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krystal_whitfield Aug 26th, 2010 10:44 PM

maine coast fall foliage
We will be traveling to Maine, driving from Portland along the coast to Bar Harbor, October 2-8. Can anyone give us information on "must see" side road trips or things along the way we really don't want to miss. We have been as far as Boothbay 2 years ago and know the scenery is beyond words, but know there are a lot of areas we probably don't know about. Also checking on ferries, moose safaris and/or other things that would make our trip eventful. We have reservations at the Ocean Point Inn in East Boothbay and Belfast Harbor Inn in Belfast. Anyone know anything about them?

dfrostnh Aug 27th, 2010 01:54 AM

Dtarting from Portland: most lobster shack places are open weekends only in the fall, Columbus Day weekend their last weekend. Do not miss. Most scenic would be Five Islands or Waterman's Beach near Rockland but check to make sure they are open and since seating is outdoors, weather should be decent. Visit Owls Head Light, short hike, nice view.

Weekends might be your only chance for a scenic boat trip. Bring jackets. Check the schedule at the Maritime Museum in Bath.

Camden ME tied for 6th place in Yankee Magazine's Top 25 places to view foliage. Here's a pic from the top of Mt Battie

I would do a zigzag over toward NH's North Conway for a visit to Maine's Fryeburg Fair. It's probably only an hour from Portland and a mid-week visit would be best. It is permissable to park wherever people are flagging you to park in their yards (expect to pay). It might be easier to leave when traffic is backed up at the fairgrounds entrance. It's one of the nicest fairs in New England with some great museum displays. Watch a horse or ox pull so you can say you've really been to New England. Go early in the day and watch the 4-H kids get their animals ready for show.
DH likes the Owls Head Transportation Museum. Looks like they're going to have a big weekend over Columbus Day with antique airplanes and yes, they do fly them.

krystal_whitfield Aug 27th, 2010 08:12 AM

Is there a lot to do in Camden? We will be staying in Belfast for 3 nights and wondered how long it takes to get from Belfast to Camden. Also, have you been to Bar Harbor? We have read it is beautiful.

dfrostnh Aug 27th, 2010 09:41 AM

If you're not going to shop or hike, Camden may be just a stop on your way to Belfast or a close-by day trip. Years ago we found the Cellar Door Winery in Lincolnville which is fun for a tasting. Now they have a store right on Rt 1, south of Camden. The original location if it is still open for tastings is in a rural area and that's where they grow the grapes.

Bar Harbor is beautiful whether you are driving, biking or hiking. DS loved mountain biking at the time so we had him ride up Cadillac Mountain while we visited a garden. Then he played around on the rocks. On a return trip we might consider packing a picnic breakfast and going for sunrise. The Blue Hill Peninsula is just before Mt Desert Island so that's fun to explore, too. Our last visit was one June for their Lupine Festival.
We usually stay in the mid-coast area because we camp and have a favorite campground in Wiscasset. We stayed there when we visited Camden because I wanted to go on the house and garden tour and DH wanted to go to Owl's Head Museum. It's also closer for us than Bar Harbor.
You can see recommendations for eating in the Belfast and Bar Harbor areas on Chowhound. Camden is more of a tourist town than Belfast. We also like Ellsworth. Between Belfast and Ellsworth (if I remember correctly) you should find the Chicken Barn for antiques and used books. DH enjoys looking for books but was also impressed with the chicken barn structure.
Get the local papers to see what's happening. We followed signs for a lobster benefit dinner for a local fire dept and thought it was a great deal.

Your dates should be good. It's been a very dry year so some of us expect an early and short foliage season. There are already hints of color starting on some stressed trees.

krystal_whitfield Aug 27th, 2010 07:50 PM

Wow, thanks so much for all you info. Do you live in the area? We're from the midwest. When we made our first trip from Boston, South to the cranberry fields, to Salem, to Boothbay, North Conway and back to Boston, we were hooked. The scenery for us was indescribable, but the coast of Maine at Boothbay was beyond words. So we decided the next trip, we would focus on the Maine coastline. We are staying in Boothbay 2 nights, Belfast 3 nights and we're taking a day trip to Acadia. Do you think the coast is as beautiful in Belfast and at Acadia?

clarkgriswold Aug 28th, 2010 07:50 AM

Acadia-yes, Belfast no (in answer to your last question).
From Belfast, be sure to take a day trip inland to enjoy real foliage. If you could make an all-day circle trip up around Moosehead Lake (north of Bangor on your map) would be very memorable, but even a short 25 min drive from Belfast to Lake St. George State Park would be pleasant.
2 nights Boothbday and 3 nights Belfast doesn't add up to Oct 2-8....are you leaving the 6th night open? Looking for suggestions for where to stay on your final night?

krystal_whitfield Aug 28th, 2010 09:54 AM

We're actually flying into Boston and staying in Andover the first night so we can go to Salem and up the coast, staying at Orchard Beach the second night. The very last night we're in Boston near the airport because our flight leaves at 6:00 a.m. An additional question....does Belfast seem like a reasonable central location if we want to go east and west respectfully to see both foliage and beautiful coastline, or is there a more reasonable central location ?

clarkgriswold Aug 28th, 2010 10:25 PM

I would re-think the night in Old Orchard beach, nothing to see there of interest, it's row after row of motels and a merry-go-round/ferris wheel and in October can be empty and kind-of-depressing, the beach is nice but if it's scenery you're after, nix that idea. The Wells-Ogunquit-Kennebunkport area is a better bet especially if you can get there late afternoon and make a shore drive from York to Cape Neddick to Ogunquit. (note, route 1 coastal route is NOT a shore drive!)

