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Itinerary for Maine family trip, please advise!

Itinerary for Maine family trip, please advise!

Old Jan 28th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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Itinerary for Maine family trip, please advise!

We are a family of four, children are girl (14 at time of trip) and son (12). We enjoy a lot of variety in our vacations and like the ability to be active, and to gear down and just enjoy. We are planning on taking a 2 week trip to Maine. I had originally planned a trip to NE which included Maine, and RI, but had to cancel. It was completely planned out with reservations, etc!!!!! Anyway, we have now done the RI trip, Boston and some surrounding areas, and now wish to really see Maine. My son loves lobster so if that's all he does, he will be happy; however, we enjoy hiking (easy, scenic), biking (easy scenic), boat tours, try sea kayaking, history, shopping, golfing, good food, and just hanging out (my daughter LOVES tidepools).

If we prefer slow travel, is 2 weeks still too much?

Here's my rough itinerary:

Fly in and out of Portland (trying to fly into Bangor and out of Portland for us increased the ticket by $500 per person! Love that monopolization of NWA!)

Day we fly in, our flight gets in 1:00 p.m. so I decided to head straight to Camden for our base for 2 nights. This really leaves only one day in Camden area since we get in the afternoon and drive for several hours to get there.

Bar Harbor - 5 nights

Wicasset or Booth Harbor for 2 nights. Is there a better place to base ourselves before heading to Ogunquit?

Ogunquit for 3 nights - should I take one of these nights and give it to Camden?

Portland for 2 nights

Please advise on length of stay, too much in one area, not enough in another. Our trip is planned for June 28 - July 12 so the 4th will land in Bar Harbor on my current itinerary.

Thank you! If there are places you would recommend to stay, both in touristy and non-touristy, but scenic, I would greatly apppreciate it! At times, we would be willing to pay more, but for the most part, we will try B&Bs.

mosey is offline  
Old Jan 28th, 2008, 01:17 PM
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My recommendation would be to spend another day in Camden so you can perhaps get out on the water. Camden is where most of the historic schooners go out from and they really are an experience. You'll find several boats in Camden and nearby Rockland that do day trips. Or doing a day trip by ferry out of Rockland over to Vinalhaven (island) is also fun. I think I'd steel the day from Portland at the end. And I'd vote for Wicasset over Boothbay Harbor. One caution - plan your driving carefully on weekends, you can get stuck in large traffic jams on weekends between Camden and Bath. I'd definitely leave the 3 nights in Ogunquit since that's the only place that will feel 'beachy', the rest is more rocky coastline and harbor fronts.
Happy travels.

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Old Jan 28th, 2008, 03:58 PM
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We spent a week in Bar Harbor last summer with our kids (8 and 11) and stayed in a cabin in Southwest Harbor. www.hutchinscottagesatacadia.com
We did biking on the carriage paths in Acadia Nat'l Park, and did sea-kayaking out of Bar Harbor. Southwest Harbor was about a 20 minute drive from Bar Harbor, and was not quite so crowded. I would stay there if we went again. The cottage was nice..nothing fancy, but the kids each had their own bedroom. We wanted a cabin and a more camp-like atmosphere rather than a hotel. We went in July and had a great time, especially the sea-kayaking.
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Old Jan 28th, 2008, 06:28 PM
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Thank you for your recommendations, Packed2Go and Kathysa. I rearranged our trip and added a day to Camden and took one away from Portland.

I booked a room at the Aurora Inn in Bar Harbor - hadn't seen your post yet, Kathysa. I had read in other posts about Southwest Harbor, but I guess I wanted the luxury of being in the thick of things and not having to drive since we will be there over the 4th. I know it will be busy, but....I couldn't believe that the few hotels in Bar Harbor, and there seem to be only a few on tripadvisor, many of them were already booked.

I have also booked Glenmoor by the Sea for Camden.

Okay, so Packed2Go, you say Wiscasset versus Boothbay. Why? Does it gives us a chance to de-tourist ourselves a bit and see the real Maine?

Wiscasset only has B&Bs on tripadvisor. I love B&Bs, and I didn't look at any of the ones in Wiscasset yet, but most that I looked at in Camden and Bar Harbor didn't have lodging for 4. Do you have a recommendation for places in Wiscasset?

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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 07:25 AM
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If you feel like escaping the crowds of Bar Harbor, drive over or take the ferry over to Winter Harbor and the Schoodic Pennisula. Still part of Acadia but separate. We love it there - biking riding is particularly fun - there is a 13 mile loop that even this out of shape 45 yo can handle. Pack a picnic and eat out on the rocks. there is also a scenic 9 hole golf course that is open to the public.

