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Toronto to Coastal Maine 1 Week Road Trip


Jul 14th, 2014, 10:06 AM
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Toronto to Coastal Maine 1 Week Road Trip

We decided to celebrate the start of summer with a road trip to Coastal Maine from our home in Toronto a couple of weeks ago. Posts on this forum were a great help in deciding what to do and where to stay so hopefully this trip report is helpful to others. In general, we had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed the sites, the food, the people. We will definitely be heading back to this part of the world one day to explore some more.

Day One - Early start from Toronto at 5am. We debated taking the shorter, less scenic route via the interstate through New York and Massachusetts, but decided we had the time for the longer scenic route through the countryside. We headed east along the north side of Lake Ontario, crossing the border at Ogdensburg and then heading down through the Adirondacks. It was a very nice drive. First stop was in Westport, arriving early afternoon and checking into the lovely Inn at Westport. We enjoyed the rest of the day walking around the small town and having a drink at the Marina looking out over Lake Champlain.

Day Two - Early start again as we were eager to get to Maine. On the way into Kennebunkport we stopped at the Maine Diner for lunch in Wells. It was bustling, but it actually took less than 10 minutes to get a seat and enjoy our first lobster roll, seafood chowder and blueberry muffin. From there a short drive into Kennebunkport to check in at the Boathouse Hotel. The Boathouse has a great location especially for enjoying their restaurant and bar on the water and the décor is gorgeous, modern marina style. Went out on a sunset boat cruise which I highly recommend for the great views of the houses and scenery along the coast around Kennebunkport. Back at the hotel we enjoyed happy hour drinks and sampled $5 appetizers in the very lively hotel bar.

Day Three - We borrowed some bikes from the hotel and road along Ocean Drive. We thought we might bike all the way to Goose Rocks Beach, but it was too hot a day so we only made it as far as Cape Porpoise where we stopped for lunch before heading back to town. In the afternoon we drove out to Goose Rocks and had a walk around. Wish we had gone earlier in the car to spend a few more hours here. On the way back stopped at the Goose Rocks dairy for a massive ice cream cone. Dinner that night was at Mabel's Lobster Claw, one of our food highlights of the trip. Busy spot, but we called ahead about an hour earlier and they put our names down on the reservation list so our table was ready when we got there. Shared a bowl of clam chowder, stuffed mushrooms, an excellent lobster roll and a 2lb lobster with 6 jumbo shrimp. Too full afterwards to even think about dessert! Felt better after a nice 15 minute stroll back to the Boathouse along the waterfront.

Day 4 - Onwards to the quaint little town of Boothbay Harbor with a pit stop on the way in Freeport to visit LL Bean and the other outlets. In Boothbay we stayed at the Topside Inn which is beautifully situated on a hill above the town. The common areas of the inn and the rooms were all decorated with great taste and an eye to detail and comfort. I enjoyed sitting on the porch outside our room looking out at the views of the coastline. Wandered around the town and across the harbor for a lobster roll and some oysters at the Lobster Dock. It was not busy in the middle of the afternoon. We also ate at McSeagull's in Boothbay. It was nice to sit right on the water and enjoy the views, but we didn't think the food at McSeagull's was anything special.

Day 5 - Fantastic breakfast at the Topside Inn - cold buffet items such as yogurt, fruit, granola, pastries, followed by a hot dish which this particular day was scrambled eggs and asparagus with hollandaise and ham. Beautifully done. Would have liked to have stayed another night at the Topside, but we were hitting the road again and were provided with excellent directions and suggestions for our drive. Headed up the coast to Pemaquid Point to see the lighthouse. Very picturesque and definitely worth the detour. Stopped at the Owl's Head lighthouse for a picnic lunch and then into Rockland for our next stop.

At first glance, Rockland has more of a gritty, industrial feel and definitely not as pretty as some of the smaller fishing villages, but as we discovered it was well worth a stop for the food alone and we didn't even visit Primo since it wasn't open that day. We wandered along Main Street and stopped in at the Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery to watch the US play in the World Cup. After the game we had a glass of wine and hors d'oeurves at In Good Company which was excellent. For dinner, we went to Suzuki Sushi and ordered the omakase for two at $55. Some of the tastiest, freshest sushi we have ever eaten. Highly recommend!

