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what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

Harrisburg, PA
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what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

We are a family of 4 (mom, dad, 8 year old girl and 5 year old boy), planning a full 2 weeks in Maine in 1st half August 2012. We are going to travel in a small (23 ft) RV and like to be outdoors mostly to hike, enjoy the beauty, do any cool things kids like to do like any swim spots not freezing cold or a kid museum etc. I read the top reviewed book on Acadia so will definately spend 3 or 4 days there. Here are my questions:

1. As we can not 'do it all' what are the MUST DO things (other than Acadia) for family?

2. We also hope to see some 'off the beaten path' destinations. Any tips there?

3. We want to be flexible and so we do not plan to pre-book every campsite -- should this be possible (or at least possible if we spend weekends inland rather than on coast, but then head to coast during weekdays)?

3. Does anyone have any great and/or beautiful campground recommendations? (despite having an RV, we tented for many years prior to this, and we do NOT like paved parking lot/amusement style campgrounds. Instead we like more natural campgrounds with some trees. We also like an occasonal pool for the kids).

Thanks in advance to anyone who can point us in the right direction! There is a LOT of information to review so we really appreciate anyone who can help us sift through it and get to the highlights.

Bar Harbor, Maine
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1. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

I'll answer three and two. In the first two weeks of August, weekends and weekdays do not make much difference. I wouldn't be surprised if Blackwoods Campground, a very nice wooded campground right in Acadia National Park, is already full for all of August.

I'm not very familiar with off the beaten path places inland. But, on the coast, a very nice area of Maine is north and east of Acadia National Park. Machias, Easport, and Lubec are three of the very small towns that don't get much tourist traffic (relatively) but have a stunning coastline with hiking trails. This area is called Downeast Maine. One long distance biking trail is the Sunrise Trail. http://www.sunrisetrail.org/

Southern Maine
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2. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

Our favorite campground in Maine is Cathedral Pines in Eustis. Having said that, you would need someone to cancel to get in there in August. It could happen, but that gives you an idea of how busy campgrounds can get. (And Eustis, Maine is not far from the Canadian border...) You will have an RV, so if you get desperate one night, you can pull into a WalMart parking lot and camp without hookups!

A good site to research campgrounds is: http://campmaine.com/home.php

Lakes in Maine will be warm in August. It's just the ocean that's cold, but ocean water can hit the 60's in the hotter summer weather. So - before or after Acadia, I would choose an inland location. Since you're outdoors people, maybe the Rangeley area.

Wolcott, Connecticut
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3. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

Even though you don't want to pre-book campgrounds you may want to do some research on what places are around where you are planning on going. I'd contact them just to see what their situation is. We tried to wing it about 15 years ago; we only had a tent and we got stuck more than once driving long distances at nite to find a place to stay. You're traveling during the peak vacation season in Maine.

Harrisburg, PA
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4. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

Thank you very much! We went to MI (on east coast of Lake Michigan) in peak vacation season and it was no problem finding space, so it is good to know that we need to plan more in advance for Maine. One campground in Acadia did not even take advance reservations, and claimed they always had space, so I thought maybe more campgrounds would be like that. Hopefully it is not already too late.

Knowing we need to pre-book makes it even more important for us to figure out a plan, do you feel we could do the whole coast, Ranglely area and Moosehead lake in 2 weeks, or that is too much?

Central Maine
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5. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

Is that too much in two weeks -- depends on how long you might want to stay in places along the way... If you want to set up camp, stay two or three days and them move on, it might be a bit ambitious.... if you don't mind tearing down every morning and setting up every evening, might be okay....

Southern Maine (Kittery to Portland) has most of Maine's sandy beaches....and in August, a high percentage of Maine's tourists. But the kids would probably enjoy the beaches and the parents might like seeing Kennebunkport or Ogunquit (although both can get crowded at times). North of Portland, the coast tends to get increasingly rocky as you go further north and east....with some of the more classic villages and sights down at the ends of the peninsulas rather than along US Rt 1 (translation: you'll need to drive extra distance and take extra time to see some of the best stuff). Plenty to do right in Portland (Casco Bay Lines mail-boat route gives you close-up views of several bay islands, Portland Head Light lighthouse is definitely a "must see", and the restored Old Port is a nice stroll on brick and cobblestone sidewalks with great shops and restaurants). Just north of Portland is the village of Freeport and home of the icon for camper's worldwide -- L.L. Bean.... great camping department, kids wear, and an outlet store with some good buys at times. North of Portland, I'd look at places like Boothbay Harbor, Rockland, and Camden as potential destinations for overnight stops. Further east, the iconic Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island definitely make the "must stop" list. East of Ellsworth, the coastline becomes increasingly rural, but with some great views. The coastal town of Lubec offers access, for those with their passports so they can get back into the US, to the summer home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Campobello Island. Lubec is also home to West Quoddy Head lighthouse, the easternmost lighthouse in the continental US...

