Road Trip!
February 10, 2007 7:50 AM   Subscribe

[VacationFilter] I want to go on a whistlestop tour of the US Northeast.

I moved to Boston about 8 months ago, and when I arrived here I promised myself a vacation to really familiarize myself with the area. Now that I have the money and vacation time stored up, I realize that I know a lot less about the area than I thought I did, and don't really know where any of the "holiday" spots are.

The plan thus far:
Drive up to Bar Harbor, take the Cat ferry to Nova Scotia. Spend a day or two in that area, and then make my way back to Boston by stopping every day at a different city/location and spending a night.

So... where do I stop? I've got about nine days for the whole trip. I'd ideally like to drive no more than 2 hours a day, stop at a city, wander around, get to my hotel (bed and breakfast?), repeat the next day. My goal really is to take in the local flavor, eat some good food, and take lots of pictures.
posted by backseatpilot to Travel & Transportation around United States (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would recommend taking the Cat Ferry back to Portland, Maine (assuming you're doing this in the summer, as it doesn't run during the winter) and spending a day here. It's a great city - lots of good restaurants and a vibrant art scene.

The only drawback is that lodging can be expensive, but with some planning you should be able to find a room at a decent rate.

If you'd like, you can e-mail me for some specific recommendations. I love to tell people about this great place!
posted by suki at 8:07 AM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well, if you're going to be in Nova Scotia, I definitely recommend you drive up to Cape Breton and spend a day on the Cabot Trail. It's breathtaking. And spend a day (at least) in downtown Halifax.
posted by loiseau at 8:56 AM on February 10, 2007

No offense intended to the fine Mainers out there, but I'd strongly recommend spending most of your time in Prince Edward Island and Fundy National Park in New Brunswick.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:19 AM on February 10, 2007

Camden, ME area is nice.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:56 AM on February 10, 2007

When you're in Maine--if you don't feel a real need to hurry, you should just go back down via Route 1. A lot of the lobster shacks are obviously closed now, but there's some great scenery and a few interesting little towns. The Bath/Brunswick area comes to mind, and there was a thread in the blue that mentioned a diner with some great pie in Waldoboro. And don't forget to get italians, preferably at Amato's (they're like grinders, but better). There're a ton of little motels and B&Bs in that area--again, some might be closed now, but I bet the chain hotels are still open. And of course there's Freeport, with the outlets (doesn't sound local, but pretty much everyone, from ME or no, goes there for clothes, especially at the LL Bean). In Portland, try the Flatbread pizza joint, go to the museum, and walk around the Old Port. It's a great time to just wander (if you don't mind the cold) because all the tourists are gone.

Portsmouth, NH is a great little city, although I don't know as much about it (I spend more time in Portland, ME). But from there you could do a loop around MA--check out some of the towns in the Berkshires, maybe stop in Amherst and Northampton (really nice college towns). Then just take the Mass Pike back to Boston!
posted by landedjentry at 12:51 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also consider visiting Acadia National Park in Maine and the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
posted by ericb at 2:22 PM on February 10, 2007

Also -- check out Yankee Magazine and WCVB's Chronicle (7:30 p.m. every weeknight evening on Channel 5 - especially the 'Main Streets, Back Roads' and 'On The Road' segments) for ideas.
posted by ericb at 2:25 PM on February 10, 2007

Lots of the coastal southern Maine towns have nice beaches, though somewhat cold this time of year. These towns get a lot of tourists in the summer, but not so much in the winter, so I'd think you should be able to find some motels/B&Bs along the way that'll give you a nice place to stay out of the cities. (Ogunquit happens to come to mind.) Once you've visited the pretty-but-cold beaches, I'd also visit some of the historic lighthouses, like the Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, and the Nubble Light in York. (You can't actually walk up to the Nubble--it's on an island--but you can drive by and see very photogenic houses on the way up.) Kittery, right across the New Hampshire border, has a ton of outlet stores, if that's your thing.

Seconding the suggestion of taking the ferry back, if you can. There's jack-all in northern Maine except moose.

I have to say, though, your tour of the Northeast is missing most of western New England. You want "holiday spots"? Here's some more suggestions, valid in summer, that New Englanders might go:
- The White Mountains, in New Hampshire. (Being from NH, I may be a bit biased, but it's the best hiking in New England.)
- Lake Winnipesaukee, NH. Big lake in New Hampshire, lots of little islands, big summer destination. Really, there are lots of nice lakes in New Hampshire--Newfound Lake in Alexandria is not only beautiful, but one of the cleanest lakes in the world.
- Cape Cod/Martha's Vineyard/Nantucket, MA. Expensive? No doubt. But the beaches are as nice (and warm) as New England gets, and it has great biking.

I don't know where you moved from, but in winter (i.e. right now), you may be doing yourself a disservice if you pass up on the skiing/snowboarding. Vermont is renowned for its skiing, and New Hampshire and Maine also have notable mountains. Most of the other good winter activities (cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, outdoor skating, snowmobiling, and of course sledding) are, I'm afraid, things you'd have to find locally to do. Maybe you can rent a snowmobile or cross-country skis at one of the ski resorts.

I can't tell you much in the way of things to do in cities; my vacations/free time were always doing things outdoors. If you'd like more suggestions of the outdoor variety, I can post some more in-thread.
posted by Upton O'Good at 4:29 PM on February 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

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