Also don't miss the popovers at Jordan Pond House. We went twice in one week last summer. Hike around the pond and then have an ice cream filled popover. The hike is fun - no uphills but rocky at times.

In Portland - check out the Portland SeaDogs - the AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The baseball is high quality and the entertainment is crazy - we like the Lobster Lob. Also take a lobstering cruise in the harbor. Educational and fun.
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Old Jan 29th, 2008, 06:51 PM
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Our family of four went to Maine for two weeks several summers ago. Two weeks definitely isn't too much -- you will find plenty to see and do.

We don't like shifting around a lot, so we booked in 4 days or so initially at the wonderful Harrasseeket Inn in Freeport (just up the street from L.L Bean) and then spent the rest of the time in Bar Harbor. From Freeport, we did day trips south to Portland and east to Bath and thereabouts. You might consider dispensing with Wiscasset or Boothbay Harbor and simply tacking those days on to one or another of your other stops.

Other recommendations: definitely do a Lobster catching cruise in Portland Harbor. There are a number of boats that leave from the main quay; we went with one called Lucky Catch, which was fine. The observatory in Portland (which was intended for spotting ships, not stars) was also worth a visit, and offers a tremendous view of the city.

If you're going to be in Ogunquit, you might enjoy going down to Portmouth to see the "Living History" museum called Strawbery Banke. There's a wonderful old colonial cemetery right across from it, with some skull-and-crosbones headstones going back to the late 1600's.

We enjoyed the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, and the lobster and clam rolls at Red's Eats in Wiscasset, just off the bridge over the river on the west side.

If your daughter likes tidepools, there are plenty at Orr's Island, between Freeport and Bath, and likewise at Travis State Park near Freeport.

We very much enjoyed a day trip by boat from Boothbay Harbor out to Monhegan Island, which I think is about 8-10 miles offshore. You can easily hike around about 2/3 of it during the course of a visit of several hours. There's a grand old seasonal hotel on the island itself, where I'd like to stay overnight for a night or two the next time we're in the area. Monhegan is an artists' colony, and it would be fun to have more time than we did to browse among all of the different artists' studios.

There are a bunch of Wyeth family canvases at really nicely done museum in Camden, I think, that was well worth a stop -- part of it's in a converted church. And the house that's seen in the background in Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World" is somewhere nearby.

One note about hiking in Maine. A trail that the Park Service considers "moderate" in Maine would be rated "extremely punishing" anywhere else. "Strenuous" in Maine means a "That's not a trail -- It's a near-vertical slope," ladders-up-sheer-rock-faces kind of experience.) Among the trails we enjoyed were the Maiden Cliffs Trail in Camden Hills State Park; the hike around Jordan Pond on Mount Desert Island, of course; South Bubble on MDI; and the hike over to Little Moose Island on the Schoodic Peninsula across from Bar Harbor. Again, good tidal pools there, but don't get cut off by the dramatic incoming tide.

We liked Thurston's Lobster Pound on the west side of MDI, and there's a sensational antique car museum there that you might want to reserve for a rainy day (there will certainly be one). Our whale-watching trip from Bar Harbor was unforgettable -- don't miss this. And the Thuya Garden on MDI is quite lovely.

The Compass Guide to Maine was a wonderful trip companion.

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Old Jan 30th, 2008, 04:39 AM
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For you BBH area stay I would thoroughly recommend that you look at the Twin Villages of Damariscotta and Newcastle. Pemaquid Point and it's lighthouse are very beautiful and very Maine and much less touristy than BBH or Wiscasset. I live and work here, so I'm biased but I wouldn't have it any other way. There are also B&Bs in Newcastle that can accommodate 4 people in one room.
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Old Jan 30th, 2008, 06:04 AM
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Since you have two weeks, be sure to include some time at one of the Lakes Regions. Moosehead Lake is vast and wild and breathtaking, the Belgrade Lakes a bit more touristy and golden-pondish. Southern Maine has Sebago Lakes area to explore.

