Portland ME- to and from Acadia N.P.

Old May 22nd, 2022, 11:53 AM
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Portland ME- to and from Acadia N.P.

Hello Fodor's Forum readers-

I am looking for recommendations regarding towns along the way between Portland ME and Acadia National Park for a trip on the first weekend of June 2022. The first thing most of you will probably reply with is what activities are you interested in? Let me start by noting that I have done some research already, so I know about L.L. Bean in Freeport for shopping, Red's Eats in Wiscasset, and which lighthouses (Pemaquid, Owl's Head and Grindle Pt.). With that in mind, I will offer my most important criteria for visiting the list of towns to follow. 1. Boat ride (possibly whale watching) or a simple kayak rental. 2.festivals/historical sites (could include museums, botanical gardens etc.) and 3. best restaurants / breweries possibly close to scenic hiking/biking trails.

Here is the list of cities starting closest to Portland:

Freeport
Bath/Brunswick
Boothbay (w/Pemaquid Pt.)
Wiscasset
Damariscatta
Rockland
Camden
Bucksport
Blue Hill

What I was hoping for in replies would be specifics like......

towns on the list you've been to that could be skipped
a port town that does boat trips (Boothbay or Port Clyde to Monhegan Is.?)
whale watching boat tours you've enjoyed /recommend
a can't miss restaurant or brewery
suggested places for bike and kayak rental (along this route) that are reasonably priced

If my time frame to visit these towns were Sat. 6 p.m. to Sun. 9 p.m. how does that affect the list of towns? (Monday is all day at Acadia)
Tues. is a possible day on the return from Acadia back to Portland ME.

Any helpful suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Lonnie
first time to N.E.






lonniedayton8350 is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2022, 09:53 PM
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I would use same strategy as limited time in Alaska. Go for most things you can see and do in your very limited time while red's Eats might have the best lobster roll we've only eaten there once because the line looked short and we've been to Maine many times. I would not waste time standing in line any place.

My choice of boat ride would be either Portland's mailboat cruise or lighthouse cruise from Bath Maritime Museum. We loved visiting Monhegan Island but it's a very long boat ride using up most of your day. Maine's CoastalGardens could take hours if you wanted. It's near Boothbay so you can also find good lonster rolls. We opted for a take out stand and a small picnic area on a little island in the vicinity of the gardens. There was a small footbridge. We saw kayaks being put in so there must be a rental place.

Rockland is probably going to win my vote with a visit to the Farnsworth Art Museum but my husband would choose Owls Head Transportation Museum. If you check their schedule they might be having a special event. We saw antique airplanes flying and also a restored Lombard Log Hauler. You could have sat night dinner at Claws which is take out with covered porch overlooking the industrial part of the harbor. Then on Sunday have lunch at McLoon's which is far more scenic than Red's roadside location. It has gotten popular but we've been there when there weren't any lines. Get the big lobster roll that comes two ways. A little mayo on the roll but also some warm butter to dip the pieces that might fall off. The hike to Owls Head Light is short but you don't get much view without climbing the stairs. It might not fit you idea of a lighthouse but you could stop along the way at one of the more iconic ones.

we don't isually visit breweries but you can find something along the way even if it's from a general store. But check to se what nreweries might be along your route where you could stop for a tasting. We like the auto road up Mt Battie you can do on your way through. We avoid downtown Camden.

if you check local papers you might find some pre-tourists event. We enjoyed a volunteer fire dept lobster supper fundraiser one visit. It was in the general vicinity of Owls Head. Bath Heritage Days is fun but that's July 4th time frame.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 03:02 AM
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The only can't miss restaurant I'd recommend is the Shuck Station in Damariscotta, if and only if you like oysters.
You are literally right on the river where they are harvested from so they don't get any fresher than that!

To me, LL Bean in Freeport is a huge waste of time. Yes, the main store is huge, so you're able to browse their entire catalog in one store but there really are no bargains to be had. The rest of Freeport is one huge outlet mall. If that's what floats your boat, then go for it, but I would not put shopping at an outlet mall in the top ten unique things about Maine....

