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07-24-2018, 12:59 PM   #1
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Maine tips wanted - several days in south Maine en route to Acadia

(Tagging frequent posters who I think are from Maine.)
@Sagitta
@SSGGeezer

I have a road trip planned in 2 weeks, with campsite reservations for part of the time in Acadia National Park (Seawall Campground on the west side). I already have plenty of ideas for hikes to Bass Harbor Head lighthouse and other ocean view trails, biking, some driving to cover the central portion of the park, and of course photography.

My questions are what else to do on the inbound drive. We're approaching from the south and plan to stretch that over 3-4 days sightseeing. Here are some ideas; comments welcome.
  • Old Orchard Beach Pier for dinner and people watching
  • Lighthouses. They are all along the coast, so I'll find them after pinning down other stops.
  • A day or 2 visiting the Portland, Freeport, Bath corridor. Any recommendation for museums or good photo spots?
  • Puffin boat cruise. It will be early August so they should still be at their island nests.
  • Are Camden Hills State Park or other smaller parks worth visiting, given that I already have 3 nights at Acadia?
  • I don't have time to venture much further north; I need to be in VT after Acadia. If there's anything especially noteworthy, though, I could squeeze it in before.

Thanks in advance.


Last edited by DeadJohn; 07-24-2018 at 02:35 PM.
07-24-2018, 02:31 PM   #2
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There are several lighthouses and forts on the coast in several towns that are pretty easy to view.

Freeport has the LLBean store with the big Bean boot and free concerts, outlet shopping and some nice walking trails/parks, just check the website.

Old Orchard Beach has about 10 minutes of fireworks each Thursday night around 9:45 right at the pier.

Portland has a train ride, I havenít gone on it but it looks touristy.

I live in Maine and constantly find new places to go. Hope this gives you some more options. If I know what you are looking for (nature, birds, coast, beaches) then I could give you some more ideas.

Hope you have a great time. I love Acadia. And I just did a puffin whale watch out of Boothbay Harbor. Bring your binoculars, they are tiny and fly fast. The botanical garden in Boothbay Harbor is nice and currently has a caterpillar and butterfly exhibit.

---------- Post added 07-24-18 at 04:40 PM ----------

26 of Maine's most beautiful places (to see before you die) - mainetoday

Some are far away but maybe on the way to Vermont. Depending on how you go
07-24-2018, 05:08 PM   #3
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Popham Beach is great and the old fort at the end of the road. Spinney's Lobster Restaurant is by the old fort.
07-24-2018, 07:14 PM   #4
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Hi. We live in Central Maine and have lived here for over 20 years.

I will follow up tomorrow evening and try to provide suggestions.

07-24-2018, 08:26 PM - 1 Like   #5
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You'll be driving right past Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows (you'll probably be going over the bridge in fact). The fort and the observatory on the bridge are well, WELL worth the visit. Expect to spend a few hours there if you go, and bring a good fast lens and/or flash if you start prowling the fort itself.

Camden Hills may not be worth the cost if you don't plan to spend a good part of your day. The view up on Mt. Battie is astounding, though if weather permits. You may find just prowling the town worth it (as that would be free).

Be aware that US 1 can be astonishingly slow going if you hit it at the wrong time much south of Belfast. Traffic can be insane.


Fort Knox - photo is front focused, but it does give an idea what it can be like.



07-24-2018, 10:28 PM   #6
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The best lobster rolls in the world are at the Fish Net in Blue Hill, just a little south of Acadia, right where Routes 172 and 176 come together. This was determined by years of painstaking research, trying lobster rolls at as many restaurants as possible. Itís a tough job, but someone has to do it!
07-25-2018, 11:06 AM   #7
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Thank you to all the commenters. I don't leave for a week so keep 'em coming.

QuoteOriginally posted by PancakeFlipper Quote
... If I know what you are looking for (nature, birds, coast, beaches) then I could give you some more ideas ... And I just did a puffin whale watch out of Boothbay Harbor ...
Nature, history, architecture, museums are all good. We don't plan to visit beaches because we already have ample supply of sandy beaches at home (Long Island, NY). Rocky coastline is cool, though. That's likely the same cruise I'm considering: Cap'n Fish. I'll have a 50-500 lens with me. My wife can use the binoculars.

Moose would be nice but I realize they are mostly further north. That might happen on my way to VT but probably not.

