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New England Newbie - Help with 13 night itinerary - October

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New England Newbie - Help with 13 night itinerary - October

Old Sep 13th, 2014, 09:16 PM
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New England Newbie - Help with 13 night itinerary - October

Good evening. First time traveler to New England. Trip is three weeks away and have not made any reservations (yes I am hearing it's difficult to find hotels, but I am not too picky).

The points:
- Husband and myself traveling for our annual anniversary trip
- Attempting to hit all 50 states in the coming years, so I want to at least touch Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts. I do not expect to be able to explore the states
- Of course would like to see some fall colors
- Looking at flying in or out of a combination of airports, but prefer Manchester, Boston, Portland or (?). Flying out of Wichita, KS and only want one connection. Flying out Saturday 10042014 and returning Friday 10172014
- Prefer a couple of longer term stays (Maine and Boston) with a night here and there as needed
- The main highlights: want to spend 3-5 nights along the coast of Maine and want to spend 3-5 nights in Boston (with possible day trips to Providence to cross RI off my list). Interested in a whale watching either from Boston or Cape Ann/Salem area. I do want to at least spend an afternoon in Salem.
- I can figure out what to do in Boston, but needing more of the help in figuring out where to fly into first, which way to go first, to stay in one city near VT/NH and take day trips and what to do with CT.
- Clueless for NH/VT/CT - can't figure out if I should try 2-3 nights in VT/NH with day trips or a new place each night
- For Maine, it is imperative that I relax. I don't want super touristy. I picture waking up along the water, hearing fishing bells/boats, smelling the sea, sitting having tea, very casual, eating lots of seafood (again casual). Fancy is not part of me.
- We are not drinkers (so wine isn't important) and not huge hikers.
- Don't want to spend the whole time in the car, but love leisurely drives OFF the main highways

In my mind I've had a million possibilities but just need some advice. We plan to rent a car for the whole time except our days in Boston. We are very casual folk and of course I don't want to spend an arm and a leg, but clean and decent and maybe one splurge; however we have a budget of around $2500 - $3000. I just need to relax along the coast of Maine and see some countryside in VT/NH/CT.
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Old Sep 14th, 2014, 02:06 AM
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Sorry, if you want only one connection you will probably have to fly into Boston. Good luck. I got tickets weeks ago for first week of October MHT-ICT-BOS. Easier for me to get an early morning flight out of Manchester but I have 2 stops and also wanted cheapest fare.

It looks like color is going to be early this year so I would not tarry in Boston. If you stay in Manchester or Concord NH you can take a day trip to the seacoast. Portsmouth NH is less than an hour and you simply drive over the bridge to Kittery ME. Or drive west to VT which is also very close. I think you should plan your VT visit based on something you would like to do. I stayed at the Norwich Inn earlier this summer which is a great place for visiting King Arthur Flour (took a class), Norwich Farmers Market on Saturday (yummy treats not just vegetables) and the Killdeer farm stand next to KA Flour. Norwich is a lovely small town just over the river from Hanover NH (Dartmouth College) which has some unique shops. St Gaudens historical site is an easy drive but I preferred the house tour at The Fells in Newbury NH (but it might be closed in October). Vermont Country Store is always a fun visit (yes, I am swayed by free food samples). A few weeks ago we did an overnight to VT this time spending the night at the airb&b in Plainfield where the hostess treated us to a wonderful breakfast of local bread, freshly ground peanut butter, etc. We had a bedroom and family room and private bath to ourselves and lovely view from the top of their hill (on a pretty dirt road). We were touring gardens that visit.

