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Itinerary help:Driving Boston MA to Mid Coast Maine

Itinerary help:Driving Boston MA to Mid Coast Maine

Old Mar 6th, 2013, 01:24 PM
  #1  
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Itinerary help:Driving Boston MA to Mid Coast Maine

My wife and I are planning a trip from Boston Logan Airport to Mid Coast, Maine in December. I'd like any suggestions for a route and also places to visit. I can take about a day and a half to get to Camden ME. We'll then be staying in Camden for a while. It would be nice to hear of good places to eat and for an overnight stop. I'll be using a rental car which I'll pick up at Logan International Airport mid afternoon as I'm flying in from Europe. Living in the south of France, we appreciate that Maine will be very different in December to what we are used to. Many thanks for your help
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 02:56 PM
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Kennebunkport, Maine is about 1/3 of the way to Camden from Logan. They have many nice Christmas festivities that start at the Beginning of December. You can check out this website: http://kennebunkportmainelodging.com...masprelude.htm
It is a nice small town to spend an evening in. At that time of year, some restaurants and hotels will be closed, but if you are there during their annual "Christmas Prelude", you might enjoy it.

Portland, Maine is half way between Logan and Camden. There are several nice hotels and many great reastuarants in Portland.
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Old Mar 6th, 2013, 03:11 PM
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If you don't need to be in Boston for anything, consider flying from Boston into Portland, Maine and then drive to Camden from Portland. Portland is a nice, eclectic city. You can spend your extra time there.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 12:03 AM
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it is an oldish time to go, but that's what they said when we went to Provence in December. You go when you can.

It will be cold and bleak but interesting.

Assuming you are coming from CDG, perhaps starting at MRS or NCE, you will be quite tired when you arrive. It will be dark by 1630 in early December, so if you feel you must leave on arrival rather than spending the night, I would recommend the brief and not very scenic drive to Portsmouth, NH, a wonderful walking town -- about the size of an English County Town -- with good restaurants and especially brew pubs. It is all motorway to Portsmouth, and you should stay in the center, not along the outskirts .

You can then take the I 95 to Portland, ME, a larger but not dissimilar town. Brunswick, the next real town up the coast, is the home of Bowdoin College and. Good example of what American mean. When the speak of a "college town".

Now your dilemma begins. None of the scenery you want to see is along US 1. It is all on the many peninsulas that jut into Casco and Penobscot Bays. Orr's Island an Bailey's Island jut out from Brunswick. The town of Wiscasset has fine late Georgian sea captains' houses and is on the main rioute, but beyond that, and beyond Waldoboro, you will need to leave the highway for back roads to see the Coast. A satnav will be helpful as you seek out places like Friendship and Tennants Harbor. If you haven't got a satnav, the DeLorme Company sell a Maine Atlas that is as detailed as an OS map book in the UK.

Rockland is worth a stop both for a meal and to visit the Farnsworth Museum of Maine (mostly) art. Take the secondary road to Camden through Rockport (only a few minutes longer but with another iconic harbor) before arriving in Camden. Extensive views from the mountain in the state park just north of town. If you haven't got lodging, we have enjoyed staying at the Hartstone Inn in the Camden town center. the decor is a bit twee, but the owner is quite a good chef, and they do a lot to make a pleasant visit.

So this gets you there. You will have to do the return on your own!

A note on darkness: Maine really should be on Atlantic Time but is not owing to political barriers (just as Paris should be on GMT). It will be dark very early but it will also be light much earlier in the morning than Florida, which is in the same time zone but hundreds of miles west. You can get great light for photography and of course gorgeous dawns over the Atlantic.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 12:05 AM
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Sorry, that's " oddish ". Apple interferes again!
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 03:02 AM
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Good advice from Ackislander, and do be aware that you may get snow in December. If you are not used to driving in snow/sleet/freezing rain then stay put until the hwy is cleared.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 04:01 AM
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I vote for an overnight in Portland and visiting as many restaurants as you can. The Old Port Area is fun to explore. If walking is good (not snowy, icy) then you might want to try a foodie tour.

Sometimes we have warm and sunny day in December. If so, Portsmouth NH would be a nice stop and you might see people walking the beach if you go out to Hampton/Rye area. If you do, Petey's in Rye is small, very casual with good fried seafood. Servings are large so you could share a plate.

