A Week in Maine
October 2, 2018 6:17 AM   Subscribe

What not to miss during a week in Maine.

We're headed to Maine this week, and I want to make sure I don't miss the best thing. We are visiting Acadia, spending a day in Portland, Hiking and going to a pyo orchard, and having a boat trip in Rangely. We're trying to find a canoe to rent for a few hours.

We love natural wonders and lobster pounds, and are up for anything. What should we make time for?
posted by freshwater to Travel & Transportation around Maine (9 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: In Acadia you can drive the loop road to see most of the major attractions. Check the tide times for the best time to see Thunder Hole. If you hit it right it's amazing, but there's plenty of other stuff along the road to see. You can basically stop anywhere and hang out on the rocks by the water.

If you have time to hike in Acadia, the "fun" hikes are The Precipice and the Beehive. By "fun" I mean "straight up a cliff." There's other great hikes all over the park, some steep, some gentle, but most with great views. The Bubbles are fun, as is the Jordan Cliff Trial.

If you can catch the sunrise from Cadillac mountain, that seems to be the thing to do. I usually go up to see the sun set (the lazy man's sunrise), which is still pretty spectacular.

The ranger talk "stars over sand beach", is worth it if they're doing it.

Popovers and lemonade or tea at the Jordan Pond House is a must. Stop by around 3:00PM or so and the wait shouldn't be too long.

My favorite lobster pound on the island is Thurston's, in Bernard. The views are nice and they have amazing crab cakes. Really though, it's lobster and everyone basically cooks a lobster the same way. Just make sure it's a place with picnic tables and not white tablecloths. You want to be able to see boats and stacks of lobster pots from where you're sitting.

If you happen to be driving through Belfast on the way from Portland to Acadia, the lobster roll at Young's Lobster Pound can't be beat, in my opinion.
posted by bondcliff at 6:44 AM on October 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

All of Maine is the best thing.

But really, if you're hitting Acadia and Portland and Rangely, you're going to be all over the place. Just enjoy yourself.

I personally recommend the Desert of Maine, because it is so delightfully weird, and I only learned about it after 30 years of lots of time in Maine. But you may not want to do that on your first visit.
posted by heigh-hothederryo at 6:45 AM on October 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hey - welcome to Maine! that's a busy week!

I checked your location ... if you haven't been here before, please remember that Maine is big. Really big. Super big. Driving from Portland to Acadia - that's three hours. Acadia to Rangely is another three and a half hours easy. From just the things you mentioned, that's a lot of driving. Pace yourself.

- Portland has one of the hottest foodie scenes in the US. Here's a tool to help you choose.
- This Friday is the monthly First Friday Art Walk, which will be a great evening to walk around and take in all the city has to offer. Here's the schedule.
- I like to take the ferry out to the islands, and learn about the working waterfront. Here's info about the mailboat cruise.
- Other Portland "traditional" things are the Museum of Art, Longfellow House, and Victoria Mansion (if that's your thing)
- Portland Trails maintains a huge network of hiking trails within the city. Jewell Falls and the Fore River Sanctuary is a local fave.
- Portland Head Light and Fort Williams Park is probably a "must see" if only because it is the most photographed lighthouse in the US, and emblematic of the state.

Outside of Portland
- Fryeburg Fair is Maine's best fair, and runs through Sunday the 7th. This is about 90 minutes due WEST of Portland, so it might be out of your way.

- L.L.Bean is a traditional tourist stop. Open 24 hours, and more fun in the middle of the night. They also run a wide variety (scroll down) of tours (including a canoe foliage tour) and workshops and outdoor-oriented demos. The Freeport Fall Festival is also this weekend (5-7). You may also enjoy taking in the trails and getting some local produce at Wolfes Neck Farm in Freeport.

- Other people might disagree with me, but I'm a big fan of the Maine State Museum in Augusta. (If you go up to Augusta, please also stop at Elmer's Barn on your way north.)

- Boothbay Harbor is a nice halfway point on Route 1 between Portland and Bar Harbor. Their Fall Foliage Festival is this weekend (scroll down the page a bit), and you can also check out the beautiful Maine Botanical Gardens. Also Boothbay Railway Village, which I love.

- You could do a whole week in Acadia. I'm sure others will touch on that, but I will give a shoutout to the great Penobscot Marine Museum and the small but mighty Abbe Museum (focused on this history and culture of the Wabanaki Nations). While you're on MDI, be sure and eat at Thurston's Lobster, which is sort of the quintessential Maine Lobster experience. At Acadia, Park Loop Road, Thunder Hole, and sunrise or sunset on top of Cadillac Mountain. I do like this one day guide if you only have a day there.

