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First time to Maine--HELP!

south jersey
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First time to Maine--HELP!

We are a family of 5 traveling with 3 teen-tween daughters and a small dog. We are attending on a Saturday in August a family reunion in Knox, Maine. We typically visit finger lakes in NY for some waterfalls and light day hiking. We are a NJ family and are used to jersey beaches (white soft sand, swimmable ocean temp). We also have food allergies (milk, gluten).

Now there are the facts. Where should we stay? Is Belfast a good place for vacation rentals? Is it short trip to Acadia? What should be seen in Maine?

Central Maine
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1. Re: First time to Maine--HELP!

White soft sand and swimmable ocean temperatures are not features that come to mind when one thinks of Belfast (or anywhere else on that part of the Maine coast for that matter). The vast majority of "sand" beaches in Maine are south of Portland, with a few others scattered along the coast between Portland and Rockland -- all well south of the area you're talking about. The further north and east you go along the Maine coast, the more pebbly and rocky the beaches become and the colder the water temperature gets....

That said, there is Sandy Point Beach in Stockton Springs, about ten miles north of Belfast off US Rt 1.... it's a combination of sand and gravel, but certainly not the white soft sand you're accustomed to... It is a publicly owned beach, but offers limited parking and no public services....

From Belfast, Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor is at least an hour and a half away in August -- one of the most heavily traveled time of the year for traffic between Ellsworth and Acadia....

All of that said, Belfast is a nice coastal community with a growing downtown of small, interesting shops, restaurants and botiques. But it's still a relatively small town, even by Maine standards -- finding multiple places with menus suited to your food restrictions may be a bit of a challenge....

Waterfalls around Belfast, or anywhere else close to the immediate Maine coast, are also problematic.... The vast majority of Maine waterfalls of any reasonable size are located in the central, upland and northern parts of the state... all an hour or more away from the coast. Might be a good day trip from a coastal vacation home, but nothing in the immediate vicinity anywhere along the mid-coast that I know of....

The news regarding hiking is considerably better -- some interesting hikes in Camden Hills State Park (about 20 miles south of Belfast).... everything from an easy stroll in the woods to a couple of fairly vigorous assents. Park personnel can help with maps and suggestions with hikes to suit your abilities. And, if you go, Acadia has many, many hiking opportunities -- everything from gravel-surfaced carriage roads to rocky mountain climbs.....again, check with Park Visitors Center for great advice...

south jersey
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2. Re: First time to Maine--HELP!

Thank you for the re. I know I stated the info as you responded to, but I think I posted it in the wrong way. I am not looking for the same trip. I am looking for the most enjoyable relaxing family friendly Maine we can find. We have never been to maine and do not know much about it. We would like some guidance as to where would be best to go. Would inland be better? Is there another coastal region that would be better to look at? Keeping in mind we need to be in Knox for reunion Friday and Saturday.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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3. Re: First time to Maine--HELP!

No, I don't think inland would be better for your purposes. You could easily stay close to Acadia National Park and then drive the two hours or so to Knox for the wedding on the weekend. Bar Harbor has a wide choice of lodgings. You might check out acadiamagic.com for listings of various types. The most popular places in Maine are either the beach towns, south of Portland, or the Acadia area. The nice thing about Acadia is that there is so much public access to the rocky coast. In many other places in Maine the coastal properties have long been purchased by what we call "summer people" -- families who have been coming to Maine for generations and staying for the months of July and August in privately owned homes. But in Acadia you can drive the Loop Road, take hikes, book several boat tours, have tea and popovers on the lawn overlooking Jordan Pond, take a horse and carriage ride, window shop in Bar Harbor while eating an ice cream come, rock climb, kayak, and eat all the lobster you can possibly hold for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

south jersey
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4. Re: First time to Maine--HELP!

Thank you for this. This definitely was helpful!

Central Maine
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5. Re: First time to Maine--HELP!

If you're looking to combine coast, hiking, relaxing and multiple food choices, I have to agree with Bonniemaev that the Acadia National Park area would be a great choice. Many folks like Bar Harbor because it's the biggest town near the Park.... but you might also check lodging choices in Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor or Bass Harbor.... all are within close proximity to Acadia National Park but may be less touristy than Bar Harbor.... Only real "sand" beach in the area I know if is Sand Beach (in the Park), and even it's really seashells that have been smoothed and finely ground by wave action -- great place to sit on the beach, but water will turn your ankles blue if you wade too long...

6. Re: First time to Maine--HELP!

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