Great inland camping destinations include Greenville/Moosehead Lake region and the Rangeley Lakes region (both of which you have apparently already identified.... If you get to Greenville, be sure to check out the historic steamship Katahdin, offering cruises on Moosehead Lake -- fantastic combination of history and sightseeing (can be Googled for more info), and both Greenville and Rangeley offer good opportunities for moose sightings (ask the locals for the best spots for spotting one).

We used to do a fair amount of travel-trailer camping "back in the day" -- not sure how any of them are now, but some of our favorite campgrounds were: Pemaquid Lake Campground in Damariscotta (great family environment and handy for trips to Pemaquid and other mid-coast destinations); either of the Acadia Campgrounds (when we could get in); Cobscook Bay State Park in downeastern Maine (about half way between Machias and Calais on US Rt 1 -- lightly used, on-the-coast, relaxed camping without the hub-bub of mid-coast and southern Maine camping), Lily Bay State Park in Greenville, and Rangeley Lakes State Park in Rangeley. We had friends who also enjoyed various campgrounds along the US 302 corridor between Portland and Bridgton, but never stayed at any of them ourselves. Many of the above campgrounds can be Googled for more info and contact info. But for any of the coastal areas and any of the State Parks, I'd definitely make my reservtions ahead of time.

Depending on where you can find campsites, I'd probably suggest a day for the southern Maine coastal area, a day in greater Portland, a day or two between Portland and Rockland, a day in the Rockland-Camden area, three or four days in Acadia/Bar Harbor, a day downeast (Lubec/Campobello etc), a day or two in Greenville and a day or two in Rangeley. Counting driving time, that should pretty well fill your two weeks.

Once you get a more detailed itinerary nailed down, come on back and we'll see what we can recommend for specific activities, tours etc.

Southern Maine
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6. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

As usual, MainerOnTheGo has given you a lot of great ideas. To answer your second question, you could not do "the whole coast" plus the inland areas in two weeks. (Have you looked at a map? Maine is huge!)

Depending on how often you want to move your camper, I'd go with the midcoast area, Acadia National Park and one of the woodsy inland areas - either Rangeley or Moosehead. You can always return to Maine! Keep in mind that most of the state parks do not have full hook-ups for a camper, so if you want those, you are booking private campgrounds.

Harrisburg, PA
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7. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

I want to thank everyone above (especially MainerOnTheGo for taking so much time!) We are ambitious. I fully realize ;)

Will firm up itinerary. So many good resources here and elsewhere are a double-edged sword (can find anything you need, yet you find too much!) - but tripadvisor replies by destination experts and travel lovers really help cut to the chase.

Jackson, Wisconsin
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8. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

Be sure to tour a lighthouse or 2 Portland head light and nubble light are probable the 2 most famous. And both have great tours.

Harrisburg, PA
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9. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

We now have a more detailed itinerary nailed down (see below), so we will appreciate any suggestions for what to do and see nearest these areas.

Nice and rain day suggestions are welcome.

The itinerary I show is where the booked campgrounds are at (during the day we will travel around):

1. Kennebunkport

2. Old Orchard Beach (this is also base for Portland and surrrounds)

3. Old Orchard Beach ("...")

4. Freeport (this is also a base for Portland and surrrounds)

5. Mt. Desert Island, Acadia NP (MDI/ANP)

6. MDI/ANP

7. MDI/ANP

8. MDI/ANP

9. Moosehead Lake (Rockwood)

10. Moosehead Lake (Rockwood)

11. Camden Hills S.P.

12. Camden Hills S.P.

13. Camden Hills S.P.

14. Pemaquid/New Harbor

15, Wiscasset (base for peninsulas with Boothbay and Popham Beach)

16. Wiscasset ( "...")

Thanks to everyone who encouraged booking early - although all the places I contacted still had space, it is nice ot have it done anyway!

Central Maine
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10. Re: what are the MUST visit places in Maine - 2 weeks

Sounds like the makings of a great trip -- if you're so inclined, we'd love to see you post a Trip Report after your trip so we can hear how it went.... Finding out what worked well for you, and what didn't, can help us help other folks with similar questions. Haven't camped in several years, but given the places you're staying, almost wish we were going with you...