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Family Vacation: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine... bike trails/rentals?

Old 06-05-15, 08:41 PM
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stratford
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Family Vacation: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine... bike trails/rentals?

My family of four is venturing into New England in late July into early August.

It will be me, the wife, son (16) and daughter (11).

They aren't into biking like I am, but they all enjoy casual riding and easy trails.

We are in the planning stages at this point. I know we'll be in the Burlington, Vermont area and heading to the White Mountain area of New Hampshire. As for Maine we are certainly hitting Portland and the area around Acadia National Park.

We'll even be popping into Saint John's, Canada for a couple of days.

Anyway, it isn't imperative that we go biking, but I thought if it would be easy to do a half day of riding somewhere, we would look into it.

I'd be happy to take Hiking trail advice (easy to intermediate hikes of 1-4 hours total) and restaurant advice also!

Thanks for any input. I didn't see a thread like this one, but I apologize if I missed it.
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Old 06-06-15, 06:58 PM
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Hiking everywhere in VT., NH., and Maine

Theres a bike path on the north side of Burlington, heads north towards South Hero Island, with a summer ferry over to the island.

Another trail is the East Coast Greenway outside of Portland.

Then a great selection of bike/horse trails in Acadia, which is one of all time favorite places to ride.
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Old 06-10-15, 09:16 AM
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Rentals in Burlington. Local Motion or SkiRack. Right near the waterfront... bike path out to the causeway in the middle of Lake Champlain, and if you are there when the ferry is running you can scoot up to the islands. Pretty much as flat as you can get for VT.

Food? Burlington again has you covered. American Flatbread, Stone Soup, Farmhouse, Guild Tavern, Cortijo, Pascolo, Bleu (seafood), Hen of the Wood Burlington, Trattoria Delia are all family favorites.

Penny Cluse or Magnolias for breakfast. Get to Penny Cluse at opening if you want a table.
Out on Pine St. there are a couple of new options that I haven't been to yet - Zero Gravity Brewery, Arts Riot, South End Kitchen, and Citizen Cider.

Farmers Market in City Hall Park on Saturdays until early afternoon. Good grazing there too.
Free bike parking at the market too.
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Old 06-10-15, 09:18 AM
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Hiking - close to Burlington, quick hike is Mt. Philo (a speed bump compared to most mountains).
Camels Hump is close, can be long depending on the trail.
We've taken the family up to Sterling Pond off Smugglers Notch.
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Old 06-10-15, 09:15 PM
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Acadia National Park in Maine. The carriage road system in the park is an awesome place to bike, For both the casual riders/ families and the experienced cyclist, as the grades are gentle and the scenery is fantastic. No vehicles on the carriage roads but there are some hikers and horses. I know there are multiple places to rent bikes in Bar Harbor, and many will transport you and the bikes from town to the carriage road trailheads. I always bring my own bike when i visit so i cannot recommend a specific rental company.
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Old 06-11-15, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by stratford View Post
My family of four is venturing into New England in late July into early August.

We are in the planning stages at this point. I know we'll be in the Burlington, Vermont area and heading to the White Mountain area of New Hampshire. As for Maine we are certainly hitting Portland and the area around Acadia National Park.

We'll even be popping into Saint John's, Canada for a couple of days.

Anyway, it isn't imperative that we go biking, but I thought if it would be easy to do a half day of riding somewhere, we would look into it....
What?... no Boston? A great and interesting city for visiting and cycling. Post to this thread you if change your mind.
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Old 06-11-15, 05:18 AM
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There should be a couple places in Mad River Valley (waitsfield,vt) or up in Stowe,VT that rent bikes. You'ld have access to some of the best hiking trails(& the best of VT, in my opinion). Have a great trip! If you want recommendations let me know.
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Old 06-11-15, 05:43 AM
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If you get to the White Mountains, there is a nice bike trail in Franconia Notch, with a bike shop at the bottom. They shuttle you to a starting point at Cannon Mountain and the ride is a net about 6-8 miles and net downhill. Great for kids. Some of the most spectacular scenery in New England as well. Did this with my wife and kids and even brought my in-lows along and had a great time over a Columbus Day weekend a couple of years ago.
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Old 06-11-15, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Hiking everywhere in VT., NH., and Maine

Theres a bike path on the north side of Burlington, heads north towards South Hero Island, with a summer ferry over to the island.

