Thursday, November 29, 2012

Planning Guide for a Maine (and NH) Vacation

new england covered bridge
Covered Bridges found all over New England
I got an email from a friend of my mom's who is thinking of spending two weeks in Maine this upcoming summer.  She had a list of questions and after answering them, I thought I'd repost them for others to peruse.  Please leave comments if you have other suggestions!

1.  Where are the best hikes?
Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park
Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

It depends on your hiking ability and how far you want to drive.  In Maine, you'll have two main choices for hiking... either Coastal hiking or Mountains. If you are really into hiking, I'd say Acadia National Park or White Mountain National Forest in Northern New Hampshire (2 hours from Portland) are the places to go.  

Here are my recommendations for specific hikes:

Southern Coastal Maine
- Marginal Way, Ogunquit - Beach/Coastal Walk in Ogunquit, Maine (Easy)

Mid-Coast, Maine
- Bald Mountain or Mt. Battie, Camden - Small Mountain near quaint town of Camden (Easy-Moderate)
- Acadia National Park - Fav hikes are Gorham Mountain (Moderate - Challenging), Bubble Rock (Moderate), Jordan Pond (Easy), Acadia Mountain (Moderate - Challenging)

Cog Railroad can take you to the top of Mt. Washington
Cog Railroad can take you to the top of Mt. Washington
White Mountains, NH
- Mt. Willard (Easy - Moderate) access from Highland Center, Crawford Notch - 3 hrs
- South Moat Mountain - (Moderate - Difficult) - all day hike  accessed from the Kancamangus Hwy
- Mt. Chocura - (Moderate - Difficult) - all day hike access from the Kancamangus Highway
- Mt. Pierce - (Moderate - Difficult) - all day hike access from Highland Center, Rt 302
- Mt. Washington (Very Difficult) - all day access from AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
- Mt. Lafayette/Mt. Lincoln (Very Difficult) - all day

2.  Where are the most quaint charming villages?

Many of the coastal Maine towns are very quaint and charming...Here are my recommendations...

Southern Maine:
- Ogunquit, Maine - Beaches, shopping, restaurants.  It is very touristy but fun and beautiful.

Boats in Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine
- Kennebunkport, Maine - This is where I live.  It is very charming and has great beaches, shopping and dining.

- Portland, Maine - Charming small city.  Excellent night life and unique dining.  Check out Portland Head Light in nearby Cape Elizabeth.

Mid Coast Maine:
- Camden, Maine - Small and regal fishing town.  Tourist friendly.

- Boothbay Harbor, Maine - Small Fishing town.  Cute shops, and places to eat.

- Bar Harbor - town near Acadia National Park.  Artistic, shopping, and nature

3.  Where should we stay (maybe 3 different places)?
If I were you and I had 2 weeks I'd do something like this...

Kennebunkport buildings
Kennebunkport, Maine
- Southen Maine 3-4 nights (see Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Portland)

- Small Fishing town Camden or Boothbay Harbor - 1 night

- Acadia/Bar Harbor 2-3 nights

- White Mountain National Forest - Stay in North Conway area for 3-4 nights

- Return to Portland/Boston or whereever you are flying out of.

4.  Are there any inn to inn hikes available?
- There are well established "hut to hut" hiking systems.  These don't provide private rooms but in the summer would provide a hearty dinner and breakfast and bathrooms/ shared bunkroom.  The one I'm familiar with is run by the AMC and can be found out about at  There is also a hut system called Maine Huts and Trails but I've never used them.  You should know that the hiking is generally moderate-very difficult.

5.  Which part of the coast is the prettiest and most interesting?
- Southern Coast has sandy beaches and is more tourist friendly with a wide variety of restaurants, accommodations, and things to do.  

- Mid Coast is more rocky/rugged and a fisherman's land (less tourism).  I think one of the small towns like Camden or Boothbay Harbor would be a charming one night stop.
Boats in Kennebunkport
Boats in Kennebunkport, Maine 

- Acadia is gorgeous because it has mountains up against the ocean which provides many places for beautiful views.  Plus, Bar Harbor has a thriving scene for tourist looking for good food and shopping.  

6.  Any ferries to take us to Nova Scotia or outer islands?
- Nope.  Last year they ended ferry service to Nova Scotia.  
- If you want a short ferry trip - try the 20 min ferry from Portland to Peaks Island.  Check out my blog entry here for info on what do do on the island:  HERE.

7.  Any other tidbits you’d like to share?

lobster roll and fries
Lobster Roll 

- Bring Bug Spray

- Use a map and bring appropriate gear if hiking in the White Mountains.

- Use Trip Advisor Forums for quick questions.  There are some really knowledgeable people on there who love to answer questions.

- See the Portland Head Lighthouse in Portland, Try a Lobster Roll, Whoopie Pie, and Maine Maple Syrup, and get into nature.