadia is going to be more like 3.5 hours from Portland, though.

~Liz
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Old Mar 18th, 2013, 10:22 PM
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Is the drive a) pleasant, b) not full of traffic?
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 02:33 AM
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Best way is to get on I95 to get north ASAP. Since we stay in the mid-coast area, we get off onto Rt 1 in Brunswick. Rt 1 goes thru the lovely towns of Wiscasset and Camden but the traffic is very heavy late on Friday afternoons. You can bypass these if you stay on I95. Once you are north of Camden, it's not very busy. Rt 1 is not near the coast and that far north you won't be in the touristy areas.

I would not miss Camden so I would take Rt 1 either coming or going from Acadia depending on day of the week. You don't want to be going thru those towns southbound on a sunday either. I95 is going to get very boring. Not much to see besides trees and more trees.
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Old Mar 19th, 2013, 03:36 AM
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Given everything you have said I think you should go to Acadia. You say you want to take two or three days, and that amount of time is fine to drive up to Acadia via the faster route, spend a day/night, and then drive back down via Camden. I think Camden area is almost as pretty as Acadia, but you have time to do both, and I think it might actually be less crowded.

I was there on a Wednesday in July summer before last and it was not crowded at all, there were vacancy signs all over the place, and we had no trouble getting parking spots any place we wanted to stop. Here's a link to the mini-trip report I did - http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...s-and-tips.cfm

Re your concern it will look like the California coast - well it does look like Point Lobos - or rather Point Lobos looks like Maine. I was walking around thinking, 'this looks just like the Maine coast' and walked into the little museum that told me it did (http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/image/146294368).

But to me that would not be a reason to not go, it would be a reason TO go.

Here's the rest of my Acadia/Maine photos, including Camden. http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/new_england

When I took this photo of Monterey (http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/image/146294401) I thought I was in Camden (http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/image/147344362)
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Old Mar 20th, 2013, 10:16 PM
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thank you so much--your photos are beautiful...and Point Lobos (combined with the Monterey Bay acquarium is one of our favorite weekend getaways/
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Old Mar 21st, 2013, 05:16 AM
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Both Acadia and the White Mountains are spectacular. It depends on what you want. The White Mountains offer some of the best high mountain hiking trails in the east - some are easy, others are very challenging. Many of these trails are above tree line alpine environments with views of several states. Yes there are crowded spots in the Whites like North Conway, but there are also thousands of acres of wilderness - quite unique in the northeast. There are lots of charming small villages sprinkled throughout the area, like Jackson and Sugar Hill.
Acadia also offers some great hiking in a hilly seaside environment with some unforgettably scenic Maine coastline.
In general I would say that Acadia would have a more crowded feel.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2013, 06:53 PM
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We have reserved two nights (free) at a Best Western 3 miles outside of Acadia, but the White Mountains sound really appealing to me. Can you tell me the difference between Jackson and Sugar Hill? I found some great sounding B and B's in Sugar Hill, but it is 3 hours away from Cape Elizabeth while Jackson is only 2 hours. Is the natural beauty area the two areas and the hiking similar?

Thanks.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 07:16 AM
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Fryeburg (90 min from South Portland/Cape E) is my gateway to the Whites. But you can be at a trail head and swatting mosquitoes in less than two hours from here.
More weatherproof option might be an overlooked gem like Damariscotta area. It's on the coast, but off the tourist track. Newcastle Inn. Mill Pond Inn. Great bookstore, restaurants (Damariscotta River Grill, Anchor Inn), kayak rental, nature reserves, lobster pounds, oyster farms, pounding surf down at Pemaquid Point. Sadly you would miss this craziness, which occurs earlier in the summer: http://damariscottamills.org/
But the annual raft race, in the opposite direction, is nearly as remarkable.
hvh
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Old Mar 23rd, 2013, 07:32 AM
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I haven't been to Jackson in many years, but both towns are very charming, with plenty of natural beauty. I would say that Sugar Hill is smaller, a little less touristy. The whole area is rich in hiking trails, both towns are within 1/2 hour of some spectacular hikes in the Presidential Range. Realize there are lots of other nice towns in the area, but these two stand out in my mind.
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Old Mar 24th, 2013, 06:50 PM
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t
Thank you.
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