Another trail is the East Coast Greenway outside of Portland.

Then a great selection of bike/horse trails in Acadia, which is one of all time favorite places to ride.
We are going to be around Portland and Acadia... Thanks for the help!


Originally Posted by bmike View Post
Rentals in Burlington. Local Motion or SkiRack. Right near the waterfront... bike path out to the causeway in the middle of Lake Champlain, and if you are there when the ferry is running you can scoot up to the islands. Pretty much as flat as you can get for VT.

Food? Burlington again has you covered. American Flatbread, Stone Soup, Farmhouse, Guild Tavern, Cortijo, Pascolo, Bleu (seafood), Hen of the Wood Burlington, Trattoria Delia are all family favorites.

Penny Cluse or Magnolias for breakfast. Get to Penny Cluse at opening if you want a table.
Out on Pine St. there are a couple of new options that I haven't been to yet - Zero Gravity Brewery, Arts Riot, South End Kitchen, and Citizen Cider.

Farmers Market in City Hall Park on Saturdays until early afternoon. Good grazing there too.
Free bike parking at the market too.

Can't wait to make it to Burlington. Biking and hiking options, great food and great beer! Very excited. Thanks for the choices and information.

Originally Posted by Malemute_Kid View Post
Acadia National Park in Maine. The carriage road system in the park is an awesome place to bike, For both the casual riders/ families and the experienced cyclist, as the grades are gentle and the scenery is fantastic. No vehicles on the carriage roads but there are some hikers and horses. I know there are multiple places to rent bikes in Bar Harbor, and many will transport you and the bikes from town to the carriage road trailheads. I always bring my own bike when i visit so i cannot recommend a specific rental company.
I have heard nothing but great things about Acadia. I didn't know about the carriage road system! Thanks.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
What?... no Boston? A great and interesting city for visiting and cycling. Post to this thread you if change your mind.
Well, we are going to be in Boston the last three days of our vacation. I'm dropping the rent car off at the airport when we get there and we'll just be using feet and public transportation.

So yes, feel free to offer up any advice you have for BeanTown! We are staying on Beacon Street, just a few blocks west of Boston Common.

Originally Posted by DanaA View Post
If you get to the White Mountains, there is a nice bike trail in Franconia Notch, with a bike shop at the bottom. They shuttle you to a starting point at Cannon Mountain and the ride is a net about 6-8 miles and net downhill. Great for kids. Some of the most spectacular scenery in New England as well. Did this with my wife and kids and even brought my in-lows along and had a great time over a Columbus Day weekend a couple of years ago.
Franconia Notch is one of the places we already planned on seeing. Thanks for the help! Sounds awesome.
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Old 06-11-15, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by stratford View Post
...Well, we are going to be in Boston the last three days of our vacation. I'm dropping the rent car off at the airport when we get there and we'll just be using feet and public transportation.

So yes, feel free to offer up any advice you have for BeanTown! We are staying on Beacon Street, just a few blocks west of Boston Common....
To keep it brief, if you've never been to Boston, I would suggest a trolley tour, or alternatively a duckboat tour, though the latter is more gimmicky to include a splash into the Charles River ("Love that Dirty Water"). For dining, I would suggest that seafood and Italian food are particularly notable, and there is a regional cuisine as well.

Also Boston has an excellent and pretty cheap Bike Share program, and a nice system of urban bikepaths.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
As a dense, compact urban center, with a commitment to cycling infrastructure, Boston is quite amenable to a Bike Share program (Hubway), and it has been wildly successful, as noted in the Wikipedia article. We live within one block of a station, and my wife uses it for fitness cycling.

