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Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

cincinnati
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Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

My family of four (kids ages 9 and 14) will be making our first trip in late July. We’re flying in and out of Boston and hope to tour the highlights of the Maine coastline as far north as Bar Harbor in the five full days and nights that we’ll have.

First question: is this too ambitious a plan? If you don’t think it’s too much territory to cover, our plan is to spend two days/nights in the Bar Harbor/Acadia area and choose one (maybe two) coastal towns along the way to spend our remaining three days/nights So, my second question would be: which town or towns would be the best “home base” from which to explore?

Things we’re interested in: boat tours, sea life, visiting lighthouses, spectacular views, good restaurants, biking, picnicking, upscale shops. Things we’d like to avoid: kitschy, touristy, busy towns overrun with souvenir shops.

Thank you so much!

Southern Maine
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1. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

I would recommend the Boothbay Harbor area - it meets a lot of your desires. There's a post today in the Boothbay Harbor forum with a response from a local expert that pretty much sums up what's available.

The next peninsula "up" from there has Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, a landmark in mid-coast Maine. You would also enjoy the twin towns of Damariscotta and Newcastle at the head of that peninsula.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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2. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

To get a flavor of the full coast of Maine, I'd stop in one town for one night between Boston and Portland. Perhaps Ogunquit or Kennebunkport. Head North, stopping in the Old Port section of Portland for lunch. Drive out one of the peninsulas north of Portland to get a view of more rural Maine. Castine or Boothbay Harbor would be a good place to stay or Stonington on Deer Isle, off the Blue Hill Peninsula.

Stop in Camden, Maine for the beautiful sailing harbor and the view over the town and ocean from the mountain, just north of Camden. Perhaps spend a night in Camden: good restaurants and lodgings.

Between Camden and Bar Harbor be sure to stop at the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge and take the 42 story elevator to the top of one of the supports where there is a three-story observation post.

Bar Harbor itself will offer plenty to do from hiking in Acadia National Park to boat tours to kayak or bike rentals, to shopping, and good dining. There are a couple of good bakeries which will pack you a tasty lunch to picnic in Acadia.

As for your things to avoid, I've never seen a town in Maine that is of the horrid quality of a Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thank God.

Brunswick, Maine
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3. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

If you have five nights to spend in Maine, I'd say take the first one in the Old Port section of Portland, spend the next day working your way up Route 1 as far as Camden, spend the night there, then use the next day to get to Acadia, spend the rest of your trip to Acadia, then zip down I-95 back to Boston.

If you have only four nights Portland or Camden 1 and Acadia 3. There really is a lot to do in Acadia--you could satisfy all your interests there--your five days will pass really quickly.

Based on what you've said you are interested in, I would steer you away from Boothbay Harbor. It will likely be very crowded in late July and of all the towns mentioned so far, it could come the closest to being touristy, busy and overrun with souvenir shops.

Biddeford, Maine
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4. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

Ive lived here most of my life and my favorite spots have been mentioned already:

Love Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor. Gorgeous.

can do it all in one day unless you want to walk or bike a lot then you can take 2...

Camden is a must. A MUST.

I like Boothbay more than Bar Harbor but I like the shops.

Pemaquid Point and Portland Head Light are my fave lighthouses.

Upscale shops galore in Kennebunkport.

Maine is touristy in summer. But its a different kind of touristy.

Enjoy.

Brunswick, Maine
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5. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

Nice shopping also in the Old Port section of Portland. And, Camden has some very nice shops.

My favorite shop in all of Maine is The Grasshopper Shop, see http://www.grasshoppershop.com/ which has several locations. My favorite location is in Ellsworth, which is right on your way to Bar Harbor. Your kids, especially if they are girls, should like it, too.

Southern Maine
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6. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

We very much prefer the shops in Boothbay to any shopping in the Bar Harbor area - there are a lot more "souvenir shops" in Bar Harbor imo. As already stated, Portland and Camden also have good shops.

For boat tours, sea life, visiting lighthouses, etc. Boothbay Harbor has a lot to offer you.

New England
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7. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

Keeping in mind that 2 of these 5 days will be driving if you go as far as Bar Harbor, which doesn't give you long to enjoy the area..if you went to Bar Harbor and stayed there, thats a different story. figure a good 6 hour drive from Boston to Bar Harbor.

Maine
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8. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

Hi ReginaRose,

If you have a few minutes, check out my post to Bob from CA about touring the NE coast north of Boston. It might help.

Good luck and let us know what you decide to do :).

cozyharbor

Greene, Maine
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9. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

Well, Portland to Bar Harbor is about a 3-1/4 hour drive if you stick to I-295 to I-95. If you're looking for typical Maine coast scenery, you won't find it along that route. If you take Coastal Route 1 and don't hit too much traffic, the drive from Portland to Bar Harbor is probably around 4 hours with no stops. That might give some perspective on time.

Bar Harbor is the jumping off point for Acadia National Park, and it's a cross between touristy and quaint. If you like to bike, rent some mountain bikes at Acadia Bike (www.acadiabike.com) and spend some time riding the Carriage Trails in Acadia. The Carriage Trails were originally used by horsedrawn carriages, but now are used by bicyclists, walkers and hikers, and yes, you can also take a carriage ride if you want from Wildwood Stables (www.acadia.net/wildwood). They offer 1-2 hour carriage tours.

You also want to drive or hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain for great views of Frenchman's Bay.

You might find the Mount Desert Oceanarium (www.theoceanarium.com) in either Bar Harbor or Southwest Harbor interesting.

On the way to Bar Harbor, a stop at Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge is fun (http://fortknox.maineguide.com/). My five-year old loves to explore the dark passages in the fort. You can either bring a flashlight or buy one in the gift shop there.

I could go on, but I don't want to write a novel. I hope this helps.

cincinnati
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10. Re: Maine coast in 5 days…need itinerary help!

THANK YOU all for your suggestions and advice, I've read and re-read every word! I don't know how we'll fit in all the sights and activities on my wish list but at least now I know where we need to be based in order to cover the most ground efficiently.

Based on your comments, here's the itinerary I'm planning: arrive/pick up car at Boston airport Friday 2:00-ish and head straight into Maine, quickly sightseeing in Cape Neddick/ Ogunquit/ Kennebunkport & taking a stroll on the Marginal Way. Dinner at Two Lights Lobster Shack. Time permitting, stroll through Portland on the way to Boothbay Harbor where we'll spend our first three nights and two days. On Monday, head to Bar Harbor/Acadia for two days and nights. On Wednesday, head down to Camden for a night. Then, on Thursday, back to Boston for three days and nights before flying home on Sunday.

Still so much to figure out (which sights are truly must-sees, where to stay in BBH and Bar Harbor, which boat tours to take for wildlife viewing) so I'll be posting more questions, I'm sure. Thanks, again, to everyone who responded!