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Food oriented "destinations" anywhere in New England

Just discovered Chowhound this evening! We are from Denver and temporarily relocated to Gloucester for the summer to spend some time with the grandkids. We haven't really gotten out to see much of New England yet and are looking for some suggestions for day or weekend trips to take in more of the fabulous scenery and enjoy the local flavors. We are looking for suggestions for scenic drives that end up at an interesting restaurant that we most likely wouldn't find on our own. Or maybe a shorter ride on the Harley to a great ice cream stand or seafood shack.

We are planning a drive up to Bar Harbor next weekend and I have been trying to note some of the suggestions already posted.

So if you had only a couple of months to explore New England (and a modest budget:) what would your food destinations include? BTW the grandkids are staying with mommy and daddy, so kid friendly is not necessary, but we enjoy casual atmosphere, music, outdoor dining with a view.

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  1. Stop at Just Barb's in Stockton Springs either coming or going from Bar Harbor. It's south of Ellsworth right on Rt 1. We love the mid-coast area so consider staying further south next time so you can explore. Wiscasset is a nice base for exploring that area.
    Near the end of September, the Common Ground Fair in Unity is a great place for healthy food. There's no mid-way but they do have a wonderful craft fair. You could stay in Camden and do the drive from there. Unity is a very small college town. All the food served is organic. No soda. Not your usual fair food.
    It would be interesting to see if someone else has a recommendation for a great "ice cream" destination. Concord NH has 3 places serving homemade ice cream: Arnie's on Loudon Rd, Granite State Candy on Warren Street (downtown area) and Ballard Novelties in McKee Square. A small cone at Ballards is quite generous. I had a chocolate containing chocolate cake and swirls of caramel. My husband hasn't been but he would choose Peanut Butter Overload Sundae. In addition to homemade ice cream, the Cool Moose on Main St serves Gelato. On your way to Concord, if you get off at the exit for 3A just north of Manchester you will avoid the toll booth AND can stop at Merrivale's. Frozen pudding is my summer favorite. In the fall they will add Indian Pudding ice cream and some other fall flavors to their list. If you want an ice cream place in the country, then drive out to Beech Hill Farm. Haven't tried their corn maze. It's a former dairy farm now selling plants, etc. I think they have live music and cruise nights, too. A friend who is lactose intolerant gets raspberry sorbet with hot fudge sauce.
    Concord's restaurants are decent. The new 55 Degrees is a pricy wine bar. Great Thai at Siam Orchid. I have not eaten at the new restaurant at Canterbury Shaker Village but a tour of the village is highly recommended. Stop at Hacklboro Orchards to get apples. To the west of Concord, head out Pleasant St which becomes Rt 103 and takes you thru quaint towns of Hopkinton, Contoocook and Warner. Stop at Gould Hill Orchard for peaches (in season right now) and apples (lots of antique varieties) and a gorgeous view. End in Warner with a visit to the top of Mt Kearsarge and the Kearsarge Indian Museum. Come for breakfast at the Foothills. You can end a weekend here and do a quick return to MA on Rt 89 to Rt 93.
    For a shorter drive, visit Flag Hill Winery and Distillery in Lee NH. This could be combined with lunch in Portsmouth. We still haven't been to the Ice House in Newcastle for a lobster roll this summer. Highly recommend Rt 1B from Portsmouth thru Newcastle.
    Heck there are lots of places! Will be interesting to see what others recommend.

    1. I am a tour operator that specializes in New England motorcoach tours. I must say that day trips, and short weekend getaways, are a favorite pastime of many locals in the New england area. With the exception of Maine, the other five states can be reached easily in a half day or so. This makes the dining and scenic adventures almost limitless.

      However, for your trip to Bar Harbor, I strongly suggest that you visit Helen's restaurant on Rte. 1, in Ellsworth, just before you head over to Bar Harbor. Their other restaurant is in Machais which is in the middle of Maines wild blueberry country. Helens, has accordingly become famous for their desserts, especially all things blueberry. They are also well known for their down home traditional New England cooking. From Meat loaf, to fried chicken, to fish and chips, there simply are NO bad dishes at Helens. Big portions, reasonably priced, and the best pies in New England.

      For more of my NE reccomendations just do a search on my name.

      1. Just outside of Bar Harbor on Rte. 3 (the road to Bar Harbor) in Trenton is the Moose Crossing restaurant which is open for breakfast only (7 to noon) 7 days a week. We had great buttermilk pancakes, a wonderful breakfast sandwich on their homemade bread, and some homemade muffins (and grabbed a couple of whoopie pies for later.
        We also had some great lunches at the Cottage Street Bakery/Deli in Bar Harbor, and amazing ice cream at...the ice cream place that has two guys' names (Ralph and Eddie? Ed and Craig?)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Elizzie

          Ben & Bill!

