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Vacation recommendation - Central VT or Bar Harbor, ME?

  • j

We are planning our vacation for a week in August, but we are debating between Woodstock/Sugarbush areas of Vermont or Bar Harbor, Maine. Any recommendations? We're not into touristy places - we like local spots with great food and heart in their food. BYO's welcomed...Thx!

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  1. Woodstock is a lot less touristy than Bar Harbor. However, Acadia National Park is worth seeing.
    Woodstock has great dining options. Two nights, maybe three is more than enough, including a side trip to Hanover, NH.
    How long is your vacation? Are you driving and from where? Maine is great, but I personally think two or three nights in Bar Harbor is enough.

    1. I haven't been to Bar Harbor since 1997. We usually choose someplace further south but still the mid-coast area of Maine. Typically we are on the search for the perfect lobster roll or steamed lobster by the sea. Camden is very touristy but offers a superb place for a picnic (top of Mt Battie) and we have enjoyed repeat visits to the Cellar Door Winery in nearby Lincolnville. I think the lobster choices are better in the Rockland and Brunswick areas. Last summer's visit to the farmers market in Brunswick made me want to move there. We bought fresh biscuits for strawberry shortcake, other nice baked things, fresh mushrooms and some herb plants to take back to my garden. You can get a farmers market listing on Maine's Dept of Agriculture or a brochure at the visitors center on Rt 95. You should also look for events where there is likely to be church ladies selling homemade pies. We struck gold at Bath's 4th of July celebration. Early summer is a great time to go to enjoy rhubarb but in August there should still be blueberries available. You'll see trucks by the roadside on rt 1 selling fresh berries. To me, it's important to have lodging that allows you to partake of non-restaurant foods. You could keep it simple just mixing fresh berries into vanilla yogurt (Belfast has a great food coop) or other simple fresh berry dessert. Hope you can bring some home to make blueberry pudding cakes and other things you can't get in restaurants. BTW at the Brunswick farmers market there was also a lady selling middle eastern foods.
      I would not choose Woodstock at all because I think it's a New Yorker's idea of Vermont plus I was very disappointed by last summer's sunday breakfast at Bentleys. I like the food store across the street though. I loved Simon Pearce in Quechee but we've only been there once and got there at 11:30 so we got a great table overlooking the river. I like their menu but my husband prefers plainer eating. We had a wonderful week splitting time between the Burlington and Middlebury areas. I think Middlebury has a great food coop, too. We liked Boyden Valley winery to the east of Burlington. Since the Champlain valley has a lot of agriculture it was easy to find farmstands. I would definitely search out some farmers markets and places that make their own cheese. You could food sample your way up the road between Waterbury and Stowe (cheese samples at stores, Cold Hollow Cider, etc). Include a visit to Vermont Country Store (there are two locations) for more food tastings and a good place to find some kitchen gadgets. If you go to the Vermont Country Store in Weston, Raspberries and Thyme in Chester has great sandwiches. We like things like maple flavored salad dressing. If you are in the Woodstock area you could also visit King Arthur flour for great baking ingredients and kitchen gadgets. I'm definitely thinking of a Vermont cheese tour! I would also try to visit Vermont farmers markets. I think there have been some recommendations on past Chowhound posts.
      BTW in Maine we like Round Top ice cream. For a summer vacation if you like ice cream you need a list of the best ice cream stands.

      1. Woodstock is pretty touristy... lots of wealthy families from metropolitan areas vacation there. It's beautiful... very Norman Rockwellesque... but can be very busy and difficult to find parking. The restaurants aren't that great, although Simon Pierce is excellent. I think it would be a nice day trip, but not worth spending more than a day there. The last time my husband and I visited, we nearly pulled our hair out it was so crowded! If you're looking for something less touristy, maybe others have recommendations.

        1. Bar Harbour Inn http://www.barharborinn.com/
          Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium - For Ice Cream - www.benandbills.com

          Sheraton Burlington Vt. http://www.sheratonburlington.com/dir... because it's near the NECI - New England Culinary Institute or
          Butlers Inn at the Essex
          http://necidining.com/butlers.html great food and wonderful location near the Outlet Mall lol...
          MAIN STREET GRILL - Run by NECI
          118 Main Street,
          Montpelier, VT
          While in Burlington gotta go see the

          Bar Harbour is touristy but fun..can go through a tour to the Provincial Park Closeby...lots to do!

