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Maine coast: Do we need hotel reservations for mid-June?


May 26th, 2014, 07:03 PM
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Maine coast: Do we need hotel reservations for mid-June?

We are hoping to do a driving trip to Bar Harbor from Boston, with stops along the way. (I welcome your thoughts on where to stop too...). As I've been scanning various places to stop, I noted that many require a two-night minimum. Is that the case in mid-June?

Should I be booking hotels in advance or chance it? We are a family of 4 (kids are 13, 16). Don't really need uber-fancy but won't be happy with a Motel 6 either. We'd prefer ocean stays.

Where do you all suggest in terms of both cities to stay in and hotels within those cities?
anniebj90290 is offline  
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May 26th, 2014, 08:24 PM
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I would want reservations, particularly on the weekends.
Camden is lovely, a little less than 2 hours short of BH.
jubilada is online now  
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May 26th, 2014, 09:32 PM
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Should be no problem in June, especially weeknights....maybe the last week of June you'd want to book in advance and definitely the last weekend of June. It depends on how fussy you are about accomodations. Maine is full of simple, clean motels both roadside and waterside.... the more popular B&Bs and resorts will require advance booking.
For a family, near the water, I'd recommend Terrace by the Sea in Ogunquit, then on departure day visit Kennebunkport for breakfast or brunch followed by a night near Old Orchard...maybe Billowhouse.com or The Sea Cliff house which are on the "quiet" end of Old Orchard. Next I'd drive up to Bar Harbor, maybe Edgewater Cottages or The Bar Harbor Motel. On the return to Boston...a night or two in Camden maybe at The Riverhouse or Mt. Battie Motel. And finally a night or two in Old Port Portland at the Hampton Inn or Hilton Garden Inn. (Oops, forgot to ask how many days/nights you have total for the trip, and also if you're looking for quiet Oceanside relaxation and beach/hikes/nature...or shopping, fine dining and go-go-go activities.)
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May 27th, 2014, 03:19 AM
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I think you'll be okay during the week. On weekends it will be tougher, especially fathers day weekend.
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May 27th, 2014, 03:41 AM
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I agree with reservations on weekends. We had to have a reservation for third week in September because of a special event (Common Ground Fair).

Do a search on Maine because other people have had similar questions about where to stop. And, the further north you go, the fewer chain hotels/motels and more mom and pop places. Depending on which week in June, check for Lupine Festival. The lupines are very pretty and there's one town on the Blue Hill Peninsula just before MDI that has a festival. It's mostly local and low key but we got a map to the best lupine patches so it was fun going on some back roads.

I would stay near Rockland if either the Farnsworth Art Museum or the Owl's Head Transportation Museum is of interest. DH loves the latter which has special events on most weekends. When DS was a teen, he liked classic car museums, too. The short easy hike to Owl's Head Light is a good way to stretch legs.
dfrostnh is offline  
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May 27th, 2014, 04:02 AM
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There is no worries if you have a hotel reservation. Otherwise you may suffer for a good accommodation
helpmovingtocal is offline  
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May 27th, 2014, 04:04 AM
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What you are getting here is recommendations for two Maines:

The South Coast between Portsmouth NH and Portland.
Mid-Coast from Portland to Lincolnville or Belfast.

These are as different as the East and West Coasts of Florida or East and West Texas or LA and SF.

Since you don't say how long your trip will last, it is a bit difficult to suggest how you might plan it. The South Coast is beachier, the Mid-Coast is rockier and looks like calendar pictures of Maine, but you have to get off the main roads.

There are other Maines, by the way: the Lakes (between Portland and Bethel), wilderness Maine (Rangeley Lakes, Baxter State Park, the Allagash), and the coast from Belfast to the Canadian border (Bar Harbor, Mt Desert, Acadia NP and beyond). And the there is Aroostook County, but that is another whole story.

There are very, very few chain motels north of roughly Waldoboro. You will find mostly B&B's, inns, and ma and pa motels. I would definitely book for weekends because it is lupine season.
Ackislander is offline  
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May 27th, 2014, 09:07 AM
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If you keep mentioning those lupines you're gonna get the 13 year old very, very excited. Calm down please.
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May 27th, 2014, 12:18 PM
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Ackislander, I'd love it if you elaborated on the differences between the various sections of Maine's coast. When you say, "different," do you means in terms of the scenery or are you talking their respective personalities, flavors, vibes? I've only spent time on Mt. Dessert Island and loved it. I'd love to spend more time in Maine in the future.

indyhiker is offline  
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May 27th, 2014, 01:09 PM
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hahaha about the lupines because I love them but can understand that a 13 yo esp male might not share that kind of appreciation for nature. Part of the allure is the old Monty Python show about lupine robber.

ackislander knows more about more parts of Maine than I do. There are blueberry barrens in northern Maine if you take one particular route to Brunswick. One time we left Quebec City, drove east and then entered Maine at Fort Kent. Kept driving and wondered if we would ever find any lodging. Lots of tall pines. We stopped at a general store for a snack and the proprietor checked our license plate before he talked to us.

