Northeast US and Atlantic Canada roadtrip suggestions
July 14, 2012 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Road trip from Toronto - Vermont - New Hampshire - Maine - New Brunswick - Prince Edward Island - Quebec in late July/early August. Goal is to have fun and lots of it - help us out!

I've read through several other road trip questions and they're always full of great nuggets (such as prompting me to explore California's lost coast on a trip last year. Looking for similar things for this upcoming trip.

This year myself and a friend are doing an 8 day road trip starting from Toronto and looping through the northeast US, into New Brunswick and PEI, and then back west through Quebec. I've been in many of these areas before, but only briefly and it was when I was a kid.

Our general route looks like this. Working itinerary looks like this:

Saturday - drive Toronto to Burlington, VT
Sunday - time in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine
Monday - time in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine
Tuesday - drive from where ever we end up to Moncton, NB
Wednesday - Moncton, NB to PEI
Thursday - PEI
Friday - PEI to Quebec City
Saturday - Quebec City to Montreal

I'm aware that there is a lot of driving involved here in a short amount of time, and that in particular the drive from PEI to Quebec City is long and not particularly interesting. It also seems that this entire area is going to be busier than usual when we're there (July 28 - Aug 5) because it's the second half of the Quebec Construction Holiday.

We are a platonic 30ish guy and girl. We are looking for cost effective places to stay (or camp, we'll have a tent). We are looking for places with great beer, nice places to stop and have a swim, beautiful roads, nice hikes, waterfalls, etc. We're less into craft fairs, kitschy attractions, places swarming with young children, really obvious tourist things, etc. We're budget aware (ie no 5 star, 9 course meals) but don't want to hamstring ourselves to save $10 either. I'd say our route is pretty set but could be slightly adjusted and we're open to where exactly along it to stop and stay. I have family in Moncton and we have a family cottage to stay at on PEI and I need to be in Montreal on the last day, but other than things are changeable.

Specific questions:
- where to stay the first night? I'd thought Burlington, VT because it looks like a neat place but hotels there seem sparse and expensive.
- where else to spend time in the Northeast US before we get to Moncton? (any neat events going on during our dates?)
posted by sinical to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you were taking a more Northerly route from PEI to Quebec I would recommend the Miguasha Fossil Park.
posted by XMLicious at 11:45 AM on July 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do yourself a favour and swing by Dysart's when you are passing through Bangor - it's just south of Bangor (in Hamden) off I95 (not out of the way at all - about a 5min detour).. It is a truck stop and the food is awesome and relatively cheap and it's just an experience in general. Always open 24/7.
posted by mbatch at 12:10 PM on July 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure how food factories fits in to your interests -- they can be touristy, but also fascinating and...well, there's free food. In college, I drove to Vermont to take the Ben & Jerry's factory tour in Waterbury, VT and loved it. If food trips appeal, you might consider tours like Harpoon Brewer in Windsor, VT. In addition to Cabot Creamery, there are a bunch of cheese tours throughout Vermont and maybe the Anheuser-Busch Budweiser tour in Merrimack, NH.

Vermont's having a blueberry festival at the end of July/early August. Vermont's Mad River Valley has a big-deal August-long arts festival, but it's not free. The Maine Lobster Festival is 8/1-8/5, and 8/3-8/5, Burlington, VT has the Festival of Fools for international street performers, which could be cool or horribly, wonderfully terrible! August 4 is the Middlebury, VT Beer, Wine & Cheese a cost, of course. Happy travels.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:57 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

In Maine, Down East Magazine recommends camping in Lamoine State Park (first entry on the list).
posted by gudrun at 1:05 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Other Bangor things: Swing by W. Broadway to look at Stephen King's house? It's not that exciting but he has the requisite iron bats on the top of the iron fence..

As for NH, you are going to be traveling the north side of the White Mountains State Park - that has a plethora of camping and hiking - and some of the hiking is going to be pretty hearty - I would suggest you do some research a call ahead for camp sites as that time of year might be busy.
posted by mbatch at 1:16 PM on July 14, 2012

If you swing south of Burlington by a little bit, check out Vergennes Laundry. Good pit stop for some amazing baked goods, and some of the better coffee in the area/region.

And their bakery is goddamn beautiful.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:16 PM on July 14, 2012

It would add time to the trip from Toronto, but consider coming into Burlington on the Port Kent ferry if you'll be arriving on a nice day.

In Burlington, plan an afternoon to evening on Church Street and Waterfront Park. They are about ten minute walk apart. Just south of waterfront park is the Trailside Center where you can find a bike rental from Local Motion along with some suggested rides either along the waterfront or a loop through town. Right there is also the Echo Center (nice, but I'll admit a bit small).

There are plenty of places to eat in the area. Near the waterfront is a good lunch option at Skinny Pancake (they also have an evening pushcart on Church Street which is used for Pirogies at lunch). On or near Church Street are many other great choices. Leunig's Bistro is wonderful, and if you get there right at 5:00 you can eat the delicious food from a more affordable early bird menu.

If hotels are too difficult to find around/expensive Burlington you can check out Waterbury or the Montpelier/Barre area as they are along your route. As you head out, stop in Montpelier for a couple hours of window shopping in the smallest state capital (and my current home town). Marvel at how a city with under 9,000 occupants can maintain three independent book sellers. Consider a quick side trip up to Hubbard park to stretch your legs and hike to the top of the tower (really more of a ten to fifteen minute walk up).

For breakfast options I'd recommend Coffee Corner for a local diner experience (or we also have a Skinny Pancake if crepes are your thing). For later in the day consider the burgers (and incredible beer selection) at the Three Penny Taproom. A local dinner favorite is also Sarducci's and I'd recommend Kismet for any meal of the day, particularly brunch.

After that, I expect you'll head east towards territory others know better than me. Portsmouth, NH has plenty to offer. Final note is that as you get into Maine, consider stopping for dinner at J's Oyster Bar in Portland. It's an experience - expect to wait to get in. (As you can tell, I tend to eat my way through vacations). If you think you'll have time for a hike or similar activity as well while in Vermont there are plenty to be recommended this time of year.
posted by meinvt at 8:14 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

And... rereading your post I see the specific mention of hiking. So, I'll go ahead and suggest you just tackle Mount Mansfield if the weather is good. It's our highest peak in Vermont, but really not all that bad. I went out with a group of co-workers a month ago and we arrived at the trail head at 5:15, reached the chin (highest point in Vermont) by 6:45 and were back down by 8:15 to get to work by 9. I'm a decade older than you, so that should give you a framework. More time to hang out and eat at the top would have been nice. The views are amazing.

We went up the Laura Cowles trail and came back the Sunset Ridge. This is nice because you have the westward views the longest on the descent. Also, Sunset Ridge is a bit less steep, so easier on the joints coming down.
posted by meinvt at 8:21 PM on July 14, 2012

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