QuoteOriginally posted by Sagitta Quote
... Be aware that US 1 can be astonishingly slow going if you hit it at the wrong time ... You'll be driving right past Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows ...
Would I be correct assuming that the US-1 backups are tourism rather than rush hour commutes? I'll expect delays Fri evening (weekend trippers headed north), Sat and Sun late morning through dinner.

I have Knox and the observatory on my list of stops.

Last edited by DeadJohn; 07-25-2018 at 08:55 PM. Reason: Fixed paragraph spacing
07-25-2018, 12:02 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
Would I be correct assuming that the US-1 backups are tourism rather than rush hour commutes? I'll expect delays Fri evening (weekend trippers headed north), Sat and Sun late morning through dinner.
Definitely tourism backups. Nobody local will take 1 unless they absolutely have to during tourist season. Unfortunately, anyone commuting up and down the coast has no real choice other than 1 though.

If you have the Waze app on your phone, I'd definitely consider running that just in case '15 miles inland' is faster than that 5 mile leg along the main road.

07-25-2018, 07:58 PM   #9
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Hi:

Good suggestions so far.

Taking Route 1 is definitively (somewhat) scenic, but it will be a long trip to Acadia that way. Lots of stop and go.

I would recommend going through Augusta or Bangor.

If you take 95 to Augusta you can take Route 3 to Belfast, through Ellsworth, and continue to Acadia. In the alternative you can take 95 right past Augusta on to Bangor, take exit 182A (I395) as you approach Bangor, and go to Exit 5 or 6 off of I395 (I drive it all the time but forget the number) and take the exit (which is Route 1A) through Ellsworth and then on to Acadia from Ellsworth.

On the way to Augusta you can go to Freeport. Very touristy, but LL Bean (in Freeport) really is worth the trip. It is open all day, every day. It never closes. Literally.

If you stop in Augusta be sure to go to Vaughan Woods, also called Hobbit Land. It is a great visit. Easily missed. It is small and tucked away. And, it is free.

Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead


Belgrade Lakes (about 20 minutes northwest of Augusta), will be busy, but there are great views around the lakes and it is easy to find a tucked away place to relax.

If you drive through Belfast you can walk around the (small) town. It is less touristy and near the water.

Cobbosseecontee Lake (also called Cobbossee Lake) in Manchester (a few minutes from Augusta) can be fun. It will likely be busy, but it is a quick stop and depending upon where you are from you may not think it crowded. You should be able to rent a canoe or kayak or paddle boat. It is fun to look around there and easy to get to.

Morse's is a great place. In the middle of nowhere (not far from Augusta), but well stocked with European (particularly German) food.

Morse's Sauerkraut & European Deli

I normally would recommend Hallowell (a few minutes from Augusta), but there is a lot of construction going on. Hallowell is a small town, kind of like New York/SoHo plopped in the middle of nowhere. It is not to hard to navigate the construction and parking really is not hard to find on side streets if you are ok walking a bit. Good food in Hallowell (which is really just one main street).

Depending upon how much time you have, driving to Lubec from Acadia could be fun. Very rural, but Lubec is the easternmost town in the US. Then you can take the bridge from Lubec over to Campobello Island in New Brunswick (you'll need your passport). Campobello is where Franklin Roosevelt used to vacation. Very scenic.

Hope these are helpful.

Have fun on your trip!
07-26-2018, 12:35 AM   #10
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A plan is taking shape:

Day 1: Leave from home crazy-early to beat NY rush hour. Maybe lunch at Old Orchard Beach Pier, continue to Portland to see lighthouses and old forts, continue to LL Bean.

Day 2: Boothbay Harbor puffin cruise, botanical garden. Maybe sunset or night photography of the Pemaquid Point lighthouse.

Day 3: Hike Bald Mountain Preserve, Maiden Cliff, and/or Fernald's Neck Preserve. All are immediately west of Camden.

Day 4: Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Observatory. Continue to far side of Acadia (Schoodic Point) for sunset and night photography.

Day 5-7: Slight backtrack from Schoodic, camping at Seawall campground on the western side of Acadia.