I agree with the above post about Reds, except the part about it being the best... Lines are long, and you're standing in line, then sitting right along a major road. A good lobster roll isn't that hard to make and there are places in every town up and down the coast. Be perpared for sticker shock. This season one lobster roll the size of a hot dog bun will likely go for $25 to $30.

You also need to consider travel time.... Rt 1 on the weekend can be painfully slow in stretches. You do NOT want to be driving Rt1 through Wiscasset after about 10:00 or 10:30am due to the backups caused by people crossing the street to wait in line at Reds.... The backup through Wiscasset can be half an hour or more, so keep that in mind if you decide to spend the morning in Freeport or Bath. While I do like Brunswick, the places to visit there are not along the water, so you don't get that Maine special atmosphere you will get elsewhere.

You can take harbor tours, or sail boat rides in Boothbay Harbor, and also rent kayaks there, but by the time you drive out the peninsula and back to Rt1, you chew up an other hour of your limited time. Boothbay ticks off a lot of what's on your to-do list, so not a bad option for your good part of your Sunday.


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Old May 25th, 2022, 05:26 PM
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The weather in Maine looks lousy for Memorial weekend so if the weather is good the following weekend you'll have a difficult time finding a Saturday-night check-in if you wait til the last minute. Book within the next few days especially if you find something refundable/cancellable.

So you basically have all day Sunday for a boat ride, a look at some gardens or a museum, and a hike and a nice dinner. I would not go anywhere near Red's Eats on a Sunday.

Farnsworth Museum in Rockland is open until 4pm on Sundays. You can to Port Clyde easy enough if you decide you have time for a round-trip boat ride. Drift Inn Beach is nice for a picnic lunch. There's also a kayak rental outfit in Port Clyde that has probably opened for the season., and the Fort Point Trailhead is 15 mins from Port Clyde for an easy hike with a nice view. Or there are kayak rentals in Rockland/Owl's head area. You have Camden Hills State Park/Mt Battie for hiking, too. Merryspring Nature Center has nice gardens and trails but the mosquitoes will be out in early June so use bug spray and keep moving. Also if you are going to hike, familiarize yourself with tick precautions, how to check for ticks, and where the urgent care center is should you get bites. It's important to take care of it within 24 hours. Maine is apparently experiencing a helluva tick season.
Recommended in this area for dining are Claws, a super-casual lobster & fried seafood roadside diner, or the restaurant at The Craignair Inn. Or the Dip Net in Port Clyde,

East Wind Inn at Spruce Head, near Port Clyde, might have a room available. Or the Craignair. If you'd rather be in town with a walkable downtown and maybe some local music or something going on Saturday night, the Trade Winds Inn is right in town and under $150. The Strawberry Hill Seaside Inn is set off by itself a few miles up the road, gorgeous views and under $200. Or Ledges by the Bay also has nice views, more modest place, around $135.



Originally Posted by lonniedayton8350 View Post
Hello Fodor's Forum readers-

I am looking for recommendations regarding towns along the way between Portland ME and Acadia National Park for a trip on the first weekend of June 2022. The first thing most of you will probably reply with is what activities are you interested in? Let me start by noting that I have done some research already, so I know about L.L. Bean in Freeport for shopping, Red's Eats in Wiscasset, and which lighthouses (Pemaquid, Owl's Head and Grindle Pt.). With that in mind, I will offer my most important criteria for visiting the list of towns to follow. 1. Boat ride (possibly whale watching) or a simple kayak rental. 2.festivals/historical sites (could include museums, botanical gardens etc.) and 3. best restaurants / breweries possibly close to scenic hiking/biking trails.

Here is the list of cities starting closest to Portland:

Freeport
Bath/Brunswick
Boothbay (w/Pemaquid Pt.)
Wiscasset
Damariscatta
Rockland
Camden
Bucksport
Blue Hill

What I was hoping for in replies would be specifics like......

towns on the list you've been to that could be skipped
a port town that does boat trips (Boothbay or Port Clyde to Monhegan Is.?)
whale watching boat tours you've enjoyed /recommend
a can't miss restaurant or brewery
suggested places for bike and kayak rental (along this route) that are reasonably priced

If my time frame to visit these towns were Sat. 6 p.m. to Sun. 9 p.m. how does that affect the list of towns? (Monday is all day at Acadia)
Tues. is a possible day on the return from Acadia back to Portland ME.

