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Given a trip anywhere...thinking of going to Portland, Maine


Debbie in OR
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Dh and I were given airfare and hotel (has to be a Marriott) anywhere in US. I love autumn and we thought it would be fun to go to New England in the fall so we think we have settled on Portland, Maine.

 

I would like to go further north in Maine so we could take a boat to Prince Edward Island or closer to Quebec (which is where I really want to go) but the most northern Marriott is in Bangor.

 

Any thoughts? What's a must-do in Maine?Is there a better place to visit in the fall? Would it be doable to drive to Quebec from Portland? We will have only 2 full days.

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Why not just fly into Quebec if that is where you would like to go? Portland to Quebec would be a bit of a drive because there isn't a direct highway. It is probably at least six hours. Maine has great fall foliage. From Bangor you could easily head over to Acadia National Park (One of the prettiest places on earth in my opinion). If you wanted to see foliage and mountains, you could fly into Manchester, NH and head up to Lake Winnipesaukee to do a cruise on the lake on the boat, the Mt. Washington, and then head further north to the White Mountains and drive the scenic Kancamagus Highway. You go right through the White Mountains to go to Quebec but it is still a six hour drive from Manchester. Fall foliage is peak in NH and Maine from about September 23 - October 10. Make hotel reservations early because these are very popular dates to be in NH especially in the White Mountains.

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We really enjoyed Portland, but it's a city, and we're more nature-y. If you enjoy the outdoors/nature, I would look into Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.

Why not just fly into Quebec if that is where you would like to go? Portland to Quebec would be a bit of a drive because there isn't a direct highway. It is probably at least six hours. Maine has great fall foliage. From Bangor you could easily head over to Acadia National Park (One of the prettiest places on earth in my opinion). If you wanted to see foliage and mountains, you could fly into Manchester, NH and head up to Lake Winnipesaukee to do a cruise on the lake on the boat, the Mt. Washington, and then head further north to the White Mountains and drive the scenic Kancamagus Highway. You go right through the White Mountains to go to Quebec but it is still a six hour drive from Manchester. Fall foliage is peak in NH and Maine from about September 23 - October 10. Make hotel reservations early because these are very popular dates to be in NH especially in the White Mountains.

Sparrow, we are definitely outdoorsy people as well but since we have only two full days, and have to stay in a Marriott, decided to just stay in a city and then try to get around. Is Acadia National Park closer to Bar Harbor than Bangor? That sounds wonderful :)

 

Datgh, thanks for all the info! Especially when are peak foliage times...definitely will plan around that.

 

I would love to fly into Quebec but our tickets can be used only for US domestic. Portland and Bangor are as close as we can get since we also have to stay in a Marriott.

 

The Manchester idea might be a good option as well. Do you know how long the boat tour of the lake takes? We are on such a limited time schedule. I also like the idea of Acadia National Park...maybe Bangor would be a better start point.

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You can take a ferry to New Brunswick from Bar Harbor. I don't know about getting anywhere else. Also, there is whale watching. To be honest, though, I thought Bar Harbor and Acadia were really blah and not worth being a National Park (sorry, Mainers!). If you are into lighthouses, you can find several near Portland.

 

I had always wanted to visit Maine and finally went to see friends in Portland. I flew to Boston and drove up. I've heard that the trees in Vermont are most beautiful but I didn't go during the fall, so I don't know. I know they ARE beautiful in Maine. I wished I had had more time to go further up and maybe I would have liked it more. The people were really nice -- the shore line just wasn't as awesome as I expected and neither was the rest of the scenery; Maybe it is nicer than I remember but just wasn't what I was expecting. Getting lost in an old and rough part of Boston on my way out was lots more interesting -- and scary, lol.

 

BTW, Mt. Washington is beautiful, even from a distance. The Manchester option sounds nice to me, too.

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We went to Bar Harbor on our honeymoon in July. It was lovely! We didn't do much in Acadia, but we agreed that we'd love to go back and take our family some day. It was about an hour drive from Bangor, if I remember correctly. In addition to Acadia, there were many water activities that we didn't do. The food was wonderful and the town was quaint and fun.