...It is nice though to just drop off the bike, and worry no more about it. Stations are plentiful and well-located, and critics even complain about the prime parking spaces lost to the stations.

Bike sharing does seem a great thing for tourists, and I have used the system in Toronto when visiting there. The cost for an extended ride was pretty cheap, certainly less, and more convenient than a bike shop rental...
If you want to rent bikes, my LBS, Back Bay Bikes is near your accomodations.

Please feel free to PM me for any details. I really enjoy showing visitors around Boston on informal walking tours, and I would offer that to a fellow BF subscriber, but I'm a pretty busy person, and would need a heads up to see if I'm available at a mutually agreeable time.
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Old 06-11-15, 07:23 AM
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Thanks!

We are going arrive in Boston on August 9th and we'll be flying home on the afternoon of the 12th. Very excited about the trip there as its one of the last major cities in the USA we haven't been.

All I know for sure is we are going to hit the Fenway tour one morning. (The Red Sox aren't in town so its the best we can do) Our room is about half a mile from Fenway according to the maps.

If we can't meet up, no worries, though I'll still take all of the great local advice you can give.

We do plan on walking all over the place. My kids are in good shape and love walking big cities and getting the feel of the town. They walked hundreds of blocks of NYC last time we were there!

I love living close to Houston, but it is an entirely different beast as it is so spread out. Walking and public transportation is limited here. Huge suburbs and driving are the go to modes of getting around, so we always enjoy getting to see a city outside of a vehicle.
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Old 06-11-15, 07:45 AM
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I did ACA's Cycle Vermont back in 2010. Started and ended in Burlington. Great town. We took the trail mentioned north from the city. Very nice. Wish we had had time to go out onto the causeway. IIRC, there is one street that is a pedestrian mall with no traffic.

Spent a couple of days in Bar Harbor during a cross-country+ tour. Unless things have changed, if you take the free shuttle from town into the park you don't have to pay the park entrance fee.

If you plan to camp, there is a nice place near the water in Burlington. And there are places in Acadia. For the latter, I strongly recommend bug spray.
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Old 06-11-15, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by stratford View Post
Thanks!

We are going arrive in Boston on August 9th and we'll be flying home on the afternoon of the 12th. Very excited about the trip there as its one of the last major cities in the USA we haven't been.

All I know for sure is we are going to hit the Fenway tour one morning. (The Red Sox aren't in town so its the best we can do) Our room is about half a mile from Fenway according to the maps....

I love living close to Houston, but it is an entirely different beast as it is so spread out. Walking and public transportation is limited here. Huge suburbs and driving are the go to modes of getting around, so we always enjoy getting to see a city outside of a vehicle.
We live in Kenmore Square, about two blocks from Fenway Park. You may recognize from televised games the iconic Citgo sign, our neighborhood landmark. Keep in touch if interested.

I have an interest in maybe visiting Houston sometime because I heard it has no zoning laws, and I would like to see what such a city looks like.
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Old 06-11-15, 08:25 AM
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Lots of good riding in Portland and at Acadia. If not bringing your own bikes, check out CycleMania in Portland and Bar Harbor Bicycle in Bar Harbor for rentals. Carriage path loops are a must on acadia, and will take you almost everywhere you want to see. Lots of good riding around Portland, I usually end up recommending a loop through town, and then down to Portland Head Light, and to a beach if you're in to that. Eastern trail is great if you're looking for some riding on gravel, but if you're not looking to put up miles, there are better ways to see the area
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Old 06-11-15, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
We live in Kenmore Square, about two blocks from Fenway Park. You may recognize from televised games the iconic Citgo sign, our neighborhood landmark. Keep in touch if interested.

I have an interest in maybe visiting Houston sometime because I heard it has no zoning laws, and I would like to see what such a city looks like.
Houston is a cool and interesting place. There are advantages and disadvantages to the no zoning. Sometimes it creates really cool situations like the Heights area.. other times it ends up being pretty ugly!