Any helpful suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Lonnie
first time to N.E.
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Old May 26th, 2022, 01:07 PM
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I just got back yesterday from three days in that region. I can tell you that there are lobster shacks/seafood restaurants (with outdoor seating) everywhere so I wouldn't bother taking time to wait on line, or go out of my way for a specific one. We experienced a lot of them still closed (will be opening Memorial Day weekend), and a lot of them are open for the season, but closed on Monday and Tuesday. So if you not going those days you should have no trouble finding fresh seafood. We didn't see anyplace with lobster rolls under $29. Most were $29-35 - and that's just the lobster roll, fries were almost always extra. Scallops and shrimp were around $26-29 and haddock seemed to start around $17. Some of those came with fries.

We saw boat rides - whale watch, puffin tour, lighthouse tours, etc. leaving from a lot of places, especially (from your list) Camden and Boothbay Harbor. They looked like you could just show up and get on but also took advance reservations. In June a lot of them were not daily, maybe a few days a week. I didn't see any that were less than 2-3 hours so with getting there, parking, etc. it's going to eat up half a day. You have a lot of places on your list and other than museums and boat ride you don't say what you want to do. It takes about an hour - not counting stops - to drive down and back up the peninsulas (Harpswell, Boothbay, Pemaquid, etc.). And we had almost no traffic and relatively easy parking - I think probably that will not be the case from Memorial Day on so things will take longer.

I would skip Freeport unless you really love to shop. There are LL Bean stores in lots of places now and of course everything is available on line so unless it's something really special you want to do I wouldn't take up several hours of your rather short time to do it. Brunswick, Wiscasset and Damariscatta are all cute towns (Brunswick much larger than the other two). They are all filled with antique shops, historic houses, art galleries - as well as stores selling nautical themed house goods and of course sweat shirts. Camden is the 'best' of the towns you list because in addition to the stuff I just mentioned there is a pretty harbor and nice park. Every town seemed to have a brewery. Rockland is larger and more industrial (Bath is also larger and more industrial) and It does have Rockland Breakwater Light which is a lighthouse at the end of an almost mile long breakwater made of giant, flat-topped rocks that you can walk out to. You say you have have Saturday 6pm to Sunday 9pm so essentially one day. You can not possibly do even half the things on your list. Pemaquid is one of the easiest to get to and nicest light houses in Maine and it also has a fishing museum and an art gallery in the 'park'. ($3 per person to enter the park).
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Old May 26th, 2022, 05:44 PM
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Thanks for all of the helpful information, isabel. Just to clarify, the Sat. 6 p- Sun 9 p. is time available on the road between Portland Maine on the way to Acadia with the Sat overnight near Brunswick. Monday afternoon on the way back from Acadia, I could also stop at some of the towns listed if I missed them before and they're worth a stop. That is why it helps to have forum users suggest skipping Freeport. In my case, I will likely be in a bigger hurry to get to Acadia Sun. evening that on returning from there Monday afternoon. Right now, Camden (including the auto road to Mt. Battie Tower) and Bath (Maine Maritime Museum with a lighthouse cruise) are definite stops. It helps to know it takes an hour to drive down and back the peninsulas, so I will prioritize Boothbay but consider Pemiquid Pt. (lighthouse). I like how you said not to wait in lines at the restaurants with options everywhere. Lastly, on Monday afternoon to break up the car ride, my hiking stops are either Bradbury Mt. or Wolfe's Neck Woods State Parks. Scenic hiking/biking, kayaking and festivals/historical sites were my other priorities along with museums and boats rides (disregarding food & drink).
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Old Jun 2nd, 2022, 09:53 AM
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Do you mind sharing where you will be lodging?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2022, 10:24 AM
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Not at all, bakerstreet. I got four different Air BnB's along to path to Acadia and down to NH/Mass. I decided on whale watching in Mass. over heading west to Vermont.
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