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Bar Harbor is right next to Acadia National Park. Bangor is about an hour drive away. Bangor is not a great place to go, if you want to see "Maine". If you love peaceful beautiful ocean scenery and hiking, you will like Acadia. It's a serene relaxing place. Bar Harbor is a cute little coastal town. Maine is not a super exciting place, it's just pretty and peaceful. Portland is like a mini, more quaint, Boston. Cobblestone streets, a working waterfront. There are also several lighthouses nearby. It all depends on what you want out of your visit.

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Here is info on the cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee.

 

www.cruisenh.com

 

You might be interested in taking a tram ride to the top of Cannon Mtn. in the White Mountains. I have done this in the past when I have chaperoned kids classes.

 

http://www.cannonmt.com/cannontram.html

 

Or you can drive yourself to the top of the White Mountains on the Mt. Washington Auto road or take the cog railway up. There is a ton of hiking in NH. See if you can find an AMC mountain guide for NH. It will give you descriptions and maps of all the hikes. My absolute favorite mostly because of the views is Mt. Major in Alton. The Flume in Franconia Notch is fun too.

 

 

http://mtwashingtonautoroad.com/

www.thecog.com

 

 

If you don't want to spend a lot of money you can always hike.

 

In Acadia National Park I would hike either Gorham Mtn. or Champlain Mt. The views are amazing. If you like biking, you can rent bikes in Bar Harbor and take a bike rides on the carriage roads that run through out the park. There are buses that run regularly that will take you and your bikes free of charge as long as you have a national park pass which I think is 25.00 for the week. We have done all of this numerous times.

 

http://www.acadiamagic.com/Photos04.html

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Dh and I were given airfare and hotel (has to be a Marriott) anywhere in US. I love autumn and we thought it would be fun to go to New England in the fall so we think we have settled on Portland, Maine.

 

I would like to go further north in Maine so we could take a boat to Prince Edward Island or closer to Quebec (which is where I really want to go) but the most northern Marriott is in Bangor.

 

Any thoughts? What's a must-do in Maine?Is there a better place to visit in the fall? Would it be doable to drive to Quebec from Portland? We will have only 2 full days.

 

 

There is nothing between Bangor and Quebec City. That is why there are no major hotel chains north of Bangor up Hwy 201. It is about four hours from Bangor to Quebec City.

 

We don't have a Marriott here. It is iffy about which is quicker to get to PEI. Going up I-95 and crossing into Canada at the Trans Canada hwy may be slightly quicker since it is all 4 lane. Going from Bangor to the Trans Canada Hwy you have to take two 2-lane roads (Road 9 to US 1 to Canada 1 to TCH). A boat will get you to PEI, but you'd have to take it all the way around Nova Scotia. It would be faster to drive.

 

Now if you go to Portland there is enough to do to hang around a couple days. Then you could head to Boston for more if you have more time.

 

If you get to Bangor and have nothing to do, give a shout and I'll come entertain you. :lol:

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If your main goal is to see great foliage and visit Quebec, why not just go to Vermont? I'm pretty sure there is a Marriott in the Burlington area (Williston, I believe). It's only 1 1/2 hour drive to Montreal, 4 hours to Quebec City, and you will see gorgeous foliage on the way there.

 

Enjoy your trip!

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I'm pretty sure, but I may be wrong, that there is no ferry service between Bar Harbor and New Brunswick. There was one to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, but it was cancelled a few years ago. And, that ferry ride was about 6 hours - not really worthwhile if you only have 2 days.

 

As for driving to New Brunswick from Portland, ME - that's about a 6 hour drive. I've driven it many times and if you stay on 95, all you see are trees, trees and more trees. I love it - it means I'm nearly home! But, it is a long drive, and once you get to NB, you see...... more trees! Now, if you take the coastal route, that is much more scenic and touristy. However, if you want to get to PEI, you'll be driving for a lot longer.

 

If Quebec is where you want to go, then you should definitley fly to Burlington, VT. You're less than 2 hours from Montreal and about 4 hours to Quebec City.

 

If I were you, I'd either fly to Portland, ME and do a trip to the coast on one day and a trip into the woods on the other day. Or, fly to Burlington, VT and take a day trip into Montreal and then tour around Burlington one day. Lake Champlain is beautiful!

