PA to ME road trip
July 12, 2014 5:08 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I will be taking a road trip from Pittsburgh to Port Clyde, Maine and back to visit my vacationing parents. Where should we stop along the way?

We'll leave July 25th or 26th and try to get back on August 2nd or 3rd. Ideally, we'd like to stop and spend the night somewhere for a day or two en route (and on the way back). NYC and Boston are obvious candidates, but are pretty bad for driving. I've considered Poughkeepsie to stop at Hudson Chocolates and the restaurants at the Culinary Institute of America, but don't know what else I would do around there.

We like food (be it either adventurous gastropub-style fare or an awesome taqueria), museums, hiking, bookstores, etc. We're not big on bars or late nights. Any suggestions are welcome!
posted by Turkey Glue to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Aside from Portland, Newburyport, Mass. is a nice town, as is Portsmouth, NH.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:11 PM on July 12, 2014

Montpelier is a nice little city, and home to the New England Culinary Institute.
posted by jon1270 at 5:13 PM on July 12, 2014

Friendly Crossways is an awesome half-century-plus old youth hostel in a humongous New England farm about an hour north-west by car from Boston. They have small private rooms in addition to the usual communal youth hostel bunk rooms.

They offer "Free pick-up from the commuter rail train stop (Littleton/495) with 24 hour notice" which is a few miles away and would take you into Boston, though there are various touristy and "quaint New England" attractions nearby too. (But for all I know parking at that station isn't a problem anyways.)
posted by XMLicious at 5:32 PM on July 12, 2014

Oh and for an interesting museum, this is a bit further past your destination but the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor is cool, a bit like a tiny version of the Ford Museum in Detroit, specializing in technology.

A nifty place for a bathroom break might be the world's largest globe at the Delorme company headquarters in Yarmouth. (Only if it's on your way, though, because that and a small map store / book store are all that's there.)
posted by XMLicious at 5:39 PM on July 12, 2014

The Hudson Valley around Poughkeepsie would be a great place for a stopover. There are lots of things to do.

The restaurants at the CIA are excellent, but be aware that you may have to make reservations well in advance. As an alternative (which will run about the same price), I'd recommend the wonderfully old-timey restaurant (as in the kind of place where the waiters make Caesars salads and Bananas Foster tableside) called John Foglia's Ship Lantern Inn, which is on the west side of the Hudson a few miles south of Poughkeepsie. The food is great, and the atmosphere really takes you back in time.

Walkway Over the Hudson state park is a must-see. It's the former Poughkeepsie-Highland railroad bridge, which closed in the 70s and was rehabbed and reopened a few years ago as the world's longest pedestrian bridge. The views from the bridge up and down the Hudson are incredible. Just north of the bridge on the Highland (west) side of the river is a waterside restaurant called Mariner's on the Hudson, which has decent food at moderate prices and great views.

Other things include Opus 40, which is near Saugerties (west side of river, about 10 miles north of Kingston), which is a really unique landscape art installation in a former slate quarry; the National Park sites related to FDR and Eleanor, in Hyde Park; and Storm King Art Center south of Newburgh, which is one of the finest outdoor sculpture museums in the country and is just plain beautiful (but requires a lot of walking). The Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park is worth a look, but if you don't have time to take the tour, you can stroll the grounds, which have beautiful river views. There's the museum at West Point, which is excellent, especially if you're into military and/or Revolutionary War history. You should also be able to arrange a tour of the campus, although I think you need to make arrangements in advance. Vassar College also has a really nice, comprehensive art museum that's not too big (you can see the whole thing in about two hours).

Also highly recommended: Olana State Historic Site just outside of Hudson. Reservations may be required, but if you like art, it shouldn't be missed. It's the home of Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church, and both the house and the views are fantastic.

There are also a million vineyards of admittedly varying quality, although wine people tell me they've been getting better over the past couple of decades.

Depending on the season, there are also lots of river cruises leaving from various cities, including Kingston. Downtown Kingston (the Rondout waterfront), Uptown Kingston (the stockade district), Saugerties, Rhinebeck, and Hudson are all nice places to walk around, with lots of stores and restaurants.

Oh, and if you like drive-in theaters: Overlook in Poughkeepsie and the Hyde Park right across from FDR's house.

(Needless to say, I am from the area.)

I could go on, but I'll leave it there. Enjoy your trip!
posted by Leatherstocking at 6:08 PM on July 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

Leatherstocking beat me to Storm King. But yes, Storm King. There is nothing else I've seen in America like it. And if you like art, and you're going that way, might as well see DIA: Beacon, too, because when else are you going to be by there? But Storm King is the one that's a must.
posted by escabeche at 6:27 PM on July 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

There is also Manitoga, which is the modernist home of the renowned designer Russel Wright, near Cold Spring. Cold Spring is a very cute village with views of West Point and the Hudson Highlands across the river.

And yes, DIA Beacon if you're into large contemporary artworks.

Hiking isn't my thing, but from speaking to people who are into it, the Hudson Highlands (the area along both sides of the river going north from the Bear Mountain Bridge, through Cold Spring, to Newburgh and Beacon) has a lot of great trails. The Appalachian Trail runs over the Bear Mountain Bridge. The Catskills start just west of Kingston, Saugerties, and (further north) the City of Catskill, and obviously, there are a lot of scenic trails there.
posted by Leatherstocking at 6:54 PM on July 12, 2014

The Northampton-Amherst area of western Massachusetts, just a short distance north of the Mass Pike (aka I-90), is great. Good museums, lots of good food, outdoor activities, etc. The Montague Book Mill ("Books you don't need in a place you can't find") is a great destination in itself. If you think you'd like to stop off in the area, PM me for more details.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:59 PM on July 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

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