You might also check the fares flying home from Manchester New Hampshire. (check one-way car fees too). New Hampshire has some lovely laid-back lake regions to enjoy.
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Old Jan 30th, 2008, 06:11 AM
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The Farnsworth Museum in Rockland features Maine artists and is perhaps the museum another poster referred to. Depending on when you planned to be in Wiscasset, the bridge on Rt 1 causes a lot of traffic congestion during commuting hours and even more on Fridays. Not sure what kind of 4th of July celebrations there are on MDI but Bath has a terrific Bath Days about the time of the 4th. Great parade, big craft fair, midway. It's next door to Wiscasset. Wiscasset is very small and since we camped, I don't have lodging to recommend. It's a great base however for exploring to the north: Rockland, Owls Head Transportation Museum (and don't miss the easy hike to Owl's Head light also the rocky little beach), Waterman's Beach lobster (our most favorite lobster shack), and then to the south/east - Five Islands lobster (see funny website), Estes in Harpswell, etc. There's an old fort in the area, too, right next to a popular beach. (Popham?)
I agree, for history, Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth NH is great. Also, don't miss a boat cruise out of Portsmouth. Either the harbor cruise or inland rivers. Portsmouth is right over the bridge from Kittery ME so it's not far from Portland (an hour?). Also the Seacoast science center at Odiorne Point. Several theaters including events at Prescott Park (next to Strawbery Banke).
I liked the Glenmoor. Good family place with pool on outskirts of Camden. Plan a picnic for the top of Mt Battie in Camden (take auto road). Bring binoculars. I've taken 2 bag chairs in a duffle bag on an airplane but they're inexpensive enough to just buy in ME and donate at the end of your trip. We usually spend a week in Maine, concentrating on a particular area of mid-coast. Check to see what's going on at the Owls Head Transportation Museum during your stay. We went for classic car weekend but there were several antique planes as well. It was hard to believe some of them could fly.
Several years ago we went on a day cruise to see lighthouses which left from the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. I've seen half day cruises advertised. It was probably the best narrated cruise we've ever been on. Don't know if the same person narrates anymore but there was a lot about the ecology of the area as well as history of the different lighthouses. Cruise ended with a close up look at the shipbuilding at Bath Iron Works.
It's going to be cold on the water so make sure you have heavy sweaters to layer with light jackets. You might get lucky with a warm day but in mid-June we went on a boat ride out of Searsport where the crew dispensed blankets.
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Old Jan 30th, 2008, 02:31 PM
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Thank you all for your wealth of information!

bennnie-thanks for the tips at Bar Harbor. You're talking to an old 49 year old, but I am in good shape so I hope I can handle the hiking and biking, but that is why I stated easy.

jeffergray - whew! Thanks for all the information. When my kids were younger, I really didn't like shifting around a lot, and I still don't, but it is more manageable now. Plus, I am viewing this as a more casual vacation so easy packing. I did; however, decide to not stay in Portland our last night and just added a day to York Harbor (see below since this is different from my original itinerary). You have given me so many wonderful activities throughout coastal Maine - thank you. As soon as I get this lodging thing done, I am going to go back over my itinerary and start putting in the activities to do in each area. Thanks for the heads up on how Maine defines its hikes, and all of the tidepool information!

sarahtamsin - thank you for your recommendation to go to your area. What happens is many B&Bs that have lodging for 4, have it with a pull out sofa and a queen bed. Since my daughter will be 14 at the time of our trip, and my son will soon be 13, they don't exactly want to share a bed, and my husband nor I want to sleep with one of them on the pull out couch - so! Newcastle looks like a nice area to visit!

joesorce - I did look into the lakes, but decided that since we are from MN (land of 10,000 lakes), I want to focus on the ocean on this trip. The lake regions look beautiful; however. Maybe next time.

dfnh - thank you for sharing all of your ideas regarding activities. I will be incorporating them into my itinerary when I get my lodging done.

Okay, again, thank you all so so very much. Here's what I have so far.

Glenmoor by the Sea, Camden - 3 nights

Aurora Inn, Bar Harbor - 5 nights

Nothing scheduled for the next 2 nights

Last 4 nights at Dockside Guest Quarters in York Harbor

I decided against Oganquit for the last 4 nights because I just couldn't stand the motel type lodging on the ocean and what they were asking. We are also not huge beach people in the sense of staying on a beach all day and sunning. I decided best to base ourselves in York Harbor since I liked the lodging better. We will use this as our base to see Southern Coastal Maine and NH.

So, my current question - oh, yes, I will have more - is where do we stay those 2 nights after leaving Bar Harbor and heading to York Harbor. At first, I thought Boothbay Harbor or Wiscasset, but I am having trouble finding the lodging I want there. Maybe we should stay in Portland those 2 nights? What would you all suggest? I want to be able to do things in Boothbay Harbor if we didn't get them done while in Camden. Any ideas on great places to stay or different types of places based on where we will be the rest of the trip?

Thank you all so very much!
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