 

Have fun.

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We like Maine -- it's very charming, especially Camden -- but I don't know if there's a Marriott there.

 

But if I was going to New England, I would go to Boston. I think Portland is nice, but I wouldn't fly across the country to go there. There's so much more to do in Boston.

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Whatever you decide to do, book early. That will be peak season and harder to get reservations.

 

You can take a harbor tour in Portland.

Drive to Cape Elizabeth and see the most photographed lighthouse in the world, commissioned by George Washington in Fort Williams Park. (Beautiful!)

 

There are lots of things to do - beaches, trails, visit to L.L. Bean in Freeport.

 

Drive up Rt 1 along the coast. Camden isn't too far from Portland - maybe 1 1/2 hours?. Boothbay Harbor is between the two. It's a beautiful drive. I love Camden.

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I would look for the most expensive Marriott like in NYC to get the most bang for the free buck. :laugh:

 

 

Heh :). That was our first thought: NYC and a Broadway show, good food, boom, done. But then Boston. I gotta tell ya, I am not normally very fearful but I am now leery of flying into/out of The Big Cities....but that's another thread :).

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If your main goal is to see great foliage and visit Quebec, why not just go to Vermont? I'm pretty sure there is a Marriott in the Burlington area (Williston, I believe). It's only 1 1/2 hour drive to Montreal, 4 hours to Quebec City, and you will see gorgeous foliage on the way there.

Enjoy your trip!

 

 

Ok, good to know. Going to look into Williston. I have heard many times that Vermont has best foliage. Why is that?

 

I think Burlington has a Marriott downtown right near Lake Champlain. Watch your travel dates. Some areas the leaves turn sooner than others.

 

 

Is Burlington a fun town? Thanks for the heads up on leaf times...spring rains affect that, right??

 

We like Maine -- it's very charming, especially Camden -- but I don't know if there's a Marriott there.

But if I was going to New England, I would go to Boston. I think Portland is nice, but I wouldn't fly across the country to go there. There's so much more to do in Boston.

 

 

Camden?? Ok, will check that out! As for Boston, see previous post :). Although I would love to see it...may try and drive there depending on where we wind up.

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There is nothing between Bangor and Quebec City. That is why there are no major hotel chains north of Bangor up Hwy 201. It is about four hours from Bangor to Quebec City.

 

We don't have a Marriott here. It is iffy about which is quicker to get to PEI. Going up I-95 and crossing into Canada at the Trans Canada hwy may be slightly quicker since it is all 4 lane. Going from Bangor to the Trans Canada Hwy you have to take two 2-lane roads (Road 9 to US 1 to Canada 1 to TCH). A boat will get you to PEI, but you'd have to take it all the way around Nova Scotia. It would be faster to drive.

 

Now if you go to Portland there is enough to do to hang around a couple days. Then you could head to Boston for more if you have more time.

 

If you get to Bangor and have nothing to do, give a shout and I'll come entertain you. :lol:

 

 

Thanks for the PEI tip, Parrothead...doesn't sound like we will be able to do that :(. Are you in Bangor??? I would LOVE to meet Parrothead :)

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Whatever you decide to do, book early. That will be peak season and harder to get reservations.

 

You can take a harbor tour in Portland.

Drive to Cape Elizabeth and see the most photographed lighthouse in the world, commissioned by George Washington in Fort Williams Park. (Beautiful!)

 

There are lots of things to do - beaches, trails, visit to L.L. Bean in Freeport.

 

Drive up Rt 1 along the coast. Camden isn't too far from Portland - maybe 1 1/2 hours?. Boothbay Harbor is between the two. It's a beautiful drive. I love Camden.

 

 

That's two comments on Camden...would you mind telling me more??

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I'm pretty sure, but I may be wrong, that there is no ferry service between Bar Harbor and New Brunswick. There was one to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, but it was cancelled a few years ago. And, that ferry ride was about 6 hours - not really worthwhile if you only have 2 days.

