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Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

L C
Alexandria, Virginia
14 posts
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Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

Hoping to get some advice to help plan a trip to Maine and Boston in late August (2 adults, 2 kids ages 13 and 11).

Day 1: drive to Portland, ME

Day 2: spend day in Portland, drive to Bar Harbor in early evening

Day 3: Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park

Day 4: whale watching tour Bar Harbor, more of Park?, more of town?

Day 5: drive down to Kennebunk or Ogunquit

Day 6: beach

Day 7: beach

Day 8: drive to Boston and spend day seeing sights

Day 9: Boston

Day 10: morning in Boston, drive home

Wondering if we should add a day or two for Boothbay Harbor? We were thinking we'd stick to Bar Harbor because we've heard so much about Acadia NP. Are they very similar in terms of the scenery?

Wondering if we should do beach in Mass (Cape Cod) vs. beach in Maine?? And if Maine, then what would be recommended beach Kennebunk or Ogunquit -- the kids LOVE the beach.

Any guidance on things that should not be missed in Portland, Bar Harbor, and the beach area?

I will look at the Boston forums for guidance on that part of the trip, unless people here have suggestions!

Thanks!

midcoast maine
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1. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

My take would be not to try to drive early evening to Bar Harbor. You are about five hours away on that trip. I would rather leave in the morning, maybe stop in Freeport if you like any outlet shopping, experience the LL Bean complex, or completely leave that out as you can waste alot of time there ....continue up to Rockland, see the Breakwater Lighthouse or walk out on the mile limestone pier to the lighthouse, continue to Camden and maybe have lunch down on the pier where the schooners are. Then you can take the rest of the day to Bar Harbor, stopping at some parks if you wish, but when you get to Bar Harbor there is so much to see. You can spend days there if you like to hike, Hunters Beach is a small hike to a round rock pebble beach off the beaten track that is great and sooo very scenic. The Cadillac Mountain is a must, Sand Beach or there is also a fresh water beach in the park area. The stroll around the shore path, balance rock, is nice early morning. Shopping there is touristy.Boat rides along the coast are available , bike rentals for the paths in the park. It is just a beautiful spot. One quick day there may not be enough for you. Oqunquit, Bar Harbor areas will be crowded in August so be prepared for that. Bubble Rock is a nice hike in Bar Harbor and popovers at the Jordan Pond House with chowder is great . There are a few ideas....Go to lobster pounds for your lobster. There is one in Belfast on the water. Just get your lobsters priced by the pounds, get them cooked there and take them out to the picnic tables. If you buy the meal deals you will pay more.

Central Maine
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2. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

Welcome to the Maine Forum, LC

"Is the scenery similar" in Bar Harbor/Acadia and Boothbay Harbor? Well, it's the same ocean.... but in my mind, the similarity ends there. Boothbay Harbor has nice views of the harbor itself and a great sunset view from Ocean Point in East Boothbay. But there really is little anywhere on the Maine coast that can compete with the scenic ocean views along the Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park.... If your time is limited, take Mainelobster's suggestion and do Portland to Bar Harbor in the daytime, with stops in Rockland and at Camden Harbor on your way north. Just north of Camden, watch for signs for Camden Hills State Park on your left and take the short drive to the top of the Mt Battie Auto Road for a great view of Camden Harbor, the town of Camden and some of the mid-coast. Then, further north on Rt 1, watch for signs for the Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory, a two-level, enclosed observation deck built into the top of one of the towers of a major suspension bridge.... you can see the mountaisn of Mt Desert Island/Acadia National Park in the distance.....

In Portland, be sure to take the short ride to nearby Cape Elizabeth to visit Portland Head Light lighthouse (Google it for a sample of the scenery there).... and the kids might enjoy a short ride on a Casco Bay Lines ferry boat, which connects the islands in Casco Bay to the mainland. If your time allows, we like the mailboat cruise simply because it gives you a view of several islands in one trip (Google Casco Bay Lines for details.)

In southern Maine, the kids might like the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport (you can also Google it for details).

L C
Alexandria, Virginia
14 posts
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3. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

So rather than spend the day in Portland, you would suggest spending the day driving from Portland to Bar Harbor with the stops you suggest along the way??

Would you recommend another day in Bar Harbor? It sounds like there is enough to do that the kids will enjoy that we could do it.

Any opinions on the whale watching tours?? Are they worth the time and cost?

