Coastal New England mid summer

Old Jun 8th, 2020, 05:24 PM
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Coastal New England mid summer

Despite the fact that I actually live in New England (western Massachusetts) I have not been anywhere near the coast in mid summer in decades.
I usually travel to other places in the summer but alas, this year looks like I'll be doing some closer to home road trips. I also have generally stayed away from the coast to avoid the summer crowds (I often go to Maine, the Cape, the north shore, etc. after Columbus Day). So I'm wondering - what's it like? How crowded is it? Impossible to find parking spaces? Need to book hotels months in advance? What's the 'best guess' as to what it might be like this summer? And suggestions as to places that might be a bit less crowded this summer.
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Old Jun 9th, 2020, 01:19 AM
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IF you can find lodging, I don't think it matters when you go but you have to be careful about where you go. Yes, Boothbay and Acadia are crowded and it took us years to drive by Red's and finally stop because there wasn't a long line. We avoid southern Maine most of the time except to go on a specific day trip that involves clams or lobster. Portland's waterfront shopping area, the Old Port, can be very busy with waits at restaurants but we've gone early to park in the garage for the ferry, enjoyed a mail boat cruise on Casco Bay (first trip of the morning when people are going to the islands to work) and be back in time to eat at some restaurant. We take bag chairs so, for example, we can go to Fort Williams Park, get lobster rolls etc at the Bite Into ME food truck and then pick a wonderful place to sit and enjoy looking out on Casco Bay. The northern end of town called the Eastern Prom is also a very popular picnic area but we've been able to find a place for our chairs. On a sunday morning you can watch people paddle boarding and kayaking.

We like Bath's Heritage Days which are usually around 4th of July when they have a big parade. There's a craft fair in the park and a used book sale at the church. It's busy but not a problem. We've stayed at an air b&b close to downtown Brunswick and then explored the Harpswell area. There are several lobster places to choose from. You can download a guide to the conservation areas where you can hike or sit and enjoy the water. The first time we discovered this area I picked up a brochure about a particular beach in a conservation area. We were at the Dolphin Marina restaurant. I asked the waitress about it and was told there was nothing there. !!! Exactly our kind of place. This was several years ago so I'm not sure which beach we were at and at the time we drove on a very rutted road in a 4x4 PU that might not be open any more. We found a beautiful beach, a couple of fishermen, and a small family group enjoying the water and P&Q. This was probably 4th of July week. It has gotten busier at our favorite lobster shack near Rockland but on 4th of July we got there just ahead of a large group so we didn't have to wait in line. Usually there's no line at all but we go at slightly off times. Beautiful small working harbor.

Most of the time it is fairly peaceful on top of Mt Battie in Camden. Again, we take bag chairs, snacks and binoculars to enjoy watching the boats in the harbor and coming along the coast. But, no, we do not go into shops and restaurants in downtown Camden. In Rockland we'll dine on the porch at Claws but not go to Primo.

We have not been to Acadia in a long time. Our son and his family visited on a holiday weekend, I think it was Columbus Day, and said there were too many tourists on bus tours. I have friends who visit in June for hiking and biking. My very favorite 4th of July parade is going to stay a secret. We got there early because everyone knows you have to get in place early to put your lawn chair in a good place (shade). I knew from reading that the very small town gets a huge turnout for this parade (no marching bands but there was a synchronized lawn chair brigade). Another favorite 4th of July event was staying in the Blue Hill peninsula area and taking a once a year cruise around Deer Isle with the boat captain and historian narrating. We made reservations in advance since the boat isn't very big and went to the local benefit lobster lunch. We did this several years ago. We have stayed in the Boothbay area in early to mid-June so we could visit Maine Coastal Gardens. Found a small picnic area on a tiny island with a short pedestrian bridge to get to it. Got some take out lobster rolls and had a fine lunch. I think there was only one other party besides us.

These are the kinds of things we like to do in Maine. We have finally agreed that Red's does do the very best lobster roll but we are not willing to stand in a long line even if a relative who lives in Maine says a 2 hour wait is worth it.

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Old Jun 9th, 2020, 04:49 AM
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What is it you want to do? Do you want to lay on the beach in the sun and swim in the ocean or visit quaint towns and cruise gift shops or hike to spots with beautiful vistas, or visit historic sites etc,?