While you are staying in Camden, I would watch the local newspapers for news of any benefit suppers. We usually only visit in summer and have lucked into a couple. In New England, they might be just ham and beans but if there's good pie for dessert, it could be a fine meal and served sitting next to locals. Usually these are put on by churches, granges and volunteer fire depts. Usually on a saturday night or you might find a chowder lunch served during a craft fair at a local church.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 06:20 AM
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I might recommend driving to Portland if they weren't coming off an international flight with a six hour time difference.

It will take an hour at Logan to get through immigration, baggage etc and find the van to the rental car. Then they will get dumped out onto I-95 at the beginning of rush hour, and after dark to boot. I don't think the extra time to Portland is worth it. They can stop at Portland and do what you suggest on the way back to Boston.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 07:55 AM
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Thanks to everyone for some great advice.

On the question of timings, I deliberately started this thread before I booked flights so that I could get a better idea of what to do. In fact, our trip is more convoluted as we'll be in the UK before flying across the Atlantic so I'm looking at various possibilities from London England. United have a flight that gets in about 1pm.

I do agree, however, that after an 8 hour flight plus "hanging around time" I'll not be wanting to drive too far although I'm hoping to get out of Boston before the rush hour really grabs. At least now I'm living in France I'm used to driving on the right side of the road, unlike when I lived in the the UK. I'm likely flying mid week, Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thanks to Scarboroughmom for the Kennebunkport suggestion, and thanks to Ackislander for some great advice and consideration. I've stayed at the Hartstone Inn on a previous trip and it was a great hotel

Jaya, Thanks for your advice too. Flying into Portland is a possibility and I might get a flight from the UK to Portland without touching Boston.

dfrostnh, Thanks for the suggestion. I'm going to be in Camden through the end of Jamuary, staying with family.. Weather permitting, I'm hoping to get a side trip to Portland for a weekend or so

Ackislander, as I said, I'll be in Camden through the end of January and I suspect that by the time I come to make the return trip I'll be happy just to grab the Concord Coach!!!

Thanks again to you all.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 10:22 AM
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Ackislander, good point about driving after a long flight. Happy travels Englishmaninfrance, I love bus to Logan.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 01:07 PM
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Driving in and out of Logan Airport after dark (that will be around 4pm in December) is not going be fun or easy unless you already kind of know the area. Monday to Friday rush hour from Boston into New Hampshire can start as early as 3pm and go until about 7pm - there is no predicting it.
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Old Mar 7th, 2013, 06:28 PM
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If you land at one you should be able to make it to Portsmouth by dark, even figuring minor delays and traffic. I do second the idea to spend that first night in Porstmouth.

But the following day rather just taking the highway I would take the coastal route and stop in York, Ogunquit and Kennebunkport which are all between Porstmouth NH and Portland ME. If you are going to be spending a whole month in Camden then you'll have plenty of time to explore the area between there and Portland, you are really talking day trips. So you might as well see the area south of Portland.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 08:53 AM
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Thanks again to everyone who has contributed. This is the first time I've used Fodor's forums and I'm really impressed.

I'm certainly taking on board everyone's concerns about driving after the long flight, although, of course, as I'm used to the much higher speed limits in Europe (90mph on our motorways in France and unrestricted in Germany) it'll not be such a challenge. The hardest part of driving will be keeping down to the speed limits.

I'm tending towards going with Isabel's suggestion that I'll get to Portsmouth NH before dark. Thank you Isabel.

There is another personal reason for stopping in Portsmouth... I will actually be travelling from Portsmouth England on that day and just like the idea of spending a whole day travelling from one Portsmouth to another.

As you suggested, Isabel, I will spend most of the next day visiting the towns south of Portland.

Would anyone care to recommend hotels, restaurants etc in Portsmouth NH?

Many thanks again.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 12:17 PM
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I'm certainly taking on board everyone's concerns about driving after the long flight, although, of course, as I'm used to the much higher speed limits in Europe (90mph on our motorways in France and unrestricted in Germany) it'll not be such a challenge. The hardest part of driving will be keeping down to the speed limits.

Minimize the challenge of driving in the Boston area at your own peril. This won't be wide-open highways. You are driving on a major commuting route during rush hour in a region of close to 8 million people. You will be lucky to come close to hitting the speed limit for much of the trip to Portsmouth, much less exceeding it. Oh, and Boston drivers might be the worst in the country - they are both incompetent and ill-tempered. If the weather is dodgy, driving will be brutal.

