Trip to Maine, advice/suggestions?

My wife and I will be traveling to the Northeast next month to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We’ll be flying into and out of Portland, ME, arriving late at night on Tuesday the 6th and leaving the evening of Friday the 16th. We’ll get a rental car while there. It’s possible, though not certain, that we’ll have camping gear.

I’m sure we’ll want to see various parts of Maine, and probably some of the Maritimes. Eating a bunch of lobster is a high priority. New England, Quebec, and Montreal are also possible places we might visit.

If you have any advice or suggestions for our trip, we’d love to hear them. Cities/towns, parks, restaurants, points of interest, etc. – if there’s anything you’d care to recommend we’d be grateful for the tips.

Lived there for 7 months in '63 so cannot give current hints, except: take your cold weather gear as “there are 3 seasons in Maine, Winter, Spring, and Fourth of July”. (Just kidding, probably.) Also, in case you didn’t know, if you go to Canada, you will need a passport to re-enter the USofA. A tour of the Casco Bay Islands by the interisland ferry would be fun as would a drive “Down East” along the coast at least as far as Bah Hahbuh (I’m originally from Boston area). There was a nice state park with beach at Sebago Lake, northwest of P’land. Old Orchard Beach a few miles south used to be fun with a large amusement park. It was always full of Canadians during July and August. I went in the ocean there in July '63 in spite of the big sign indicating the water temperature (45 degrees F). Peruse a current guide book if other Dopers don’t update.

We had great times in the 90’s with two trips to Camden.

Acadia National Park (and Mount Desert Isle) is lovely, but will be very crowded when you’re there. If you want to camp, try to book a campground now. My personal favorite is the Mount Desert Campground, well located and nice campsites. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting lobster, my personal favorite in the area is Beals Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor. Again, if you plan on going to Acadia, make reservations now.

Boothbay Harbor is a nice area as well.

As someone who spends some of every summer in Maine, like my mom, grandmom, great-grandmom, and I think one more generation before that - I nominate going to Port Clyde (down Route 131 from Thomaston) and taking the ferry to Monhegan. It’s a gorgeous boat ride, the island has wonderful hiking and the highest cliffs on the east coast.

Even if you just stay in Port Clyde, there is a lot to see - it’s one of the last small active fishing ports in Maine, and just sitting on the wharf eating a lobster roll and watching the boats go in an out could occupy an entire afternoon. There’s a great kayak rental place with cool guide lead tours (Hi Cody!). You can go up to the Marshall Point Light as well, which has a great little museum and beautiful grounds. It’s famnous for being the lighthouse that Forrest Gump ran to in the movie…

Other than that, I absolutley second the recommendation of taking some boat rides through the islands - if you go to Northeast Harbor and head for the Cranberry Islands on the mail boat it’s a really neat experience.

Have fun! Maine is my favorite place on earth (in summer).


You can hang out with me. What else do you need?

A trip out to Monhegan Island is definitely worth it, even if just for the day. Staying out there is expensive and may require multiple nights, so that might not be an option.

Maine is one of my favorite vacations! I spent six days learning to sail a schooner in the Penobscot Bay. I had a lot of suggestions from Dopers about what to do before we set sail - the Maritime Museum is quite good (and wheelchairable for my dad), but be sure to bring a jacket. When we tried to get to Acadia National Park, it was about 45 degrees and foggy (in July) so we really couldn’t see much of anything. Beautiful, beautiful state, though. No billboards, and it was easier to eat locally there by not trying than it is here through serious effort! Very few chain stores.

I haven’t been there in years either, but Camden is very picturesque, lots of sailboats in the harbor. We also went to Bar Harbor and Mount Cadillac. There’s a lobster museum and back in the '90s there were roadside stands that would sell you a whole lobster and cook it for you (the price was right too).
I haven’t seen Sebago Lake or Lake Winapasaukee in NH, check them out if you think it would appeal to you.

Look for restaurants in scenic locations and eat your way through the state. Boat rides may be nice but don’t plan on swimming in the ocean unless you like cold water.

I was born in Maine, but my parents moved us to California when I was only a few months old due to a job my father got. So, I’ve only seen the state on a few tourist visits, but can very definitely make one recommendation:

If you plan to see the interior of the state, I’d strongly suggest visiting Moosehead Lake. My father came from the small town at the southern tip of the lake, Greenville. The lake and the surrounding areas are spectacular.

My father’s father worked for with the area’s now defunct logging industry. A large boat that was used on Moosehead Lake to tow logs to mills, the Katahdin, now does tours of the lake from Greenville. Having taken that tour with my family, I’d recommend it.

Wow. You know what I’m coming to realize? If you want tips on what to do as a tourist somewhere, your best bet is to ask someone who’s been a tourist there. Asking natives is next to useless.