Here in Connecticut, there are a few state beaches that have parking but are popular and so tend to be crowded. Right now in the Mystic/Stonington ares, both Mystic Seaport Nd Mystic Aquarium are open for their outside exhibits, but not the inside ones. For the Seaport, that includes lots of ships/ boats etc. they are limiting the number of people and using only the south parking lot right now as well as reducing the cost of admission. The Mayflower Is was still there last weekend and it looks wonderful, it was supposed to be in Boston by now and then go to Plymouth by October for the 400th anniversary of the original landing. I guess corona has put that on hold, since. It looks ready to go

Right now rentals for less than a month are not allowed but that may change as restrictions lessen. There are several communities in the Stonington area that normally rent cottages and if things loosen up you might find something in Latimer Point,Lords Point, Masons Island, Groton Long Point, etc. that have access to the sound for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, etc, but not pristine sandy beaches there is a reason it is STON(E)Ington. You are close to the state beaches in RI that are big and sandy but are also very popular.

No one can really predict what the summer will bring at this point. My guess is that the locals will not venture from home so you will have some company unless the area you pick is one that limits access.
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Old Jun 9th, 2020, 05:45 AM
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We found that the crowds were town-dependent. We were in Maine in early August last year. Old Orchard Beach (we didn't even get out of the car) and Ogunquit were packed, Kennebunkport was not packed and was lovely, Portland wasn't crowded at all, and Acadia was only crowded in the most popular areas (Jordan Pond House for example). Bar Harbor was beautiful on one day and packed because a cruise ship was in the harbor on another day.
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Old Jun 9th, 2020, 06:31 AM
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South County in Rhode Island has a number of questionable motels and some rather pricey hotels (Ocean House , Weekapaug Inn, Shelter Harbor Inn), but most people rent houses for a week or two. Not sure if there are legal length of stay requirements this year. In Charlestown places to look are Quonochontaug's Central and East Beach, and Shady Harbor. In Westerly, Shelter Harbor, Weekapaug and Watch Hill. All have good sandy surf beaches and some have access to calm salt ponds. All these towns are within a half-hour of the CT attractions in Mystic mentioned by oldemalloy. They are primarily family-oriented without much in the way of night life -- especially this year.
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Old Jun 9th, 2020, 02:16 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

What I'm thinking of doing is a road trip - probably different place each night. But probably no more than two nights in any given place. Not at all picky about where we stay, probably chain motels are fine. Not looking for a beach vacation (not into swimming/sunbathing but definitely like to walk on the beach). Driving to small towns, lighthouses, taking walks/short hikes, beautiful vistas. Eating take out (lobster shack type things). Things like the Marginal Way in Ogunquit would be perfect - but wondering how crowded it gets in summer. (sf7307 - sounds like pretty crowded is the answer - although when I've been there in the fall the town has been kind of packed but the Marginal Way itself not too bad).

dfrostnh - what you describe in Harpswell sounds like what we are looking for.

oldemalloy - I hadn't thought about Mystic Seaport - I guess once they are fully open (assuming they will be providing for social distancing/etc) that would be a good place to visit. I haven't been there in years (actually decades). Also thinking about Newport, RI, Plimouth Plantation.

I'd love to do this without hotel reservations but I guess that's the difference between summer and after Columbus Day.
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Old Jun 9th, 2020, 05:13 PM
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I have friends in hotel industry on the Cape and their reservations are way down, we are just now starting to re-open. Normally I think you'd have no chance of getting rooms this late but you should be okay if you want to try to book now. RI is ahead of us opening up and if you haven't spent much time in Newport it's worth the trip and the mansions are cool.

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Old Jun 10th, 2020, 03:27 AM
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We've been splitting a week between the Rockland area and Brunswick and using air b&b.
If you go to Newport RI, there are two tours I really liked Beneath the Breakers and a second that was all about the servants' quarters. We did an air b&b between Newport and Providence so we also did overcrowded and not my choice Waterfire but a wonderful food tour. Wonder if there will be any food tours this year?
Take some picnic supplies with you so you can visit some farmers markets. The one in Brunswick is really nice. You can usually find baked goods for sale but we also like to do things like fresh strawberries and local yogurt. I think just about all the lighthouses we've visited have a good place to sit and watch the water. Pemaquid has a shady area to sit and read. Nice hike out to Owls Head light but not a good place for sitting except I think on an earlier hike there was a small beach on the way.
Here's a good place to sit and read on the Harpswell conservation list - no crowds and it was 4th of July week:

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Old Jun 10th, 2020, 05:25 AM
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If you end up going to Plimouth Plantation World's End in Hingham is a beautiful spot for a walk.
So is Halibut Point state park on Cape Ann.