And make sure you have cash for the tolls in New Hampshire.

Would anyone care to recommend hotels, restaurants etc in Portsmouth NH?

I've never stayed at a hotel in Portsmouth, but from surveying the options the Sheraton, Residence Inn, and Hilton Garden Inn look to be in decent locations and all are good, reliable chains.

For restaurants, you might try the Black Trumpet.

Frankly, I find Portsmouth to be pretty underwhelming and think that the better course of action would be to bunker down in Boston for the night, where you will have better dining options and don't have to deal with the drive while tired.

Then (knowing that you will still be on European time) just wake up early and head out of Boston in the morning. Leaving by 7 would put you in Portsmouth by 8:30 or so, even with a bit of traffic and you can go about your day as you planned.

I'm tending towards going with Isabel's suggestion that I'll get to Portsmouth NH before dark. Thank you Isabel.

The sun sets before 16:30 during December. Depending upon what you define as mid-afternoon, it may be simply impossible to get in before dark. Doing so would require taking one of the early flights out of LHR.

Flying into Portland is a possibility and I might get a flight from the UK to Portland without touching Boston.

I don't see a lot of compelling ways to do that. There are no flights from Boston to Portland, leaving the closest port of entry where you can easily connect being Newark (using United). You could also try Philadelphia (using US Air). Honestly, I would count on flying into Boston.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 03:43 PM
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Thanks for your comments travelgourmet.

I've been looking at getting a flight that gets into Logan at 12:40pm. I figured on taking about an hour to get through the airport which should get me on the road by about 2pm and in Portsmouth by about 4pm. I was hoping that leaving Logan around 2:00 would avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic. 4pm will still only be the equivalent of 9pm in my European time.

I do, however, like your suggestion of staying in Boston and moving on the next day. That would allow me to get a later flight, giving myself more time to get to London Heathrow, although that still leaves me picking my way across Boston in the rush hour....

Thanks for the comment about cash, I hadn't thought about that and I'll need to check the kind of money involved for tolls to make sure I have enough.

I think that flying into Portland is, indeed, a non starter. As you say, there doesn't seem to be any advantage in that course of action.

Thanks again for your very helpful comments. Planning this leg of my trip is proving harder than I expected.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 04:56 PM
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I do, however, like your suggestion of staying in Boston and moving on the next day. That would allow me to get a later flight, giving myself more time to get to London Heathrow, although that still leaves me picking my way across Boston in the rush hour....

Traveling within Boston shouldn't be too terrible, even at rush hour. It won't be fun, but I would think it would be no more than 30 minutes to pretty much any hotel in the city limits.

Thanks for the comment about cash, I hadn't thought about that and I'll need to check the kind of money involved for tolls to make sure I have enough.

You will also need to pay a toll leaving the airport. The airport toll is something like $7 and the NH toll is $2.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Spending the first night in Boston could pay for itself in car rental savings. I have been pricing Hertz rentals lately, 10 day rental costs were...
Pick up/drop off at Logan Airport $896
Pick up/drop off at Boston Sheraton $743
Pick up/drop off at Boston South Station $665
Big savings possible. Stay overnight and pick up your car downtown the next morning.
It's easy to get to downtown Boston from Logan Airport using public transport.
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Old Mar 8th, 2013, 08:45 PM
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The toll for the Sumner Tunnel to Boston is $3.50.

There are ways to get into Boston and to head north toward New Hampshire from the airport without using the tunnel, but they might be more complicated that you would want to deal with at that point.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 12:23 AM
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Thanks again to everyone for all the advice.

Hi wallaby, I'm looking at a 7 day one way car rental from Boston to Mid Coast Maine. Budget are quoting me $225 for the 7 days including a return in Camden ME. It's the same whether I pick up at the airport or downtown. Strangely, dropping the rental period by a day makes no difference either. Maybe as I'm booking in France I get better rates?

Hi Cranachin, thanks for the toll information.

And once again, thanks to you, travelgourmet for yet more excellent advice.
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Old Mar 9th, 2013, 01:55 AM
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Would you consider bus to Portsmouth NH? The bus driver puts your luggage underneath. Pickup is at the airport. Then rent a car in Portsmouth.
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