I suggest fall or winter as to avoid the heat if possible.

Lots of great restaurants/bars and entertainment. Some sweet mountain biking trails in the middle of the city at Memorial Park. Houston is incredibly diverse thanks to the oil/gas/energy market. Easy to find great Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, BBQ, and TexMex food. There are some great seafood places, but they won't be lobster driven like the east coast. Lots of redfish, crab, shrimp and crawfish when in season.

It has the second most theater seats in the US after NYC.
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Old 06-13-15, 11:03 PM
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Well so far we have reservations for:
New London, Connecticut
Burlington, Vermont
Montreal, Quebec
Lincoln, New Hampshire
Conway, New Hampshire
Boston, Massachussetts

We are still deciding exactly when and where we are staying in Maine. I know we are hitting the Acadia National Park area and Portland, Maine. Other places we see will be places we drive past and stop at for a bit. There just isn't time to do everything. Which is a bummer. Still, it is going to be a great vacation!
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Old 06-14-15, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by stratford View Post
Well so far we have reservations for:
New London, Connecticut
Burlington, Vermont
Montreal, Quebec
Lincoln, New Hampshire
Conway, New Hampshire
Boston, Massachussetts

We are still deciding exactly when and where we are staying in Maine. I know we are hitting the Acadia National Park area and Portland, Maine. Other places we see will be places we drive past and stop at for a bit. There just isn't time to do everything. Which is a bummer. Still, it is going to be a great vacation!
Sounds like a great itinerary...a veritable Grand Tour of New England.

I note Rhode Island is not on the list; Providence is a nice city but not too distinct from Boston. A special gem in RI is Newport with all the mansions of the 19th century barons.

I suppose one other New England scene is Cape Cod and the Islands (Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket) though they are crazy in the summer. But for a nice Massachusetts Maritime experience, there is the so-called "other Cape,” Cape Ann on the North Shore about 40 miles north of Boston, which includes the seaside towns of Gloucester and Rockport, and famous Salem, MA is nearby, all accessible by train FWIW.

BTW, I don’t know how your family is about travelling, but I personally cannot see enough when I visit somewhere. I’m up about 5 AM to start off with a bike ride, and try to keep on going until about 11 PM. Last year I went to a meeting in Philadelphia and brought my 25 year old son. I would come back to the Hotel around 11 AM and find him still in bed.
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Old 06-14-15, 06:01 PM
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We still aren't exactly sure what we are going to do in Rhode Island. Newport is certainly in the discussion. So are some of the beaches there.

We decided against Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket because of the crowds and the prices. We knew we can't see it all even with a thirteen day trip plus two partial days due to travel.

We are go getters when it comes to vacationing. I'll be up by 6 everyday. My son will get up around the same time usually. My wife and daughter love to sleep, but they like doing as much as we can on vacation.

I know some people like to relax on vacations. We just aren't those people. We want to experience as much as possible!

My son is on a very good cross country team at his high school and we have to get up early on most of the days we are gone so he can get his running in. He'll do about 45 minutes on most days. We are going to try and have him run at a minimum eleven of the days we are gone. I'm going to also see if I can find him a 5k or two to do wherever we are on the weekends.

He is going to love running in Boston. We'll probably just have him run down the Charles River if you think that is the best idea.
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Old 06-14-15, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by stratford View Post
We still aren't exactly sure what we are going to do in Rhode Island. Newport is certainly in the discussion. So are some of the beaches there…

We are go getters when it comes to vacationing. I'll be up by 6 everyday…I know some people like to relax on vacations. We just aren't those people. We want to experience as much as possible!

My son is on a very good cross country team at his high school and we have to get up early on most of the days we are gone so he can get his running in. He'll do about 45 minutes on most days. We are going to try and have him run at a minimum eleven of the days we are gone. I'm going to also see if I can find him a 5k or two to do wherever we are on the weekends.