You could also attend a foliage festival Columbus Day weekend or the Sandwich NH fair (very small). I haven't been to the Warner NH foliage festival in years but it features a homegrown parade, craft fair, farmers market, etc. There are plenty of orchards around should you want some wonderful apples (sorry but the worst apple in my life was at a Wichita hotel). There is also Canterbury Shaker Village just north of Concord NH which has a very serene atmosphere. You can either just drive by on your way to an orchard or take a tour (check times and dates open). BTW in Warner NH don't be surprised to see 4-H oxen teams (it's still farm country) or famous artists (David Carol: Year of the Turtle). Sweet little town. Rather than hike, you can drive up Mt Kearsarge from the Wilmot NH side (toll road) for a great view from the top looking north toward Lake Sunapee). It a small mountain so it doesn't attract the crowds like the White Mountains.

For some reason I have never been a fan of the White Mountains. Yesterday we went to an event and enjoyed a garden tour in the Plymouth area last summer but I prefer other areas. I do like the drive from I93 area to Conway via Center Sandwich and Tamworth over to Rt 16. You can do the loop going one way on the Kancamagus but I wouldn't do that on a weekend. And avoid I95 and I93 southbound on Sunday afternoons. Lots of traffic northbound yesterday (Saturday and no foliage yet) for what turned out to be a rainy day. If you want to see wild animals, the Science Center in Holderness at Squam Lake is lovely. We took the grandkids a few weeks ago and enjoyed the entire setting and the animal demos. Don't miss the lady who has a sweet little saw whet owl on her arm who will explain all about owls to you. Otter feeding was very crowded due to summer campers' arrival but it was just us asking about the owl. They have docents walking around to talk to people and show them things. Wonderful place.

For Maine, I find the entire southern coast (Portland south) to be congested and over-built. If you find a good lodging spot, it might be ok. Next weekend I will spend the weekend with friends in a gawd awful condo complex on Rt 1 because they vetoed my choice of a private rental (had to provide own linens). After our great experience with airb&b in VT, I plan to try that again for some place in Maine. There were some very quiet places with ocean views for couples. I liked Glenmoor by the Sea in Lincolnville (just north of Camden) but it was not on the water. One of the least built up areas is the Harpswells (east of Brunswick) where you might find such a quiet place (can't recommend the place we stayed at in Bath).

I also highly recommend getting out on the water but it will be chilly. I usually recommend the boat trips out of Portsmouth but we also enjoyed the mailboat cruise out of Portland ME. A friend recommends Peaks Island but there is nothing to do there except walk and enjoy the scenery (which might be the idea). You can get there by mailboat.

Hope someone can recommend the perfect Maine lodgings for you.
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Old Sep 14th, 2014, 08:16 AM
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Since you're on a budget, the first thing I'd do is price the car. Picking up Manchester and returning to Boston can sometimes cost 4x what it would be doing it another way. So find the acceptable options car-wise and then book your air tickets. Don't get stuck saving $200 on airfare and then paying $500 more for the car because you are now locked into having to start in one place and drop in another.

Ideal would probably be flying into Portland and starting the vacation with your relaxation time in Maine...then heading into NH or Vermont for a couple of nights for the foliage, then dropping the car near your hotel in Boston.

Southern Coast of Maine is NOT congested in October so I would not worry about that, especially weeknights. Some places do fill up with tour busfulls of leaf-peepers who are just in for the night but since you are not fussy you should find something that's fine.

Boston Hotel is going to take a major chunk out of your budget.
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Old Sep 14th, 2014, 08:43 AM
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Looks like Delta has a decent schedule into Portland with return from Boston. Probably a 21-day-advance purchase fare and you should book asap.

Looks like renting a car from Portland to Boston is actually cheaper than from Boston to Boston. Around $300 for 10 or 11 days from Dollar car rental (as long as you already have your own car rental insurance). When booking click on "city special" to get the lowest rate. You can return to Logan Airport or there are two locations intown including Marriott Hotel Copley Place.