I've read that locals no longer own any homes in Boothbay. I went on a garden tour of Camden a couple of years ago and was dismayed that all the home owners were from out-of-state and most hired gardeners. One time when we thought the weather was too dismal for Waterman's Beach lobster, we followed signs to a lobster dinner to benefit a local fire department. It was somewhere in the Rockland vicinity. But in Rockland you can also enjoy fine dining at Primo. We prefer the fire department benefits and also Bath's Heritage Days where we seek out the tent at the craft fair where the church ladies are selling slices of homemade pie.

We enjoyed Bangor because we ate at Dysart's truck stop and took my FIL to the Cole Transportation Museum which brought back many memories for him. I think he said he saw the snow roller when he was a young boy. At any rate, we know what a snow roller is. From there we went to an event at Leonard's Mills Logging Museum. Although FIL had never worked in a logging camp, he was plenty familiar with old styles of chain saws because he grew up on a farm where you cut lumber and cordwood in winter to help pay the bills. The saw mill had been restored and some of the volunteers who worked on the project were there making sure everything went exactly the way it was supposed to. There were college teams competing in chopping and sawing competitions.

We considered ourselves lucky to see a restored Lombard Log Hauler at an event at the Owl's Head Museum and overheard an elderly man talking about working on one. Quite a machine.

In June, you might find a store in Belfast "closed - gone fishing" but there's too many tourists in Kport to be closed for a day. We did explore some stores in April, not all were open and the beaches were bare.

When we needed a reservation in Lincolnville to attend the Common Ground Fair in Unity that's because there's not many motels in Unity. The traffic was backed up for a few miles just because of the fair which is put on by organic farming association. Great fair. On the way back to the motel we stopped at a school that was selling winter squashes to raise money. There was a box for money/ honor system. We'd been to Unity before when we tried to interest our son in going to college there. Not sure how many other colleges require students to bring snow shoes.

South of Portland, the schools probably don't have to do fund raisers and they sure have nice looking fire department buildings. Scenery is a lot different. Rt 1 in southern Maine is frequently bumper to bumper traffic. In Wiscasset it will back up because pedestrians have right of way and Rt 1 goes right thru downtown before it crosses the bridge. Also goes thru downtown Camden. Further north, there's not much traffic and homes are much more modest. There's one place where you can buy handmade potholders at a cooperative that tries to help local women earn money. In southern Maine, I don't think you will find many local products in the gift stores unless it is upscale jewelry.

That's my take on it.
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May 27th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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When my son was about 13, he jumped off the dock in Boothbay (actually Newagen) and came up with a nosebleed because the water was so cold, even in late June. Let the 13 year old give it a try. It will be all the adventure he needs!

Dfrostnh has done a good job explaining the south and mid coast areas. I will add that the foot traffic that blocks the road in Wiscasset is going to and from *#^+% Red's Eats. Is is not unusual in summer for he traffic to be backed up two or three miles in each direction because some TV chef said they had the best lobster rolls. End of rant.

Fort Kent, which she mentions. Is on the Canadian border a whole day's drive from Boston. They raise potatoes and cut pulpwood, and Aroostook County is very poor. The kids get out of school to dig potatoes.

Baxter State Park is famous for Mt Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The area between Baxter State Park and the Canadian border up through the Allagash River country, is mostly owned by paper companies. Many of the roads are privately owned, but you can use them to get to the fabulous fishing and hunting as long as you stay out of the way of the log trucks.

West of Baxter, over into New Hampshire, is more fine fishing and hunting. There are more moose than people up here. I think of it as the classic area of the Maine Camp, rustic cottages on a lake, usually with a lodge for eating and reading, not much to do but swim out to the float or canoe. Some of these places are only accessible by boat or float plane. And you can fish your heart out.

There is skiing at Sunday River near Bethel on the southern edge of this area. Between Bethel and Portland are more settled lakes like Sebago, and odd sorts of places like Poland Springs and Sabbaday Lake Shaker village. This is all just over the border from the White Mountains and the horror of North Conway and its outlet malls.

I have to say that rural poverty in Maine looks just like rural poverty in Georgia: refrigerators on the porch, old cars in the yard, firewood stacked as high as the roof. There is a lot of this. But there are beautiful coves, rocky islands the size of your house, tiny villages resting on the fog. Absolutely none of this is visible from the main highways. You need a DeLorme Maine Atlas and a spirit of adventure.
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