Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont Make 50
May 17, 2013 10:48 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I have decided to take advantage of some sequester-related time off from work around Memorial Day to visit the last three states that he has never seen. We're planning to devote a full day to each state. We've talked with friends and consulted the interwebs to get ideas, but want to make sure we don't miss any hidden gems. So, if you could only do one thing in each of these states, what would it be?

There aren't really any caveats to this question. As long as it is something that can reasonably be done in a single day. We love to explore and are always up for trying new things.
posted by C'est la D.C. to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Acadia National Park in Maine. Maybe Ben and Jerry Factory in Vermont.
posted by saradarlin at 10:53 AM on May 17, 2013

I have only been to Vermont, but I recommend the Great Vermont Corn Maze. It's in the middle of nowhere and there are baby goats to pet.
posted by something something at 10:56 AM on May 17, 2013

Best answer: In New Hampshire, I'd suggest the Mount Washington cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee, or doing some sort of day hike in the White Mountains, or maybe Franconia Notch and the Cog Railway up Mount Washington. Alternately, if you don't end up on the Maine Coast, you could spend the day between Odiorne Point State Park and Portsmouth, NH.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:00 AM on May 17, 2013

Unfortunately, corn mazes aren't very challenging when the corn is still tiny seedlings.

Acadia National Park is definitely a major highlight in Maine. For Vermont, I'd recommend visiting Shelburne Farms and the Shelburne Museum, just south of Burlington (which is itself fun to visit). Or, if you like cycling, explore the Lake Champlain Islands. I don't know New Hampshire that well, but I had a nice time a few years ago staying at the Squam Lake Inn and exploring the White Mountains (the Flume, in Franconia Notch State Park, and the Kancamagus Highway stick in my mind).

It can take longer than you might think to drive east-west through New England, something my wife and I discovered when we drove from Mont Tremblant (north of Montreal) to Mount Desert Island in a (rather long) day. If you can find a reasonable price for a one-way car rental (try Enterprise and National), you might want to cut down on driving time by booking an open-jaw flight, into Burlington and out of Bangor, or vice-versa.
posted by brianogilvie at 11:05 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maine: Hit the coast. Beautiful coastline, especially up by Acadia National Park. You could drive up there, do the loop road, grab some lobster in Southwest Harbor, and then be in New Hampshire or back in Boston by night time. You'd be better off grabbing a room up there though.

Inner Maine is mostly trees, moose, and rusty appliances. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but there's not much else.

New Hampshire: Drive a loop from Rt. 93, across the Kancamagus Highway (Rt. 112), up though Pinkham Notch, around the Presidential Range and back through Crawford and Franconia Notch. If it's a nice day drive or take the train to the top of Mt. Washington. Stop at the many waterfalls along the route. Watch out for moose.

Vermont: Head on up to Windsor and take a tour of the Simon Pearce foundry. Then go over to Queeche, stop at the gorge, and then go to the raptor rehabilitation center and check out some badass birds. Also, there are a lot of pretty churches and fields with cows in them all over the state. Like, tons. There is apparently also an ice cream factory of some kind.

Speaking of ice cream, while in New England you would do well to stop at as many roadside ice cream places as you can handle. They are everywhere and most of them are at least ok, because ice cream, and some are amazing. Avoid the soft serve and go for the real stuff. Chocolate chip in a sugar cone with jimmies. Jimmies are what we call sprinkles.

Don't eat clams or lobster unless you can see the boats that brought them in from the picnic tables you're eating at. Yes, picnic tables. There is no reason to eat these things on a table that requires a tablecloth.
posted by bondcliff at 11:06 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]

Maine: Acadia National Park

Vermont: Hike Camel's Hump or Mt. Mansfield
posted by unreasonable at 11:23 AM on May 17, 2013

Best answer: Yeah, drive up Rte 1 along the midcoast of Maine (roughly Brunswick to Camden) - a charm bracelet of picturesque little seaside towns, grab a lobster roll in one and an ice cream cone in the next, wander around, check the bookstore or yarn store, rent a kayak and paddle around, lobster dinner on picnic tables at the lobster pound or whatever town you're in, etc. In Portland, the Old Port is the cool boutiquey neighborhood you can wander around; the art museum is great too. If you love shopping, you may want to hit Freeport for the 24-hr LL Bean store and the various outlets.