However with your budget, you may need to keep the car til the 17th and stay near a rail station outside of Boston. La Quinta Inn Somerville still has a few rooms left and is changeable/cancellable so that you could lock it in while continuing to look around/decide. There is also The Inn at Crystal Cove in Winthrop by Boston Harbor, sort of out behind the airport...the place gets great reviews but if all your plans are in the city you have commuting plans to work out so the $ savings may not be worth it unless you'd like to be waterside.
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Old Sep 14th, 2014, 04:52 PM
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Great tips all, thank you! Alright, this is what I have thus far:

Fly into Portland ME - Oct 4th, rent a car there. Where I'm stuck is deciding whether or not I want to stick around Portland area (Portland/Harpswell/Bath?) and make my base there or if I should split up my time in Maine and do a couple of nights near Acadia and a couple of nights near Portland. Is Acadia a must see? We are not hikers, we would drive around the park and would do 1-3 miles flat paved paths. Is it imperative that we make it further east towards Acadia or can we soak up the Maine coast just East / North of Portland? Rockland?

Re: Boston - WOW, I knew it was expensive, but from what I'm seeing, the hotels are upwards of $400 per night - that is WAY more than I've ever paid in NYC or SF. I was thinking making it to Boston by Sat Oct 11th with 6 nights in Boston and doing some day/train trips from there, but I'm thinking that is OUT. Perhaps just 3-4 nights in Boston and I'll hit Salem by car before coming into Boston.

Day 1 10/4 - Fly into Portland, drive to _______ Maine for the night
Day 2 10/5 - Explore around _______ Maine - Same overnight
Day 3 10/6 - Explore around _______ Maine - Same overnight (?)
Day 4 10/7 - Explore around _______ Maine - Same overnight (?)
Day 5 10/8 Drive to New Hampshire - night in New Hampshire (Concord? Lincoln? Plymouth? Hanover?)
Day 6 10/9 - Drive/explore NH/VT around whichever town we're staying in - Same overnight (?)
Day 7 10/10 - leave hotel, drive/explore through NH/VT - night in CT? or somewhere in Mass (?) - is this too much driving? We want to be able to drive the small roads - we could drive 4 - 6 hours this day so should be fine (?) - any ideas for overnights in CT?
Day 8 10/11 (this is Sat - traffic?) thought about driving through Rhode Island, either along the coast through Newport and up to Plymouth with an overnight in Plymouth?
Day 9 10/12 - another night in Plymouth?
Day 10 10/13 - drive to Boston, drop car in Boston, night in Boston
Day 11 10/14 - explore Boston, night Boston
Day 12 10/15 - Day trip to Salem, night Boston
Day 13 10/16 - Whale Watch (? not sure about this) out of Boston, night Boston
Day 14 10/17 - travel to airport (Boston?) to fly home

What do you all think?

Also, any other suggestions for drives/stops, let me know. Gardens, Ocean, Water, Trees, Harvest/Fall Orchards - walking history, etc we like all this.
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Old Sep 14th, 2014, 07:00 PM
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October is one of the most expensive months for Boston hotels, as you've found out. I checked www.lastminutetravel for your dates and found some possibilities. The site does not identify the hotels but if you zoom in on the map, it will show the hotel or if you have a tablet and go to the website, not the app, the hotel is identified.

I see the Holiday Inn, Brookline, 3 1/2 stars at $241. This hotel is on the Green Line C train and is only minutes from downtown Boston. It's also located near Coolidge Corner, which has lots of restaurants in every price range. There is also the Midtown Hotel in Boston for $269, well-located near the Prudential Center. It is a basic motel-type hotel, no frills but great location.

The Hyatt Regency in Cambridge is $170. It is not convenient to public transport but stations are about a mile walk. They do run a shuttle to Kendall Square. It is on the Charles River and there is nothing nearby.

All these hotels are listed as available. Check the fine print but you can usually cancel up to about three days before your stay. It is a good site for Boston hotels and I've found rooms for friends a few times.

The Marriott Copley Place is listed at $234 but it is on request, which means you have to ask about availability and wait a day for them to get back to you.