I live in Portland, and I have for the better part of 20 years, and I wouldn’t have thought of any of this stuff. My advice would have been something along the lines of … go have a pint at Ri-Ra’s and then kick back and watch a Red Sox game in my living room … because that’s my frame of reference.

At any rate … here’s to a fine Maine vacation.

Since you’ll have a car, here’s my recommendation:

  • Drive along the interstate from Portland to Bangor (Note: I have nothing against highway 1 from Portland to Bar Harbor, it’s just that since I haven’t driven it, I can’t speak for it)
  • At Bangor, head south east to Bar Harbor/Acadia
  • Check out Acadia (if not too crowded) and “Bah Hahbah”
  • When you’re done with Acadia, take highway 1 along the coast all the way up to Calais (note: it’s pronounced “Cal-iss” not “Cal-ay” like the city it was named after ;-). Great scenery along the way (if not foggy). Watch out for moose.
  • From Calais, pop over into Canada, and head over to St. Andrews.
  • in St. Andrews, check out the Algonquin hotel (grand, old, big, hotel). St. Andrews is a cool little town as well.

Bah hahbah is a little touristy, but lots of good places to get your lobstah. Actually there are places to get lobstah all along the coast.

Ever since staying at the Algonquin, I recommend it to everyone even if to just check it out. Not sure if you’re familiar with the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, but the Algonquin is like the east coast equivalent.

Bar Harbor is nice enough, but lobster is best eaten off paper plates on a picnic table at a little shack on a pier. It’s a simple dish, meant to be served with steamers, corn on the cob, and a fresh beer.

Gary, I hope you don’t mind a piggyback request…

I live in Vermont, and have been wanting to get out to Maine and see stuff. This thread has made me want to make it happen this summer, either as a long day trip or an overnighter. Any recommendations specifically for more of a day trip? With a five-month-old baby?

Tip: bug spray with DEET. Bring lots.

I got two big welted mosquito bites today in the time it took to walk to the house from my car.

There’s this little place, The Lobster Shack, at Two-Lights State Park that serves up lobster, clams, scallops, shrimp, the whole works, on paper plates and if you can’t find room at a table indoors, you sit out at the picnic tables overlooking the ocean. Killer fried clams. I don’t know from their lobster. I hate lobster.

Day 1, cruise around the islands of Casco Bay on the Casco Bay ferry. Get off on Peak’s Island and eat some lobstah.

Day 2, drive South to Kennebunkport, walk around, eat more lobstah. Try Mabel’s = that’s where Pres Bush 41 eats his.

Day 3, drive North to Rockland, eat more lobstah and spend the night in Camden.

Day 4, 5 and 6, drive further up the coast to Bah Habba. Eat more lobstah. Drive to the top of Cadillac mountain in the park. Visit the Schoodic penisula portion of the park. Drive around the entire island.

Day 7 Visit Monhegan. If you can get reservations, it’s worth an overnight.

3 days to recover!

Enjoy your visit to God’s Country

Visited Maine last year for a wedding Down East. Rented a car in Boston and drove up 95 and cut over. Very pretty scenery.

Recommendations: Cheese Iron in Scarborough (just south of Portland). Delicious selection of local cheeses.

Allagash and Geary Breweries. Call ahead for an appointment at Geary; Allagash runs twice daily tours, no appt necessary. Both are very good, Allagash is excellent.

Young’s Lobster Pound in Belfast. Absolutely the best lobster I’ve ever had. Amazing lobster roll with unbelievably fresh, flavorful lobster meat. Sprague’s in Wiscasset is good too. (Red’s wasn’t open then, and we were dashing to catch a plane out of Logan.

We like improv comedy, and the ImprovAcadia show in Bar Harbor was all right. Plus, they serve Cadillac Mountain Stout, which is pretty damn tasty. Bar Harbor itself is pretty much a tourist trap, but very, very pretty.

Route 1 is gorgeous. We’d have stopped in Camden, Rockport, Bath, etc… if we’d time.

The giant rest stop on I-95 near Kennebuckport has a giant commissioned William Wegman weimaraner print (“Flock”)that takes up one entire large wall. Naturally it was a highlight of the drive…

Finally, about 10 miles north of said rest stop, there’s a bridge crossing the interstate that had a peculiar van stopped atop it in the middle. Caution caused me to slow down, and thereby avoid the five Maine police cars that were energetically pulling over speeders two miles south…

Wish I could’ve seen more when I was up there…

I was finally able to look up some links related to what I wrote earlier about Moosehead Lake.

First, about the region generally.

About the Katahdin and the cruises it does on the lake.

Official site for the Town of Greenville.

An addition to what I wrote earlier: About another feature of Moosehead Lake, Mount Kineo, which is the largest single flint formation in the U.S. It has excellent hiking trails, with wonderful views of the lake and the region. (My family visited it on one of our visits to the area and took the trail to the top of the mountain; I have great memories of that.)