Agreed that driving east-west is more time consuming than you might think - there's no fast route. If your car can handle slightly iffy roads and you want the slower scenic route, go through St Johnsbury (Dog Chapel, if you like dogs) then southeast either to Brunswick or Portland depending if you want to go straight to the coast or check out Portland/Freeport. The White Mtns are gorgeous. There's a New Balance outlet in Oxford ME if you are a runner. The roads in Lewiston-Auburn are confusing, easy to get turned around there.

Are either of you knitters? There are great yarn stores throughout - if you're interested I can recommend.

You really can't go wrong, pretty much the whole area is lovely and great for driving around - you could drive down 91 to Rte 2 in Massachusetts, then across to whatever north route into NH you like.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:35 AM on May 17, 2013

I enjoyed visiting Hildene, Todd Lincoln's Vermont House.

The Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, NH has great summer concerts in a barn. Don't miss the opportunity for the dinner (and conversation) beforehand.
posted by Jahaza at 11:49 AM on May 17, 2013

Best answer: Where's your start point/where are you coming from? Since this is next weekend and you sound really flexible I'm going to assume you haven't booked flights into Burlington or Bangor and thus you will most likely be entering via Massachusetts (or maybe Manchester).

Start by driving up the coast from Massachusetts. Portland is ~2 hours from Boston. The Midcoast is ~3 hours. Acadia is ~4-5 hours. Anything past Portland you're going to have to backtrack; there are not a lot of good roads that go east-west across Maine. Because of this I would probably not go all the way to Acadia for one day, unless you really want to check it off in your NPS passport or something. Bath, Wiscasset, Damariscotta, and Rockland are closer and they're very cute little towns with gorgeous seafront. Maybe stay one night in Portland (cute town, plenty of good food, drink, music) and then drive up the coast, see how far you want to go before you stop for lunch?

OK, that's Maine. Now backtrack back down the coast and then cut across New Hampshire on Rt. 302 through the White Mountains. Stay in North Conway (super touristy, plenty of places to stay) or Jackson (touristy but more small-townish) or Bartlett (tiny ski village), and go for a hike the next day. There are hikes for all abilities, from people who want a slow amble up to a nice waterfall to people who want to completely destroy themselves hiking for miles over rough terrain. Check out the AMC for details. If you're firmly anti-hike, drive around the Whites (on Rt. 302, the Kancamangus, and Rt. 16, maybe Bear Notch Road, or go up by The Balsams), you'll still see plenty. If you get up early, you might see moose. Definitely at least drive by, or ideally stop for a drink or something at one of the big old fashioned mountain resorts, like The Balsams (which, oops, appears to be closed for renovations) or The Mount Washington Hotel (birthplace of modern monetary policy!).

The views on the drive through Crawford Notch on your way from New Hampshire to Vermont are lovely. I make that drive at least 10 times a year and I'm always delighted.

I don't really know Vermont well, but Rt. 302 will get you to I-91 in Vermont. When you're done with Vermont drive back down 91 to the Mass Pike, and take it back to from whence you came.
posted by mskyle at 11:53 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you don't want to drive too far into Maine, I'd definitely recommend stopping in Ogunquit for a few hours (it's less than hour from Portsmouth, NH). The Marginal Way is beautiful albeit touristy, and Footbridge Lobster has delicious lobster rolls. This would also give you time to drive into Portland, walk around a little, and grab dinner at one of the many great restaurants.

