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Please help with New England trip plans!

Level Contributor
2,469 posts
71 reviews
Please help with New England trip plans!

We are 2 couples in our 50s, planning an October visit. Most likely flying in & out of Boston, & looking at spending our time between Boston & Acadia Park. We are looking for quaint, picturesque, seaside towns, good budget-friendly seafood, & interesting shops (maybe local artists & not the trinket stuff). Not big on museums. Enjoy the coastline, maybe rocky beaches to explore marine life. Also like narrated tours to learn about the areas, & possibly boating charters to explore the coastline, view light houses, & maybe whale watch (depending on weather).

Open to splitting our week & staying in a couple of places, or just using one place as our home base & doing some day trips. Any suggestions on what areas to stay? Would most enjoy a vacation rental home, so that we can spread out, & maybe make some of our own seafood dinners.... Or possibly a B&B. Just not looking to spend top dollar on accommodations.

Any tips or ideas for our trip are apprecaited.

Thank you!

Level Contributor
3,201 posts
4 reviews
1. Re: Please help with New England trip plans!

With one week, I'd suggest spending 3 full days, 4 nights in Bar Harbor/Acadia. You may or may not find a vacation home, but locals would know better. Lots of B&Bs. Depending on what time you land, you could make the drive from Boston to Bar Harbor. Of course that's 281 miles and a good 5 hrs. I'd take the highway all the way to make it easier.

Otherwise, perhaps a stop somewhere between Portsmouth and Portland for the night. Good food, nice coast line and lots of lighthouses to visit on that length of coast. So early arrival at Logan, stay in Portland and make it most of the day driving up rt 1A. If it's a later arrival, stay in Portsmouth and drive 1A in the morning, then head up to Acadia.

Coming back, I'd then spend the full day making a drive down the coast (1A), stops at the Penobscot Narrows bridge and Fort Knox near Bucksport, Camden, Camden Hills St. Park, Rockland,.... If this area appeals to you, spend the night somewhere.

Otherwise come all the way down 1A to somewhere between Freeport (huge LL Bean shopping mecca) and Portland. Spend the night or 2 hear or spend a night in Port5smouth if you miss it on the way up.

Acadia should be the primary objective of the trip, IMHO.

As for "best and cheap" seafood. The best and cheapest good seafood will be found at just about any lobster/clam shack, by the side of the road type establishments. This is true just about anywhere along the coast north of Boston. Of course sit down restaurants should be good for seafood in this area as well. Perhaps the best would be to line up a clam shack and a St. Park or any picnic area. Get takeout and find a nice picnic table in a nice setting. Some clam shack are nice settings them selves, some not so much.

Cheap is relative. A typical fish, scallop, clam, lobster plate or lobster roll will be $15-20+.

Finally, for a unique shopping experience w/lots of great Maine gifts, toys, wooden crafts, etc..., stop at the Maine State Prison Industries store in Thomaston. It's right on Route 1. Lots of beautiful work. At a minimum pick up a Shawshack Prison tie shirt (remember the movie?).

OK, one final thing. Peak foliage is a little unpredictable from year to year, but I'd plan this trip for week 3 of October to give you your best chances for color.

Hope this helps and enjoy your trip,


Level Contributor
3,843 posts
9 reviews
2. Re: Please help with New England trip plans!

I'm sorry but your post is misplaced. If you plan to split your time between Boston and Acadia, it's not logical to post on the Portsmouth NH forum.

I believe the majority of vacation home rentals require a 5-7 day commitment. Depending upon your October dates, autumn is prime vacation time in northern New England.

IMHO you are biting off more than you can "do" if you only have one week and plan to divide your time between Boston and Acadia and attempt to see everything in-between.

If I were you, I would fly into Portland Maine (PWM) and spend my week branching out from there.

List your "priorities" in the order of importance. That is your starting point.

"Mainer" can give you some good direction and he check the NH forum often

Level Contributor
3,201 posts
4 reviews
3. Re: Please help with New England trip plans!

I missed the split between BOSTON and Acadia. I though I read Portsmouth/Portland.

You'll get good feedback in the Mass and Maine forums.