---------- Post added 07-26-18 at 03:38 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by candgpics Quote
Taking Route 1 is definitively (somewhat) scenic, but it will be a long trip to Acadia that way. Lots of stop and go.I would recommend going through Augusta or Bangor.
Boothbay is high on the list which commits me at least partially to Route 1. With the tentative hikes on Day 3 a bit inland from Camden, I have additional options for routing around traffic. I'll be up early most days, too, well before most tourists.

QuoteQuote:
If you stop in Augusta be sure to go to Vaughan Woods, also called Hobbit Land.
It looks nice but vaguely similar to things I can find closer to home so not worth detouring. I'll consider it for the exit leg.


I think Maine is trying to confuse me. There's a "Vaughan Woods State Park" 100 miles away from the "Vaughan Woods" you mentioned.

QuoteQuote:
driving to Lubec from Acadia could be fun
That's too far east to squeeze in without stealing available time from Acadia. More of Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia can be another trip.
07-26-2018, 05:27 AM   #11
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For the lighthouses in Portland
Portland?s Six Lighthouses

As for the 2 Vaugh Woods, yup Maine is trying to confuse you. You probably want vaugh woods, not the state park because of location. There are 2 ferry beaches too in Saco and Scarborough
07-26-2018, 08:29 AM   #12
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Hi. Vaughan Woods in Hallowell, right near Augusta. Its a 160 acre preserve. Small, but once inside it feels like you are deep in a midieval forest.
08-01-2018, 05:53 PM   #13
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Take the Casco Bay Lines mail boat run in Portland. Great, inexpensive way to tour the harbor and get out on the water for a few hours.

In Old Orchard, if you're in the mood for pizza for lunch (and assuming it's still there), check out Bill's Pizza!

On your Rt 1 tour, if your looking for some of the best lobster around - Nunan's Lobster Hut in Cape Porpoise.

Gritty's Brewery in Old Port Portland is a great place for beer and the fish-n-chips are amazing.

Or for a really top-notch dinner, check out Four Street, also in Old Port Portland.

And anywhere in the area, make sure to hit up Amato's for a classic Italian sub (the original is just a few blocks from Old Port).

I know LL Bean is an institution and should be on the bucket list, but it's painful to visit due to the crowds and traffic. You're better off stopping in Yarmouth (on the Royal River) or heading up to Bath Iron Works (shipbuilding), both have great photo ops.

Have fun!
08-03-2018, 07:37 AM   #14
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Thanks for the comments, everyone. I adjusted my schedule to have an extra day in Acadia, and chopped Vermont from the tail end trip.

Day 1: Rain forecast. Portland Head Lighthouse and forts in the adjacent park if it's not too wet, otherwise an indoor museum. Maybe Yarmouth for sunset if clouds break. End at Freeport because it's a fair place to overnight in our camper van. LL Bean late night or early morning to avoid peak crowds.

Day 2: Mostly sun forecast. Boothbay Harbor for puffin cruise, botanical garden. Sunset and night photography at the Pemaquid Point lighthouse if not too cloudy.

Day 3: Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Observatory early, then setup camp at Acadia.

Day 4-6: Acadia

Day 7: Augusta for Vaughan Woods (yes, the correct one), maybe Maine State Museum.

Day 8: Mostly a driving day home

---------- Post added 08-03-18 at 10:50 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by MtnBiker Quote
... In Old Orchard, if you're in the mood for pizza for lunch (and assuming it's still there), check out Bill's Pizza!

On your Rt 1 tour, if your looking for some of the best lobster around - Nunan's Lobster Hut in Cape Porpoise.

Gritty's Brewery in Old Port Portland is a great place for beer and the fish-n-chips are amazing.

Or for a really top-notch dinner, check out Four Street, also in Old Port Portland.

And anywhere in the area, make sure to hit up Amato's for a classic Italian sub (the original is just a few blocks from Old Port).
...
I expect to eat a lot of lobster and fish-n-chips on this trip. I see Gritty McDuff's is also in Freeport as well as downtown Portland.

Will try to avoid pizza and Italian subs. I already get my fill of that in the NYC area.

Last edited by DeadJohn; 08-03-2018 at 07:50 AM.
08-04-2018, 02:39 PM   #15
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FYI, if you're planning on eating lots of lobster and trying to save some money some of the grocery stores (hannaford, market basket, shaws) will steam them for you at their price/lb. Just call ahead and they will tell you how long it will take. You just pay the meals tax. Of course you have to make your sides and drawn butter, but it does save $ and makes clean-up easier.
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