Have fun!
posted by constellations at 11:54 AM on May 17, 2013

Best answer: Acadia or Baxter State Park in Maine and stopping along the way and seeing things as mentioned. Since you seem to like travel, you might like to stop at DeLorme headquarters and see the world's largest rotating/revolving globe. Is is immediately off an exit of 295 so it's an extremely quick detour.

On the other hand if you are not particularly interested in natural splendor, you could easily spend a day driving along the coast and eating good food. Or really, just go around Portland eating amazing food all day is entirely possible.

If you want to then relax in the evening you can catch a movie at the Drive-In theaters in Westbrook or Saco, or take in a minor league baseball game in Portland, home of the Sea Dogs.
posted by mikepop at 12:42 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you want to see something a little goofy, Maine has a desert.
posted by JanetLand at 1:26 PM on May 17, 2013

I'm always happy when the tourists decide they need to head to Acadia rather than stay in my part of the state, but there is plenty to do in southern Maine that will give you a taste of our state. Another couple of thoughts - Lighthouses in Cape Elizabeth and South Portland are very accessible (Portland Headlight is the quintessential lighthouse), and you could take a short ferry ride to an island for lunch out of Portland.
posted by Sukey Says at 1:27 PM on May 17, 2013

Best answer: Head on up to Windsor and take a tour of the Simon Pearce foundry.

If you're in Windsor you might also want to check out the American Precision Museum (definitely hidden gem) and eat at the Windsor Diner. You can also go to the fusty Constitution House which is not that interesting but very very historical and/or grab a beer at the Harpoon Brewery. Then you can go across one of the longest covered bridges in the US.

I live in Vermont and am sort of in love with the whole place, but being in a part of Vermont that is close to NH might make your day more about cool hangout time and less about driving which I think would be nice for you.
posted by jessamyn at 3:44 PM on May 17, 2013

If you drive up the coast from Boston, Portsmouth, NH is right on your way. It makes a great midday/lunch stop. Lots of nice restaurants and good walking around. Two good bookstores, pubs, etc. The waterfront and park area is excellent.
posted by Miko at 4:17 PM on May 17, 2013

We'll be climbing Mt. Monadnock on Sunday the 26th, you're welcome to join us. Memail me if you want details.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:56 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Whether or not you hike Monadnock, consider staying at East Hill Farm, a working farm + inn. There used to be many small farms like it around New Hampshire and Vermont, now there are fewer.

I tend to agree with Jessamyn that staying close to NH might work best, but if you want to venture further into Vermont, Montpelier and Burlington are pretty neat towns. But if I could do only one thing in Vermont, I'd hike Camel's Hump. It is a lovely mountain.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:56 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Vermont: Go to Shelburne Museum (no place like it in the country - or world for that matter),
Stay at Inn at Shelburne Farm on Lake Champlain, go swimming in a vermont swimming hole, and eat at Hen of the Wood. Bonus Inn at Weathersfield - eat there, stay there, sit by the campfire with cocktails and smores.

Maine: Go to Popham beach (the BEST beach in Maine), after get lunch at North Creek farm, go to Acadia and have a picnic and watch the sunset with everyone, eat at the A1 diner (in Gardiner), and go to the Lompoc in Bar Harbor for drinks and bocce.

Portsmouth, NH, Portland, ME and Burlington, VT are all GREAT little cities... and I don't like cities.

You'll be here at the right time, try to hit an agricultural fair.

September 5th will be a new moon. Star Gazing up North around that time will be great up North. There's a star party at Saint Gaudens, an amazing property in New Hampshire, they also have concerts.

On the way through the Brimfield Antique fair will be going on in Mass starting September 3rd. It's pretty awesome.

If there were any interests that you have it would be nice to add. New England has so many amazing spots we need to narrow them down for you!
posted by beccaj at 5:08 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

nthin the Kanc. Was up that way last summer and the highway is scenic. the Cog railway was super busy, so you might do better to drive up. Stayed in Quechee as well, got food poisoning at the Quality In restaurant, but the gorge is awesome.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:25 PM on May 23, 2013

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