- While you're in Rangely, be sure to take one of the guided lake cruises, and check out the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum. Height of Land is also the other traditional "must see" in the area.

- Be aware that we're at the tail end of apple season. It is really now more like pumpkin season. Not sure where you've chosen to go, but local favorites are Ricker Hill (be sure and get some cider doughnuts), Rocky Ridge, and Thompsons. Just pick one near where you'll be.

Anyway, bottom line - you can't do everything. All these things are pretty far apart. Just be sure you get some city (Portland), some feeling for the inland culture (Fryeburg Fair or Rangely) and the coast. Have a great time!
posted by anastasiav at 7:24 AM on October 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I've only done the Maine coast, but if you're planning to drive between Portland and Acadia, I'd plan to:

A) do it M-Th rather than Friday, Saturday, or Sunday; especially with the long weekend in play, I might even be wary of Monday traffic;

B) absolutely take the coast road rather than going inland; there's so much to stop and do along the coast. The caveat is that this really is a whole-day drive; the last time we did it, we left our hotel in Portland around 8 am, stopped for breakfast donuts, popped into LLBean in Freeport for an hour, grabbed a lobster roll at McLoon's, meandered around the Big Chicken Book Barn, admired the views the whole way up, and barely made our 5 pm boat out of Bar Harbor.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 7:55 AM on October 2, 2018

Oh, I forgot to mention: if you want lobster rolls, this weekend marks the end of the season at many (though not all) lobster shacks. So yeah, if you end up driving up the coast on the weekend so you can have lobster rolls at a shack, absolutely still do it, just allow extra time.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 7:58 AM on October 2, 2018

Best answer: I also like the Maine Museum, especially the ground floor display of Maine tourmalines, and the little diorama rooms on the 3rd (?) floor, depicting Maine life long ago. It's only $2 admission, and can be toured in less than an hour, plus it's right next to the capitol building.

As you're heading toward Rangeley, on Route 4, stop off at Smalls Falls. It will be on your left, 10 miles after Edmunds' Market in Phillips (also a good place to stop for snacks and to use the restroom). Basically, after Edmunds', there is nothing but woods until you get to Rangeley (and you might lose cell signal for a while).

I also think Portland Head Light is not to be missed, the ocean views are spectacular there.

Have fun!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:06 AM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're in Portland and would like to paddle, Portland Paddle does a really nice guided kayak trip out to Fort Gorges in the middle of Casco Bay. You get a fun paddle in tandem kayaks, time to explore the fort grounds/ruins, and great views of Portland from atop the fort. It's super fun and well done with knowledgeable guides. We often take visitors on this trip.
posted by donnagirl at 9:37 AM on October 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: excellent advice above. Portland, Maine, is Bon Appetit's 2018 Restaurant City of the Year. Get picnic food and visit Portland Head Light. The Osher Map Library is an amazing resource if you like maps. The Old Port is the old section of Portland, full of shops and a nice stroll, full of restaurants, bars, and music in the evening. Lots of breweries; I like Rising Tide, but there are several in this area, and food trucks too. The city includes a number of islands; Peaks Island is the most populated and it's a nice trip by ferry. Have a drink and/or meal, visit the Umbrella Cover Museum before the proprietor heads south for winter. You can rent canoes and bikes on Peaks; it's really pleasant for walking or cycling.

There's a Yarmouth exit off I295 with a visitor center; get maps and stuff if you didn't stop at the border. at the same exit, visit DeLorme Map Co. to see Eartha, a massive globe. This can be a short visit.

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are well worth a visit

On Rt. 1 in Waldoboro, Moody's Diner is an institution, not yet fully cutified, and they generally have a a fantastic selection of pie.

Bar Harbor and Acadia will be getting ready to settle down for the winter. Acadia NP is a Dark Sky park; so if it's clear, head up Cadillac Mtn. for stargazing; there may be people there with telescopes. As with all National Parks I've visited, the rangers are a fantastic resource. Visit the lovely Japanese garden at Asticou; there's an inn across the street. Mount Desert has lots of art galleries and is worth driving around exploring. Phone service is often voice only, and sometimes not even that, so you can't entirely depend on phone GPS or Internet access. Personal thanks to the Southwest Harbor Library for having accessible wifi, so we were able to find the correct campground.

Roadside America
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Only in Your State
posted by theora55 at 10:42 AM on October 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

having a boat trip in Rangely

Orgonon. I mean, you're going to be right there and where else can you learn about cloudbusting and the dangers of Deadly Orgone Radiation?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:07 AM on October 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

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