I think it's doable. I'd split it evenly between Boston and Acadia (you would regret shortchanging either) and plan 2 long days of driving and stopping to see things (like I mentioned above). If you give yourself all day to drive (9-9pm or so), 5 hrs driving in 12 hrs is not too bad or just blast up the highway). Being from the mid west you may be use to long drives.

If you can carve out an extra day or 2 for vacation, then that would be better.

Central Maine
Destination Expert
for Maine
Level Contributor
7,236 posts
160 reviews
4. Re: Please help with New England trip plans!

With just one week, you'll end up with "so many possibilities, so little time". My suggestion would be (subject to adjustments to accommodate flight arrival/departure times): fly into Boston, rent your car; head directly to Acadia National Park/Bar Harbor, Maine via quickest route; spend three nights there; spend a day working your way back down the Maine coast for one night in Portland; another day seeing the southern Maine coast on your way back to Boston; then, after returning your rental car (you won't need it in Boston so might as well save the money), spend the remaining time seeing Boston before flying home.

Random thoughts to go with the above: 1) Logan Airport (Boston) to Bar Harbor/Acadis is about five hours driving time (via I-95 north to Bangor, I-395 east to Brewer, US 1A south to Ellsworth and ME Rt 3 to Bar Harbor -- a bit longer but quicker than US Rt 1 because of higher percentage of multi-lane, limited access roadway). 2) If your flght get in too late in the day to want to make the entire drive that day, try to at least get north of Boston for easier start the following day -- maybe to Portsmouth, NH or even Portland. ME. 3) If you fly in on a Friday, try to get out of Boston no later than 3:00PM! Otherwise you'll become part of the weekend exodus as folks from Boston and points south head north to Maine and New Hampshire for the weekend -- in which case you should add a minimum of thirty minutes to your driving time. 4) When you arrive in Bar Harbor, make one of your first stops (day of arrival or first-thing the next day) at the Acadia National Park Visitor's Center -- staff/rangers there can help you make the most of your time in the Park and offer tips on scenery, attractions, etc. 5) When you are ready to head south from Acadia, you want US Rt 1 (not 1A as suggested elsewhere). Follow it through Camden and Rockland (two good possible places for brief stops) until you get to Brunswick/Topsham, where you can pick up I-295 into Portland without missing much scenery (there isn't a lot on Rt 1 between Brunswick and Portland). 6) The afternoon you arrive or morning you leave Portland, take time for the side trip to Portland Head Light lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth (Google it for photos and you'll see why it's worth the time). The night you are in Portland, ask your innkeeeper for recommendations for a great restaurant in the Old Port District; you won't be disappointed. 7)On your way from Portland to Boston, take I-95 to the Kennebunk exit, then drive over to Kennebunkport for Dock Square and Ocean Avenue; after that work your way south to Ogunquit for another stop (Perkin's Cove) and maybe (if time allows) a stop at The Nubble Lighthouse in York (google it for driving directions).

8) Have a great trip !!

Level Contributor
2,469 posts
71 reviews
5. Re: Please help with New England trip plans!

TA experts are AWESOME! Love all this info. Just to clarify, we plan to fly in & out of Boston, but don't plan to spend much time there...really interested in the coastline more. Sorry about the confusion, but don't plan to divide between Boston & Maine...but interested in the entire area between the two, including Maine.

We hope to get into Boston at a decent time & drive up to Maine...maybe spending 4 nights there, then coming back to just north of Boston, for the last 3 nights. Possibly the Rockport MA area. Considering taking the train into Boston for a day, while staying in Rockport (if that's where we end up), depending on time. Hoping to take day trips from our base in Maine & Rockport MA, if those are the places we end up staying, to explore the coast, light houses, etc.. Looking at rentals in Camden, Castine, or even Boothbay or Harpswell, taking a couple of day trips to Acadia, & then some other costal area, before moving on to Rockport MA, or maybe NH. But don't want to stay in a town full of arcades & that sort of thing. Also considering spending a night between Acadia & Boston, but most rentals want to rent wkly or have a 3-4 night minim at best...so looking at many options. Thanks for giving me so many great suggestions of places to not miss!!!!

6. Re: Please help with New England trip plans!

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