Last minute drive to Maine


Jul 15th, 2014, 08:47 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 53
Last minute drive to Maine

My husband and I are driving up to Maine on the spur of the moment. We originally planned to go to Stratton Vermont for 5 days and take day trips to NH and Maine. But since it takes almost the same time to get from Long Island to VT and to Portland, we decided to drive straight to Portland. Challenge is to find a B&B at such short notice. Found one for one night on Thursday and that's it. We thus have to go to our base in VT on Friday and wing it from there.

We would appreciate suggestions on where to go, places to eat (from hole in the wall finds to a not inexpensive restaurant). We are flexible. We essentially want to drive to small towns, enjoy the local scenery and open markets. Any suggestions on places to stay in the greater Portland area? We are past the camping stage but will venture into small clean motels/inns.

Where are the best lobster rolls in the greater Portland area? What else is there to sample? Thanks in advance.
Jojojg is offline  
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Jul 16th, 2014, 02:23 AM
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Bite Into Maine food truck is parked at Fort Williams park in South Portland/Cape Elizabeth. They offer about five kinds of lobster rolls, the traditional with a touch of mayo and the harder to find hot lobster and butter plus other kinds flavored with different seasonings. It's a beautiful park and a great place to picnic. although there are picnic tables, we take along bag chairs and choose a spot looking out on Casco Bay. Great view!

There are many reviews and recommendations for Portland dining on chowhound's northern New England thread. You can take the morning mailboat cruise and be back in the Old Port Area (the parking garage is next to the boat dock) for lunch. Where we ate that time wasn't quite as memorable but walk up Exchange Street to MDI ice cream. If it's not busy, ask to taste some flavors before choosing what you want for a sampler dish. I like Blackstrap Banana and Maine Sea Salt Caramel the best. You might also try whoopie pies from Two Fat Cats Bakery (also walking distance) and the French fries at DuckFat. Best to go to DuckFat at an odd time. It's small and very popular. I'm a big fan of farmers markets but haven't been to the one in Portland yet.

You could go to the farmers market on the common in Brunswick on Friday (double check that it's Friday) and then head out to the Harpswells for a lobster lunch some place. I vote for the place in Cundy's Harbor. Brunswick is a college town. You should be able to find a motel. The Harpswells area is not very built up so I don't think you'll find anything besides weekly cottages. It's beautiful place to explore. If you head out of Brunswick toward Bath there's what looks like an old drive in restaurant (the kind where you turned on your lights for service). Very good lobster roll there. But there's also a small roadside shack on way to Harpswells called Gurnet Trading Company. Very small and only a few outdoor tables but popular. The casual place on Bath Rd might have been Cameron's Lobster House.

I don't think day trips to Maine from Stratton Mountain are a good idea. Too much road time. google maps says 4 hours from Stratton Mtn to Portland. Find any place to sleep between Portland and Camden so you can explore all the roads leading to lobster shacks during the day.
dfrostnh is offline  
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Jul 16th, 2014, 08:54 AM
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Ocean Woods Resort in Kennebunkport has one room left on
It's a nice drive from here up through Cape Porpoise to Biddeford Pool or Ferry Beach State Park/OceanPark/ Camp ellis. You could take the freeway and get into Portland in about 35 minutes. A drive out to the Sebago Lakes Region or the Shapleigh Lakes region would be nice. Ogunquit is about 1/2 hour but frought with heavy traffic on the weekends.

You could probably find something just for SUNDAY night in Portland or South Portland, and do Portland on Sunday and on Monday morning, and a drive to Cape Elizabeth.

A lot of what the Portland/Freeport area has to offer on short notice are $69 Comfort-Inn type places at inflated $169 summer prices. And what you're seeing as "available" now probably won't be if you just drive around searching for vacancies two days from now. The "no vacancy" signs for miles and miles are notorious on July August weekends so I wouldn't expect to find much of anything last minute.
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Jul 20th, 2014, 08:00 AM
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Thank you dfrostnh and clarkgrosworld. Your suggestions are very helpful. I am going to save these for our next trip. We thoroughly enjoyed our very short visit to Maine. We ate at Rising Tide in Scarborough for dinner. We sat inside and watched the busy pier where boats came in and out of the water. The steamed lobster was great and so was the fried scallops. Service was friendly and the ambience was perfect.
For lunch, we stopped in Ogunquit and had our first lobster roll in a restaurant on Main St. No frills, just pure fresh lobster meat and not huge NY serving size either - just right! We also had fried clams which were crispy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside - gooey deliciousness.

I did not see your suggestions until we got to Vermont or we would have been more adventurous about staying in Maine. We would have looked for the food truck in Fort Williams and tried the ice cream in Portland. We did take the Casco Bay ferry cruise and that was ver pleasant. We got a pie from Flatbread to take home to Vermont. That was a great idea because we had something quick to heat up when we arrived at 10:00 pm.

I was wary about motels and resorts but realize now that they are not the same as motels in big cities which are generally sleazy joints. We will plan our trip earlier next year. We want to go back. We might stay at Atlantic Birches Inn in Old Orchard Beach again. The hosts were really nice, gave a lot of suggestions on where to go and the room was squeaky clean.

Thanks again.
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