          1. We love Bar Harbor and Woodstock, although both villages can be touristy. The beautiful surrounding areas can make up for that, I think. Woodstock wins for us because of all the galleries, shops, and especially Gillingham's Country Store there you can buy Everything! A drive down River Road, which parallels Rte. 4 on the other side of the Ottoquechee River is gorgeous and gives you a nice feeling for the VT countryside. As for restaurants, Simon Pierce is the best IMHO. We've had both lunch & dinner there many times and each meal has been a delight. The added plus as a previous poster stated is the view over the riiver. The Woodstock Inn is a lovely old inn to visit - the bar is well stocked and I think they make the best Bloody Mary's ever. We've had Brunch and Dinner there and were very pleased.

            Another restaurant you might try is the River Tavern which is part of the Hawk Inn and Mountain Resort, just south of Woodstock.....west on Rte. 4 then south on 100A to Rte. 100 to Plymouth. When we're in VT we like to do day trips of about 2 hours (back & forth) from our base. Just enough time to absorb the scenery without a long tiring drive.
            Try these links:

            1. Middlebury is way nicer than Woodstock! We like ot stay at The Waybury when we go to Middlebury. It is the Inn that they used for all the Inn shots for the Newhart show. There are some good restaurants in Middlebury. The Vt. Country Store that is near Raspberries Thyme is located in Rockingham- not Weston. Also near there is a wonderful Japanese restaurant in Chester called Old Town Farm Inn. It is run by acouple she is Japanese and the chef. You have to make reservations and they only do dinner, though if you stay at the Inn they also have breakfast.

              1. I also would vote for the Vermont side of things. I'm not so much a fan of the Woodstock side as much as the Mad River Valley, but don't forget to pick up some beer at the 7 Barrel Brewery in Lebanon, NH. It's been a long time since I went to the Pitcher Inn in Warren, and the Warren Couthry store does great sandwiches.

                2 Replies
                1. re: thinks too much

                  No doubt Bar Harbor is touristy but there are a lot of good dining options and plenty of activities. One of my favorite places is the Jordan Pond House in Arcadia. After a day of exploring the park stop here for a light lunch or experience their wonderful popovers with a glass of wine and enjoy the view!

                  1. re: Pegmeister

                    The one time I went to Bar Harbor, I had read about the Jordan House popovers, and yet I was denied. *sigh* Sadly no time after our last hike.

                2. I love Acadia, but have only been there after Labor Day. I would second the Jordan Pond suggestion for tea and popovers (outside, on a nice day). I go for the hiking and biking on the carriage roads. I have found some nice places downtown, but nothing too memorable. They advertise the Southwest Harbor as "the quiet side" of Acadia, so you might look to stay there, if you're getting away from it all.

                  I also LOVermont. I've spent a little time in Warren/Sugarbush (winter) and it's very nice, though the dining and entertainment options are limited. I also like the Manchester area very much, better options there, IMO.

                  But, if I were going to VT for vacation, I would go to Stowe (though I usually go in winter). It's gorgeous there and there's many great dining spots there. See http://www.gostowe.com/. My second choice would be Burlington (my family lived there when I was a kid). You can do a daytrip to Montreal from there and that's a fantastic dining destination.

                  1. Thanks for all the great info!
                    Sad to hear Woodstock has grown...I've been there a few times years ago, and I have fond memories of a delightful town.
                    Kinda figured about Bar Harbor being touristy - always has been - even in the 80's & 90's. could only get worse.
                    Definately will look into Middlebury. We spent a lot of time in Sugarbush during the summer in the late 70's early 80's as a kid and loved every minute! Dining at the Pheonix eating Peter Sussman's Chocolate Chocolate Cake! YUMMY memory!! Foodie at birth I guess...
                    Love all the Farmers Market recommendations!! We love them!
                    Any other info. please send along...no decisions as of yet.