My husband and I have also enjoyed visiting the whaling museum and National Historic Park in New Bedford. We have stayed at the historic Delano Homestead b & B in Fair Haven. Fair Haven has some amazing municipal buildings and good seafood restaurants.

I assume you are looking at quarantine requirements in Maine. It looks as though those will be extended into July for those from MA.

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Old Jun 10th, 2020, 06:45 AM
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This is the beach in the center of Ogunquit, August 5, 2019.
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Old Jun 11th, 2020, 08:25 AM
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I had not been aware of the Maine quarantine - so if that persists for all summer not sure how that would affect our plans - Maine is one of the places we'd want to go. I certainly understand why they wouldn't want people from the Boston area visiting. Here in Western Mass we don't want them either. But our rates of infection in the area I live in are as low as Maine, Vt and NH. But my license plate says Massachusetts so I guess they'd still want us to quarantine. My daughter lives in Vermont, I guess we could go stay with her for a while. (It looks like the quarantine makes an exception for Vt and NH, too bad they don't include the three Western Mass counties with very low rates of covid).

Thanks for the suggestions about Newport, Brunswick and Harpswell. I guess we should stay away from Ogunquit, we wouldn't be going to the beach but even the Marginal Way is probably crowded - possibly early or late in the day.
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Old Jun 12th, 2020, 03:34 AM
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This gives more information and it may change https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine
You better check Vermont's restrictions because right now it doesn't look like people who live in my NH county can visit but the Vermont map of NH doesn't seem to have the correct math when I check NH's incidence info.

Should things change, perhaps look at the Rockland harbor trail. We've only done a small portion of the board walk. It's not high up like the Marginal Way but it's also not crowded. It's been years since I did the trail in Maine Coastal Gardens along the water but I don't think it's ever crowded.
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Old Jun 12th, 2020, 06:29 AM
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The quarantine restrictions in New England are indeed confusing and are changing quite often. VT is the only state that allows residents of other northeastern states to enter the state based on the number of cases in that person's county. Franklin Co is the only MA county that meets the test for "non-quarantine" status.
Ironically, we could go back and forth from VT to Franklin Co without quarantine here but if we go there we are subject to the MA quarantine. The incidence of cases where we live and in most of VT is much lower than in western MA.
And, although we could now visit ME w/o having to quarantine there now we would have to quarantine here when we got back to VT if we went to SE counties in ME.

Lodging establishments in Maine can't accept guests unless they comply with these rules
Effective July 1, establishments must collect a Certificate of Compliance form (on paper or electronically) as a prerequisite to check-in from people who are not Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont residents, indicating they have received a negative COVID-19 test result, that they will quarantine in Maine for 14 days, or that they have already completed their quarantine in Maine. Establishments should keep these records for 30 days.

Although we would really prefer to go to western MA we are taking a short vacation in VT on Lake Champlain next week.
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Old Jun 16th, 2020, 10:29 AM
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Vttraveler - yes it sure is confusing - and doesn't always make sense even when you do figure out what they are saying.

Just interested in where in western MA you would like to go (I'm here, maybe there is somewhere I haven't thought of going). I guess according to the rule I can go to Vermont since I am from Franklin county without quarantine and since I live in MA I could come back (or quarantine in my own house which I'm pretty much doing anyway).
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Old Jun 17th, 2020, 07:44 AM
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If we go to western MA it would be to a family house in a small hill town. I am sure you know all the nearby things to do and many of them are closed (Historic Deerfield, Bridge of Flowers, etc) We would just plan to see family and do some hiking and bicycle riding. We also have a lot of family papers and pictures at the house and need to go through and organize these.
HOWEVER right now Franklin Co is not a "non-quarantine county" for us in VT. The other week it was and Berkshire Co wasn't. Now that is reversed. We do have some things we would like to see in Berkshire Co so it would expand our options if they could both stay open for the same time. This is a link to the map of where we can go w/o quarantine. It is updated each Friday
https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/re...s-state-travel


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Old Jun 17th, 2020, 05:49 PM
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Vtt, I looked at that VT website and am left scratching my head about the definition of "active cases" My county shows up as 200 active cases / 1m residents, or about 50 total active cases based on our population. We have had only max 2-3 total new cases per day for several weeks now, so something doesn't compute.

Perhaps cases are kept in an "active case" status for longer than any of us knows.

Confusing to me, at best and I'm usually pretty good at analyzing data.
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