If you do stay in Old Orchard, stay way over on the Pine Point end, not in honky-tonk central.

Belfast? Well, it's a decent centerpoint I guess, for a daytrip to Camden/Rockport, a day trip to Bar Harbor, and a day trip through a lakes region. Only trouble with Belfast is that on all your day trips you'll probably be saying "I wish we were staying HERE tonight, but we're headed back to lil' ol Belfast instead".

To answer a couple of your questions, Belfast down to Camden is about 25 mins...and Camden is a lot like Boothbay with Harborside restaurants and shops, lots of foot traffic, inns, B&Bs, and harbor cruises. Mt. Battie is a great hike if you luck out with some warm weather.

Sounds like you enjoyed Boothbay a lot, but this time around, I think if it were me, I'd consider 2 nights Camden/Rockport....2 nights Bar Harbor/Acadia with maybe a long day drive up to Moosehead Lake, and then just the 1 final night Boothbay on the way back to Boston. Another plan might be to leave Andover nice and early, get a full day in driving up the coast...arriving late in Camden that night. So 2 nights Camden, 2 nights Bar Harbor, then you'd still have 2 open for Boothbay.

Hope I haven't totally confused you! Your original plan is okay too, and I'm sure you will make the best of it.

dfrostnh Aug 29th, 2010 03:36 AM

MDI is breath-taking. Belfast is Belfast, more of an average coastal town. It doesn't cater to tourists like Camden and Boothbay do so we liked our visit. DH decided he needed a haircut and the barber was friendly, we found a great sandwich place, shopped at the food co-op. If you've found lodging that you think works for you, it might be a great choice but clarkgriswold makes some good points.

I definitely agree with being careful about where to stay in Old Orchard. We drove thru in June and it's pretty garish.

I live in NH so Maine is a frequent vacation destination for us. We're pretty lucky to have so many wonderful New England places so close.

krystal_whitfield Aug 29th, 2010 08:09 AM

Those these replies really have me thinking. We had reservations at the Belfast Harbor Inn, but now I'm thinking I should see what's available in the Camden and Acadia areas. Do either of you have any suggestions on good places to stay in either place? I also don't want to sound really stupid, but am unsure what MDI is. As far as our reservation in Old Orchard, we're just staying on the highway at the Hampton Inn. We thought we would probably get in late and just need a place to sleep so we could get an early start the next morning for Boothbay. But, maybe we need to rethink that as well.

You mentioned driving from Andover directly to Camden. How long is that drive and would that give us much time to enjoy the sights on the way up?

ronnie1028 Aug 30th, 2010 10:12 AM

Wow...Just found this website on my quest for a 'fall fabulous' vacation to maine. It appears you ladies know an awful lot about the area, and I believe you can help me in my quest! My family is planning a fall getaway to Maine starting Oct. 20th through the 26th. I have been on a couple of sights, and noticed that the 'season' ends on Columbus Day. I'm starting to fear that if we go to say...Bar Harbor can anyone tell me if the shops, restaurants, ect. will still be open. Our son has off that week for fall break so that's the only time we can arrange to go. What would be some 'hot spots' for us to see in (I guess) late fall? Also, If you were traveling there from the midwest can you maybe suggest a good location to settle into for the week? Shopping, eatting, antiquing, sightseeing, and I will climb a little mountain if my family makes me :).
Any info would be greatly appreciated! This is our first time to the East Coast, and have no one that has experienced it that we can get feed back from.

elberko Aug 30th, 2010 10:28 AM

MDI = Mount Desert Island

dfrostnh Aug 31st, 2010 03:13 AM

If you're looking for shops and lots of activities, I wouldn't choose Bar Harbor. If the weather is bad it could be a long, dismal week. Although Bar Harbor is a popular tourist destination, surrounding areas are pretty rural. The trees will probably be bare. If you want to see foliage you might have some luck at that late date in Rhode Island which would still give you a coastal vacation.
If you want lots to do, I would choose southern Maine. Portland is a great city, there's some nice boat trips that might still be going on. You could stay further north but still within decent driving distance of Portland if you need a rainy day activity. The Rockland area might be a good choice. Camden would be an easy day trip. Both Farnsworth and Owls Head Transportation Museums are very interesting. You'll find plenty of places serving lobster just not the picnic table next to the water kind of place. Hike to Owls Head Light is short and easy. Plenty of places to explore in all directions.

clarkgriswold Aug 31st, 2010 07:57 AM

Andover to Camden is manageable in a day. From Andover it's about an hour up to York/Ogunquit or Kennebunkport if you want to explore and have lunch in Southern Maine, early afternoon you could check out the beach nearby, then hit the road and get much further than Old Orchard on to Camden or Boothbay.At any rate, don't choose a highway motel. With your love of the coastal scenery and your short stay, you should be waking up within a few hundred yards of the water everyday instead of watching trucks pull into CVS. Do you have an approx budget range for accomodations?

ronnie/Stacy: Camden/Rockland is probably a better bet late October as far as shopping/dining and there is Mt. Battie to climb nearby. Maine State Museum in Augusta is an easy day trip on a rainy day and Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park is an enjoyable day trip with no traffic if the weather turns out nicely for you. At any rate, there is no need to panic regarding accomodation that late in October, any place that is still open will probably have vacancy and you can relax, watch how the weather is developing a few days before your visit, and finalize your plans. Maybe Bar Harbor will be looking good, maybe you'll end up on Cape Cod in Massachusetts instead.

dfrostnh Aug 31st, 2010 09:12 AM

I just checked with a friend who works in Kennebunkport. Things stay very busy until Columbus Day and then start to taper off. The York Harvest Festival is very popular in October. This is in southern Maine.

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