Bar Harbor, Maine
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4. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

I think both you and the kids would enjoy one of the other boat trips out of Bar Harbor much more than a Whale Watch. Try one of these two trips, both of which get rave reviews:

http://divered.com/

http://www.lululobsterboat.com/

Both of those trips really engage the children and there is much less chance of seasickness because they stay in the bay. The Whale Watch boats have to go about 10 miles out to have a chance of seeing whales. It's gets very cold out there on the North Atlantic and bouncy. Even if you don't get seasick, others around you will. Not pleasant.

Central Maine
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5. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

Just to clarify what I was suggesting....

Day 1: drive to Portland, ME

Day 2: spend day in Portland, (Portland Head Light lighthouse, maybe Casco Bay Island ferry trip, Old Port area), overnight in Portland

Day 3: Morning departure from Portland, destionation Bar Harbor, with en-route stops at Camden Harbor, Camden Hills State Park, Penobscot Narrows Bridge Observatory. Visit Acadia National Park Visitors Center (on your right going up the hill on Rt 3 in Hull's Cove) on the way into Bar Harbor -- they can help you make the most of the time you have in the Park -- including possible programs of interest to the kids.

Day 4: Tour Acadia National Park (Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Jordan Pond House, Otter Cliffs, Cadillac Mountain) and Bar Harbor

Day 5 More Bar Harbor area touring. Option 1: Leave this afternoon for drive to Kennebunk/Ogunquit via Ellsworth, Rt 1A to Brewer, Rt I-395 to Bangor, I-95 to Kennebunk or Ogunquit -- quicker, easier driving than going back down Rt 1 the way you came. Option 2: Spend the whole day and another night in Bar Harbor and leave for Kennebunk/Ogunquit the morning of Day 6.... you'll be in Kennebunk/Ogunquit for the afternoon.

Day 5: Kennebunk or Ogunquit

Day 6: beach

Day 7: beach

Day 8: drive to Boston and spend day seeing sights

Day 9: Boston

Day 10: morning in Boston, drive home

The above will allow you to maximize your time in Bar Harbor/Acadia, which is truly a unique part of Maine unlike any other place on the Maine coast or the Eastern US seaboard.

L C
Alexandria, Virginia
14 posts
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6. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

Thank you so much!

Do you have any opinions on a whale watching trip or the other boat trips that bonniemaev suggested??

Bar Harbor, Maine
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7. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

What ! Are you second guessing me?? Just kidding. But I do live here in Bar Harbor and MainerOnTheGo does not. I've been on the whale watch and on the Lulu Lobster Boat. I'd love to go on Diver Ed's boat because he is soooo much fun to follow on Facebook. He dives all year 'round. Yes, even under the ice !

L C
Alexandria, Virginia
14 posts
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8. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

Didn't mean it like that ... just trying to get several opinions. I will defnitely check out the trips you suggested. Thanks!

Central Maine
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9. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

Glad I got back to the Forum before you two came to fisticuffs.... but not sure I can really help much with the "several opinions" piece... It's been too many years since we did any of the boat trips Bonniemaev suggests for me to make a useful or meaningful comment about any of them specifically. I can vouch for her comments about the added distance the whale watch boats need to go out to sea versus the other kinds of trips. I can also vouch for the fact that it can get very "bouncy" (Bonnie -- is that a fancy word for "rough"?). And I can definitely vouch for the fact that it's no fun to spend several hours on a boat with other folks who are seasick even if you're not sick yourself (been there - done that - not fun!). No guarantees of the kinds of seas you'll get or the tolerance of your shipmates for motion sickness.... If you do want to do the whale watch, you might consider booking a trip later in the day -- that way you can ask the folks at the booking desk what kind of seas (and temperatures) their morning trip(s) encountered....

Wolcott, Connecticut
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10. Re: Advice on August Maine-Boston trip

I guess I'm at odds with everybody else but I would drive to Bar Harbor from Portland in the early evening. We typically do the trip in about 4 hours. It's August and I think you would find traffic to be a lot better in the evening/nite then during the day. While I love the drive up from Portland along the shore (Rockland/Camden etc) I find that the August traffic is just not worth the stress. This way you get into Bar Harbor; you could have some time to walk around downtown after your long drive. Then you have 2 full days to explore the park. I think once you get there you'll wish you had more time. It's a wonderful place especially for the ages of the kids you are traveling with. There is the whale watch, bike rentals, kayak tours/rentals (ocean or Long Pond), hiking, swimming in Long Pond, Echo Lake or Sand Beach (cold). Portland is a great city. Absolutely do one of the Casco Bay ferries if you can. Portland Head Light is beautiful as is Two Lights State Park. Very, very cool rock formations that look like logs. If you are lucky enough to have high surf it's a pretty amazing place.