Be aware the 10-13 October is Columbus Day weekend so it's a good time to be in Boston but there will be traffic on Friday and Monday as locals head off and return from their foliage trips.
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 12:31 AM
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Well with your desire to wake up and hear fishing bells and boats I'd recommend Boothbay Harbor. Maybe Brown's Wharf Inn or Rocktide Inn. Saturday check-in may be limited so book soon.
The coast of Maine is not particularly "touristy" at that time of year as most of the foliage is inland/lakeside. But you will have some lovely drives from Boothbay. Spend a morning on a lobster boat and take a drive in the afternoon to Damariscotta Village. Camden/Rockport/Rockland is quite an easy day trip and if you have a rainy day you aren't a bad drive from the Maine State Museum in Augusta. You could take a day trip to Bar Harbor if you really wanted to. 3 nights in Boothbay would be about right but you could easily fill a 4th with a roadtrip.
For New Hampshire if your main goal is fall colors, look at the lakes area, maybe Bayside Inn in Alton Bay or something in Wolfeboro.
You might consider Cape Cod, not at all trafficky and touristy on October weekdays.
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 12:34 AM
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Brown's Wharf Inn:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x9I_UZfYVM
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 02:47 AM
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If you stay in the Boothbay area, Maine Coastal Gardens might be worth a visit but I haven't been off season. For a reason to visit CT I vote for the Indian Museum at Foxwoods Casino. Very interesting. Since it's on the eastern part of the state, you should be able to include Rhode Island as well. The museum is separate from the casino.

I like the view from the top of Mt Battie in Camden better than Cadillac in Acadia and Camden is a lot closer. The drive to Bar Harbor is not along the coast and is dreary in spots. I would not do a whale watch in mid-October. I think Damariscotta Village is a lot nicer (less populated and less busy) than Kennebunkport/Ogunquit area. I would also agree with staying in the lakes region instead of the mountains.

We did a cranberry tour third weekend in Sept a couple of years ago. Tour leader met us at tourist center in Plymouth and we followed her car around. It was a pretty good tour but it was on a sunday when they weren't working the bogs. I think she said later in the year they would work 7 days a week. She had permission to drive onto farms.

From Portland ME you have choice of driving to mountains or lakes region in about an hour. It's longer to drive south on I95 to Portsmouth (but a great place to visit) then east to Concord NH. If you are going to drive to the mountains, I93 is actually a pretty drive and, if going to VT, so is I89 but if you start out from Concord NH to VT, you can head out Pleasant St follow signs to hospital, keep driving west Rt 202/103. You will go thru towns of Hopkinton, Contoocook, Warner and can get on I89 at exit 9 in Warner unless you opt to drive up Mt Kearsarage from the Wilmot side (nice view and fun road). Gould Hill Orchard is on the route from Hopkinton and has a nice view from their parking lot. Perhaps a key to scenic drives in this area is if the word "hill" is in the street name. We use Delorme atlases for NH, VT and ME to find the less traveled roads.
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 03:21 AM
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For your CT visit, I would suggest the Mystic/Stonington area. Lots of lodging choices, lots of eating choices, interesting architecture, Mystic Seaport, etc. and are 25 minutes from the casinos if you want to do the Indian museum (check the hours it is open before you go). From Stonington you are only 5 miles from RI and could plan to go there on your way back to Boston, although there is plenty to see in RI. Have lunch at the Ocean House hotel in Watch Hill, RI 20 minutes from Stonington, and see how folks summered at the turn of the century and those with deep pockets still do.

In ME I would wander up to Acadia, you can see so much from your car or from short walks from the pull offs. I think Acadia is that special.

The cute B&Bs are nicer, but if you have trouble finding lodging, you can usually find places to stay near the interstates esp. where there are intersections with state routes.
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 08:32 AM
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Cabins along the shore are found in a lot of places in Maine as well, they often have fridges etc but no continental breakfast area or restaurant attached,usually no pool, and are often a bit isolated from town. Here is an example www.beloins.com
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 08:42 AM
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All excellent advice. I have come to the conclusion that since we want some R&R, we are going to by-pass CT, RI and Boston and save all of that for another trip. Hard choice, but felt like it was too much for two weeks, wouldn't do much justice to the beautiful areas for exploration.