In Rockland we stayed at the Captain Lindsey House, another beautifully decorated, impeccably kept inn.

Day 6 - Breakfast was again cold buffet items followed by a hot breakfast of sausages, eggs and homemade blueberry muffins. We started the morning with a visit to the famous breakwater which was an enjoyable morning walk. Then headed north again through Rockport and Camden with a detour up to the top of Mount Battie. Our lunch stop was McLaughlins Lobster Shack in Lincolnville where we had some delicious fried clams and a surprisingly good cheeseburger. The day got increasingly hot and humid as we headed to Belfast and after checking in at the Yankee Clipper Motel we headed inland to Swan Lake State Park for a swim.

I picked Belfast as a stop on our itinerary to explore the interesting food scene there, but unfortunately the weather was not cooperating as major thunderstorms hit the area and we ended up staying in the motel for the rest of the evening so we didn't do it justice at all. The Yankee Clipper was very new and modern, but still about a 20 minute walk to get to town so next time I would pick accommodation right in the town in order to appreciate it more.

Day 7 - On to Bar Harbor! We arrived too early to check into the Highbrook Motel, but we stopped by and the people at the front desk gave us lots of information on things to do. First a stop in town for an excellent brunch at Café this Way. Spent the afternoon exploring Acadia National Park, including a hike up the Beehive trail which has a number of sections where you have to climb up metal railings attached to the side of the rock. It only took about half an hour, but you need to be relatively fit to do it.

The Highbrook Motel has a retro feel to it, but impeccably clean and spacious rooms. It is about a 15-20 minute walk to town along the main road, but the Island Shuttle goes right past the end of the driveway every half hour in the morning/early afternoon and every 15 minutes in the late afternoon/evening.

Day 8 - Up early to explore Acadia some more. Picked up grab n' go breakfast items from the front office, all packed into an easy to carry cardboard container which we very much enjoyed sitting on some rocks by the sea a little while later. Did the full loop road of the park. In the afternoon we went into town to enjoy some of the July 4th festivities and watched one of the World Cup games at a local pub then went for a walk along the Shore path. Planned to head back into town again later in the evening for the fireworks, but Hurricane Arthur was putting a damper on everyone's plans so we just sat on the porch and listened to the rain.

Day 9 - We were meant to stay another night in Bar Harbor, but the forecast was for heavy rain all day and early in the morning the power went out. Faced with the prospect of sitting in a dark motel room all day we decided to hit the road a day earlier than planned and headed home. From Bar Harbor we drove up through Maine to the Quebec border, west to Montreal and then all the way home to Toronto - a 14 hour trip, about 12 hours of driving time.

In all, it was an excellent road trip and an adventure I would highly recommend. We have lots of fond memories and will definitely visit Maine again in the future - hopefully for longer next time.
lemongrass is offline  
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Jul 15th, 2014, 06:24 AM
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Glad the advice on fodors was helpful. Nice trip report!
dfrostnh is online now  
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Jul 15th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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Great report - glad that you enjoyed Kennebunkport. We've been meaning to try the bar/restaurant at the Boathouse. Love Mabels. Where did you eat in Cape Porpoise?
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Jul 15th, 2014, 05:24 PM
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It doesn't sound as if you waste much time when you travel!
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Jul 17th, 2014, 07:48 AM
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Bennnie - we ate at the Wayfarer in Cape Porpoise having read about it in one of the NY Times 36hours articles. The people there were lovely and the food was simple comfort food, but nothing particularly notable. Definitely try the Boathouse for happy hour drinks and snacks. Fun atmosphere and the guys behind the bar were really friendly.
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Jul 22nd, 2014, 08:05 AM
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So the Wayfarer made the NY Times! Before its new ownership, it was a pretty comfortable local little place owned by a lovely Irish woman. We always enjoyed it but have embraced the new ownership and decor too. I've had several good meals there. If you ever come back to Cape Porpoise - try the Ramp - at the end of Pier Rd.
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