          Their dark chocolate nut clusters are awesome. But the ice cream is pricey...we usually go to the place down the street with the striped awning. One or both of them has the infamous lobster ice cream, too.

        2. A great stop for food and loging is in the Ogunquit, Wells, Maine area. There are probably about 20 restrurants with in a 4 mile stretch right on Rt 1 as you pass thru Ogunquit alone, and more past that as you go into Wells. With almost as many places to stay. Hope this helps. Earle

          1. I made a similar recommendation recently - to rent and watch the Rogers and Hammerstein's 1956 classic "Carousel" and then go to Boothbay Harbor for a meal at the Lobsterman's Co-Op on the East Side of the Harbor - many of the scenes were in the vicinity of the Co-Op, and much of the backdrop remains delightfully unchanged...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Keefer Lucas

              Lobsterman's Co-Op is now called Boothbay Lobster Wharf.
              I also recommend Rocktide. WE had a wonderful dinner on the deck there with the lights of the harbor as a backdrop.

            2. If you're new to New England and you like ice cream, you're in for a real treat. First stop maybe Richardson's in Middleton? Benson's in West Boxford? Hodgie's in Amesbury? Browns in York Maine?

              1. I would recommend the Westport area. First off, the very best donuts on earth are available at the Colonial Butler Donut House. Just s few varieties - essentially plain raised and chocolate, with or without jeely and real whipped cream. Eat a few, hit the beach. I haven't yet had the chance to go to Chris Schlesinger's Back Eddy restaurant, but I love his East Coast Grill, and Back Eddy is right on the water. There are also quite a few farms in the area, and the Westport winery.

                2 Replies
                1. re: curiousbaker

                  You waited too long to eat at Back Eddy under Chris's ownership since he sold it a while back. It still gets good reviews; I enjoyed it as much the last time I was there.

                  1. re: Wineack

                    That's the problem with not having a car. Road trips are few and far between, and things change while you're waiting for the next one.

                2. you should eat a lobster roll, and for my money the Five Islands in Georgetown, ME has the best i've eaten. You eat on the dock where the lobsters are hauled in. It has recently been getting lots of good press (Washington Post, NY Times) but I've been going there since the 80's to my freind's grandmother's house nearby and they have pretty much perfected the lobster roll. great crabcakes to boot.

                  1. For the BEST blueberry pie, try Barkley's Dockside in Kennebunkport. It's so good, it made me weep for joy the first time I had it. Really.

                    1. Hey, we ended up postponing the trip to Bar Habor til after the holiday weekend. Thanks for all the suggestions. We took a drive up through Kennebunkport one day and stopped for a snack. I forget the name of the place, lobster roll was not really great though. Now I will be looking forward to trying some more and hopefully find the ultimate.

                      And considering the weather change, how about chowder's? What do you consider the perfect chowder? I don't like extraeneous herb seasonings, just the natural flavors. I have noticed some places try to "kick it up a notch" and just ruin it. Others just taste like Campbells soup.

                      I have seen a few signs around for winery's, any info on any worth a visit? That sounds fun too.

                      We are also interested in maybe a trip down to the cape and even Boston. Thanks again for the ideas. Will post again with our experiences.

                      1. If you visit Flag Hill Winery in Lee NH, make sure to read their story. It's a family dairy transformed when milk prices stagnated and a son wanted to keep the farm in the family. It's not an easy task when the stipulation is the land has to continue to be farmed and a winery operation requires years of growing before a second major investment in equipment. If we lose our farms we might as well start eating at chain restaurants.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: dfrostnh

                          We're not really losing our farms;the farms are becoming more efficient.
                          We're in Upstate New York and the small mom and pop farms are going under all over the place.
                          You used to milk 100 cows and make a good living but now those days are over and many operators are milking around 1,000 cows or more.
                          This is just efficiency at work.
                          It's becoming too expensive to operate small farms so farms will either grow in size or they will go under.
                          We're not losing our farms at all;times change in all businesses and farmers will have to stop whining and either change with the times or look for work elsewhere.
                          I give Flag Hill Winery credit for trying something new and I will visit there the first opportunity I get.
                          Many new wineries are opening up around here also.
                          Eventually this winery business will become as saturateed as the microbrews were a few years ago and many micros have gone out of business already.
                          Times change.....

                          1. re: dfrostnh

                            Yes, but they now make fairly decent wine and a great vodka to boot, AND, you can taste them all for free, (including the vodka)! At least the place didn't become condos . . .