 

As for driving to New Brunswick from Portland, ME - that's about a 6 hour drive. I've driven it many times and if you stay on 95, all you see are trees, trees and more trees. I love it - it means I'm nearly home! But, it is a long drive, and once you get to NB, you see...... more trees! Now, if you take the coastal route, that is much more scenic and touristy. However, if you want to get to PEI, you'll be driving for a lot longer.

 

If Quebec is where you want to go, then you should definitley fly to Burlington, VT. You're less than 2 hours from Montreal and about 4 hours to Quebec City.

 

If I were you, I'd either fly to Portland, ME and do a trip to the coast on one day and a trip into the woods on the other day. Or, fly to Burlington, VT and take a day trip into Montreal and then tour around Burlington one day. Lake Champlain is beautiful!

 

Have fun.

 

 

Oh, Burlington sounds great if we can get to Montreal or Quebec sort of easily! We visited all the New England states and Quebec during the fall when I was younger and I have wonderful memories of Quebec...and pretty sure that was where my LARGER THAN LIFE attachment to autumn began :). Thank you for the info on drive times...very helpful.

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If you had the ability to go to Acadia and Bar Harbor, I would highly recommend it if you like the outdoors. We took the kids couple of years ago, flew into NY and drove all the way up the Maine coast - stopping when we wanted to. We wound up staying just north of Acadia, but spent several days exploring the area.

 

We were also there in fall and rented bikes on Acadia. They have incredible wide flat trails on the island and in fall, it is breath-taking. So are the popovers at the Jordan Pond House. With a bowl of their Lobster Bisque - I have to say it was an incredible trip.

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Portland is a great home base. If you want to sightsee, there are several gorgeous lighthouses and some nice beaches nearby. If you want outdoor adventure, the White Mountains are only a 90 minute drive (and amazing fall foliage!) Boston is less than 2 hours and chock full of history. There are an unlimited supply of drives, hikes, lake tours, whale watching, shopping, etc...

 

Personally, I would ditch the idea of travel to Canada. The drive and/or ferry time would take up most of your 2 days allotted.

 

 

Ok, so Boston is only 2 hours from Portland...that is definitely doable. And I would be very content just driving through where the leaves are turning. It is like medicine for my soul :). Thanks for this info..

 

I do think, unless we decide to base camp at Burlington, Vermont (as suggested), Canada is probably out. But I am going to look into Burlington before we call it.

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If you had the ability to go to Acadia and Bar Harbor, I would highly recommend it if you like the outdoors. We took the kids couple of years ago, flew into NY and drove all the way up the Maine coast - stopping when we wanted to. We wound up staying just north of Acadia, but spent several days exploring the area.

 

We were also there in fall and rented bikes on Acadia. They have incredible wide flat trails on the island and in fall, it is breath-taking. So are the popovers at the Jordan Pond House. With a bowl of their Lobster Bisque - I have to say it was an incredible trip.

 

 

Wait..is Acadia on an island?? Clearly it is now time to pull out my atlas and start figuring it out with all this fabulous info.

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Yes, Burlington is a fun town. If you aren't looking for a major city it would be a good choice. You have such a short time you can't do all of New England. I would either drive into Boston and stay in the area or skip it and stay up north. I love the coast of Maine but Burlington fits your requirements. There is a nice downtown Marriott, interesting restaurants, and shops, music, the lake and it's easy to drive from there, not the traffic of a new, large city. The towns along the Canadian side of the St Lawrence River are nice too. While the US side is rather depressed it's the Canadian Riviera. You could drive and wander through the leaves and villages along the river.

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Eat Lobster. Lobster sandwiches, etc. 2 days to go to Quebec, or for the entire trip? I was in Ogunquit several times, many years ago. For Fall foliage, etc., you might enjoy Vermont more, but I don't know if they have any Marriott hotels there.

 

Have a safe trip and enjoy!

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Heh :). That was our first thought: NYC and a Broadway show, good food, boom, done. But then Boston. I gotta tell ya, I am not normally very fearful but I am now leery of flying into/out of The Big Cities....but that's another thread :).

 

 

If you hadn't mentioned New England, I would have put NYC first on my list. But I'm a NYC girl, so I'm kind of biased. ;)

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