He is going to love running in Boston. We'll probably just have him run down the Charles River if you think that is the best idea.
Thanks for the reply.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Boston as a compact East Coast urban environment has a nice set of bikepaths that connect the downtown area through the midtown as it were, and out to the residential neighborhoods and inner suburbs, providing utilitarian byways for cycle commuting or recreation, though these paths are not completely connected. These include:
  • the Paul Dudley White bikepath named for Dwight Eisenhower's personal cardiologist and an early advocate of exercise for cardiac fitness. It follows both sides of the Charles River (“Love that Dirty Water”), [and goes by Harvard] with scenic views of the Boston and Cambridge skylines.

  • the Southwest Corridor (Pierre Lallement) bike path through residential neighborhoods named for the inventor of the modern bicycle who died in Boston in obscurity, in the late 1800’s.

  • the Jamaica Pond Bikepath also through residential neighborhoods and passing the restful Jamaica Pond…
The P D White (Charles River) Bikepath is a premier running site, and is safe, though probably not a good idea to run in the dark. The runners, cyclists, etc, seem to coexist pretty peacefully.

Of further interest, the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon is pretty close to your accomodations, and I think it is still painted on Boylston Street. You’ll also be near Hereford Street, and there’s a nice little catch phrase that celebrates the finish line after running 25+ miles in a nearly straight line from far-away Hopkinton: “Right on Hereford, left on Boylston.”

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 06-15-15 at 05:18 AM.
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Old 06-15-15, 10:12 AM
  #20  
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Acadia... you have to go to the Jordan Pond Tea House and have popovers and lobster chowder. It's a state law, you have to. Seriously, you'd be crazy not to. What we do is park there, do the ride, and then have lunch.
Jordan Pond House at Acadia National Park


Portland... Benkay is a sushi place at the edge of the Old Port on India St. I have been having the Deluxe Sushi lunch there for a decade. The sushi boats are also good. Micucci is an Italian grocery store up the street. In the back of the store they have a little place where you can get slabs of Sicilian style pizza. Ottos is one of those new wave pizza joints that serves things like potato pizza. Kinda fun, and perhaps a better choice if you kids are afraid of sushi.
Holy Donuts charges 2 bucks a donut. But if you want to know what a donut should be, you have to go try one.
Benkay Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar: Portland, Maine
OTTO Pizza : Boston/Cambridge/Portland, ME
The Holy Donut - 194 Park Ave and 7 Exchange St., Portland ME

I never miss Round Top ice cream when I am in Damariscotta. It's all good, but ask what's fresh, esp. the fruit flavors like blueberry. It's on 1A.
Round Top Ice Cream Stand - Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt - Damariscotta, ME - Reviews - Photos - Yelp


One of my favorite places in Maine is Camden. There is a modest motel on top of the hill coming into town.
You can walk the town from there. We like Cappys Chowder House. There is a walking path up Mt Battie (it's a hill and not an especially big one). If you get up early, you can sometimes see the mist rising from the town and the bay. Very nice.
http://www.cedarcrestinnmaine.com/

Another place we like is the Driftwood Inn. This is like stepping into the past. In the early days of car tourism, a lot of places where thrown together with what could be scrounged or bought cheaply. So the locations is great, watching the sun go down from the porch is something we love to do, and the food is really good. But everything is mismatched and the mattress prob won't be anything great. We love it.
Bailey Island Maine Hotel-The Driftwood Inn Maine Hotel, Hotel on the water near Brunswick, Maine

If you have a chocoholic in the family, try Len Libbys. The dark chocolate covered cashews are dangerously good, and make sure somebody tries the Needham ice cream, and try a bite.
Welcome to Len Libby

Last edited by late; 06-15-15 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 06-15-15, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by late View Post
Acadia... you have to go to the Jordan Pond Tea House and have popovers and lobster chowder. It's a state law, you have to. Seriously, you'd be crazy not to. What we do is park there, do the ride, and then have lunch.
Popovers are a real regional treat, I think, though getting hard to find. Are they known elsewhere? I don't seem to remember them in the Midwest (Michigan).