I have a revised itinerary (3 nights near Cape Ann/Salem, 3 nights in VT/NH area, 4 nights near Camden area and 3 nights near Portland area).

Day 1 10/4 - Fly into Portland, drive to Cape Ann area for the night
Day 2 10/5 - Explore around Cape Ann/Salem (hope to do in one day) - Same overnight
Day 3 10/6 - Train to Boston, Freedom trail Same overnight
Day 4 10/7 - Drive from Cape Ann area to VT/NH area - perhaps Dartmouth Lake or Hanover
Day 5 10/8 - go on scenic drives from Dartmouth Lake/Hanover with same overnight
Day 6 10/9 - Head further north into VT/NH with an overnight there
Day 7 10/10 - Leave VT/NH towards Maine - somewhere near Camden for four nights there
Day 8 10/11 Maine, same overnight
Day 9 10/12 - Maine, same overnight
Day 10 10/13 - Maine, same overnight
Day 11 10/14 - Drive to Portland area, overnight
Day 12 10/15 - Portland area, same overnight
Day 13 10/16 - Portland area, same overnight
Day 14 10/17 - travel to airport (Portland) to fly home

Whew, I think I'm starting to make some decisions! So for the VT/NH portion, I'm thinking two nights at the same place and one night at another place. In looking at foliage predictions for around Oct 7th thru 10th, looking perhaps at Merrimack Valley or Dartmouth Lake areas in NH. Though I'd like to pick the best place to have a variety of scenic drives. Smack dab in the middle of VT/NH East/West/North/South might be good - and then stay all three nights in the same spot and just drive around!

Thanks all for the great ideas, any other thoughts, please let me know.
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 10:34 AM
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Some suggestions for NH/Vt: There is a lot to see in these beautiful states, you might want to consider dropping a night in Portland and adding it to NH or VT. Portland IS a fabulous little city, but 3 nights there might be too much, especially with 4 nights in the Camden area. Driving thru NH, you will most likely be on I-89, which is quite rural, with lots of scenic little towns along it like Warner, Sutton, New London, Sunapee and the Hanover area (Dartmouth is the college in Hanover, not a lake - it's called the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee area). Any of these towns are worth an overnight. Also consider a visit to the Canterbury Shaker village just north of Concord - quite an interesting and picturesque spot. Hanover is a charming, busy little college town with lots of good dining options and makes a good base for exploring both states. If you want a more 'postcard perfect' New England village, look at Lyme which is a few miles north of Hanover. There are 2 Inns right on the tranquil town green. As for another destination in Vermont, there are dozens of 'picture perfect' Vermont villages to choose from. The Waitsfield/Warren area is one of my favorites, and there are many b&b options in the area including the beautifully situated Round Barn Inn. Realize that driving east-west in this part of the world is very slow due to the mountains, so your drive across to Maine from Vermont will take longer than you might think - BUT it will be very scenic!
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 01:05 PM
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Just noting that Portland is a rather large city with plenty of traffic, not sure if that fits in with your desire for simple R&R. It's a great foodie city however.
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Old Sep 15th, 2014, 01:34 PM
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Yes, I think I will limit nights in Portland and may bypass it for a smaller town near Portland. Also after researching Salem MA a bit more, don't think I will need to spend an entire day there.

Zootsi, if I do 4 nights in VT/NH would you recommend all in one spot and explore or split them up?

CWG, any experience with the Cape Ann area? A few nights there, is it a smaller relaxing area? And lastly, if I limit Portland, should I head out to an island?
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Old Sep 16th, 2014, 06:49 AM
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With 4 nights in VT/NH, I would probably do 2 nights in each state. However if you did stay in one spot, somewhere near Hanover NH (like Lyme NH or Norwich VT) would enable you to easily explore the center of both states. If you break it up, perhaps 2 nights in the Sunapee/New London area of NH, which would allow you to explore places like Canterbury, Lake Sunapee and the Keene area. Then 2 nights in someplace like Waitsfield or near Montpelier which would put you in the heart of the Green Mountains with all its tiny hill towns and quiet back roads.
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Old Sep 16th, 2014, 09:45 AM
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I like zootsi's suggestions but I think it's nice to be in one spot for 4 nights. I did 3 nights in Norwich last June to do a King Arthur class. Spent a good portion of the day traveling from MHT taking the scenic route from Concord to Warner NH and then a visit to The Fells. Saturday was a morning at Norwich farmers market and a visit to St. Gaudens. Friday was a morning spent in Hanover and the afternoon at King Arthur. Would have gone to Simon Pierce except I have been there before. Quechee and Woodstock are an easy visit from Norwich.

I think it would help if you decided where you might like to spend some time such as a visit to Canterbury Shaker Village you can fit in between VT and Maine.

We like to browse used bookstores so sometimes are trips are planned around our favorites. Sometimes we find a good spot to sit (carry bag chairs in the car) and just enjoy the scenery: i.e. top of Mt Battie (bring binoculars), Pemaquid Point Lighthouse park, Prescott Park in Portsmouth NH (watch the boats). But it's getting a little cool for sitting outdoors. Might choose a leisurely place for lunch like Simon Pierce with a good view of the river.
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 03:11 AM
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For NH, think of spending two nights somewhere on Squam, Newfound, or Lake Winnepesaukee. I disagree with dfrostnh about the White Mountains. They are gorgeous. The Kanacamangus Highway drive cuts through the mountain range and provides multiple pullouts to gaze at foliage or view water/mountains. You would stay in Lincoln area or North Conway area. Crawford Notch State Park is also worth a peak on the Lincoln side.

If you choose VT, I think Burlington or Stowe would be good towns to have as home base.

I wrote this up for a friend who was visiting and answered her questions. Maybe you'll find it helpful... "Advice for planning a trip to ME/NH" http://thefreelanceadventurer.blogsp...-vacation.html
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Old Sep 18th, 2014, 07:53 AM
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Just outside of Portland there's the Higgins Beach Inn, but I imagine it's full-up for October already. Accomodations are going to start tightening up for sure.
If there's a room at the Cape Porpoise Motel, about 30 mins south of Portland, you'd have the ocean across the street, the lobster wharf across the street, and easy day trips to Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Portsmouth, and a couple of lakes areas with nice fall colors.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2014, 02:32 AM
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Wells, Maine weekend report 9/19-21: Route 1 traffic northbound at 3pm Friday afternoon was CRAWLING. We should have stayed on I95 longer before heading to Elmwood Hotel in Wells to check in. (great place to stay but no ocean in site). Traffic all weekend was busy. Congested again Sunday morning Rt 1 all the way from Wells thru Ogunquit as we headed to Kittery (When Pigs Fly Bakery). Suspected at 10am between people going to late breakfast and checking out of hotels, and going to church, lots of morning traffic. Before noon, however, Rt 103 from York to Kittery was quite pleasant with no traffic.

On Saturday went to seafood restaurant at 5pm to avoid crowds and by 5:30 they were lined out door. (restaurant would not take reservations). Saturday morning breakfast place was also very busy with short wait. Elmwood was great place to stay (condos so full kitchen) but I would not do getaway plan that included coupons to local breakfast and dinner spots. One dinner spot was closed for a private event and we didn't care for the other choices.

Color is starting but most of the color we saw was along I93 just south of Manchester NH where there's a lot of marshy areas. It's definitely going to be an early color year but today we have a warm spell started so that will delay things. Always difficult to predict.
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