Originally Posted by late View Post
If you have a chocoholic in the family, try Len Libbys. The dark chocolate covered cashews are dangerously good, and make sure somebody tries the Needham ice cream, and try a bite.
Welcome to Len Libby
I hear you can get real chocolate moose there; tastes like chocolate bunnies.
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Old 06-15-15, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post

I hear you can get real chocolate moose there; tastes like chocolate bunnies.
They have a 5 foot tall chocolate moose in the store. It's not edible.

If you were to grade candy on a 5 star scale, most American candy is 2 or 3 stars, and the best of Europe is 5 stars. If it's fresh.

Len Libbys is 4 stars. Back when we had big armies abroad, it was nationally famous for shipping their candy overseas to service members.
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Old 06-15-15, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by late View Post
Acadia... you have to go to the Jordan Pond Tea House and have popovers and lobster chowder. It's a state law, you have to. Seriously, you'd be crazy not to. What we do is park there, do the ride, and then have lunch.
Jordan Pond House at Acadia National Park


Portland... Benkay is a sushi place at the edge of the Old Port on India St. I have been having the Deluxe Sushi lunch there for a decade. The sushi boats are also good. Micucci is an Italian grocery store up the street. In the back of the store they have a little place where you can get slabs of Sicilian style pizza. Ottos is one of those new wave pizza joints that serves things like potato pizza. Kinda fun, and perhaps a better choice if you kids are afraid of sushi.
Holy Donuts charges 2 bucks a donut. But if you want to know what a donut should be, you have to go try one.
Benkay Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar: Portland, Maine
OTTO Pizza : Boston/Cambridge/Portland, ME
The Holy Donut - 194 Park Ave and 7 Exchange St., Portland ME

I never miss Round Top ice cream when I am in Damariscotta. It's all good, but ask what's fresh, esp. the fruit flavors like blueberry. It's on 1A.
Round Top Ice Cream Stand - Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt - Damariscotta, ME - Reviews - Photos - Yelp


One of my favorite places in Maine is Camden. There is a modest motel on top of the hill coming into town.
You can walk the town from there. We like Cappys Chowder House. There is a walking path up Mt Battie (it's a hill and not an especially big one). If you get up early, you can sometimes see the mist rising from the town and the bay. Very nice.
Cedar Crest Inn | Camden, Maine | Hotel Lodging Accommodations Rockport, and Rockland Motel

Another place we like is the Driftwood Inn. This is like stepping into the past. In the early days of car tourism, a lot of places where thrown together with what could be scrounged or bought cheaply. So the locations is great, watching the sun go down from the porch is something we love to do, and the food is really good. But everything is mismatched and the mattress prob won't be anything great. We love it.
Bailey Island Maine Hotel-The Driftwood Inn Maine Hotel, Hotel on the water near Brunswick, Maine

If you have a chocoholic in the family, try Len Libbys. The dark chocolate covered cashews are dangerously good, and make sure somebody tries the Needham ice cream, and try a bite.
Welcome to Len Libby
Thanks for the info. The Driftwood looks awesome. We'd only have one night to stay there, but I'm going to check with them and see if a room that would fit us might be available.
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Old 06-15-15, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by late View Post
They have a 5 foot tall chocolate moose in the store. It's not edible.

If you were to grade candy on a 5 star scale, most American candy is 2 or 3 stars, and the best of Europe is 5 stars. If it's fresh.

Len Libbys is 4 stars. Back when we had big armies abroad, it was nationally famous for shipping their candy overseas to service members.
Ok.. Chocolate just south of Portland. We will certainly hit that on the way down to Boston!
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Old 06-15-15, 09:54 PM
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Thanks for more great local tips!

Last edited by stratford; 06-16-15 at 09:53 AM.
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